- Excellent case design:
- The 983 has a solid look and feel to it.
- I really like the design and finish of the front panel and display.
- The new loading tray is much more substantial, and should put an end to the occasional comments about OPPO's earlier tray design being "flimsy" (even though it was incredibly tough and flexible).
- Excellent layout of the rear connectors, and choice of power connector.
- I prefer that the USB connector is on the back, despite the slight inconvenience of having to use an extension cable. It looks more professional than the rubber plug on the front of the 980, and using an extension means that the player's USB port is saved from the wear and tear of constant media insertion.
- As an electronics engineer, I paid close attention to the design of the internals - power supply, PCB layout, and so on. The player is exemplary in this regard.
- Fantastic de-interlacing and scaling, including excellent PAL support and conversion to NTSC.
- Aces all the tricky test sequences on ABT's VRS test disk, which readily show up the shortcomings of other players.
- A couple of my test DVD's have some particularly nasty clips that trip up Faroudja and other players, including a few that cause jumping or "twitching" of the image, especially noticeable on the edges of white motionless text. The 983 handles most of them flawlessly.
- None of the Faroudja processor's issues, like macroblock-enhance, image retention, or color tinges.
- Grayscale and color ramp gradation is incredible, and a huge improvement over the performance of the Faroudja chip. There is almost NO evidence of banding/false-contouring. The tricky, constantly moving, graduated blues in "Finding Nemo", look beautifully smooth.
- The zooms are superb. At last, there is no loss of resolution when pillar-boxing 4:3 content, and non-anamorphic widescreen content looks as good as it gets, when zoomed to fill the screen.
- Passes all the standard video tests perfectly, including black/white levels, blacker-than-black, whiter-than-white, color decoding, Y/C delay, CUE, pixel cropping, image distortion, etc.
- The new "Border Level" control for gray pillar-boxing will be a welcome addition for plasma owners.
- It has the functional enhancements of the 980 (like multi-disk resume-play memory).
- The USB port works well with FAT16/32 hard drives and flash drives. I tested Divx movies, VOB movies, JPG images, MP3 and WMA music files.
- Divx playback from DVD works very well too. (I had a few problems with unusual aspect ratios, but these could usually be fixed by fiddling with both the zoom and the 16:9 wide/auto setting).
- The audio performance is superb, although I do not have a dedicated, high-end listening environment to fully appreciate the player's capabilities with hi-res content.
I am seriously impressed with the A/V performance of this player. I have compared it with many other players, including OPPO's 980 and 981. The image is incredibly detailed, yet natural and film-like. My only concern is the edge enhancement introduced by the ABT scaler (the de-interlacer does not introduce any significant EE, because the 480p output looks clean). The scaler in my Sony LCD TV creates a sharp picture from the 480p output without adding any EE, but it simply cannot match ABT's smooth scaling. OPPO and ABT worked hard to provide two extra sharpness settings (-1 and -2) that help significantly with the EE, but cannot eliminate it completely (evidently, ABT's VP30 has the same issue). Nevertheless, in real-world viewing, the EE is not distracting, and it seems that most people prefer the "sharp" look that players like the 980 and the 983 provide.
All in all, this is one heck of a player, and I would highly recommend it. My DVD's have never
looked so good!
Also see the reviews linked in the first post of this thread, especially the respected DVD Benchmark Test at SECRETS of Home Theater and HiFi