Video

★★★★★ £649 • From www.ama­zon.co.uk

Computer Shopper - - CONTENTS -

Its fea­ture list is long, but there are bet­ter-value 4K Blu-ray players than the Oppo UDP-203

VER­DICT

De­spite its ex­ten­sive fea­tures, the UDP-203 is sim­ply too ex­pen­sive to rec­om­mend

IF YOU’RE LOOK­ING for a de­vice to play an Ul­tra HD 4K Blu-ray film, there’s only a hand­ful of players to choose from. Now Oppo, a Chi­nese elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­turer highly re­spected in the in­dus­try for its high-end disc spin­ners, is ready to join the party.

The Oppo UDP-203 is a UHD 4K Blu-ray player that has sup­port for RGB and YCbCr colour spa­ces, Dolby At­mos, DTS:X, PCM and Bit­stream au­dio for­mats, plus HDR10, and Dolby Vi­sion HDR com­ing soon through a firmware up­date. That’s a long list of fea­tures, though we’d ex­pect noth­ing less con­sid­er­ing the high price of £649.

With a brushed alu­minium front panel, a full metal chas­sis and metal feet, the UDP-203 looks stun­ning. At the front, there’s an on/off but­ton, a dimmable LED dis­play, an eject but­ton, a USB port for play­ing me­dia from a flash drive and a set of me­dia transport but­tons.

Around the back is a hugely im­pres­sive se­lec­tion of ports. You get two HDMI out­puts (a 1.4 port for au­dio only, and a 2.0 out­put for video and au­dio) and an­other sin­gle HDMI 2.0 in­put with HDCP 2.2, so you can hook up a Chromecast or Ama­zon Fire Stick to add smart fea­tures. There are op­ti­cal and coax­ial dig­i­tal au­dio out­puts, a pair of USB3 ports for con­nect­ing hard disks or flash drives, and eight phono out­put ports for sur­round-sound con­nec­tion to older home the­atre re­ceivers.

JACK OF ALL PLAYS

The UDP-203 will, of course, play 4K and Full HD Blu-rays, the lat­ter in both 2D and 3D, but its ca­pa­bil­i­ties don’t stop there. It will also play DVDs, CDs, DVD-au­dio, AVCHD files, Ko­dak Pic­ture CDs and SACDs. The se­lec­tion of discs and for­mats play to Oppo’s ad­van­tage, es­pe­cially over Pana­sonic’s DMP-UB900 (Shop­per 342), which isn’t ca­pa­ble of play­ing nearly as wide a se­lec­tion of for­mats.

In ad­di­tion to the video and au­dio con­nec­tions, the UDP-203 also has built-in Eth­er­net and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which you can use to stream video con­tent from a NAS drive or other shared stor­age and up­date the firmware. Fur­ther­more, its chunky, in­frared re­mote is as well thought out and as com­pre­hen­sive as its ar­ray of con­nec­tiv­ity. We par­tic­u­larly like the back­lit keys.

Colour spa­ces are an­other plus point for the UDP-203; with both RGB (PC and video) and YCbCr (4:4:4, 4:2:2 and 4:2:0) sup­port at 8-, 10- and 12-bit, there’s lots to choose from. HDR is a must-have for top-qual­ity 4K play­back, and thank­fully, the UDP-203 comes with full HDR10 sup­port. Bet­ter still, later in the year it will have Dolby Vi­sion HDR sup­port as well, via a firmware up­date.

This is some­thing that should ex­cite videophiles, as the up­graded HDR for­mat is set to bring more life and colour to movies by of­fer­ing 12-bit play­back and up to 10,000 nits of bright­ness.

Cur­rently, HDR10 is ca­pa­ble of 1,000 nits, which means Dolby Vi­sion HDR will pro­vide a higher dy­namic range on ca­pa­ble TVs. Even though there aren’t any dis­plays ca­pa­ble of dis­play­ing 10,000 nits, the new tech­nol­ogy does fu­ture­proof the UDP-203. No other player has this ca­pa­bil­ity, ei­ther cur­rently or planned, so it’s good to see Oppo bring­ing a de­gree of fu­ture-proof­ing to its player.

DAC TO THE FU­TURE

Au­dio en­thu­si­asts will also be pleased by the Oppo’s DAC, which is a 32-bit AKM AK4458VN. This eight-chan­nel DAC en­ables 192kHz/32-bit PCM and multi-chan­nel DSD64/128 play­back and also sup­ports Dolby At­mos and DTS:X, mak­ing it ideal for se­ri­ous home the­atre in­stal­la­tions.

We were im­pressed by the Oppo UDP-203’s set­tings menus, which pro­vide a wide va­ri­ety of op­tions to delve into. This

in­cludes man­u­ally forc­ing the player to out­put HDR – a small but use­ful fea­ture to in­clude, as not ev­ery TV au­to­mat­i­cally recog­nises HDR con­tent. An­other use­ful fea­ture is its up­scal­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, which al­lows you to play a Full HD Blu-ray or DVD in Ul­tra HD.

SET­TING THE PACE

Through the set­tings you can change the au­dio out­put (in­clud­ing forc­ing a Bit­stream or PCM out­put), man­u­ally set the as­pect ra­tio, res­o­lu­tion, frame rate, colour depth and even the colour space. This makes it one of the most fully fea­tured 4K UHD Blu-ray players on the mar­ket. By com­par­i­son, the Xbox One S (Shop­per 346) – cur­rently the cheap­est way of get­ting a 4K Blu-ray player – has only a hand­ful of fea­tures. Granted, most won’t need to fid­dle with th­ese op­tions, but it does lend the player the flex­i­bil­ity to suit any oc­ca­sion.

On a neg­a­tive note, the menus were a lit­tle laggy, and we were also dis­ap­pointed to find no built-in stream­ing apps. De­spite the UDP-203’s net­work con­nec­tions, Oppo has de­cided against in­clud­ing ei­ther Net­flix or Ama­zon stream­ing.

Pow­ered by a Me­di­aTek OP8591 quad-core CPU, the Oppo UDP-203 is smooth and re­spon­sive in op­er­a­tion, no mat­ter what you throw at it. In fact, cou­pled with its cus­tom­made 4K loader (in other words, the tray), the UDP-203 loaded and searched all our test movies far quicker than the Xbox One S.

The player is silent, too. We were barely able to make out the disc spin­ning, and with no au­di­ble fan noise there’s noth­ing to in­ter­rupt your lis­ten­ing plea­sure.

BEAUTY CON­TEST

Video qual­ity is su­perb. Ac­tion scenes are per­fectly show­cased and ac­cu­rately por­trayed, and the player’s HDR ca­pa­bil­i­ties deftly brought out de­tails in de­mand­ing scenes, such as blue skies ap­pear­ing re­al­is­ti­cally through dense fo­liage.

Colours are vi­brant yet nat­u­ral-look­ing. We found the gloomy colours in The Revenant and the pop­ping scenes from Star Trek Be­yond were por­trayed su­perbly, and with a pool of colour spa­ces and depths to choose from, you can align the player’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties with the film you pop into the loader.

Com­pared to the Xbox One S, colours were slightly more re­fined and more vi­brant. This is most ap­par­ent in the fi­nal scenes of The Revenant, with the trail of blood on the snow thick with tex­ture and the wind-worn faces of char­ac­ters alive with craggy de­tail.

Mov­ing on to the player’s au­dio ca­pa­bil­i­ties, we had no prob­lems with any de­lay (as can some­times af­fect lip-sync­ing) or the qual­ity through­out dif­fer­ent scenes. Au­dio is cor­rectly re­pro­duced with a full-bod­ied sound through­out the fre­quency range.

WIT’S SPEND

The Oppo UDP-203 is un­doubt­edly the most ca­pa­ble 4K Blu-ray player on the mar­ket. It’s stacked with fea­tures, sup­ports ev­ery imag­in­able stan­dard and type of con­nec­tion, and it looks and sounds fan­tas­tic.

The big ques­tion, how­ever, is whether it’s worth three times as much as an Xbox One S (which, in ad­di­tion to be­ing a 4K Blu-ray player, pro­vides you with its main func­tion as a games con­sole as well). The hon­est an­swer is that, for most users, it isn’t.

De­spite the Xbox One S hav­ing slightly slower per­for­mance, fewer set­tings and less vi­brant im­age qual­ity, that doesn’t jus­tify the huge price dif­fer­ence, and nei­ther do the ex­tra fea­tures and con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions – un­less you des­per­ately need ana­logue out­puts, that is.

This could leave the Oppo UDP-203 as a wor­thy niche-filler for se­ri­ous home the­atre fans, but even then, there are sim­i­lar de­vices that are al­most as ca­pa­ble and cost much less. Both the Pana­sonic DMP-UB900 (£380) and Sam­sung UBD-K8500 (£215, Shop­per 342) of­fer bet­ter value for money in this re­gard; they’re un­likely to ever get Dolby Vi­sion HDR sup­port, and can’t claim the same broad scope of con­nec­tiv­ity, but oth­er­wise they man­age to de­liver the same level of cus­tomi­sa­tion and per­for­mance at much lower prices.

Christo­pher Minasians

The UDP-203 has a long list of fea­tures, though we’d ex­pect noth­ing less con­sid­er­ing the high price of £649

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