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OPPO has built up a cult following among home cinema fans with a succession of feature-packed yet affordable DVD players, and is now taking the next logical step by moving into the Blu-ray market.
We've been salivating over OPPO's debut Blu-ray player (not literally, it invalidates the warranty) ever since it appeared on the company's US website last year as the BDP-83. But at long last the company has launched a European version (adding an extra 1 to the model number for good measure), giving us a chance to find out how well OPPO's talents transfer to the world of hi-def.
Why are we so excited by this Profile 2.0 player? Well, not only does it boast one of the most extensive feature lists of any hi-def deck we've encountered, but the on-board electronics also have a distinct high-end flavour - plus the £450 price tag is a lot less than you'd normally expect to pay for such a well-endowed deck.
The look and feel of the BDP-831 befits a player with lofty aspirations. The casing is solid and reassuringly weighty, and the brushed aluminium fascia is bereft of any crowd-pleasing embellishments - it's understated, esoteric and seriously stylish. We love the cluster of silver buttons on the right, alongside a USB port designed to play digital media from flash drives - and as we'll discover, the OPPO supports a dizzying array of formats.
Equally pleasing is the rear panel which leaves no stone unturned. Naturally you get HDMI v1.3, component and composite video outputs, while the audio line-up includes a set of 7.1-channel analogue outputs, separate analogue stereo outputs, plus optical and coaxial digital audio ports.
This comprehensive set of sonic sockets, combined with the OPPO's on-board HD audio decoders, means the OPPO is ready to serve any sound system. It will output Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio bitstreams to cutting-edge receivers boasting HDMI v1.3 inputs and the relevant decoding, or output them as PCM from the HDMI or multichannel analogue outputs for less sophisticated amps.