OPPO's long awaited UDP-203 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray player ($549) is an exciting replacement for their popular BDP-103(D)/105(D) Blu-ray players. The UDP-203 supports playback of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs with resolutions of up to 3840 x 2160 pixels (four times the number of pixels of full 1080p Blu-ray). Keeping with tradition, OPPO's UDP-203 player delivers high performance while offering universal compatibility with virtually any 5-inch (12 cm) disc (4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, AVCHD, SACD, and CD). The UDP-203 features an attractive look with a brushed aluminum front panel and metal chassis, the same excellent workmanship found in the past generations of OPPO Blu-ray players.
The UDP-203's disc loader features an optimized laser mechanism that delivers fast disc loading while offering compatibility with a wide range of optical media (including recordable discs) with strong EDAC (error detection and correction) to ensure error free physical media playback. The UDP-203 provides support for all of the current SD, HD, and UHD resolutions, including 4K@60p, 4K@50p, 4K@30p, and 4K@24p with various color spaces such as PC RGB, Video RGB, YCbCr 4:4:4, 4:2:2, and 4:2:0.
This player not only supports the traditional Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio surround formats, but is also capable of bitstreaming the latest object-based surround formats including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. In addition, the player supports multi-channel DSD64/128, as well as 192kHz/24-bit PCM used in high-resolution lossless formats such AIFF, ALAC, APE, FLAC and WAV. Your ears will appreciate the level of detail OPPO has put into this unit.
Unpacking the UDP-203
Similar to other OPPO products, the UDP-203 comes well packed with plenty of high-quality foam (the kind that doesn't deform or break) on all sides to prevent shipping damage. The accessories (power cable, premium HDMI cable, remote and batteries) are contained in a separate box to prevent items from moving around during shipping. OPPO's traditional carrying bag that covers the unit is included. As always, we were glad that OPPO placed importance on getting their products to customers without damage. High marks go to the packaging engineers.
HDTV color space
UHDTV color space
High Dynamic Range
One of the outstanding features of the UDP-203 (4K Ultra-HD format) is the inclusion of High Dynamic Range (HDR) with Wide Color Gamut (expanded color space), enabling more natural and realistic colors on the screen. The chromaticity charts show the increase in the color space (inside the triangle) going from standard high definition TV (Rec. 709) to Ultra-HDTV (Rec. 2020). The deeper red and green primaries result is a level of color performance never before possible with standard HDTV. The UDP-203 is also capable of providing an accurate conversion from HDR to SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) for older non-HDR capable displays and supports conversion between various color spaces such as BT.2020, BT.709, and BT.601.
Dolby Vision (future)
OPPO plans to offer a firmware upgrade to the UDP-203 (early in the year) that will bring Dolby Vision support to the player. This update will improve the viewing experience by delivering even more highlights, brilliant colors, and deeper blacks than ever seen before.
The front of the UDP-203 is attractive with a black anodized aluminum panel
with only a few buttons (power, tray open/close and navigation
controls) that give it an elegant and uncluttered look. Basic playback can use these buttons, but if you want to really get into the player's capabilities the IR remote is a must. The display is easy to read and can be dimmed for a home theater environment.
The UDP-203 provides a wide range of connectivity including dual HDMI outputs (one dedicated for audio use) and one HDMI input. The HDMI 2.0 output is for connecting to the latest UHD TVs, projectors and A/V receivers, and the other HDMI 1.4 audio port is for connecting to older A/V receivers. The HDMI 2.0 input port supports UHD resolution and is available for users to connect an external streaming device since the player does not have built-in Netflix or Amazon Prime streaming. There are two USB 3.0 ports and another USB port on the front. Users can play video, music and photos from USB hard drives or thumb drives. Both optical and coaxial digital outputs are provided along with wired ethernet, RS232 control, IR sensor, and 7.1 analog outputs. The UDP-203 has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet allowing users to connect to home networks to playback media files stored on computers and home servers.
7.1 Analog Outputs
The UDP-203 even offers compatibility with older amplifiers, pre-amps, and receivers that do not support HDMI. This is particularly important for those in the process of upgrading their A/V electronics. Audio is handled by an 8 channel DAC that provides audiophile quality sound. Users can configure the audio through the setup menus. All
analog outputs pass through the gold-plated RCA connectors.
The UDP-203 is easy to integrate into any system thanks to its ability to receive standard IR, RS-232, third party IP Control system, and HDMI CEC commands. The unit is equipped with a dedicated RS-232 port for wired remote control. The RS-232 port is configured as a DCE device using a standard female 9-pin D-Sub type connector. Only 3 wires are needed for transmit, receive, and signal ground connections. The UDP-203 RS232 Control Protocol document defines all of the commands as well as the electrical interface. The player also supports Trigger In and Out, so users can automatically turn on and off other devices connected to the unit.
Inside the UDP-203
The UDP-203 has a similar layout to the earlier BDP-103 blu-ray player with the switching power supply located on the left side feeding both the 7.1 audio board and the main A/V processing board. However, much of the detailed circuitry has been updated for this new player. The new A/V board utilizes a powerful new chip to handle the 4K processing. There is no fan in the unit and this device can get warm, so OPPO has placed a large passive heatsink on top to prevent thermal stress.
MediaTek Image Processor
OPPO has over a decade of experience developing high-end DVD and Blu-ray players, so the engineers have once again teamed up with the folks at MediaTek to produce and manufacture a specialized 4K UHD Blu-ray decoder SoC (System-on-a-Chip) using the quad-core OP8591. This chip offers the most advanced image decoding and processing technology available for 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and user generated media formats.
The 7.1 channel audio board in the UDP-203 is layed out nicely with one side receiving two +15V and two -15V power forms from the switching power supply. Switching supplies inherently have high frequency switching noise and ripple associated with their operation, so OPPO post regulates this power using low-noise linear voltage regulators (LM317 & LM337) to provide clean secondary power to the analog section of the audio board. The other side of the audio board receives digital signals from the A/V board.
Digital data from the main A/V processor board is handled by an AKM AK4458VN 8-channel DAC (digital-to-analog converter) to convert digital audio signals to the analog domain. This DAC is designed to accommodate both PCM and DSD bit streams and uses a delta-sigma modulator with an SCF (switched capacitor filter) for each of the channels. The 32-bit digital filters produce exceptional sound quality with high resolution. Each DAC output has a dedicated 5532 dual high-performance, low noise, operational
amplifier to handle the low-pass filtering.
The UDP-203 remote design leverages largely from the previous OPPO remotes with most of the keys being the same. The full-size design maintains the rounded back giving it an ergonomic
feel. The old Light button has been replaced with an HDR button as the new remote now has built-in motion detection that will automatically illuminate the backlighting when moved - a nice improvement. The streaming buttons (for Netflix and Vudu) no longer exist as built-in streaming capabilities have been removed from this player. The HDMI input on the back is intended to support external media players such as Roku and Apple TV.
The remote has large buttons with identifying symbols, making them easy to see even with my aging eyes. The Top Menu and Pop-Up Menu buttons are
located on the upper left and right sides of the navigation buttons. Option and Return are located on the lower right and left of the navigation
buttons. The more frequently used Stop, Play and Pause buttons are larger for easy access. The remote runs from two "AA" batteries and can be configured to operate on one of three channels in case other OPPO players are also integrated into the system.
Pressing the Home button on the remote will take users to the Home Menu (the starting point for accessing media files). Simply select the optical media or other file types (music, photos, or movies) from a connected USB flash drive, external hard drive, or network based media. Files accessed more often can be saved in Favorites.
OPPO's menu system on the UDP-203 is comprehensive with adjustments for Playback Setup, Video Output Setup, Audio Output Setup, Audio Processing, Device Setup, and Network Setup.
The player also features advanced picture controls for brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, and sharpness, allowing users to make adjustments to compensate for any limitations in their system or to just adjust the image to their own personal taste. Firmware updates can be checked automatically or initiated by the user using the internet connection (WiFi or ethernet).
4K Ultra HD Video
The UDP-203 arrived just in time to align with our recent acquisition of a 65-inch LG OLED TV (model OLED65B6P) and some 4K Ultra-HD content provided by Universal Studios for review. We started out with Jason Bourne and were very impressed with the level of detail that could be seen with this format. High resolution was just the beginning of the incredible format. Much of the filming in this movie had dark scenes that often prove difficult to reproduce. This player along with the OLED display had the ability to reproduce deep, inky blacks with amazing shadow detail, making this an excellent movie to review with this technology. The increase in dynamic range offers a significant improvement in gradation levels resulting in a more realistic looking picture. The OLED display technology really helped reveal this capability. We also watched a less serious movie, The Secret Life of Pets, which provided some amazing animation with brilliant and well saturated colors that just jumped out at you.
Upscaling to Ultra HD (4K) Resolution
The UDP-203 video processor is capable of upscaling lower resolution content up to 4Kx2K at 50/60Hz to a compatible display. The player is also capable of playing 4K media files and user generated content. Support for decoding the HEVC, H.264, VP9 4K, and Hi10P video codecs provides increased compatibility with user generated media making this unit a great addition to your system for general purpose UHD content.
We setup the UDP-203 using our main home theater system for the audio evaluation. The player was connected to our Denon AVR-5308CI A/V processor as a front-end processor and a Parasound HCA-2205AT five channel amplifier on the back-end. Speakers included a trio of M&K S-150THX speakers across the front and a pair of M&K SS-250 Tripole® surrounds for the rear channels that are sonically matched with the front channels. Bass was handled by a pair of M&K MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull
Subwoofers. The THX crossover
set at 80 Hz works well with our speaker configuration. Both analog (using 5.1) and HDMI connections were used for audio tests.
The UDP-203 supports a wide range of formats including some of my favorite music on high resolution DVD-Audio discs. Listening to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and the Eagles Hotel California on DVD-Audio reveals the amazing audio reproduction this player is capable of. Listening to 5.1 audio in full high resolution is something that spoils you.
OPPO's UDP-203 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray player is a significant improvement over the previous 1080p Blu-ray format while still maintaining backwards compatibility with virtually all audiophile formats (SACD, DVD-Audio, etc.). The design and operation of the unit is what is expected from OPPO as the "go-to" player among audiophile and videophiles. The price point ($549) makes this player a very attractive component for any home theater system and looks far better than any of the mainstream units out there. OPPO has set the bar high with the release of the UDP-203 and it will be tough to beat.
Similar to previous launches, OPPO plans to follow up with the release of the UDP-205 early this year for those looking for a slightly higher-end model (price is TBA). If tradition holds, the new player will feature all of the great features of the UDP-203 with improvements in the analog audio section. We will have to wait and see. For now, the UDP-203 delivers what we have all been waiting for. The LG OLED TVs are a perfect match for this player as they achieve near perfect black with virtually infinite contrast. They also support HDR plus Dolby Vision™ for an exceptional viewing experience .