Not many people in the UK have heard of OPPO, but in the US the company has made a name for itself as a purveyor of fine upscaling DVD players. The company's three-strong range is making its way over to this side of the pond, and we're taking a look at the top-end DV-981HD. This deck has won loads of awards in the States, so it's with a great deal of excitement that we whip it out of the box.
The player isn't currently available in the shops (OPPO is currently talking to UK distributors) but you can find a few online from outlets such as OppoShop, a European website that offers fast delivery times, and no import tax or duty charges for UK buyers. (It also trades via Amazon).
Taking the player out of the box, it's encased in a protective fabric sleeve sporting the company logo, a sign that this is a cut above your average supermarket cheapie. Also in the box you'll find an HDMI cable, which could save you a few quid.
The player itself is extremely slim, measuring just 42mm high, and build quality is solid. It's heavier than you'd except for a deck this slim, due to the use of metal as opposed to plastic. In terms of looks it's very attractive, with the sleek black finish, silver trim and blue lights providing the requisite eye candy.
Being such a slim unit, we expected some cuts in the connections department, but OPPO has squeezed a decent selection onto the rear panel. HDMI output is provided for suitably equipped displays, and this will deliver 1080p, 1080i, 720p and 576p pictures. There are no component video outputs, so if your display lacks HDMI, your next best option is the RGB SCART output followed by the unappealing choice of composite or S-video output. On the audio side there's a set of 5.1-channel analogue phonos and a separate stereo pair, while digital audio outputs come in both optical and coaxial varieties.
The unit's feature list is hugely generous. It's a universal player, which means it spins DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD and CD, plus it handles almost every recordable disc type - DVD-R/-RW, DVD+RW/+R/+R (DL) and CD-R/-RW are all supported. The DV-981HD also offers one of the most comprehensive lists of playable file types we've seen, covering MP3, WMA, JPEG, XviD and all versions of DivX. Even files with .SRT, .SMI, .IDX and .SUB suffixes can be played. We also chucked a whole bunch of unspecified web-derived videos at it and the deck decoded most of them, but sadly not WMV.