BDP-83 Performance FAQ

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Is the Blu-ray picture quality of this player amazingly better than any other player?

Opinions vary, but the consensus seems to be that Blu-ray player picture quality is very similar among all players producing 1080p images from 1080p disc content, which is how almost all film-based movies are mastered on Blu-ray disc. Players will differ in:
  • how well they deinterlace 480i/576i sources like DVD
  • how well they scale those sources to high-definition
  • how well they scale a 1080p Blu-ray image to other resolutions
  • how well the deinterlace 1080i sources like concert videos
  • whether they accept 1080i50 sources
Other factors which differentiate players:
  • optional video processing, such as sharpness and noise reduction controls, and support for Constant Image Height projectors
  • optional Source Direct, which bypasses some video processing
  • optional Deep Color interpolation (note that there are no Blu-ray or DVD Deep Color sources, so interpolating larger color bit depths is the best a player can do)
  • choices for audio processing and outputs
  • support for other media types such as SACD, DVD-A, and media files on data discs and USB devices
  • Load times, responsiveness, speed of layer changes
  • fan noise
  • build quality
  • quality of customer support, including firmware updates to fix bugs and add new features
  • community support
These comments from an industry insider may be of interest.
Minority Report
Not everyone agrees that "Blu-ray player picture quality is very similar among all players producing 1080p images from 1080p disc content." In Gary Murrell's review he finds the OPPO picture quality superior and has written on AVSForum:
I think the OPPO may be the best -- not trying to build up hype or exaggerate, I care about video very much and I am very very picky -- no BD player I know of so far has a image as clean and naturally sharp as this unit, and that includes players I have used that I have modified for HD-SDI. It's all about the decoder and the decoder that OPPO used is from folks that know what they are doing; they are the best.

Is the DVD picture quality of this player amazingly better than any other player?

Unlike Blu-ray, DVD seems to require a lot of craft to get the best possible images, particularly in deinterlacing ( = progressive scan = converting 480i/576i to 480p/576p). DVD video must be deinterlaced before it can be scaled. You can learn a lot from the Secrets of Home Theater and Hi Fidelity shootout test database. There is a huge variety in progressive scan performance in DVD players. Particularly instructive articles on deinterlacing artifacts from that site are: Sadly, the site is no longer maintained and many recent players have not been tested. We need a site testing both Blu-ray and DVD performance of newer players, but I don't know of any. Many people claim that ABT VRS processing, as used in this player and in the older 983H DVD player, is the current top dog in DVD image quality. I don't know what the limits are in getting the best possible picture out of the 720x480 pixels, but we must be close to the end. I would never claim that a DVD image can match a good Blu-ray image, but many times I have looked at images on these players and said "I can't believe this is standard definition." On the other hand, the better quality DVD players are probably very close to one another. When comparing players, the differences I see when doing A/B comparisons tend to fade away when actually watching a movie. On the third hand, sometimes even small differences, once seen, tend to loom large in the mind and become bothersome. My advice: it depends on how fanatical you are. If you have multiple calibration discs and spend a lot of time using them and trying different color spaces and other things in an attempt to squeeze that last few percent of video quality out of DVD, you will probably appreciate the DVD performance of this player. If you don't, then which chip set a player uses for deinterlacing and scaling DVD is not the most important consideration.

What are the differences between this player and the OPPO 983H for DVD playback?

DVD performance of the BDP-83 is the same as or better than the 983H. Looking just at DVD playback, the BDP-83 does not have these features of the 983H: The BDP-83 adds these features which the 983H does not have:
  • 24p output
  • 480i over HDMI
  • Source Direct
  • New controls for Edge Enhancement, Detail Enhancement and Noise Reduction
  • Demo Mode

How fast are the load times?

Here are some timings reported during the beta period, as compared with the 40GB PS3 running firmware 2.43:
Ratatouille (Blu-ray)
test PS3 BDP-83
From power on to first previews image 00:53 00:40
From first previews to top menu 00:22 00:30
From top menu to total menus 00:14 00:20
From total menus to start of play 00:03 00:04
Chapter forward by 10 chapters 00:15 00:04
Chapter backward by 10 chapters 00:15 00:04
Men in Black (Blu-ray)
test PS3 BDP-83
From power on to first Sony intro image 00:47 00:50
From power on to main menu 01:05 01:09
From main menu to PG-13 warning screen 00:03 00:04
Chapter forward by 10 chapters 00:16 00:04
Chapter backward by 10 chapters 00:16 00:04

And here are times as compared to the Pioneer BDP-51FD:

test BDP-51FD BDP-83
From power on to "No Disc" message 00:24 00:11
Load Disc (from tray open to Top Menu) Fellowship Of The Ring disc 1 (DVD) 00:37 00:13
Load Disc (from tray open to Blu-ray Splash Screen) Wanted (Blu-ray) 01:24 00:37

And compared to the Panasonic BD-35:

The Nightmare before Christmas (Blu-ray)
test BD-35 BDP-83
Press open tray to tray opening 00:24 00:03
Press tray close to movie preview 00:44 00:24
Movie preview to main menu 00:38 00:23
Press play movie to Disney intro 00:03 00:03

Notes:

  • On the early machines, from power off to tray eject using the Eject button is about 11 seconds. With more recent hardware people are reporting eject times of about 4 seconds.
  • If BD-Live is enabled some discs will download stuff from the network while loading. For example, the Transformers disc takes over 2 minutes to load the first time, and about 25 seconds to load if you play it again without erasing the persistent storage. Iron Man is said to be another example.See Can BD-Live be turned off?

How fast are the layer changes?

On DVD, it is reported that the Avia Pro layer change stress test shows a time of 0.8 seconds. This is the worst case; real world examples should be quicker. In my own viewing I can sometimes detect a DVD layer change, but it is too quick to estimate the time. By way of comparison, using the same test, the PS3 (V2.50 firmware) shows 1.2 seconds and the Pioneer Elite DV-59avi SD-DVD player shows 2.0 seconds.

Note

It is hard to minimize layer changes with Blu-ray players which use SATA drives. The drives have a limited amount of buffer memory and although players can buffer at the decoder, this is not as effective in concealing the layer change. In the future chip makers may deliver a "single-chip" solution which contains both the "front end" (laser control and radio frequency analog stuff) and "back end" (decoding and A/V processing) which would allow better layer changes.

By which time no one will care.

How well does the player handle scratched and dirty Blu-ray discs?

Apparently very well. The other beta testers report taking no special care in cleaning their rental discs and have had no troubles. As of August 23, 2009 I have played 66 Netflix rentals and 21 video store rentals, all Blu-ray, and had no disc damage or smudge/dirt issues except for one disc which was visibly bent and would not load.
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