I want to begin by stating that my BDP-103 was an impulse buy, and so far I have not regretted it. Before purchasing it, I had been eying the OPPO players for quite some time, probably a couple years if I'm honest. After toying with a few PC-based music and video sources for my home theater, I decided a multi-format disc player with some network features would suit my needs quite nicely. At the time of this revelation, the BDP-103 was not available for purchase, but I was pretty convinced I wanted to give it a try. I signed up for email notifications from OPPO and carefully studied the specs. Within two weeks or so, I received the message saying it was available to those of us who had requested updates about its availability. I followed the link and bought it on the spot, which is not typical for me.
Delivery, Un-boxing, and Design
The player arrived after a rather short wait and I got right to it. The packaging presentation was surprisingly nice. All of the important bits were packed securely with foam padding and plastic wrap, and the whole thing was topped with a color poster featuring OPPO product highlights. I felt good about the purchase before I even had my hands on the hardware. Nestled in the center of the box was the player itself, wrapped in an OPPO branded cloth carrying bag (like those ones you see at trade show booths, or in grocery stores). It had survived an apparently comfortable trip to my house with no signs of abuse.
The BDP-103's design is fairly minimalist, yet very sleek and attractive. The black faceplate with brushed texture and flush disc tray and buttons will fit in very nicely with a wide range of popular consumer electronics with similar aesthetic elements. The display is informative and easy to read from the couch, but not cluttered by unnecessary information.
Installation and Setup
Connection and setup were simple and straightforward. I did reference the manual as I worked through the network settings, and things went smoothly. I was streaming video and music files from my network drive in no time. For reference, I use an Apple Airport Extreme base station for network routing and wifi connection. I currently have the OPPO hard wired to the network, so I have yet to test its wifi capability. Video and audio are sent to my processor via HDMI (I will also note that OPPO includes a 6ft HDMI cable with the player).
One of the great things about the BDP-103 is its expansive list of connectivity options. Unlike many low-end players, it offers 7.1 analog audio outputs, along with the typical coaxial and digital audio outputs. Not only does it offer two HDMI outputs, it offers two HDMI inputs! This means if your TV or AVR has a limited number of HDMI inputs (or none at all), the OPPO can handle HDMI switching and audio processing for you. While most users may not take advantage of these features, they have the potential to be extremely helpful to some.
General Features and Operation
The player is very responsive overall. It booted and loaded the home menu in what seemed to be about the same amount of time it took my TV and processor to boot and establish HDMI connections. Response to the remote feels quick, menu operation did not feel sluggish at any time. The network playback feature operates in a typical fashion, with a visible file/folder directory structure. Nothing fancy, but I had no trouble finding the files I wanted to play.
The youtube app hung up a couple times when I tried to open it, but returning to the home menu and reloading the app seemed to take care of it. I would have loved to have seen Hulu and Spotify apps built into the OPPO for the price I paid, but those services are still gaining popularity, so hardware support is still somewhat limited anyway. Pandora setup was easy and it worked flawlessly as I would have expected, with a nice OSD with the ability to "thumb up" or "thumb down" tracks. I am not a Netflix subscriber so unfortunately I have not tested this feature. Hopefully other members of the forum can share their experiences in that area.
A few notes about network file playback
The BDP-103 allows you to stream three types of files from a network drive - music, video, and photos. Once you have selected one and begun searching through your files, it will only display that file type. If you decide partway through that you want to listen to music instead of watch a movie, you will have to back out to the file type selection menu and choose the other format. For example, I chose music, and browsed to my network folder called 'music' and played a few songs. Then I decided to try a movie, so I browsed to my network folder called 'videos', but the it thought I was still looking for music, so the 'videos' folder appeared empty. I have included two images below of the file path, and you can see when I had "music" selected, my Lord Of The Rings directory is blank. However, when I had "video" selected, it displayed all of my video files.
It is compatible with a pretty wide range of audio formats, but [sadly for me] ALAC is not one of them. No big deal though, the OPPO's ability to play audio CDs has me covered. While playing music files from my network it gathered track information (such as album artwork) from Gracenote, based on the metadata. This seemed to be the case for my AAC encoded music files, even those with embedded artwork. In most cases, artist, title, and artwork were correct. The genre frequently did not match, and it incorrectly labelled quite a few of my songs as "classical". In some cases, if I played a track from one folder, followed by a track from a different folder, some of the tags from the first song would still be displayed while the second one played. These minor glitches may be repairable via firmware updates, so hopefully OPPO has solutions in progress.
After playing around with the network streaming, I decided to try a few CDs. Audio sounded great, and the onscreen display/navigation menu was attractive and easy to use.
Peter Gabriel - Mirrorball (Scratch My Back, CD)
Vocals were clear but not harsh, and imaging was very precise. Bass was deep and controlled, and the overall sound was very balanced. The orchestra sounded very full and smooth, but I could easily pick out details from individual instruments.
Foo Fighters - Home (Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace, CD)
Again, soundstage was very well focused and the presentation was very smooth and musical. For me, lifelike vocal reproduction is very important, and it was accomplished very well in this case.
Band of Skulls - Light Of The Morning (Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, 256 kbps AAC)
Guitars and vocals came through raw as they should, but not too harsh. Bass and kick drums had plenty of tightness and punch. The song did not sound watered down or compressed as ripped music files tend to. Streaming audio from the network was very smooth, with no skips or glitches.
The audio performance may be more of a testament to my Emotiva UMC-1's built-in DAC though, since I am running audio from the OPPO via HDMI. For the range of musical styles I listen to, I would say the BDP-103 serves as an excellent CD player/transport, and will probably replace my dedicated CD player (Rotel RCD-1070) for the sake of convenience and reduction of clutter.
Having praised its ability to reproduce music, I am reminded that the real goal of the BDP-103 is movie playback. It was honestly difficult for me to be too critical of the player as it presented each movie extremely well.
The Hunger Games (Blu-ray)
Thanks to a good mix of dialog, action and effects, the movie gave me a chance to to evaluate the OPPO's ability to create an immersing environment. And the thing is - I didn't. Which is a good thing. The player more or less disappeared and let the movie shine. Video playback was very smooth, with no skipping or choppiness. Dialog was clear and lifelike, and the bass of the hovering ships shook the room. We felt surrounded by the woods which hosted the "games". Even the dark scenes came through clearly, and no details were lost.
Planet Earth (Blu-ray/MKV)
In addition to Blu-ray disc playback, the BDP-103 has the ability to stream some video formats on the network as well. I have a small collection of DVD and Blu-ray movies stored on my network, which have been ripped to lossless mkv files. It had no trouble locating the files, and there was minimal delay when selecting and playing the files. I love BBC's Planet Earth series, and it is beautiful on Blu-ray. They incorporated a lot of slow panning shots, and some pretty incredible time-lapse sequences. During these portions of the videos, playback was nice and smooth (though playback from the actual Blu-ray discs was slightly better), and I did not experience any skips or buffering. I am actually quite impressed by how well this feature worked, considering the size of some of the mkv files and the bandwidth required to stream them. When using a similar feature on some less expensive Samsung players, I found the results to be rather disappointing.
Recommendations and Conclusion
I would recommend the BDP-103 to anyone with decent budget, who is looking for excellent movie and music performance, and wouldn't mind a handful of well executed network features. It offers excellent build quality, great audio and video performance, and tons of connectivity options, take a serious look at the BDP-103. In my experience, it is very stable and user friendly. It looks and feels very much at home within a mid level to high end home theater system. While the $500 price tag may seem steep to some consumers, it is built to outlast cheaper Blu-ray players, and designed to adapt to future technology. Looking forward to 4K resolution TVs? The BDP-103 has you covered - no need to worry about having to upgrade to a new player when you buy a new TV in a few years.
I would not recommend the BDP-103 to those of you more interested in a wide selection of the latest apps for media streaming and internet content on a smaller budget, and less concerned about sturdy build quality and flexibility when connecting to other components. If that sounds like you, this model may be overkill. While it does offer wired and wireless internet connectivity with a few built-in streaming features, it is somewhat limited in this area for now. OPPO says there are more to come, and with the ability to do your own firmware updates, it may be very easy to add these features in the future as OPPO makes them available.
Although I have had a limited time with the BDP-103, it has met all of my expectations so far. It is a definite step above many of the entry level players you will find on the shelves at Best Buy, and worth the higher retail price. Ease of operation, quick response, an abundance of connectivity options, excellent audio and video performance, and good build quality make this player a good investment. OPPO has established a respectable reputation for itself and its devices, and the BDP-103 is no exception.
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