Oppo UDP-203 4K UHD Blu-ray player review: A class act with awesome audio capabilities

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There’s no question about it: The Oppo Digital UDP-203 is the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player you can buy. It’s not just a high-end video device, it can also play high-resolution audio from SACD and DVD-Audio discs or audio files encoded with nearly any codec you can think of, and it’s MSRP is $150 less than our previous high-end top pick, the Panasonic DMP-UB900. It’s the most feature-blessed player we’ve tested, and as of June 6, 2017, it supports Dolby Vision, too.

The UDP-203 features a handsome, black brushed-aluminum faceplate with an LCD status display right below the disc tray. A front USB 2.0 port provides easy access for files stored on mass storage devices, including 60 frame-per-second 2160p video. You’ll also find a complete set of transport controls here (play, pause, stop, track forward, and track back) that can also be used to navigate menus.

There are two USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel, along with eight RCA jacks so you can deliver analog stereo or surround sound to an older A/V receiver or amplifier that doesn’t support HDMI (or if you think the Oppo’s DAC sounds better than what’s on your current gear). Oppo also provides optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs. If you’ll be making more modern connection, there’s HDMI Out (audio and video), audio-only HDMI Out (for audio equipment that supports HDMI, but not HDCP 2.2), and even an HDMI in (for reasons we’ll get into later). There’s really nothing out there that the UHD-203 won’t send an audio signal to.

Oppo UDP-203 rear Oppo Digital

The UDP-203 isn’t lacking for ports, though component and composite video aren’t among them. But if you need those, you might want to ask yourself why you’re buying an Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

If you have an advanced connected-home system (or you’re a custom installer), you’ll appreciate the presence of an RS232C serial port and 12V trigger input and output for tying similarly equipped high-end gear together. There’s an infrared sensor back there, too, to eliminate having an IR blaster spoiling the view from the front.

Audio for miles

The recently reviewed Panasonic DMP-UB900 does audio very well, but the UDP-203 does it even better. Like Panasonic’s player, the Oppo can play DSD files, but it will also play SACD and DVD-Audio discs that Panasonic’s device can’t handle. The Oppo will also play multi-channel DSD files and many, many other audio file formats, including APE, Apple lossless, and FLAC. The more common WAV, MP3, OGG, and WMA are also supported of course; in fact, the only test files the UDP-203 couldn’t handle were the less common Opus, Windows Lossless, and any type of 32-bit 96kHz files. It handled the more common 24-bit/96kHz files just fine.

Learn more about Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

The UDP-203 can put out up to eight channels of analog surround sound (that’s seven loudspeakers plus a subwoofer), and it will pass Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS bitstreams—as well as high-resolution Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreams—over HDMI to a compatible sound bar or A/V receiver. There’s also support for the object-oriented audio codecs Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, but there’s no support for Auro 3D. Less-expensive Ultra HD Blu-ray players, such as Samsung’s UBD-K8500, don’t provide analog surround output. Microsoft’s Blu-ray-equipped Xbox One doesn’t either; in fact, it doesn’t even pass high-resolution audio bitstreams over HDMI, but that’s supposed to change sometime in 2017.

The remote control and user interface

The UHD-203’s remote control was our least favorite feature. It has very good response, even from very steep angles, but it’s very large and has a daunting array of buttons. The remote is laid out logically enough, and the backlit buttons are easy to see in a darkened room, we just wish there were fewer of them.

oppo d remote Oppo Digital

Though not a difficult remote, we’d prefer fewer buttons and more on-screen functionality. It’s just easier to see in the dark, though the Oppo remote is backlit and so large it’s hard to lose.

The onscreen user interface, on the other hand is clean, simple, and easy to navigate. It did enumerate a couple of directories on our test USB media that should have been hidden, but it found files quickly and accurately, it was generally intuitive, and it never lagged.

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