• Dual USB Ports: The BDP-93 provides two USB 2.0 ports that can read audio, video, or photo data from attached USB drives. Note, however, that the BDP-93 is not set up to be used as a USB DAC through which, say music files could be played from a computer (though there is—or at least may be—a different connectivity option for playing files from computers: see “Experimental Functions”, below).
• eSATA Ports: The BDP-93 allows users to connect and play audio, video or photo content from eSATA drives (or drive arrays).
• Wireless & Ethernet Connectivity: The BDP-93 provides both a hardwired RJ-45-type Ethernet port and a plug-in Wireless-N adapter that can support streaming content from the Internet or (potentially) from the user’s home network.
• Netflix & Blockbuster-On-Demand Ready: The BDP-93 supports movie streaming from Netflix and Blockbuster-On-Demand, and in fact ships with free trial membership offers from both services (offered to U.S.-based owners only, however).
• PAL/NTSC Conversion: By design, the BDP-93 can—at least in principle—play both NTSC and PAL format contents, and support conversion of one format to the other for playback purposes. However, the BDP-93 manual contains this caveat: “(Subject to DVD and BD region restrictions.)”
• “Experimental functions”: Within the “Media File Playback” section of the BDP-93 manual, users will find a menu option labeled MY NETWORK, which is described as “an experimental feature which enables the player to stream audio, video and photo (content) from media servers on the home network.” The Oppo technical support team does not official support this DNLA Server-like functionality package, but prospective buyers can learn more by visiting wiki.oppodigital.com.
• IR & RS-232: The BDP-93 provides IR and RS-232 ports to support custom installations.
Although the two NuForce upgrade boards come from the same designer, they do not sound identical. NuForce claims the NE board is “more tube-like,” but I did not find this to be the whole story. In my systems the NE board delivered less frequency extension, which might be considered “tube like” compared to the NXE’s more far-reaching frequency response. The NE board also has a bit less definition and low-level detail overall than the NXE board. Finally the NE board has a bright zone in its upper midrange that highlights the textures of certain instruments.
Both NuForce boards deliver clean three-dimensional soundstages that expand upon the imaging capabilities of a stock Oppo BDP-93. Both boards also offer better low-level detail than the BDP-93, with their images emerging from a quieter background. Nuforce’s designs demonstrate that improvements to an analog circuit (the digital parts are all the same as a stock Oppo) can make a noticeable change for the better to the Oppo BDP-93’s sonics.
I recently purchased the Firefly TV series on Blu-Ray. With plenty of music and bombastic explosions it served as an excellent example of how well the NuForce board handles high-quality multi-channel sources. One of my favorite episodes, “The Train Robbery,” has plenty challenge it, from the opening theme song replete with slide guitar, fiddles, and a full drum kit, to the requisite explosions and rocket ship engines screaming upon take off. The NuForce boards handled all of this audio mayhem without any signs of distress or strain.
I was especially impressed with the NXE board’s ability to handle low frequency signals without complaint. Even the quiet nearly subsonic rumblings hear while the transport ship Serenity is in space come through cleanly with no issues. At the other frequency extreme, the NuForce NXE preserved all the whistling wind sounds of desolate outlying planets with ease.
Dialog definition is also exemplary through the Nuforce NXE board. Even with some of the almost whispered throwaway lines uttered during takeoffs and landings (when there’s plenty of other aural activity going on, some at much higher SPLs than the dialog), the locational precision and detail of the dialog never suffered.