The BDP-831 continues to amaze when it's time to load a disc - Spider-Man 3's first video screen appeared in 29 seconds, making this the fastest Blu-ray player we've come across. We're also hugely impressed by the BDP-831's picture quality, which gives our current midrange favourites from Pioneer and Panasonic a real run for their money. We plunged it right into the deep end with the Silicon Optix test disc and it produced a nigh-on flawless performance, tracking the movement of rotating bars smoothly without stepping along edges, and locking down the Video and Film Resolution test patterns without strobing, flickering or other such nastiness.
Next in the tray was The Dark Knight and the OPPO treats the superhero epic with the respect it deserves. Shots of Gotham are lavished with rich, forceful blacks, terrific shadow detail and clean, crisp lines. Fantastic detail retrieval gives the image irresistible punch and lucidity, the sort of artefact-free sharpness that'll make your jaw drop as soon as Chris Nolan's camera starts moving towards the skyscraper in the movie's opening scene.
It also nails the movie's testing colour palette, reproducing the vivid hues of Joker's clashing clothes with plenty of depth and accuracy, while delicately shaded skin tones look almost life-like. There's the slightest hint of noise in some areas of the picture that the noise reduction modes don't pick up but nothing that'll greatly affect your enjoyment - in every other respect the OPPO is an awesome picture performer.
That also applies to upscaled DVD pictures, which look sharp, clean and radiant, and if your TV supports it you can even convert them to 24Hz. As a run-through of our HQV disc confirms, it's right up there with the best DVD upscalers we've tested and is yet another string to the OPPO's bow.
Musically, the BDP-831 is obviously at its best with an SACD or DVD-Audio disc in the tray. Through the analogue outputs, it injects plenty of drive and detail into I Can't Stand Losing You by The Police on SACD, and a variety of Japanese jazz tunes on DVD-Audio sounds sublime. But CDs also scrub up nicely, getting a warm and well-balanced treatment.
Using the same multichannel outputs, the OPPO masterfully orchestrates The Dark Knight's Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Rear effects are direct and precisely steered; while effects from the front channels are delivered with plenty of bite and dialogue is suitably velvety.
With OPPO's European arm recently relocating to this country and a new UK online store about to go live, the company is looking to raise its profile among British buyers - and the BDP-831 is the perfect way to do so."
That's because it's one of the finest Blu-ray players on the market. Its feature list is unparalleled, particularly at this price, and it's supported by stellar AV performance, terrific build quality and lightning-quick disc loading. For these reasons it's arguably an all-round better player than the Pioneer BDP-LX52 or the Panasonic DMP-BD80, which is really saying something.