The OPPO 203.
The Panasonic UB900.
These are two of the best, not to mentionmost expensive, 4K Blu-ray players on the market today.
For months, owners and non-owners have beendebating which one actually gives a better picture.
In this video, we're going to do a scientific,technical comparison of their picture quality, and settle the argument.
at least for today.
Hello everyone, my name is Vincent Teoh, andI'm a professional TV reviewer and calibrator at HDTVTest.
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Let's get on with the comparison.
To kick things off, let's get something outof the way: the OPPO UDP-203 has one unassailable advantage over the Panasonic DMP-UB900, inthat the OPPO will be able to support Dolby Vision HDR format following a firmware upgradelater this year.
All current Panasonic Ultra HD Blu-ray playerson the market, including the UB900, will not support Dolby Vision, at least that's whatPanasonic engineers tell us.
So if you own a Dolby Vision-capable televisionlike a 2016 or 2017 LG OLED, you should probably choose the OPPO 203 to take advantageof the theoretical dynamic metadata benefits of Dolby Vision.
As of April 2017 when this video was filmed,there are no Dolby Vision discs and players available on the market, so we can't definitivelysay it's superior to HDR10 4K Blu-rays until we can do a proper comparison.
Ok, with that out of the way, let's startby comparing how the OPPO 203 and the Panasonic UB900 handle 4K Blu-rays.
Both players have been updated to their latestfirmware respectively.
version 329 on the OPPO UDP-203; 1.
73 on the Panasonic DMP-UB900.
We hooked up the players to the same HDMIport on a calibrated Samsung KS9500 full-array local-dimming LED LCD, and to compare thevideo output between the players, we simply swapped HDMI cables, and took photos witha locked-off camera.
As I explained in a previous unboxing videoof the OPPO 203, 4K Blu-ray discs are encoded in 4:2:0, so what will separate one playerfrom another is the quality of chroma upsampling from 4:2:0 to 4:2:2 or 4:4:4.
If we put up a chroma zone plate pattern that'sbeen mastered in 4K HDR, we can see that the Panasonic resolved more fine chroma detailthan the OPPO.
Now don't get me wrong: firmware update 329has improved the OPPO a lot in this respect, but its chroma frequency response is stillslightly behind the Panasonic – on the OPPO, the circles towards the edges of the screenbecame more jagged faster, whereas the Panasonic maintained their smoothness better.
Can you see this difference in real-world4K Blu-rays? Well, in all honesty, probably not from a normalviewing distance, because we're now getting into pixel-peeping territory, but hey, theseproducts are of such high quality that we have to do this to separate them.
The biggest difference is seen when you watcha 4K Blu-ray that's mastered in native 4K or higher with a high bit-rate, for exampleLucy or Sully, on a television that can faithfully reproduce 4:4:4 chroma.
Under these conditions, the Panasonic UB900just resolves the finest coloured detail that bit cleaner, smoother and brighter.
Moving onto upscaling of 1080p Blu-rays, weagain used a chroma zone plate pattern from the excellent Spears and Munsil Benchmarktest disc, only this time it's in SDR 1080p.
Here, the Panasonic kept the curves smoothertoo.
Again, in real-world viewing the differenceis going to be extremely minor, but if you play a high-bit rate Blu-ray such as Oblivionor Skyfall, the Panasonic UB900 is going to resolve the finest chroma detail just marginallybetter.
So far, we've been talking about differencesthat are extremely subtle between the two players, but the next one is very obvious,and it's in the area of HDR-to-SDR conversion.
Now, many of you will ask, why would anyonebother converting HDR-to-SDR? The answer lies in what produces the bestimage from 4K Blu-ray movies on a low-brightness display, such as projectors or 2015 LG OLEDs.
On these displays with low peak brightness,HDR doesn't look that good, either because there's simply not enough dynamic range todo HDR justice, or in the case of projectors, the black floor has to be elevated to tryand hit certain peak brightness.
What some owners have been doing is to convertHDR-to-SDR when watching 4K Blu-rays, so they can still get the 4K resolution and maybewide colour gamut benefits from Ultra HD Blu-rays.
even in the absence of HDR.
Now on the surface, the OPPO 203 is betterthan the Panasonic UB900 for HDR-to-SDR conversion, because the OPPO offers two modes.
If you go into the HDR Setting menu, selectingHDR off will ask the player to output SDR with Rec.
709 colours, whereas choosing "StripMetadata" will ask the player to output SDR with Rec.
On the Panasonic UB900, you don't get thischoice.
If you turn [High Dynamic Range Output] to"Off", then the player will use the EDID of the display to decide whether to send Rec.
2020 colours in SDR.
And most of the time it's going to be Rec.
If you want to get Rec.
2020 colours in SDRone hundred percent of the time on the UB900, you have to buy an external device such asthe HD Fury Integral to feed the necessary EDID to trick the player into outputting SDRBT.
However, the result of Panasonic's HDR-to-SDRconversion is much better than the OPPO's.
The OPPO 203's HDR-to-SDR implementation suffersfrom a few problems, regardless of whether [HDR Setting] was set to "Off" or "Strip Metadata".
If you look at this test pattern that is originallyin HDR but has been downconverted to SDR, the OPPO is not only crushing some shadowdetail just above black, but also introducing some posterisation in the gray ramp at thebottom of the screen, especially in the darker regions.
The colour remapping was also off, causingcolours to look less saturated.
In real world-content, you can see these issuesin this scene from the 4K Blu-ray of the movie Pan.
Notice how the shadow detail are missing inthe boy's hair, and also in the background, and how the gradations on his arm are stair-steppedrather than smooth.
Also, if we summon the interactive graphicslayer, the scene selection thumbnails appear washed out with elevated blacks, probablybecause of not using the correct transfer function.
For comparison, here's how the Panasonic UB900handled this exact same scene, converting HDR to SDR.
The shadow detail remain intact, the skintone gradations in the arm are smooth, and the scene selection buttons are correctlyrendered.
Bottom line is, if you want a 4K Blu-ray playerthat can accurately convert HDR to SDR, the Panasonic DMP-UB900 is our pick.
So there you have it: both the OPPO 203 andPanasonic UB900 are high-quality 4K Blu-ray players, but except for the lack of DolbyVision, the Panasonic just does a few things better than the OPPO, especially after the latest1.
73 firmware update which adds a 10-bit video output mode, as well as a [Dynamic Range Adjustmentcontrol] to make HDR content more watchable in a brighter environment.
Of course, OPPO may issue a firmware updatein the future that may tilt the balance in its favour, and we haven't tested the SonyX800 or the LG UP970, but for now, the Panasonic DMP-UB900 is our reference Ultra HD Blu-rayplayer.
If you can't stretch your budget to the UB900,the step-down Panasonic UB700 and UB400 will also deliver essentially identical picturequality.
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