Poor Audiophile

Oppo Announces UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-Ray Universal Disc Player

Front view of the new Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray universal disc player

Videophiles with audiophile blood, your wait is over. Oppo Digital today announced their long-awaited 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player, the UDP-203. The UDP-203A is the successor to the company’s award-winning BDP-103 series universal Blu-ray Disc player.

The new Oppo UDP-203 checks off all the boxes.  It supports playback of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs at a resolution of up to 3840 x 2160 pixels. The UDP-203 also supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Color Gamut. These latter two are arguably the most important aspects of 4K/UltraHD content and are far more noticeable than simply increasing resolution. Most people sit too far away from their TV sets for the increased resolution to make a qualitative difference.

The UDP-203 is built for the demands of today’s high quality audio and video. A customized quad-core video decoder/processor integrates Oppo’s advanced video decoding, processing and optimization expertise. The player features two HDMI outputs – an HDMI 2.0 port for connecting to the latest UHD TVs, projectors and A/V receivers, and an HDMI 1.4 audio port for connecting to older A/V receivers.

If you’re an audiophile with various physical disc formats in your collection, this is a player you want to give serious attention to. Oppo says that the design of the UDP-203 focuses on quality playback and universal compatibility with multiple disc and file formats. In addition to the latest UHD Blu-ray, the UDP-203 supports regular Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD, and audio CD. The UDP-203 is equipped with two USB 3.0 ports on the back and another USB port on the front. Users can play video, music and photos from USB hard drives or thumb drives. Built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi or Gigabit Ethernet connects the UDP-203 to users’ home networks, so users can easily play media files stored on computers and home servers.

Oppo UDP-203 features an 8-Channel 32-Bit DAC

The UDP-203’s video performance and universal compatibility is further complemented by its support of lossless high resolution audio. The player decodes audio file formats such as AIFF, WAV, ALAC, APE and FLAC. It also directly plays DSD (Direct-Stream Digital) audio files in stereo DSD64/128 or multi-channel DSD64. With internal decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, and bitstream output for object-based immersive audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the UDP-203 will deliver great sound for both movie soundtracks and music. For those who need analog ouptput, the Oppo remains one of the few players on the market that will decode HDMI, audio to on-board 7.1-channel analog outputs. The analog outputs are concurrently available with HDMI, Oppo says. The digital to analog conversion is handled by 32-bit premium digital-to-analog converters from AKM of Japan.

Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray universal disc player

Ultra HD Blu-ray has already been known for its slower startup times and just as Oppo revolutionized traditional Blu-ray load speeds with the original BDP-83, they aim to do the same with UltraHD Blu-ray. The UDP-203 is designed with a purist approach in mind for so it does not carry internet video and music streaming apps. We are thankful for that decision.  We have found player-implemented services to have terrible user interfaces, be rather poorly supported and updated, and generally a silly solution.  We much prefer external, dedicated streaming players and so does Oppo.

Instead, an HDMI 2.0 input port that supports UHD resolution is available for users to connect an external streaming device. This approach affords users the flexibility to choose from a wide range of streaming devices and easily upgrade as streaming technologies evolve, while still taking advantage of the UDP-203’s audio and video processing capabilities.

Rear view of the UDP-203. 7.1 Analog output, dual HDMI and USB 3.0 highlight the connectivity options.

Oppo has build the UDP-203 to be firmware upgradable. As with the initial launch of Blu-ray, we expect several firmware that add features and fix bugs updates early on.

A critically important aspect of the Oppo UDP-203 is its support for Dolby Vision. Oppo says that in early 2017, they will release a firmware update that will provide Dolby Vision HDR support. Not all UHD TVs support Dolby Vision. Instead, many support only HDR 10.

In terms of design, the Oppo UDP-203 sports a brushed aluminum front panel, steel chassis and gold plated connectors not only present a sleek aesthetic, but also ensure dependable operation and reliable connection. Integration-friendly features such as RS-232 control, back panel IR sensor and third-party IP control make the UDP-203 a great choice for any home theater system.  The UDP-203 will retail for $549.  You will be able to pre-order the UDP-203 soon from Oppo’s web site at http://www.oppodigital.com.

The UDP-203’s disc loader features an optimized laser mechanism that delivers super fast disc loading, compatibility with a wide range of optical media, and strong error detection and correction to ensure error free physical media playback.

As is Oppo’s tradition, they are working on an upper-end model that has a special focus on upgraded audio performance.  Oppo told us that they have a UDP-205 model in development. The UDP-205 should be available in early 2017.  While pricing hasn’t been disclosed yet if Oppo follows a similar pattern to past models, we can expect the newer model to come in at several hundred dollars to around $1,000 retail.