The world of home video is about to change with the introduction of Blu-ray and HD-DVD products. But before that happens, manufacturers are coming up with innovative ways to keep people interested in current DVD technology. We have seen players that feature media-card readers, support for DivX and other encoded media content and now DVD players that up-convert the picture signal to a high definition resolution such as 720P or 1080i.
Oppo Digital may be a new contestant in the DVD player game, but they are hitting so many things right with their new OPDV971H DVD player, that the buzz is growing in intensity. Featuring the new DCDi chip by Faroudja, the new OPDV971H DVD player can produce videos and images in 480p, 540p, 576p, 720p and 1080i resolutions; more than most HDTV’s support. Read on to see if this jack-of-all-trades can compete with the big boys.
Design and Features
So what separates the OPDV971H from the rest? Well it’s certainly not its looks. Let’s be honest, most off brand names just wreak of cheap foreign manufacturing, and at first glance, so does the OPDV971H. The remote control feels lighter than a cigarette pack (with the batteries loaded too), the buttons look cheap and backlighting behind the buttons is missing. The DVD tray is a transparent blue plastic that reminds you of those colored CD jewel cases you find at Office Depot. The player itself is attractive looking, and probably one of the slimmest players we have seen. There are analog 2 channel, S/PDIF Coaxial/Optical digital audio outputs with 5.1 channel audio and DVI video outputs. All of the back terminals are gold plated to ensure the best possible connection performance. HDMI is missing from the back of the player which is a bummer so with a price of $200, there better be a block of gold in this baby, otherwise Oppo Digital isn’t going to stand a chance.
Fortunately, as far as compatibility and functionality go, the OPDV971H is one of the best players we have seen. Oh and did we mention this puppy uses the new DCDi chip by Faroudja to provide a smooth, yet realistic image without visible anti-aliasing. This is the chip that videophiles have on the top of their wish-list when looking for a new DVD player. But what good is picture quality if the player isn’t compatible with the video you want? Again, the OPDV971H hits the nail on the head. Compatible with DivX, Xvid, VOD, .SRT, .SMI, .IDX and .SUB encoded content as well as DVD Video/Audio MPEG4, VCD, SVCD, CD, HDCD, WMA, DVDR/RW, CD-R/RW, and Kodak Picture formats, the OPDV971H basically plays anything you throw at it.
If you will be playing video or pictures on the player using one of the formats listed above, then the OPDV971H is capable of reproducing the content at 480p, 540p, 576p, 720p, and 1080i resolutions, so to best enjoy this DVD player, you had better get an HDTV compatible television. Another sweet deal is that the OPDV971H is capable of up-converting regular DVD’s to a high resolution format like 720p or 1080i. There are of course positives and negatives to the whole up-conversion process. For starters you have to use the DVI output if you want to watch copyrighted DVD’s at a higher resolution. Most manufacturers don’t tell you this, so people assume they are getting a better picture using the component video connections – and that isn’t true. What does copyrighted material mean exactly? Well that DVD you rented from Blockbuster or that movie you bought at Target are going to be copy protected. That video of you and the family at Christmas which you just recorded on your home PC won’t be. Computer hackers and P2P (peer-to-peer) users who illegally download DivX movies using Bit Torrent will probably be able to watch it in high resolution depending on the DivX quality of the movie. So if your television doesn’t have an HDMI or DVI input on it, you will be watching DVD’s at good old 480p. If you are an import movie fan, you will be happy to know that the OPDV971H is capable of converting PAL to NTSC and vice versa. We have heard that you can make the unit region free by using a special code, but we don’t know anything about that.
Another thing we have seen lately from DVD player manufactures is the missing inclusion of a DVI cable with their players. So most people fork out $200 dollars or more for the player itself, then have to turn around and spend another $50 bucks to get the DVI cable. Well Oppo Digital throws one in with their player, so if you do the math, you realize you just came out ahead. Videophiles will probably want to opt for the high-end brand cable, but for the average Joe, Oppo Digital has helped you out.
Image Courtesy of Oppo Digital
Setup and Use
The six page manual is very detailed and easy to read showing you with illustrations how to hook the OPDV971H up to your home theater. We like that Oppo Digital clearly tells you that in order to watch DVD movies in HDTV resolutions, you must use the DVI connection and set the resolution you want while the player is on, but stopped. The LG LDA-511 which we are also reviewing for example, mentions no where in the manual that you have to use the DVI or HDMI connection. The button to change the resolutions is on the DVD player itself instead of the remote control, and even then the player will not tell you what resolution the current video is at. How messed up is that? Thankfully Oppo Digital is upfront and honest with you from the get go.
The remote control that comes with the OPDV971H has a lot of buttons and lets you control a myriad of features without having to get your rear-end off the sofa. You can Zoom, change the subtitles, change the resolution, and other functions just by pressing one button rather than trying to navigate through the menu to find it. There is even an onscreen keyboard feature that gives you control while searching and browsing through folders for files you want. We do wish the remote looked higher quality and had backlighting so we could see what we were doing with the lights off, but as far as features, this remote has more than most.
The onscreen menu is easy to navigate and easy to respond with the remote. We did not encounter any problems with disc compatibilities and formats. Navigating folders is very quick and much faster than the LG LDA-511 DVD player, although the LG comes with a media card slot, albeit no DVI cable.
Image Courtesy of Oppo Digital
For our testing we connected the OPDV971H to our Hitachi 42HDT51 42-inch plasma using a DVI-to-HDMI adapter as well as our Sony KLV-S23A10 23-inch LCD TV using the DVI input. Picture quality for the most part was nothing short of exceptional. Character and item edges from our DVD videos were nice and smooth from a viewing distance of 5 feet and on. The scaling and deinterlacing performance of the Faroudja chip is simply amazing and we would take it over the Samsung HD841 any day.
On our Hitachi plasma, the OPDV971H looked pretty bad right out of the box. We recommend you keep the color and contrast settings at +0 and configure your television for this input. On the Hitachi 42HDT51 the set will keep a separate memory setting for each video connection. We experienced a green tint to several of our movies (Alexander, Spartan) which required us to calibrate our television until the picture looked good. When you are up-converting a DVD on a high resolution TV, be warned that you will likely notice if a DVD movie has been compressed poorly or not. If the MPEG compression is too much, the picture will look terrible regardless of how you calibrate either the DVD or television. As far as picture quality goes, we think the OPDV971H out performed both the LG LDA-511 and the Samsung HD841. The OPDV971H is probably on par with the Panasonic S97 as far as video quality is concerned, but the Panasonic unit costs considerably more.
When viewing image files from a DVD or CD disc, you simply pop in the disc and you will be able to located the folder and browse through the files. There is an image preview that lets you see a thumbnail version of the image before enlarging it. We recorded about a 4-5 second delay to show the image on the screen and a few seconds when changing images. This may sound like a long time, but in contrast the LG LDA-511 took about 15 seconds between images, a time limit that becomes unbearable after about 10 images.
Audio CD and DVD quality is very good, but the unit will not show you any titles information or ID3 tag information. There is only an Oppo Digital logo on the television screen. For true 5.1 channel DVD audio playback, you will have to use the 6 separate analog connectors instead of the SPDIF connections. We did not test DVD Audio playback on this unit, but since this is the norm for most DVD players, we expect it to hold true in this case. If you know otherwise, please post in our forums letting people know.
Image Courtesy of Oppo Digital
If you are avid videophiles on a budget, a savvy computer user, or an amateur video editor, then the Oppo Digital OPDV971H is a DVD player worth your money. This player was capable of playing basically any file we through at it across a range of recordable media and brands. Video quality is exceptional as is the audio quality of this player. The remote control and certain parts of the OPDV971H leave something to be desired, but Oppo Digital puts your money where it counts, on the inside. Plus, they throw in a DVI cable which makes the overall package even sweeter. If you are in the market for a DVD player, pick up the OPDV971H, it’s worth it and will hold you over until the next generation Blu-ray and HD-DVD players come around.
– Exceptional video quality
– Very easy to use
– Compatible with a ton of codec’s and recordable media formats
– Converts PAL to NTSC and vice versa
– Comes with a DVI cable
– Cheap looking remote and DVD tray
– Remote buttons are not back-lit
– Does not show title information when playing back audio CD’s
– No HDMI output