Oppo might not be the most prevalent brand in the UK when it comes to Blu-ray players, but it’s well respected among home cinema enthusiasts. The company has developed a reputation for building machines that go the extra mile both in terms of features and performance.
And starting with its feature set, the BDP-103EU ticks a heck of a lot of boxes. In addition to being able to play DVD-Audio and SACD discs, the machine plays 2D and 3D Blu-rays, can convert 2D content to 3D itself, and even upscales video to 4K resolution (should you be lucky enough to own a compatible TV).
File compatibility is impressive, too – not to mention extensive, with MKV, WAV, FLAC and AVI formats all supported.
Oppo BDP-103EU: Music streaming
You can stream music wired from DLNA-compliant devices via ethernet or wirelessly through the supplied USB dongle. This uses up one of the player’s USB sockets, but still leaves two others free for hooking up an external hard drive or memory stick.
Twin HDMI outputs give you various options. For example, they let you feed video to two different displays or split the audio and video into two separate streams if, for instance, you own an older AV receiver whose HDMI inputs aren’t compatible with 3D signals.
Even older amps which are completely devoid of HDMI inputs are catered for, as the Oppo can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio onboard and output a signal from its set of multichannel analogue outputs.
The inclusion of twin HDMI inputs is a rare sight but a welcome one nonetheless. This means you could plug in a set-top box or other video streamer and use the player’s built-in video processing should you feel the device’s isn’t up to scratch.
The front HDMI input is also MHL-enabled (Mobile High-Definition Link), meaning you can stream 1080p video and surround-sound-encoded content of a compatible mobile phone.
Oppo BDP-103EU: Smart features
The level of smart features is OK, but not as extensive as we’d like at the money. There’s access to Netflix for movie streaming, Picasa for photos and YouTube, but some of the more interesting services offered such as Vudu, Pandora and Film Fresh aren’t available in the UK. And there's no BBC iPlayer. If you’re after a wider variety of content providers then you can get this on cheaper machines.
The accompanying remote control isn’t the most graceful of units but the chunky buttons are satisfyingly responsive and the extensive backlight makes use in dark rooms a doddle. You can alter various picture and audio settings on the fly without having to stop the movie.
Alternatively, you can use Oppo’s free Remote Control App for Android and iOS. It’s virtually a mirror image of the plastic wand: swiping up and down reveals the buttons at either end, and it’s actually one of the more satisfying control apps out there.
Oppo BDP-103EU: Build quality
Onto the machine itself, and it’s a weighty, well-built unit. The chunky front panel looks the part with its brushed finish, while the almost-flush buttons are solid to the press and blend in nicely.
Power it up and the menus are welcoming, easy to read and, in tandem with the remote, a cinch to navigate. Feed the player a Blu-ray and loading times are pleasingly quick, too.
Oppo BDP-103EU: Picture quality
Whether you’re watching in 2D or 3D, images are easy on the eye. The Oppo does a good job of giving London town depth during Guy Ritchie’s take on Sherlock Holmes. Edges of buildings are sharply drawn, as are the smart suits worn by Watson and Holmes.
Textures look believable and motion is handled as smoothly as the content allows. Subtleties and fine detail are handled well, but we wouldn’t consider it a huge step up from the current budget class-leaders such as the Pioneer BDP-450.
Standard-def DVDs are handled in a similar manner and the built in video processor does a good job upscaling Transformers: Dark of the Moon and bringing definition and detail to images.
You can alter picture settings such as contrast and sharpness in the player’s menus, but we didn’t find the need to do much tinkering. But once again, although the upscaling is good, we wouldn’t place the Oppo in another league to the very best budget decks.
Oppo BDP-103EU: Sound quality
Sonically, the Oppo favours a hefty, powerful sound. It handles the action-packed moments of the Sherlock Holmes excellently, delivering weight in spades. Bangs and crashes don’t sound bright or hard and there’s a good balance to the sound.
However, faced with a more musical test, such as Led Zepplin’s Celebration Day Blu-ray and Emeli Sandé’s Our Version Of Events CD, the 103EU’s talent starts to unravel. Over the player’s analogue output, timing sounds off and music doesn’t knit together especially well.
Oppo BDP-103EU: Verdict
We had high hopes for the Oppo, and although its feature set is virtually impossible to beat at the money (and this alone could be reason enough to buy it) the level of picture and sound quality isn’t really reflected in the price.
Features aside, and for similar money, you could buy two boxes: a superior CD spinner and equally proficient Blu-ray deck.