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OPPO DV-983H Review
1080p Upconverting DVD Player
Let me begin by saying that the video and audio performance of the DV-983H is outstanding. It upconverts standard definition DVDs better than almost any player that I have seen. And the audio quality when playing back CDs is superb.
With that said, the question is, how does it compare to its lesser priced kin? To test the three of them, we ran them through the video processing diagnostics on the Anchor Bay Video Reference Series Evaluation and Optimization DVD that came bundled with the 983 review unit.
As you would expect, the 983's Anchor Bay chipset achieved better results on these video stress tests than the 981's Genesis/Faroudja chipset and the 980's "Customized 'System-on-Chip.'" The differences were most pronounced on the Source Adaptive Motion Patterns.
In the Film Detail test, a race car is zooming around the track with an empty bleachers in the background. As the camera pans to keep the car in frame, the straight rows in the bleachers have a tendency to bend into a moiré pattern. If the video processor is up to snuff, the rows of seats will behave. To really make the chipsets jump through hoops, the scene is played back in a series of different film cadences. The 983 was the most consistently solid.
The 983 also outpaced its brethren on the Synthetic Wedge test, which I don't need to describe. The name says it all. After that I thought I should shift from the ridiculous to the sublime and try a real world test.
We have the boxed set of the second season of the Simpsons. I popped in discs Two, Three, and Four in no particular order. I wanted to see how these fancy chipsets dealt with such classic material as "Bart vs. Thanksgiving." To my eyes, I really couldn't discern a true champion among the three players.
Perhaps Bart and Lisa are not the best reference materials. Therefore, I loaded up the divine, Elizabeth, The Golden Age DVD. With this film, I actually preferred the Noise Reduction performance of the 981 over the 983. Indeed, I believe that with well mastered Hollywood movies, most viewers will have a difficult time choosing one player over the other.
Watching the Elizabeth DVD once again reconfirmed my conviction that upconverting players can not produce the picture quality that a high definition player can with a high definition DVD. Elizabeth is a combo disc, SD on one side, HD DVD on the other. The depth of detail on the HD DVD playback is noticeably superior to the upconverted SD image. I have seen a similar quality leap with Blu-ray DVDs.
Back to the current SD offerings, if your DVD library is filled with well mastered Hollywood movies, which should not exhibit video artifacting challenges, then you should be fine with either the 980 or 981.
Based on those Source Adaptive Motion Patterns, the Anchor Bay chipsets do display an advantage, which may become more evident with less well mastered DVDs, especially when projected on a large screen.
Also, if you have a projector with an anamorphic lens, the 983's "stretch" aspect ratio control mode facilitates proper aspect display.
For those of you with DLP based RPTVs, these displays generally suffer from macroblock enhancement errors. The 981's Faroudja chipset inherently enhances minor macroblocking and OPPO does not recommend it in combination with those TVs. With DLP based RPTVs, go with the 980 or 983.
Both the 980 and 983 also provide a USB 2.0 port where you can attach a flash drive full of high definition JPEG photos, MP3 audio files, or MPEG videos. The photo slideshow interface on the 983 is a bit improved. Viewing your favorite photos in high resolution is a joy. Having a USB port is a real plus especially if your HDTV does not include one.
Finally, about that 192 kHz, 24-bit audio D/A converters, I give OPPO DVD players high marks not only for the quality of their audio but also their capacity to handle all sorts of audio formats.
For example, the DV-983H outputs up to 7.1 channel audio with Dolby Digital Surround EX decoding. It also supports DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Pro-Logic II and it plays back CD, Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio. Simply, the 983 is a flexible and muscular CD player.
In the world of upconverting DVD players, the OPPO DV-983H is a videophile's dream machine. It may be overkill for those less discriminating or with smaller displays. I admire OPPO's commitment to delivering both top quality video and audio performance. I'm anxiously awaiting their first Blu-ray DVD player.
Where to Buy
Buy Direct from Oppo