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Oppo UDP-203 review

John Archer

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Awards

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Oppo UDP-203
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  • Oppo UDP-203
  • OPPO UDP-203
  • OPPO UDP-203
  • OPPO UDP-203
  • OPPO UDP-203

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • The best 4K Blu-ray picture quality yet
  • Good sound and build quality
  • Dolby Vision coming soon

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No built-in online streaming apps
  • High audio lag and no HDR on HDMI input

Key Features

  • SoC (System on Chip) UHD Blu-ray decoder
  • AKM 8-channel, 32-bit DAC
  • Built-in dual-band Wi-Fi
  • 2-channel DSD256 and multi-channel DSD64/128 support
  • UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray (2D & 3D), DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD and AVCHD disc playback
  • DLNA/SMB media streaming
  • Manufacturer: OPPO Digital
  • Review Price: £649.00

What is the Oppo UDP-203?

At £650, the UDP-203 is comfortably the Ultra HD Blu-ray world’s most expensive player to date. Frustratingly for your bank balance, it does a seriously good job of justifying that price. That's thanks to a long list of features and a proprietary new processing engine that takes the 4K UHD Blu-ray format to new heights.

Related: Best Blu-ray PlayersOppo UDP-203

Oppo UDP-203 – Design and Build

The UDP-203 is built like the proverbial brick out-house. That is actually a very good thing.

Sure, it’s big. At W430 x D311 x H79mm, It's bigger than any other UHD Blu-ray player I've seen. And it's heavy at 4.4kg. There's also no concern for such fancy stuff such as rounded edges or smoked-glass fascias. With its heavy-duty black metal finish, its look could almost be described as brutal.

But I love it – in much the same way that I’ve always had a soft spot for Chieftain tanks. The uncompromising black metallic fascia is enhanced by a large and high-quality LED that provides plenty of useful information and looks great too.

The remote control supplied with the UDP-203 is a bit utilitarian and cluttered in appearance and layout, but at least it’s comfortable to hold. A neat touch: a motion sensor causes the buttons to illuminate as soon as you pick up the remote.

Oppo UDP-203 – Setup

Oppo is already well known to AV enthusiasts for its much-loved BDP-103 and BDP-105 Blu-ray players – decks that offer an expensive but uncompromising and feature-rich approach to Blu-ray playback. So it’s no surprise to find that the UDP-203 also goes further than any other UHD BD deck to offer the sort of features video enthusiasts and custom installers want to see.

Among the most useful tools at your disposal are a variety of colour space output options (including RGB PC, RGB Video, and YCbCr output at 4:4:4, 4:2:2 and 4:2:0), and the option to choose between 12-bit, 10-bit and even 8-bit colour depth. Oppo UDP-203

Such flexibility is invaluable to custom installers and users alike in these early days of HDR, where compatibility issues between displays, sources and even cables are not uncommon. The ability to manually choose 10-bit output over 12-bit is particularly welcome given the colour striping issues that the automatic 12-bit output of Panasonic’s UB900 deck can cause on some TVs.

Also welcome are the UDP-203’s HDR options. These include an HDR Off setting that does a good job of converting HDR to SDR for displays that can't handle HDR, and a Strip Metadata option that simply removes the HDR metadata from the video equation entirely.

The latter is a useful option for people who own 4K-capable TV and projectors that aren’t really bright enough to do HDR justice, since it allows them to benefit from UHD BD’s 4K resolution without having to worry about HDR in any way.

The Strip Metadata option does leave images looking too dark and slightly over-dominated by red. But it’s easier to calibrate a brightness-challenged display than it is to work around the fundamental issues that can accompany both native HDR and HDR-to-SDR conversions.

Oppo UDP-203 – Features

The 203’s connections join its build quality in quickly establishing its premium credentials. The front panel sports a single USB port, while the rear is dominated by phono audio-line jacks for outputting 7.1-channel decoded audio.

Alongside are 3.5mm trigger in and out ports; an RS-232 port for integrating the UDP-203 into a home control setup; two more 3.0 USBs; optical and coaxial digital audio outs; two HDMI outputs (one for audio, one for video); a LAN, if you don’t want to use the deck’s built-in Wi-Fi; and finally, an HDMI input so you can loop external video sources through the UDP-203 to take advantage of its video processing capabilities.

Oppo UDP-203

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this HDMI input isn’t much use. Partly because it’s currently unable to pass HDR, but mostly because using it introduces substantial audio lag with almost every source run through it. The resulting lip-sync issues were too severe to be fixed by the audio delay provided within the UDP-203’s menus. This is something that can hopefully be fixed with a firmware update.

The UDP-203’s star attraction is its new OP8591 chipset. This SoC has been designed in conjunction with MediaTek (with whom Oppo collaborated on the rapturously received 103 and 105 Blu-ray decks) with a laser-like focus on producing the best picture quality yet seen from a 4K Blu-ray deck.

This isn't the only thing of appeal about the OP8591 SoC, though. It’s also responsible for the unusually wide-ranging suite of picture options covered in the Setup section, and it appears to be unusually flexible when it comes to delivering bug fixes and new features via firmware.

The deck has already received a number of post-launch patches and feature additions, and another significant one is set to arrive at the end of March, when Oppo is scheduled to add Dolby Vision HDR support to the UDP-203’s already long feature list.

This update will make the UDP-203 the world’s first Dolby Vision-capable Ultra HD Blu-ray deck. Given what we’ve already witnessed with Dolby Vision streams from Netflix and Amazon, it isn't surprising that the UDP-203’s Dolby Vision capabilities are a big deal for many home-cinema enthusiasts. However a firm release date is yet to be announced for any Dolby Vision-capable UHD Blu-ray titles.

The UDP-203’s audio talents take in all the usual multi-channel movie audio suspects, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The deck’s 32-bit, 8-channel DAC can parse multi-channel DSD64/128 and 192kHz/32-bit PCM high-resolution sound formats.

The UDP bit of the UDP-203’s name stands for Universal Disc Playback, referencing the fact that it can play Blu-rays, 3D Blu-rays, DVDs, SACDs, DVD-Audio discs and CDs, alongside the Ultra HD Blu-rays you’ll have bought it for.

Oppo UDP-203

The deck is also capable of being a multimedia hub. During my tests FLAC, WAV, MKV, MP4, MP3, AVCHD and JPEG file types were all handled via USB or DLNA network streaming. The only niggle is that I couldn’t find a DLNA server with which the UDP-203 retained the correct album track order when streaming music via DLNA. If any UDP-203 owners have found a solution, feel free to share it in the Comments section.

The UDP-203 is missing a couple of features of its extensive list. First, there’s no smart app support – not even Netflix or Amazon. I guess Oppo can argue that many TVs now carry all the key streaming services, but I would have liked the ability to push these streaming services through the UDP-203’s video processing systems.

The second is a system for converting DTS audio tracks to Dolby Digital. This has become useful in light of the rather bizarre way the new generation of Dolby Atmos-capable soundbars only play DTS multi-channel soundtracks – found on around 70% of Blu-ray discs – in stereo.

Bugblatter

September 29, 2016, 1:37 pm

I strongly suspect I'll be selling my Panny UB900 and getting this. The Panny's great for playing discs but rubbish for everything else.

I'm surprised about the lack of streaming services though, they're kinda expected these days. The ones on the Panny are fairly unusable (everything plays at 60Hz) but at least they exist (and might get fixed someday). Luckily my TV has the streaming services built in.

Paul Suarez

September 29, 2016, 8:43 pm

Interesting, that reference to November availability. I don't think OPPO has stated/confirmed that yet.

Phantom Stranger

September 30, 2016, 1:44 am

I think most people these days have an extra box for streaming purposes like the ROKU. Those streaming services move too fast in terms of updates compared with the relatively slow hardware cycle of standalone disc players.

Daniel Cederqvist

October 4, 2016, 12:27 pm

I'm happy that there are no streaming services. First of all I like to have it clean and streamlined without apps all over the place and on all devices. If I use Netflix I like to have it in ONE place. Else it's being cluttered. I don't like that... Then I don't use Netflix, I don't use Spotify and Youtube only at my computer. I also use PLEX but that's all I use. PLEX works great at the SmartTV or upcoming PS4 Pro. I sold my BDP-93 to get my hands on this one. Possibly I wait for the next "step" since I will use it as a preamp. The DAC also seems to been improved a bit.

AML

November 10, 2016, 12:53 am

This is the one ive been waiting for. Day one purchase for me. (hopefully this will be the first and last UHD player ill ever have to get)

Roger Kelly

November 12, 2016, 12:26 pm

I will just plug in my existing Oppo BDP 103 player into the HDMI Input of the new Oppo UDP-203 player for the time being, for all my streaming needs of Netflix etc which are all available on the existing BDP-103 player. I will just daisy chain the two Oppo's together and plug the Oppo UDP-203 into my home receiver for multi channel goodness. The streaming of apps problem for the time being is then solved until Oppo send us the Netflix/Pandora apps etc to the new player down the line in a future firmware update, which I heard they plan to do at a later date :)

Young-Sub Byun

November 29, 2016, 3:25 am

Oppo's website says available in December... but when in December??? Also will it support Dolby ATMOS and VISION? Dying to find out!!

Mitchimal

November 29, 2016, 10:52 am

Dolby atmos and vision yes.

Michael Foster

December 1, 2016, 3:33 am

I can't wait my PlayStation pro does a better job of up scaling regular blurays , than samsung 4k bluray player i have and i am looking forward to dolby vision.

DEVILTAZ35 .

December 2, 2016, 12:01 am

Most amplifiers don't support vision anyway.

John M. Read

December 2, 2016, 6:00 am

Whereas I am keen to see the next Pioneer and Marantz HDR BluRay players. I have an upgraded Oppo now but would consider Pioneer or Marantz as alternatives...exciting times. Outside USA YouTube for me and for others (not me) Netflix are important. All cable delivery sucks in quality against original discs...strictly casual watching only.

Anthony Steiner

December 3, 2016, 6:18 pm

Why no support for USB-C? Only USB 3.0???

Francesco Scinico

December 4, 2016, 3:09 pm

Wish it had digital inputs.

Patrick Uitz

December 11, 2016, 1:23 pm

How is the sound quality? As good as the 105?

JOe K.

December 14, 2016, 11:07 pm

Is video from the streaming device input able to be run through the processing as well? So if I run my Roku through it will it apply video processing?

luisnlupe

December 16, 2016, 1:28 pm

AUDIO !! Does it sound good on a good 2-ch stereo system??

gbearman

December 19, 2016, 9:10 am

needs to be a lot better than the 103

Shiva Layananda Pashupati

December 20, 2016, 5:14 pm

I wonder if the USB will recognize Mac-formatted hard drives? The BDP-103 did not. But since the UDP-203 reads AIFF files, it may also recognize Mac discs. Time will tell.

DEVILTAZ35 .

December 21, 2016, 2:59 am

I think they will as there is a firmware/apps part on the 203 page on the website but at the moment if you click on it nothing happens.
They may remain optional though as speed of operation would be affected if it has to load in apps everytime.

boe_d

January 2, 2017, 8:03 pm

admit I use my Oppo 203 most of the time for what the manufacturer probably thought was a secondary function at best. I stream all my movies and TV shows to it via SMB with discs I've ripped from my collection so I never have to put another disc in my player. I had the 103 and the 203 has some advantages - much faster scrolling, much faster boot time, faster network detection and some 4K file streaming on the local network!

I'm sure many of my MKV playback issues can be resolved with a firmware update. The issues I'd like them to resolve:

1. Make the back arrow go up a folder level when you are at the beginning of a list.

2. Make the down arrow scroll to the next column when you are at the bottom of a column.

3. Make the background adjustable - somewhat light blue with white text.

4. Fix the audio issue - sometimes the voices sound like a dalek and cylon produced a love child - easy to fix by hopping from one mkv and back, voices play back normally without distortion - wasn't and issue on the 103.

5. Offer more codec playback options for 4K MKVs - will play HEVC (Main 10@L5.1@Main) or HEVC (Main 10@L5.1@High) but will not play HEVC (Main 10@L6.1@Main)

6. Fix playback so it can play Dolby Atmos MKV files - the 103 could stream them and playback as Dolby Atmos but the 203 won't.

7. Ideally the 203 would have a plex or other app so you could really have a nice menu system but I don't know if that is something they would consider.

I don't know about the plex as that really is a big feature request but I do think Oppo will fix the first 6 concerns as they have been VERY good about supporting the 103 with firmware fixes in the past.

gbearman

January 10, 2017, 11:20 am

Does 203 sound better than the 103 which I did not like & got a refund

gbearman

January 10, 2017, 11:22 am

Best to wait for the new Sony BD player shown at 2017 CES

John M. Read

January 10, 2017, 1:36 pm

I'm always happy to be surprised...

boe_d

January 10, 2017, 2:34 pm

Sounds about the same to me as my prepro does all the audio work. The 105 and 205 are for people who want analog audio. I had an onkyo prepro ages ago and it sounded horrible so you might want to check your receiver or prerpo.

Piotr Kundu

January 14, 2017, 4:25 pm

I can't see why you would need Amazon or Netflix on a high-end bluray like this. The bitrate on these streaming services is so low you wouldn't get the best out of the AKM 4458 DAC. That's a bit like driving driving a Mercedes S-class and saying "it's pity it doesn't have a 2-stroke engine". Netflix has almost no Atmos movies and doesn't support DTS:X. It's costs a LOT of money to develop a video player for Netflix/Amazon.

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