Digital, Inc. rocked the A/V industry last year with the release of their highly-regarded BDP-83 Blu-ray player. The player performed well in so many categories that other manufacturers were left scratching their heads. It was not surprising that when OPPO recently announced their new BDP-80, many were wondering what this new Blu-ray Disc™ player was capable of, especially at a price point of only $289. The BDP-80 is a full-featured universal Blu-ray Disc™ player with 1GB of memory that supports BD Profile 2.0 (BD-Live and BonusView), DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, Super Audio CD (SACD), HDCD, CD, MP3 and other popular media formats such as Kodak Picture CD, AVCHD, MKV, and other audio/video files, digital photos and music. Many popular files can be played by simply loading them on a disc or on a memory stick installed in the front or back USB slot. The BDP-80 is based on the same video decoder found in the BDP-83 model, but does have some differences that we will cover in this review.
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The BDP-80 offers the same fast disc load times and quick response to user commands found in the BDP-83 design. The BDP-80 has a plastic front panel with a brushed metallic look, giving it a modern and sleek appearance. The unit measures approximately 17-inches wide, 2.25-inches high and 11-inches deep and weighs about 8 pounds. The BDP-80 handles audio in much the same way as the BDP-83 with full support of internal audio decoding and bitstream output of Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ formats.
The BDP-80 has many interface options on the back of the unit, similar to the BDP-83. HDMI, component
s-video, and composite video connections are provided as well as an ethernet port for Blu-ray's BD-Live and BonusView interactivity and firmware updates.
There is a USB port on both the front and back of this unit for media as well as an optional way to update the firmware. Both coaxial and optical
(toslink) digital outputs are provided for compatible receivers and A/V processors. A set of 7.1 outputs provide analog audio from the built-in decoder and can be configured for stereo, 5.1 or 7.1. There is no separate stereo outputs on the back like that found on the BDP-83. The detachable power
cord is desirable especially when placed in tight areas. There is also no RS232
port option, IR input/outputs or cooling fan on this unit.
The BDP-80's HDMI v1.3 port supports Full HD 1080p, 1080p 24Hz, 30-bit and 36-bit Deep Color and Source Direct modes. Component video, S-Video and Composite video connections are also available for legacy analog displays. In addition to its faithful reproduction of high-definition pictures on Blu-ray Discs, the player can up-convert DVD from standard definition up to 1080p to maximize DVD picture quality. Its "Source Direct" output mode makes the BDP-80 incredibly well suited as a digital transport to feed into an external video processor, a high-end A/V receiver or display device with built-in video processing. Unique features such as subtitle shift and vertical stretch zoom mode makes the player an ideal source component for home theaters with 2.35:1 CIH (Constant Image Height) displays. This allows the projector to use full vertical resolution without having black bars on the top and bottom, resulting in a higher quality picture. It is analogous to the film projectors used in theaters where an anamorphic lens is placed in front of the projector to properly format the image to the proper aspect ratio while utilizing the full frame resolution. However, this does require a screen in the proper 2.35:1 format.
The BDP-80 has a layout similar to other OPPO players. The right side of the unit has the power supply board isolated from the other boards to minimize noise on the audio and video signals. The BDP-80 power supply is designed to work worldwide accepting voltages from 100-240VAC at 50/60
Hz. The video processing board is located on the left side with a large finned heatsink placed on the critical component to keep it from overheating. The BDP-80 lacks DVD 24p conversion, which can improve film-based source material. Instead, the BDP-80 handles all video processing tasks using its main decoder chip (OP8521G) with custom firmware that was developed from OPPO's years of experience with reproducing reference quality video. This is actually one of the same chips used in the BDP-83.
The audio DAC board located in the center behind the Blu-ray drive has some local linear power regulation and a Cirrus CS4361 6-channel 24/96 DAC. All
analog outputs pass through high-performance low noise (5532) operational
amplifiers before exiting the gold-plated RCA connectors on the back of the unit.
The BDP-80 remote is virtually the same as the BDP-83 remote, but without the backlighting feature and is slightly lighter and thinner. Users can upgrade the remote if backlighting is desired. The remote has large buttons that have identifying symbols,
making them easy to see. OPPO
has also included a three position switch inside the battery compartment that allows the user to change
the command set so that it does not interfere with other OPPO products.
The Top Menu and Pop-Up Menu buttons are
located on the upper left and right sides of the navigation buttons. Setup and Return are located on the lower right and left of the navigation
buttons. Stop, Play and Pause are larger buttons. Pressing the Resolution button allows the user to select from Auto, 480I/576I, 480P/576P, 720P, 1080I, 1080P, or Source Direct
We connected the BDP-80 to our Denon AVR-5308CI A/V receiver using
the HDMI cable provided to carry full bandwidth audio and video. We also
connected the 5.1 analog outputs to the Denon to test OPPO's internal audio
decoder and DACs. OPPO provides an HDMI cable along with a detachable power cord for the unit.
AVR-5308CI A/V receiver mated to a Parasound HCA-2205AT five channel amplifier
to drive our M&K S150THX 5.1 speaker system. The AVR-5308CI has a
THX crossover set at 80 Hz and works well with our speaker configuration.
The receiver is capable of decoding all of the latest surround formats
over HDMI and also has the option for multi-channel analog inputs, so
we were able to test the BDP-80's internal audio decoding, DACs
and analog section. Our projector, an Anthem LTX-500v 1080p D-ILA unit,
projected an image onto a 92-inch Screen Innovations Black Diamond II
filmscreen with 0.8 screen gain.
The BDP-80 works well as a stand-alone Blu-ray/DVD/CD-player and offers better than average audio and video quality when compared to many BD players currently on the market. We set the output to 1080p, so that all of the video upconversion was performed by the player. What is different on the BDP-80 from the BDP-83 is that it lacks the Video Reference Series (VRS) technology from Anchor Bay and instead uses a "System-on-Chip" with custom firmware for video processing. What this means is if you are planning to use this player to scale DVD content to a larger HDTV, you might not get the same level of performance as you would with the more expensive BDP-83. This may be particularly true on complex scenes where the BDP-83 can outperform the BDP-80 on de-interlacing processing. Some film-based content showed more judder since it lacks 24p conversion with DVD's. However, there were several DVD's that I watched that looked very good on this player even with our large screen.
The analog audio outputs on the BDP-80 offered good sound quality, but were not quite at the same performance level of the flagship BDP-83SE (Special Edition), which is 3 times the price and geared more for audiophiles. It certainly was not objectionable to listen to and most customers will be quite satisfied with the analog audio performance this player has to offer.
As a Transport
If you plan to use the BDP-80 as a transport by relying on video processing in an A/V receiver, display, or projector, then there is little need to worry about the video processing limitations on this player. The BDP-80 can be configured to output video in the Source Direct mode, which bypasses the internal video processing and is intended for use with an outboard video processor. Our Anthem LTX-500v 1080p D-ILA projector with ISF/THX certification has a Silicon Optix HQV Reon-VX video processor that provides unparalleled video performance with this player. In this configuration, the video performance was excellent and rivaled the more expensive BDP-83.
The HDMI interface on the BDP-80 carries the digital audio bitstream to our Denon AVR-5308CI A/V receiver, where all of the audio decoding and D/A conversion takes place. This A/V receiver has been in our reference system for over a year now and is quite capable of delivering excellent sound quality. This type of setup is ideal for the BDP-80 and is the recommended configuration for getting the best performance out of this player.
Graphical User Interface (GUI)
When initially turned
on, the BDP-80 walks the user through a series of settings, making
it easy to get started. Video connections and resolution are selected
along with aspect ratio and audio options. This will get the vast majority
of users up and running in little time. Users can also dive deep into
the Setup Menu to better define their audio and video settings to maximize performance and to set common preferences.
The BDP-80 has the same Easy Setup Wizard as the BDP-83 to help make configuring your new Blu-ray player as simple as possible. Each of the menu screens asks a simple question to configure the Blu-ray player for the proper settings. Users can always go back and make detailed changes if necessary.
Easy Setup Wizard
The Easy Setup Wizard is designed to walk the user through some initial settings to get the most out of the player quickly.
Oppo calls it the Initial Wizard in the GUI and it consists of 6 basic steps that require little input from the user. The process is fast and easy without having to navigate the more complex setup menus. Some basic understanding of the hardware connections is required.
First the user needs to define the video output. The user can choose between HDMI and components video. Whenever possible, the user should always select HDMI unless the display being used does not support it. HDMI has the handshake for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), so resolution may be limited if the HDMI digital interface is not used. Video resolution can be set to Source Direct, 480I, 480P, 720P, 1080I, 1080P or Auto. Once the TV output mode is changed the player will ask the user to confirm the setting before making the change final. If the user does not confirm the new setting, the player will revert back to the previous video mode. This prevents the player from using a video mode that is not compatible with the display.
The next step defines the aspect ratio of the display. Displays with a 4:3 aspect ratio can select Letterbox or Pan & Scan. Those with the newer 16:9 HDTV's can choose Wide or Wide/Auto with the latter mode placing side borders on 4:3 source material.
Finally, the user needs to select the audio mode. The Compatible mode is designed to work with most displays and receivers. However, there is also an advanced setting for HDMI 1.3 compatible receivers. More advanced users should use the Audio Settings in the Setup Menu.
The intent of the Wizard is to get the user up and running quickly. Without it some less savvy users may find themselves searching through the manual to get a picture. We think it is a great idea for the general public, but would recommend users eventually become familiar with all of the great features available (there are many) on this player. The Setup Menu button gives the user access to all of the player's features.
The Setup Menu on the BDP-80 has six categories and provides
the user with advanced control of the unit's operation. Each menu (Playback
Setup, Video Setup, Audio Format Setup, Audio
Processing, Device Setup, and Network Setup) has
an extensive set of parameters that can be adjusted for optimal performance.
The Playback Setup menu defines the SACD Priority, DVD-Audio Mode, Auto
Play Mode, Play Back Control, Parental
Control (based on ratings) settings, and Language. SACD Priority
can be set to multi-channel, stereo or CD-mode. The DVD-Audio Mode
selects how DVD-Audio discs will be played (DVD-Audio or DVD-Video). Much
depends on how the user's system is configured and what it supports. Auto
Play and Play Back Control (PBC) can be set to on or
off. The Language submenu controls the Player Language, Disc Menu Language, Audio Language, and Subtitle Language.
The Video Setup menu adjusts all the video parameters. The Picture
Adjustment provides standard and advanced picture settings.
Primary Output determines the video output (HDMI or Component). When using
the Component Output, copyright control mechanisms encoded on the disc may limit output resolution. Therefore, the HDMI output should always be used whenever possible to maximize video performance. The 1080p24 Output setting (On/Off) is designed to provide the best video performance with smoother motion when viewing film-based Blu-ray discs on compatible displays by outputting video at 24 frames per second. The Color
Space (Auto, RGB Video Level, YCbCr 4:4:4, or YCbCr 4:2:2) is also
selectable. Finally, HDMI Deep Color (30-bits, 36-bits, or OFF) can
be set to match the display for smoother color transitions and seamless
gradients. The Display Options menu provides options for on-screen information such as Subtitle Shift, OSD Position, OSD Mode, and Angle Mark.
The Audio Format menu sets the Secondary Audio (on/off), which
mixes the secondary audio with the main audio. HDMI Audio (LPCM/Bitstream/Off)
can be set based on the equipment or preferences of the user. We ran our
outputs in the bitstream mode and let the Denon receiver do all the decoding.
The SACD Output (PCM/DSD) can also be set to output a raw DSD stream
or converted PCM data. The HDCD Decoding can be set ON or OFF. If you want your receiver to decode the HDCD stream using the digital output, this should be set to OFF. The Coaxial/Optical Output (LPCM/Bitstream)
selects whether the player converts
the audio to PCM or allows the receiver to decode the raw bitstream. The LPCM Rate Limit (48kHz, 96kHz, or 192 kHz)
sets the maximum sample rate for compatible equipment. This prevents the
player from sending higher resolution data than is supported over the digital outputs.
The Audio Processing menu defines the Speaker Configuration
of the system and allows each channel to be set to large or small and
adjusted for level and distance. The Speaker Configuration only
applies to the analog outputs and does not affect the digital bitstream
or LPCM outputs. The Down Mix Mode can be set to 7.1CH, 5.1CH,
Stereo and LT/RT. This mode will down mix the source material to the specified
mode (i.e. 5.1 to stereo or 7.1 to 5.1). The Dynamic Range Control
can be set to Auto, On or Off.
The Device Setup menu can display the Firmware Information. This is useful when determining the player's current firmware version. The Firmware Upgrade selection is used to update the firmware (Ethernet, USB or Disc). The Firmware Notification option (ON or OFF) will check for a new firmware version automatically and let the user know if an update is available. The Remote Control Code (1, 2, or 3) needs to match the manual switch setting inside of the back compartment of the remote. There are also settings for HDMI CEC (On/Limited/Off), Dimmer Control (On, Off,
Auto), Persistent Storage, and Reset Factory Defaults.
The Network Setup menu configures the ethernet connection features
that allow access to BD-Live content as well as firmware
updates. The user can choose manual or auto (DHCP) IP configuration. The
current IP Address, Subnet Mask, Gateway, DNS 1, and DNS 2 are displayed.
The BD-Live network access can be turned on or off. The Connection Test will run a check to verify the network connection is working properly. The user can select MAC Address to display the MAC (Media Access Control) address of the player.
This BDP-80 has the ability to produce a stunning picture with Blu-ray content and we saw this with a wide range of movies we played on our system. In our case we had somewhat of an ideal setup with an excellent receiver and video projector. This really exemplifies the BDP-80's best attributes and bypasses it weaknesses. Movies will look their best without motion artifacts thanks to the BD 1080p24 support on this player. When paired with a good video processor, DVD will look fantastic on this player as it did in our system.
We were very impressed with the picture quality on the BDP-80 with excellent color rendition and fine resolution. The picture exhibited smooth gradations from black to white with well saturated and accurate skin tones. Action scenes were particularly exciting to watch with smooth video reproduction on both film and animated content.
Multi-channel audio discs are always exciting to listen to when new equipment arrives in our audio room. One of our favorites is Steely Dan's Gaucho presented in DTS 5.1. We started with Steely Dan's - Gaucho, playing the first two tracks (Babylon Sisters and Hey Nineteen) with excellent fidelity. The analog outputs on the BDP-80 had slightly more edginess when compared to the internal DACs in the Denon AVR-5308CI A/V receiver. Other multi-channel discs such as John Mayer's Heavier Things on SACD sounded excellent on this system with the player set to output DSD over HDMI. While we prefer to let the Denon handle the D/A conversion, the BDP-80 does a commendable job in the analog domain.
There has been a lot of talk about just how fast many of the players currently on the market play Blu-ray discs. Access times can vary significantly due
to the internal processing required along with Java-heavy titles. The good news is the
BDP-80 appeared to be just as fast as the BDP-83 based on our test discs. It is not surprising since it uses the same main decoder chip (OP8521G) as the BDP-83. Layer switching was also very similar to the BDP-83.
There is no doubt that Oppo has become a major player in the home theater market and with each new product reaffirms the company's ability to deliver products that customers want. OPPO's new BDP-80 Blu-ray player is a great unit and is aggressively priced to compete in the mainstream BD player market with some key advantages over others.
Choosing between the BDP-80 and the BDP-83 really depends on your system components and luckily there is no wrong choice. However, if you happen to have a good audio and video processor already in your system, then you will certainly benefit from the BDP-80 and save over $200 when compared to the BDP-83. As a transport, the BDP-80 provides fast access times and the ability to stream digital content to an outboard audio and video processor with excellent results. The BDP-80 is also a good match for those with smaller screens. As a standalone player it performs well, but not quite at the same level as its big brother, the BDP-83. The BDP-83 is better suited in cases where the user is completely dependent on the Blu-ray player to perform the video processing task. OPPO has taken the best features of their product line and made it affordable with the BDP-80.