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My Oppo 970HD Experience/Notes (LONG)

Old 02-23-07, 11:33 AM
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My Oppo 970HD Experience/Notes (LONG)

I recently purchased a Mitsubishi WD-57731 1080p DLP from BB to replace my failing Sony CRT RPTV. Actually it was a warranty replacement, I just had to pay the difference.

So this is my first experience with a DLP set. But having a 1080p, I was able to justify replacing the 5 yr old Sony DVP-NS715p progressive player. I do not know much about the old player, it was just in stock when I purchased my last TV, and it matched my Sony TV.

I initially wanted the Oppo 981HD, but was told the 970HD is a better match for my DLP due to macro-blocking issues.

The Oppo was ordered last Thurs. and it arrived yesterday. So total shipping time was 1 week from California to Michigan. This includes any delay due to President's Day. Shipping was via FedEx Ground. One thing to note is that a signature is not required on the package. For me it was no problem for the box to sit on the porch for several hours, but others may not like this.

The packaging has been described many times, so I will be brief. Oppo box, securely taped shut. Inside player in fake cloth bag, foam cushioning all around. A smaller box holding cables (power, HDMI, yellow, red/white RCA) remote, and 2-AAA batteries was packed neatly beside the player.

Unpacking the player, many have thought the front to is scratched, only to find out they need to remove the protective plastic. This plastic was not present on my player, leading me to wonder if they started removing it before shipping to prevent such complaints.

The player is super thin, a bit less the 1/2 the thickness of my previous Sony, with the same footprint. I set the Oppo atop the Sony for testing, with the 360 on top of that. The weight of the 360 does not seem to affect the Oppo in any way.

I plugged into he supplied HDMI cable to my set, and moved the existing coax audio connection from my old player. Turning on the player I was greeted with the big blue Oppo screen. Loading a disk was quick, and I didn’t see any problem with the tray, which some call flimsy. Common complaints on the eject speed seem misplaced. The tray ejected about twice as fast as the Sony. So I must have had a super-slow tray for almost half a decade making the Oppo tray excitingly quick.

The set-up was minimal.
-General set-up tab:
1) Changed TV display from "16:9 Wide" to "16:9 Auto" which is labeled different than the "16:9 Wide/SQZ” listed in the manual.
-Speaker set-up:
This is for the L/R analog outputs, so nothing was changed.
-Audio set-up:
1) LCPM rate was changed from “48K” to “96K”. I do not know if the affected anything or not, but figured a higher setting cannot hurt.
2) HDMI audio was set to “OFF”. I am using my receiver for sound, and don't want to turn down the TV volume each time I watch a movie.
-Video set-up
1) Color Space was changed from “RGB” to YcbCr 4:4:4. I am not sure which of these are better, and may switch to “Auto” and let the player/TV decide.


I spent the next couple of hours trying to calibrate my set. I used DVE, and was semi-familiar with it from using it on my previous CRT sets. I started with the pluge, and found my set does not do blacker than black, but that is no surprise. This isn’t a great screen to use with DLPs, but it was a start. The problem I ran into was my letters and such on the screen have “halos” for lack of a better term. If this was a CRT set, I would call it blooming, but in this case it could not be reduced. Maybe this is inherent with DLP sets. The major concern I ran into was on the “pb and pr sweep” of DVE. I was supposed to get a screen like this:



But it looked more like this:



With the last ¼ of the image blotchy grey, not smooth like the picture. This really concerned me, and thought I had found a flaw with the player. I then played the image on the Sony, and the problem was much worse! So I think is may have some to do with the player, but maybe more with the TV. I don’t know if a DLP will be as “sharp” as a CRT set, but the image after calibration the picture looks better, but still not precise and clean. Again’ I don’t know if this is inherent with the technology, or I got a bum set (again)!

With some “calibration” completed, I began watching some of the compilations on the disk to check the results and resolutions. The default was 480p, and I cycled through all of the modes, first watching whole segments with each, and then watching one specific scene, replaying it over and over on different settings. I found 720p to be the best, with 480p being close behind. This is what I expected, which may or may not have had a bearing on my final decisions. Ideally I would have liked to scroll through the resolutions while playing, but that is not an option.

I then played Cars, just the opening race scene, while repeating the resolution tests. The transfer is so good, it was hard to tell a difference, but again I feel the progressive modes won out. I tried to compare this to the Sony via component input, but it was hard to discern any difference. I do not have 2 of the same disk in order to do an actual side-by side comparison.

I put DVE into the Sony and watched one of the montages, and then put it into the Oppo. There was more detail in the distance on some of the city shots, and the fire seemed less blocky using the Oppo. I then re-watched the NASA opening on the Oppo, then the Sony, then back to the Oppo.

While I wish I could say “Oh my gawd, it was an amazing transformation, who needs HD!!” I can’t. I will say that the Oppo does provide a nice image at a good price. Whether or not this can be contributed to better electronics, or the change from component to HDMI, it doesn’t matter. I am pleased with the picture.

In closing, I will be keeping the Oppo player. I will probably wonder about what might have been with the 981HD 1080p player, but at that price, I would almost be up to an HD player (past it if you count the 360). I was looking for a quality player at a good price to tide me over until the future format is settled. I doubt I will ever use the Oppo to play anything other than pressed DVDs. I own no DVDs from other regions, SACD, or DVD-A discs. I may have been just as satisfied with a Sony or LG upconverting player from BB and saved a couple of bucks, but I wanted something different, something I know is good. I was most impressed with the continual firmware upgrades and customer support that Oppo provides, knowing that I will still have ongoing assistance and improvement with my player.

SUMMATION:
Oppo is a good player, basic performance can probably be had elsewhere, but the intangibles push the unit above other manufactures.
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Old 02-23-07, 01:33 PM
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Thanks for your review. Looking forward to receiving the same model any day now.
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Old 02-26-07, 04:30 PM
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I figure it won't be a mindblowing experience, but just from upconverting from my TV, I understand that I'll least get a somewhat sharper picture from upconverting... and that helps a great deal enough for me. I've just sprung and ordered the Oppo. Never thought I'd do it, but the HDMI cable being included really sold me as well since usually they're a bit of money.
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Old 02-26-07, 04:54 PM
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I really don't think upconverting gives that "OMG" impressing like moving to HD does. I think there's a noticeable difference from 480i/p, but nothing like moving up to a true HD transfer.
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Old 02-26-07, 05:47 PM
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Well, I'd be happier with just a 'little better' of an image. I notice all the small flaws even though I can say what's a really good transfer and what's not. Any improvement at all would be nice for me, and from what I always read, this will provide the 'best' of what's out there at a reasonable price until it's time to really kick into one of the HD formats. For one of the videophiles that only want something a bit better than what they have right now that THEY will notice, and are educated enough to know that HD-DVD/Blu-Ray is still lightyears above what upconversion does, I guess Oppo is the best way to go.

Last edited by mzupeman2; 02-26-07 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 03-04-07, 10:50 AM
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With the new beta firmware release, what's peoples experiences with the noise filtering, does it harm the image more than it does good?
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Old 03-06-07, 12:39 PM
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I was very disappointed in the player's PAL to NTSC conversion, though. Nearly every disc I play had dropped frames and glitches in playback. I unhooked it and went back to my Cyberhome, which plays the same discs flawlessly.

Anyone else have this experience?
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Old 03-06-07, 01:51 PM
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The 970HD is know to have problems with PAL conversion, I think it is 2:2 pulldown? I am not sure, but I know this is the major drawback to this unit. You should look into the 981HD. If you contact Oppo, ask about a refurbished 981, and it should be about the same price as the 970. Although, if you have a DLP set, you may run into macroblocking problems.
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Old 03-10-07, 01:10 AM
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Eh, the player is playing regular DVD's for me that are of this region and I'm also experiencing what appears to be dropped frames/glitches in playback. Disappointed in that, but nobody ever talks about that. Wonder if I should return for another as an exchange, return it entirely, or try the 981.
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Old 03-10-07, 05:38 AM
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I've been happy with mine the past couple of weeks. Seems some people complanied about the drawer opening too slow. Ya know, it is pretty slow, but it's not a big deal.

This might not be specific to the Oppo, but what would cause a subtitle to be cut off midsentence during Divx playback? Is there a setting to change in the player to avoid this?
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Old 03-10-07, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by mzupeman2
Eh, the player is playing regular DVD's for me that are of this region and I'm also experiencing what appears to be dropped frames/glitches in playback. Disappointed in that, but nobody ever talks about that. Wonder if I should return for another as an exchange, return it entirely, or try the 981.
If you're getting dropped frames and glitches, that definitely isn't normal. I would contact Oppo. They have a good reputation when it comes to customer service.
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Old 03-10-07, 05:15 PM
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Yeah, that's what I'm thinking.

It's not entirely a regular occurance though. The DVD's I'm having issues with thus far, have given me NO issues on my old progressive Panny. I tried playing the trouble discs I've noticed so far in 480p just to make sure it wasn't from the players upconversion or whatever, and the same issues apply.

Star Wars Episode III, the beginning after the credit roll, when it pans down to the big battle going on, there's some very bad stuttering with the video there for a couple of seconds. This is a highly noticable issue that anybody could see.

Now, with my Trailer Park Boys The Movie disc, and with Monsters Inc... I've noticed that throughout most of these features, every 5-10 seconds, I'll notice something very very very minor that isn't very noticable enough for some people who aren't looking for it, but it looks to me like perhaps a frame is getting dropped during this time frame. It's the slightest little tiny stutter but, I've tried other films... Corpse Bride, Cars, Borat, Monster House, and these films don't have the same issue. South Park Season 9 doesn't do it for me either. So I'm really wondering how this could effect certain discs I've never had problems with on any other player... while other discs just play fine. My old crappy panny handles these discs fine, the Oppo should too. It's just odd to me how it won't do it to all discs.
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Old 03-10-07, 06:43 PM
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A couple of months after I bought my very first DVD player in 1998, I would notice that every once in a while, it would look like video was speeded up for just a couple of seconds. It only happened on a few DVDs, but it would always repeatable in the places where it did happen. DVD was still very new, but I decided this couldn't be a problem with the DVD format in general. I took the player to my local Sony Service Center, and sure enough it was a bad laser pickup. Once it was fixed, the player was flawless (and remains so today).

So, yeah, sometimes factory defects do happen. That's the beauty of having a warranty.
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Old 03-10-07, 07:07 PM
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Well if you had it happen to you where it would act all stupid on certain DVD's at the exact same spots... I'll send it back without question. I'll contact Oppo. Hopefully the shipping they pay for will be fast, and hopefully they send it back to me fast. I ordered it via ground before and it took a week and a half to get to me since Fed-Ex was caught somewhere due to weather. I know many others haven't had problems with Star Wars III for example, and many reviewers used that as one of the discs to help with their reviews. Until then, I'll enjoy anything else I watch Thanks for the help Salty.
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Old 03-10-07, 07:19 PM
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Glad to help, and let us know how Oppo resolves this. I love my 981, and it has no problems so far. But it's always nice to know what to expect.
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Old 03-10-07, 07:48 PM
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Well, do any of the Oppo players not have the vertical squeeze issue? And would the 981 be showing the macroblocking on a rear projection LCD? I don't have a 1080p display but... thought I'd ask.
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Old 03-10-07, 08:45 PM
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I haven't heard anything about a vertical squeeze problem, but the macroblocking only seems to affect DLP sets. I have a Sony SXRD and have no macroblocking, or any other issues with the 981 for that matter.
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Old 03-11-07, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by mzupeman2
Well, do any of the Oppo players not have the vertical squeeze issue? And would the 981 be showing the macroblocking on a rear projection LCD? I don't have a 1080p display but... thought I'd ask.
I don't know about the vertical squeeze issue, but I am watching the Abyss (director's cut) and the picture is only the middle section of the screen, with a black border all the way around. I believe it is 2.35:1 so top and bottom are to be expected, but I am not sure why the display is so small.
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Old 03-11-07, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jonw9
I don't know about the vertical squeeze issue, but I am watching the Abyss (director's cut) and the picture is only the middle section of the screen, with a black border all the way around. I believe it is 2.35:1 so top and bottom are to be expected, but I am not sure why the display is so small.
It's because "The Abyss" is not anamorphically enhanced, regardless of what the packaging claims.

In the case of widescreen films presented without anamorphic enhancement on DVD, you will get black bars all the way around. You'll need to zoom, either with the TV or with the DVD player, to get rid of the bars on the sides. With a 2.35:1 film, you should still have bars at the top and bottom.
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Old 03-11-07, 07:21 PM
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Ah, so the 2.35:1 was true, but for a 4:3 ratio. I did zoom using the DVD player. I guess it was just an issue I never noticed before.
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Old 03-11-07, 09:40 PM
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"The Abyss" desperately needs a rerelease with anamorphic enhancement.
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Old 03-12-07, 03:47 PM
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I just got this in the mail today. My tv only has 1 hdmi input which is currently being occupied by the hdmi from my dvr. Anyway, my receiver does component switching. Should I use hdmi for the dvd player or the cable box? I watch much more tv than dvds, but don't know if hdmi can passthrough higher than 480p. I could get a hdmi switcher, but don't like the look of them and don't think the difference would be thatworth it.
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Old 03-12-07, 05:31 PM
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By the way, got off the phone with Oppo today. They're sending me another unit, and I get to keep my current unit until the new one arrives, and when the new one arrives, the box will include pre-paid shipping so I can send the old one back.
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Old 03-12-07, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by dick_grayson
I just got this in the mail today. My tv only has 1 hdmi input which is currently being occupied by the hdmi from my dvr. Anyway, my receiver does component switching. Should I use hdmi for the dvd player or the cable box? I watch much more tv than dvds, but don't know if hdmi can passthrough higher than 480p. I could get a hdmi switcher, but don't like the look of them and don't think the difference would be thatworth it.

Well, if you hack the Oppo, you can upconvert over the component, which is probably not an option for the cable box.

I would see if the 480p component is comparable to the upconverting of HDMI (I believe both outputs are active at the same time, making a 1 to 2 comparison relatively easy).

If it is a poor choice, looking into getting the component hack. You may sacrifice some SACD playbock things using the old firmware, but would work in your case.
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Old 03-12-07, 08:33 PM
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Yeah but that component hack isn't the best option either. You're not necessarily going to be getting 720p or 1080i if you're upconverting over component. It still looks wonderful, but think of this: Over time if you want to upgrade your firmware to take advantage of some of their new features or fixes, bye bye goes the upconvert. I'd say, put the DVD player right into the back of the TV, and put your TV via component if you have to. It's how I've got it now and my HD on my LCD rear projection looks pretty damn nice.
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