Oppo BDP 103 Blu Ray Player Review
There are some peripheral issues with the Oppo BDP-103 that need to be dealt with before we continue with this review. Because of the lower price, I bought this unit directly from specialized shops in the suburbs. For those interested, it should be said at this point that there is relatively little extra cost (around $50 without additional shipping costs – depending on the source) to retrofit this fantastic device to a region-free player (for both the DVD and for the Blu-ray part).
To this end, I have installed a separately sold standard region-free H/W kit that I got online. It saved me around $200 as opposed to a dealer modified region-free player (also available on Amazon) and $100 compared to the unmodified device. That is an unbelievably high price difference given the fact that you only need to invest five minutes.
A Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kit is therefore worth considering for those who are interested is what I wanted to suggest here. Anyone who wants to search specifically for such functionality just needs to Google “DIY multi-region”. In my case, I retrofit the region-free functionality and connect a small H/W module to the motherboard.
Oppo BDP 103Multi-region Player Functionality
There is virtually no reason to fear the loss of warranty as no soldering is required for installation and the small add-on board can be removed easily at any time.
This H/W solution is preferable to an S/W solution which ensures that the official F/W update on the region-free functionality is not lost.
DVDs have been fitted as standard code-free (region 0), but can of course also be very slightly (by remote control) converted to another predefined DVD region code. This setting remains until it is changed by the user after the removal of the device.
For Blu-ray regions, the same principles apply but with the exception that, by definition, it is not a general multi-zone code and one of the three possible codes (A, B or C) must be selected. However, unlike for the DVDs, the settings will remain even after power loss.
Another rarely discussed topic (which film purists might not be interested in, but could be interesting for some users of older media) is that the Oppo 103 can also read “out-of-box” and very old video formats.
This SVCD format was very popular 15 years ago for distributing videos in an acceptable picture and sound quality on several CDs and then view them on your PC or DVD player.
Ordinary DVD players were able to play this format while today not a single Blu-ray player supports it. If you look at the user manual and relevant Oppo wiki, you will not find any mention of the fact that the player supports this format but in reality it does. I was also surprised that Oppo can read ancient VCDs (Video CD –MPEG 1 format) and play them without a problem.
This is particularly encouraging as quite different codecs were used compared to those used in today’s DVD era. My respects go to Oppo for the worthy effort of implementing this player option in its current generation of devices.
Karaoke VCDs (who needs them anymore?) are therefore just as playable as old VCD 2.0 films you may have lying around somewhere in the house. In such cases the built-in Darbee video processor helps to enhance the image quality of older media. In any case, the fact that the Oppo BDP 103 can play vintage formats confirms is reputation as all-round player.
I do not want to dwell on the excellent compatibility and network capabilities supported by the player but give a word of caution. Since 2012, distributors have been prohibited from offering the functionality for viewing ISO files (compressed disk images) otherwise they risk losing their distribution license.
However, there are also ways to implement special functions by means of importing third party F/W. Personally, I would however advice against it since there is always some risk of possible loss of warranty due in part to lack of feedback options on the original F/W. There is also the possibility of functional limitations and compromises (like menu language has to be changed in a foreign language) when the device is connected. After all, it would be a shame for such a great device –whether region-free or not – to be defaced or even scrapped.
Pros of the Oppo BDP 103 Player
- Fast start time
- Variety of picture settings
- Whisper quiet operation
- High-quality optics with metal cover
- Optional light with remote control
- Dimming display
- Two individually configurable HDMI outputs
- High quality packaging including promotional tote bag made of linen
- Extremely cool
The only drawback that can be mentioned here is the rickety plastic drive tray.
At this price range, this is an absolutely unbeatable high-end device. The picture quality of the current model when the Darbee chip is activated is by far the best I have ever seen.
What is noticeable immediately after unpacking the Oppo player when you hold it for the first time in your hands is the top finish and pleasant feel.
Another thing that will immediately wow you is the remarkably quite drive. Furthermore, the versatile settings of the menu are very encouraging.
As for picture and sound, there is nothing to complain about with this player which is in a class of its own.
Just a few things to complain about. Firstly some apps do not work in my region. Then there is the instruction manual which I find to be a little vague on some issues. I would have preferred that the devices were available in silver in addition to the current offering of black. The disc tray should have matched the price of the device and avoided the rickety plastic appearance.
But despite these small criticism on my part, the Oppo BDP 103 is a top player and gets a more than deserved perfect score from me. This especially because it satisfies a criteria which I personally care deeply about – the SACD format.