We've got a standing gentleman's bet with a friend in regards to the state of Blu-ray as a medium and technology. To be blunt, we think it's going to fade into a niche market after a few years. Our friend is a full blown subscriber of the admittedly impressive performance Blu-ray bestows when done right; watching Casino Royale in full 1080p on a 50" HD display with a powerful home theater audio system this past holidays over at our extended family put to rest any doubts of what the format can do. But we're in the camp that believes despite all the improvements to sight and sound, the average customer is fine with DVD resolution and upscaling...
Most market indicators support the view that Blu-ray may have timed itself into obsolescence thanks to the emergence of online delivery services that threaten to rearrange the home movie market into one primarily delivered virtually, not physically. Still, that doesn't mean we're not fans of Blu-ray's performance, especially now the format is finally offering a wider selection of films; the Criterion series and back catalog of smaller cinematic gems like Dark City on Blu-ray have us wondering whether we should jump in, damn all purchasing trends and recessionary habits, even if we really do believe the future is internet delivery. Now there's yet one more reason to reconsider Blu-ray: the Oppo BDP-83.
Our current DVD player is the Oppo 971H, an affordable workhorse of a player that upscales standard def films to quasi-HD resolution (not really, but it's still nicer than we thought possible projecting films onto a 92" screen); we purchased the Oppo 971H for its solid performance reputation and its ability to play region coded films and have nary a complaint...only praise. So we definitely take notice when our favourite under the radar brand announces the upcoming release of their own Blu-ray player, one packed with the sort of features which make the Oppo BDP-83 stand out from the competition:
- Full HD 1080p output at 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and up to 1080p 50 or 60Hz
- BD "Profile 1.1" enables "picture-in-picture" and secondary audio features for commentary
- BD "Profile 2.0" and contains all necessary hardware - audio/video decoder, Ethernet port, and 1GB of internal storage - for BD-Live
- DVD up-conversioni>
- Compatible with SACD, DVD-Audio audio CD, Kodak Picture CD, AVCHD, MKV, and other audio/video/picture files on recorded discs
- USB Stick and external USB drive support
The Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player is the sort of "throw in the kitchen sink" engineering we normally avoid, but considering the overwhelmingly positive tester feedback from two rounds of fortunate early adopters, one can assume this is yet another dark horse candidate for best consumer Blu-ray player for those who don't care for a Sony PS3.
Check out Adrian Wittenberg's preliminary report about the Oppo BDP-83 bodes well for those of who've waited and waited for just the right player. The $499 price tag is reasonable, though we're still hoping for a $399 finalized MSRP so we can jump into the Blu-ray foray with nary a regret. Of course that would just mean we'd have to upgrade to a full 1080p projector...