I have had some of the Panasonic players in my setup and my favorites were the bigger 50 and 350 models. The transports were just better, smoother. The Oppo to me is over hyped and I have never been all that keen on the plastic cheap tray that comes out like a desktop computer albeit my new HP is smoother than the Oppo. I know I will piss off a lot of people as the Oppo has almost a cult following. Fact is its a noisy transport. I was hoping the Oppo 95 would be an improvement for the mechanical transport section but I find reading some of the threads that it suffers from noise pollution. I have an old Denon CD player from the 80s and it is so smooth and silent.. What happened.?? I do not have SACD's and truly understand that if this is a motivation you have to make some choices. In the interest of context I just use Bluray for movies, to show some eye candy to customers, and for convenience sometimes for two channel listening. I don't want the processing, If that is needed I just use the DVDO Duo.. or will also be using a Lumagen.. and I don't need the audio as I do not want the audio processed in the bluray player. Some customers have great gear that cannot process the hd codecs and thankfully we do have options for them to keep using their gear and not have to downgrade their equipment to a receiver level.
I saw this unit at CES and did think it looked "good" . Centerpiece for what?? No one is going to use this as the centerpiece for a high end audio system. It is going to be a convenience at best. I didnt go through the trouble of seeing how quiet or how good the transport is but generally I find that companies like Pioneer, Denon, Marantz have a track record on their flagship players to have good transports in them. Oppo seems to ignore this part of the chain in my view and I just can't swallow the oppo price tag with a plastic computer tray with the finesse of an old desktop and the audible noise of a fan. I am just hoping that this Panny 500 has a good transport. It is now an ignored part of the high end equation too often. I want the player that is capable of sending the information on the bluray disk UNALTERED. My other components know what to do with it. I do not see reviews comment on the transport any more. Its a mechanical component in the player that has to do a an incredible job over the life of the product. Face it the players now are built for a shelf life of two to three years. Once we get the bandwidth from the internet we need to replicate or even improve on the bluray technology will we even use a bluray player? Not too likely. I figure the life cycle of the bluray will die. There is better solutions for high end audio than a bluray player. CDs end of life will come shortly. Followed by the Bluray. Hopefully whatever the next replacement will be for the masses won't be attached to a bluray vs hddvd like war where we waste 5 or so years with a technology we can't use. lol .. ok thats the end of my rant.