Playback and its sister magazine The Absolute Sound have reviewed a number of Oppo universal players over the years, all of them offering great performance per dollar, some of them winning awards, and most priced at or below the low $200 range. But now, we come to the $395 DV-983H, which is Oppo’s flagship model. Is it something special? You’d better believe it is, both in terms of excellent video and audio performance, as well as overall versatility. As you’ll discover in a moment, this industrial strength Oppo is a killer video player, one of the best music-oriented players in its class, and one heckuva good deal.
The DV-983H provides one of the best user interfaces we’ve ever seen on any universal player, and the remote is quite cleverly designed, as well. Highlights include:
Although the DV-983H remote control is not illuminated, it does provide luminous, glow-in-the-dark control buttons, which is the next best thing. About the only thing things the user interface lacks are channel-level test tones, and variable crossover frequencies for subwoofers (both are features some of the best players in this class provide).
Let me cut straight to the chase. On our benchmark tests, conducted using the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD Ver. 4, Oppo’s DV-983H passed every single test on the disc with essentially letter perfect results. You read that right; there are no video performance quibbles or caveats to discuss here, because the Oppo “aced” every test we threw at it. The Oppo’s performance would do credit to a player several times its price, and it’s a stunning achievement for one selling for under $400.
Real world DVD tests further confirmed that the DV-983H is one outstanding DVD player—hands down the top video performer in our survey. With the player’s upscaling controls set for 1080i output, I watched movie after movie, mesmerized by the DV-983H’s smooth, film-like presentation and exceptionally good resolution and detail.
In the “Cool As Water” scene from House of Flying Daggers, the protagonists Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Xiao Mei (Ziyi Zhang) don garments whose surfaces reveal rich colors and intricate, brocade-like textures—colors and textures that most players tend to soften to some degree. But not so, the Oppo; it captured the fine, inner details in the surfaces of those fabrics and presented them with the sort of precision and clarity you’d expect from a topographic relief map. Everywhere I looked the player seemed to find new details or shades of coloring to reveal, consistently making images look richer, more three-dimensional and more finely detailed.
It is no exaggeration to say that the DV-983H will tempt you to fall in love with well filmed tight close ups, because it makes facial details and expressions fairly jump off the screen. A particular scene in Gandhi floored me with images of an emaciated and fasting Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) explaining to his follower Meerabahen (Geraldine James) why he believes good will always triumph over evil in the end. The Oppo caught the gritty textures of the stubble in Gandhi’s beard, and the combination of determination and profound sorrow in his eyes. At the same time, the player also caught the softer textures of Meerabahen’s face and the fine wisps of her hair protruding from beneath her shawl as she leaned forward to listen to Gandhi’s words. The point, I think, is that when onscreen image details get this good, films can move us in deeper and more intimate ways.