May 15th, 2009
So, my Oppo BDP-83 arrived over the weekend and we got to experience the new tech. In a word, WOW.
I guess I didn’t fully realize just how used I am to upscaled video. The first thing we watched was Planet Earth. This is terrific but I’d seen it in HD when it first came out and the Discovery blu-ray is only 1080i so it’s not much different from watching it off the DVR.
Next was WALL-E. This is outstanding on blu-ray, no question. Of course, it’s a digital image to start with, and animated, so while it looks terrific, it was somehow not mind-blowing that it was so perfect. Well, that’s not quite true–the audio is pretty astonishing. The lesson, as always: lossy compression blows.
What really rocked me was The Matrix. I think what impressed me the most were the skin tones–just amazing. And smoke. And backgrounds. No banding or speckling or blurring. This movie was the “killer app” for DVD in the early days of that format and it’s one I’ve seen on DVD many, many times, so I’m really used to what it looks and sounds like in that format, so the contrast between blu-ray and DVD was particularly salient.
We watched The Dark Knight last night, and it’s also spectacular. However, since we didn’t have the DVD prior to the blu-ray, the contrast between blu-ray and DVD was obviously not at the forefront. Great blu-ray experience, though, for sure–I was actually holding off on buying this movie until we had blu-ray, as I did with WALL-E. Good choice.
The other thing I’ve really been enjoying about the BDP-83, and one of the reasons that I went with that despite its somewhat hefty price tag is SACD playback. The BDP-83 can output raw DSD multichannel, which my Denon receiver handles beautifully, and it just sounds fantastic. I know this isn’t a format which really took off, and I don’t have a lot of titles (mostly classical), but it’s fantastic where I do have it.
So, good stuff all around. Now if the price of media would only come down a bit, it’d be fantastic. The way to make this happen, I think, is for higher demand. So, if you have a decent HDTV, get a blu-ray player, dammit. If you don’t care about things like SACD, even a cheap one will be a big upgrade in terms of picture and audio quality.