Sneak Peek: Oppo's First Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

Turkey day is over. Black Friday 2016 is history. Small Business Saturday is past. And Cyber Monday is in the rear view mirror. Like me, you’ve likely deleted hundreds of promotional e-mails in the last week or two. In my case these included promises of fantastic deals on flights to Las Vegas—a week after I made my non-refundable reservations for the upcoming 2017 January CES at the normal, usurious prices. I didn’t have the heart to look, but I doubt if those deals were applicable for CES week—both the airlines and the booking sites are well aware of the thousands of extra passengers flying to Vegas for the Big Show.

I didn’t peruse the e-mail clutter for other door-busting deals, but wouldn’t have been surprised if there were Blu-ray players among them. Perhaps even some Ultra HD Blu-ray players. Up to now the latter have been limited to models from Samsung, Philips and (just recently, at least here in the U.S.) Panasonic. But they’ve done the job well. I’ve had no complaints about the video performance from my Samsung UBD-8500 either in UHD, HD, or (using its internal Apps) streaming, and no complaints about its audio quality with video sources either. In fact, its price has dropped from $400 at its introduction just last spring to as low as $200 when I last checked.

But questions remain. Where are Sony, LG, Pioneer Onkyo, Integra, Denon, and Marantz? Where, in fact, is Oppo—the company that has grabbed much of the Blu-ray player attention for the past few years?

We now know where Oppo will fit into the UHD universe. It’s working on its own UHD disc spinner, a fact that hasn’t been much of a secret for the past few months. The company has now openly announced that this player, the UDP-203, should be available soon, possibly by next month (December) or at worst in January 2017.

While its exact price is still under review, the UBD-203 should launch at between $500 and $600. The player looks to be about the same size as the company’s smallest current BD player, BDP-103, making it slightly shorter than Oppo’s upscale BDP-105. It wouldn’t be surprising if Oppo comes out with a premier UHD model (a UBD-205, perhaps?) at a later date, but we don’t anticipate more than the UBD-203 for now.

Unlike the current Samsung and Philips players, but like the pricier Panasonic DMP-UB900, the Oppo offers a front-panel display. (Our review of the Panasonic will be posted in the coming weeks.)

In addition to Ultra HD discs (including HDR10 high dynamic range, with a later firmware update promised for Dolby Vision), the UBD-203 will play back Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD, and audio CD. It will decode audio-only formats as well: AIFF, WAV, ALAC, APE, and FLAC. It also plays DSD (Direct-Stream Digital) audio files in stereo DSD64/128 or multi-channel DSD64. It will decode all current audio formats for audio on video, up to and including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, and output them either in PCM or bitstream. When set for a bitstream output it will support sources carrying immersive audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

There are two HDMI outputs, one for audio only and the other for both audio and video (allowing for a separate audio connection to older AVRs and pre-pros that can’t pass UHD). Two USB 3.0 ports on the back panel (and a third on the front) allow for media file playback. The latter are fed by 32-bit digital to analog converters from AKM of Japan.

Built-in Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet can also connect to a user’s home network to access media files stored on computers and home servers. There’s also an HDMI 2.0 input for external streaming devices and set-top boxes, and both digital and analog 7.1-channel audio outputs.

We look forward to reviewing this new Oppo in an upcoming issue, and also UHD players from other sources. I’d be surprised if more fence-sitters don’t also jump onto the UHD Blu-ray player bandwagon at CES.

brenro's picture

I thought Dolby Vision required specific circuitry and couldn't simply be added through a firmware update?

Deus02's picture

Aside from the LG OLED monitors that have both HDR-10 and Dolby Vison already installed, The "P-Series" Visio televisions initially had HDR-10 already in their monitors and a firmware update came somewhat later which allowed Dolby Vision to be added, so apparently this "after sale" addition is possible. As of this point, only the LG OLED monitors and the Viso have both extended range video systems installed. What happens internally during the manufacturing process, I suppose, still has a bearing on the ability to be able do this. I remember, not longer after I purchased my Oppo BDP 105 and aside from the usual firmware updates for any newer BR disc issues and improving operation, via firmware updates they have added or reduced services and updated Netflix.

Since it wasn't mentioned in the column, I am curious, however, to know about the additional services such as Netflix(the ability to stream 4K video)Youtube and all the other usual stuff since the manufacturers that have already or about to introduce 4K models already have these services installed on their players.

chrisheinonen's picture

Vizio P-Series and M-Series displays shipped with Dolby Vision support integrated, as they could stream content from Vudu using Dolby Vision, and HDR10 support over HDMI was added later in a firmware update. The LG OLEDs also later added Dolby Vision support for streaming in Netflix thanks to an app update, but the hardware for Dolby Vision was already present.

chrisheinonen's picture

Dolby Vision does require extra hardware, but that's hardware that the Oppo will come installed with. What isn't done yet, according to them, is the software to make that hardware do Dolby Vision. However since the hardware that is required for support is there, a software update should make it compatible with Dolby Vision. Other players or TVs that don't ship with this hardware already there can't be upgraded to DV later on.

This is in contrast to HDR10, which was able to be implemented in the Vizio sets later on due to the fact that it can be done in software. Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), which is what will be likely used for HDR on broadcast TV, also can likely be added later with software on many displays though it obviously depends on the hardware already in the TV and if the manufacturer can develop the software for it.

brenro's picture

First I've heard of HLG.

mlknez's picture

Are there any USB type B connectors so that one can connect this device to a computer directly to act as a multi-channel external DAC? Can this device navigate SMB shares or just DLNA/UPnP? Is it able to open an .iso files such as DVD, BD, UHD or SACD .iso? What is the highest PCM multichannel files supported? DXD?

stangage70's picture

I think you mean "USB 3.0?"

"Two HDMI 3.0 ports on the back panel"

Bob Ankosko's picture
Yes, you are correct. We have revised the text.
Thomas J. Norton's picture
As other comments here have noted, we have confirmed that the as-shipped hardware in the UDP-203 will be capable of supporting Dolby Vision, but the firmware is not yet complete.

According to information we’ve received, the player’s USB ports are type A. While they’ll support flash drives and hard discs, the player isn’t capable of performing as an external DAC. A type B input, however, is expected in a future, higher-end Oppo UHD player (as in the current, HD BDP-105/105D).

While the rest of the question dives into what for many off us is the tall grass, our information notes that the UDP-203 can access both SMB shares and DLNA/UPnP. But because of copyright licensing restrictions it won’t open an .iso file. The player’s highest PCM rate is 192kHz. DXD, which requires higher than that, is not supported.

As to streaming capability, our information on that is mute. But there are, of course, USB dongles and other devices available that can be added by the user for that purpose if the player's offerings prove to be too limited.