As big TV manufacturers struggle to sell more televisions in a soft economy, they are throwing the kitchen sink at consumers to get them to replace their probably decent flat panel TVs.  Most manufacturers have resorted to throwing in a Blu-ray player if you buy a television. The result has not been increased TV sales, but a huge downgrade in the quality of Blu-ray players on the market. Most major TV vendors, such as Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, etc. all make Blu-ray players and try to make them as inexpensively as possible since they know they are going to wind up giving them away. This tactic has left a huge hole in the choices available.

When you have a great home theater, your Blu-ray player is probably your main source. Consumers have the choice of buying a sub $200 disposable Blu-ray player where you wonder how long could it actually work, or spending in the thousands for a high end model. For a business like Audio Advice, this has been frustrating.

This frustration led us to talk with Oppo.  Oppo is a Silicon Valley based company who make just two Blu-ray players. Their initial market strategy was to sell them factory direct out of their online store.  From the outset, they have received incredible press.  Click here to see the reviews. I am very happy to announce that after months of waiting, Audio Advice is now one of the few brick and mortar dealers for Oppo in the whole USA!

I had an opportunity to try out the $499 model BDP-93 a couple of weeks ago when it arrived. Oppo currently makes the BDP-93 and will release a new $999 top of the line player, the BDP-95, in a few weeks. Frankly, the $499 player makes the players from the TV manufacturers look like a joke.  It’s actually built more like a $2000 component and is a sheer pleasure to operate!

The BDP-93 loads a Blu-ray disc as fast as any machine I have tested. The Oppo transport is so good; it is used in a modified version in the Ayre DX-5 Universal A/V Engine/DAC.  For the A/V purist, the Oppo gives you two HDMI outputs, one for audio and one for video.  The picture quality is as good as anything I have seen from a Blu-ray player for under $2000. It also worked great in my system as an audio transport for CDs.

It also allows you to stream both Netflix and Blockbuster movie content.  I suspect they will soon upgrade Netflix to the latest version. Currently the PlayStation 3 has a better interface, but that is just a software upgrade. The Oppo streaming quality was great. I never had a drop out like I typically get with cheapo players from mainstream TV companies.

The really amazing part is: this BDP-93 machine is only $499.  I can’t wait to test out the new upgraded BDP-95 when it arrives in March!