Friday, 17 February 2017

Skiptrace movie review

Jackie Chan is famous for his slapstick comedy roles that is peppered with nonstop action. Think Project A, Police Story, and you will recall a series of movies with breathtaking stunts, amazing choreography of action mixed with humor reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin. Now I won't put Skiptrace in the same league, but it harks back to his heyday and it's nice to see him back for one more rodeo. 

For the uninitiated, this movie goes at a breakneck pace, and I wish I could watch it in Mandarin and English, just to see the difference. Think of the plot as secondary to the whole buddy scene, and it's a throw back to the Rush Hour franchise, and the plot is a mash of Midnight Run with Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Johnny Knoxville makes a good counterfoil to JC, and they traverse China together, in a funny travel-doco way, that invites you to laugh with or at them, marvel at the various sites and relive some of the old Jackie's action magic.

Don't let the Rotten Tomatoes rating deter you, IMO, this is worth a rental at least or a keeper.

The BR disc itself has superb video quality, and the surround effects are solid, with great use of the surrounds. Not a lot of bass, but an involving experience, nonetheless.  

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Mercedes W246 B180 Facelift Review

So after a protracted search which took place when my car reached the last year of it's COE, I decided on this car. A true crossover, with a bit of SUV, MPV and hatchback all mixed into one.

What was my buying decision process?

I have set myself a budget of around 130 but if I can spend less, that will be even better. i.e, with my car thrown in, my outlay should not extend 120.

What are the things I really need, and what are the niceties then?


Reliability is paramount. No 'characterful' cars, a euphemism for unreliable. So most likely a Jap car, that is actually made in Japan, maybe a Korean one, or perhaps a Merc if they are made in Germany and not somewhere else.

Not too low slung - I need easy enter and egress for my mum.

Versatile seats:

Folding rear seats, the ability to carry large objects will be very good.

Fuel economy:

Given the high oil prices, this will be a good thing.

Enough power to merge with traffic. I don't need a speedster, but I don't really want to worry about having a heart attack every time I need to join traffic and there's a rather steep slope outside my home and I need to merge with fast moving traffic there.

I also go on the North South Highway every now and then, so something that doesn't struggle on it will be nice.


Original leather seats

Red color
Quick turning radius
Low turn to turn ratio
SUV - high sitting position and hey, I haven't owned one before, but it was fun to drive

Front and back cameras

BT capability

So it came down to the Honda HRV and the Merc B180, and in the end I managed to wrangle a deal which meant that the Merc not that much more than the Honda.

It takes a while to get the car, and I have posted about buying and collection here:

There have already been a lot of reviews, both in print and video reviews, not only of the original one which came out in 2011, but also my version, which is the facelift one that came out end 2014.

Some links to features:

Torque Vectoring Braking:


If you decide to go full hog, you will get more, but if you get the bog standard Style package, you will still enjoy a ton of features.

Some cool features of note

- by pressing the open button on the key fob, you can lower the windows to cool the cabin as you walk towards the car and vice versa

- it learns your driving style, and goes more economical or gets faster and accelerates briskly as its how hard you press on the accelerator
- the park brake engages by itself and will disengage when you move off
- the HOLD function is nice at long junctions
- you can use the Individual setting to choose Manual mode which allows you shift gears yourself, otherwise after 12 secs it returns to drive
- love those SLS style round air vents
- pedal shifts - some may not use it, but I like to go Manual, and they are quite responsive

The NCAP 5 star safety award was another attraction.

Additional features:

The radio reception is good, and the stereo gives a nice bass kick. The mids aren't so great, but for a standard stereo, it's fine.

The car comes with three cables: android USB, lightning, and a 30 pin. These can be used with the two USB sockets. Pity they are a bit short.

The ambient light is nice and helps you locate stuff that you drop on the floor. 


The cabin is pretty solid, although the plastics in the lower areas of the cabin are a bit plasticky and tacky. The steering wheel is a nice size, but no leather wrap!! 

On the other, the steering wheel has a lovely design and the airbag central section is a round area, with a nice sporty three spoke design, reminiscent of the old Momo steering wheels.. 

And the entire cabin has a solid feel. There are some more nasty plastics below the waistline, but these hard plastics are found in the hard wearing areas, and should withstand some duress. The only shaky bit is the plastic cover of the B pillar.

The seat with it's eight adjustment is a pleasure to sit on. You sit more upright, but it's great, and you won't feel fatigue or aches even after a long drive. The memory seats are also a nice touch, which allows you and your spouse to get your own settings. And it controls the side mirrors too.

The cabin abounds with little pockets and the door ones are large enough for 1.5l pep bottles. I wish the central storage beneath the armrest was larger, but otherwise it caters to most needs. It isn't as plentiful as a MPV like the Citreon C4, but it does have nice MPV like touches like the fold down table, and the relatively high seating gives a nice outward view. The expanse of glass also helps, but there are some blind spots and one needs to move your head around a bit. Speaking of sitting height, in my personal opinion, this car offers the perfect sitting height to to it's hip point. You simply slide your rear in, and onto the seat. No need to climb up like in a SUV, nor do you sit down and slink in, like that of a sports car. It is no wonder that it's the most popular choice in Germany for middle aged drivers. 

This will not please those looking for sporty profile car, as it sits quite high up, with a ground clearance of 130mm, and neither will it suit those looking to sit above the traffic, like in a Subaru Forester. Instead it's a great car for those too old or simply do not wish to climb up or down into their car.

So what's it like to drive?

Firm ride, with little body rolls, and able to keep up with the cars. That's the basic summary, but gives the impression it's quite solid. 

On the highway, it's in it's element. Moving at three figure speeds, it's rock solid and stable. It was calm, behaving like a much bigger car and even at such speeds, it felt like it had reserve to go even faster. 160 kph is probably no issue in this car.

It takes corners quite flatly, and even though it's no hot hatch, it will hold it's line quite well. The steering does not convey a lot of the road, but it is direct enough and stable. After all the driver is more likely to be a middle age man or a soccer mum on the milk run.

If you opt to use the Eco mode, the progress is glacial.. but go to Comfort or Sport, give the pedal a firm press and it will move quite quickly. It's no hot hatch certainly, but it will get to 100 kmh briskly. And it actually corners nicely with good seat support. 

The gear shifts are pretty quick. Some like it to be faster, but it's fine and if you want to hold onto a gear, use the Manual Mode. You can keep it in M, by using the I for Individual settings.

Those seats are something else. Very solid support, and comfortable. It will be a real treat to use them on a long drive. There is tire roar, especially on certain stretches of the expressway, but otherwise the cabin is much quieter than my old Civic. And the acceleration is not slower either. Just hit the torque band and you are good to go!

As for the NVH element. When stationary, the noise isolation is very impressive. The tires spoil this for the B class, as the run flats tend to be pretty noisy, depending on the road conditions. When they are replaced with regular tires, the noise level on the move should be much better. There is some wind noise above 80 kph, but if you have the stereo on, it should not bother you.

As for the fuel economy, this car has a CD coefficient of 0.26, a very impressive figure, which was class leading when it first came out, and even now is highly competitive. If you drive with a light right foot, it will reward you with a good figure. When driven in anger, it can go down from 15km/l to 10km/l or worse.

Some annoying things:

No leather steering wheel!! Come on Merc, even a basic Hyundai gets that! And you can't spec it without breaking the package price. Nuts..

No Easi-Vario Seats for the local models. 

No rear air-vents for the aircon.
No pre-safe.
Nice if it had a sun-roof, but no biggie.. 

The pedals are slightly offset to the right. This car has more space for the left hand drive version compared to the right hand drive one. 

The fit and finish is not as good as the old Mercs. There are some sharp corners and the panel gaps are Corolla like, rather than Lexus. You know you are in a budget Merc..

The ride is not cosseting as the bigger Mercs and runs on the firm side. Tire noise is also more than you expect, although the cabin itself is quite quiet. 

Speaking of warnings, the modern Merc has a lot of beeps and buzzing..

For owners experiencing this for the first time, it can be daunting or even annoying.
Some of the proximity sensors actually to be a little slow, as in the alarm comes after the motorbike has passed..
Takes a little getting used too..

So who should get this?

Firstly, if you want the badge, don't get this. There are other ways to spend your money, and it should not be about the three pointed star badge. 

It is also not a sport hatchday, and neither is it a SUV. So who can consider it?

Well I can see a few buyer types: a family man or woman, who like a practical car, with the full suite of safety features, and still enjoys a solid car, with a decent engine, and finally someone who might take the family out on a road trip. 

A driver who like the open road, space for his kit, and on a daily basis wants something which will swallow the family needs and arrive in comfort. The driver who does not want to contort his or her back and squeeze himself into a tiny Recaro car seat.

For the same money, you can consider a Jap 2l sedan like the Mazda 3, a Toyota Camry or a SUV like the Forester. You will also be able to get one of the hatches from the Merc stable like the A180 (with change) or the Audi A3 1.0T or BMW 216d. So there are many choices in the luxury segment or in the Jap, conti car selection. There are also French and Korean options which either had reliability issues or were bigger and slower.

Only the Forester is faster, but it consumes a lot more petrol. The B class can get upwards of 15km/l on the highway and when you do only city driving, it can be as low as 10km/l, so mixture driving conditions will give you a reading somehow in between. Even at 10km/l, that's better than the Forester.

Then when you add on the cost of the features, you will see that it's quite good value for money.
For example, when you get a Corolla, it comes with very few features. Likewise for a Mazda 3 or even the Civic. By the time you add things like reverse camera, the safety suite, and even desirables like auto-fold mirrors, you will be looking at another 10-20k. Then if you want to get the same amount of power, and that's money, and you may be stressing an engine not built for this. In the B180, the M270 engine is the same one that is used in the B200, detuned to meet Cat A specs. So it will not be strained at all, even when you push it.

Even when you compare it to the category of sedans one class above, it has suite of features that won't be found on some of these sedans. Add the turbo-powered engine and you can see value. The solid metalwork is impressive and the legroom is something which is competitive up to something like the Camry or Accord. Only the new Civic can come close in this aspect. But the plastics are quite lousy and you won't feel that your money was well spent.

There is also talk of additional punitive tax on diesel engines, so I am glad I did not go that way. 

So for my budget, this car yields good fuel economy, has loads of interior space (like an S Class they say), has top safety features, and good acceleration and stability on the highway. 

I also did some homework on the reliability, and so far, the MFA platform with the M270 engine and DCT transmission has not had much issues. 

So do your sums and take it out for a test drive, so you can see if it suits you and your driving style.


 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Steps in buying and collecting your Merc

The car selection process :
That's listed here:

So you have set your eyes, heart and wallet on that three pointed star car.

Now I don't need to tell you that you should have done your due diligence on a few things:

- buy it because you like the car, the features, ride, safety etc etc. Not just for the badge. Well at least be clear why you put your hard earned cash on it!
- do your sums on the outlay, financing etc
- that includes the loan package, the duration, interest rate etc
- find a good rep who will serve you well, during the sale and more important, after you have coughed up the dough..
- look at the spec sheet, and make sure whatever you want is in black and white
- go through the details, eg, black leather, may come with black trim, and if you want a lighter trim check that 
- some things are not included, and you should go through the list that the rep gives you, and get them to sign off on it. If it's not on paper, it's not going to be there. There are no freebies

* Entry level Mercs don't get real leather, and the dash isn't covered with leather either, so do check your specs if you want the real deal.

Now for the buying part:

Some words about the overtrade:

- check the NETT price, which is what you pay after deducting the overtrade, any further discounts, without including the service credits. Discounts can be offered on certain models, when they need to push for sales on these models, and come on top of the OT. 
- add on the scrap car value

That's what you need to pay.

Then confirm the loan package, interest rate, duration etc.

Confirm what's the freebie deal:
- welcome pack
A computer backpack, key chain holder, wallet
- Nano sealant X 2 - do this ASAP to seal in the freshness of the car
- interior cleaning X 1
- polish X 1
- windscreen cleaning X 2
- chemical wash of the aircon X 3
- tire repair X 6
- 12 car pick ups
- Huber Optik Solar Film
- JS 400 front and back camera
- free compact umbrella

(your package may vary - eg if you get a higher end model, you may get more)

Service credits begin at $3000 and up. You can trade it in for cash.

Confirm color of the car, leather type, trim and additional specs - if you customise, the package price may not apply or you need to wait longer

Confirm delivery date: this can take months, so make sure you can swop out your existing car at the same time - you may even need to renew road tax

Once you sign, there's a draft contract that you get, and the actual form is sent to you in less than a month. One more contract will be sent nearer the delivery date if it's much later.

You pay the COE deposit of 10k, plus the deposit of 10%. You can use your credit card for this. 

You will also be asked to take up their insurance from AIG for getting the freebies. You can also use your Credit Card for this.

In a few days time, you will get notice of the loan approval. The loan and insurance start when you get your car registered. 

Then the wait begins. 

In the mean time, you can download the Mercedes Benz guides and MyMB - the app for the manual and the service booking app. 

There are many functions, so do read up.

COE bidding:

Merc usually gives a 6 bid non guaranteed deal, but they will get it for you! The rebate may not be great, but you will get your car.


Now after that seemingly never ending wait, you get your car!

Your rep will call you up, tell you when he will collect that cheque, which happens two to three weeks ahead.

You register a few days ahead of the collection, then they install the camera (from Eurostyle JS 400, no park mode) and solar film etc. He will ask you if you want the back window to be darker. The insurance starts once you register, and you can pay for it with your credit card.

A few days later, you will then make your way to C&C for the collection. 

For budget level cars like the A and B class, you probably have to take delivery at 209 Pandan Gardens. Drive in, park your old car at level two, there will be reserved lots for you. Clear out your old car and head into the special lounge to meet your rep.

For higher end cars, they will do the collection at Alex or Ubi etc, and if you ask, they may get things like the Nano Protection done first. For the more basic models, you need to do it separately and do ask your rep if he can allow you to do it right after the collection, so you seal in the fresh paintwork.

In the lounge, he will run through the paperwork first,  insurance, finance etc.

Then you will proceed to the car. 

So on the day, you can make sure of some checklists like this: 

But the rep will also give you a list to go through. Do take a half day off, it's a good idea to bring a torchlight and go through, looking for scratches and dents. The rep will take you through the functions etc.

You hand over the keys of your old car, get a LTA pin to handover ownership and pass him your old insurance form to sort out. Spend a day taking out the old stuff, don't forget any items under the carpets etc

Other items to consider:

There's no 1000km run in, the rep says, so go ahead and enjoy that ride :)
(that's what the rep said, despite what is in the handbook)

Try the various controls, and switches, but main thing is check the paintwork. And take some pics :)

A few weeks later, they sent me the paperwork for the sale of my car.

Just in case anyone is keen to know who my rep is, he is Andrew Tang, from the Leng Kee branch. Good chap.. mention my blog when you approach him :)

Overtrade - how does it work?

Some companies like Merc have this magical overtrade (OT) thing, which means the sticker price is much higher than what you can expect to pay

The OT has Nothing to do with the scrap car value.
 Say a car SRP = 180k
OT is what the agent gives as a discount. The condition is you must trade in a car. Any car ( only condition is that you own it > 6months apparently) 

Say OT = 10k
 Then whatever value you get for your car is dependant on the SALE price of your current car. Eg if you have a 5 year old Camry and you get an offer of 50k for it.
 So you pay 180-10 net, then minus the 50k for the Camry.
 The net price is 170k, PLUS whatever freebies they give. That's the ad trick. They will add in the freebies which you get if you get a loan.

Eg Nano, DVR, service credits, solar film etc, things which I have posted earlier. Say all these have a net value of 10k, then they will say your car is 180-OT-Freebies or 160k.

So the ad will say, get a C180 for 160k.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

My Car Buying Process

My own take

Phase I

Aim - who drives the car, what's the purpose (eg, fetch kids, mum or personal vehicle) &
Budget - most important, how much do I want to spend, now not some nominal sum, but what I feel I can afford, and if I want something nice, will it fit, and does it make sense

Phase II

Research - what's out there, what is nearing the end of it's lifespan, what are the got to have features etc

Reliability issues, safety, maintenance

Delivery date - some conti cars take a few months to reach, can you wait?

Phase III

Walk the ground - showroom time!

To avoid too much confusion, avoid considering more than 5, max 10 cars. And choose the type first, i.e. MPV, SUV, sedan etc

Test drive:

Understand that most of time, we aren't going to be like Top Gear, so things like ergonomics, comfort, economy etc matter more than handling under severe conditions 
Test the handles, switches etc and of course easy egress - my mum is the gold standard. If she can climb in, and she feels comfortable, that's the car.

Phase IV

Showtime with the sales rep!
My rule of thumb:
Never buy from a pretty lady... you might go nuts and buy something you shouldn't - ha ha
Understand the black and white - what are the features, maintenance costs, pricing, COE amount, bidding process

Phase V

Financing, speaking to the banker etc

Phase VI

Do the deed

Then wait for the car, and enjoy :)

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A few pointers and reminders about getting the best surround effects

A few pointers and reminders about getting the best surround effects

Priorities - 
WAF or good speaker position

Some basic rules of speaker placement are needed to get that surround ambience. For a 3D sound, the 5.1 or 7.1 surround layer needs to be around the ear level when seated. It's very hard to get ceiling mounted speakers to sound right, even if they are pointed at the MLP.

For the Atmos / DTS speakers on the ceiling, don't fret if you can't get the right angle, there's a decent range, and if you use a coaxial speaker with adjustable tilt and swivel, that will help spread the sound. And again, that's the word - spread the sound.

Maximum Effort

We have said this countless times - getting the right ambience surround isn't a simple press button solution. It doesn't mean that you have the latest Audyssey, MACC, or REW software installed in your amp = sound surround. 

AFTER you do the initial calibration, you will need to adjust speaker levels, with a SPL meter and avoid using the internal test tones. Then shift the speakers accordingly.

The honest truth about the sitting position

If you are seated in a less than ideal position, you won't get the best surround, and no matter what kind of software you use, that will not be able to cure the issue totally. 
So if your room is not ideal, you are backed up all the way to the rear wall, room too small for a 11.2 setup but you insist on it, you will not get the same surround that you heard or the bass you felt in the best setups.

In which case, just enjoy the setup with your family and kick your heels back and chill, we can't always fix everything in the world...


Thursday, 29 December 2016

Farewell Princess Leia and other icons of the 80s.

By now, the news of her sudden demise would have spread across the world, and we are all recalling all her famous movies, photos and the one that is etched in the minds of those who were in their puberty years when she wore that brass bikini in Star Wars.

But behind this image of her, is another...

A young girl who had an affair with an older and married actor, someone who couldn't cope with the pressure and limelight of Hollywood. Someone who then turned to drugs, drinking and had depression. We like to remember the good parts, and certainly she was the darling of Hollywood when she grabbed a laser gun and shot her way to fame. She then did a lovely comedic turn in Harry Met Sally, along with a good run as a writer too.

Yet, I can't help feel sad, that the life of a Hollywood star is adored, admired and even idolised, and we are quick to emulate their looks, and even adopt their epicurean lifestyles. Likewise, we mourn the loss of George Micheal, but are their lives truly worthy models? 

Farewell Princess Leia, and rest in peace. You have given me a pile of movies to watch this year end, but also a lot to reflect upon too. 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Oppo UDP 203 review

Good news! I have updated the video section with a comparison with the Samsung ☺
In addition I have added a comparison with the older Oppo 83 Nuforce.

Just to set expectations right:
this is a review in progress and will be updated with more content as I tried with with more 4k displays and compare it with other players). Furthermore, as this is a personal review, I will try and compare it with as many players as I can lay my hands on, but I don't intend to make my review an end all review of all the current player.

Oppo has been at the forefront of players which provide exceptional value for money, and in recent times, they have moved from providing merely simple value players to players which even the keenest audiophiles will want for their top tier systems.

With the advent of the Ultra High Definition (UHD), 4k format, we have all been anticipating what Oppo has up their sleeves. Wisely they have not tried to be the first off the mark, and have instead allowed developments in this nascent format to take place, and now they are ready to show off their first unit, in the form of the Oppo UDP 203.

Some links to tech specs and the Oppo website:

Some notes on the features:

- HDR capable
- enough CPU processing for Dolby Vision, but it's not enabled in this machine as of now
- twin HDMI, (one is HDMI 2.0a and the other is HDMI 1.4 and this one can be used with non HDMI 2.0 equipped AV amplifiers)
- HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 capable
- 2 USB 3.0 jacks
- analog 7.1 audio output,
- RS-232
- Ethernet and built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- 32 bit AKM 4458 DAC
- UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray (2D & 3D), DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD and AVCHD disc playback
- quad-core OP8591 UHD decoder

Important details:

Custom-Made 4K Loader
The UDP-203's disc loader features an optimized laser mechanism that delivers super fast disc loading, compatibility with a wide range of optical media, and strong error detection and correction to ensure error free physical media playback.
Advanced Audio Processing
The UDP-203 features a premium 32-bit DAC from AKM, the AK4458VN, which is an 8-channel DAC with support for formats such as 192 kHz / 32-bit PCM and multi-channel DSD64/128.
Advanced Image Processing Technology
With over a decade of experience developing high-end DVD and Blu-ray players, OPPO has once again teamed with MediaTek to produce and manufacture a specialized 4K UHD Blu-ray decoder SoC - the quad-core OP8591, which offers the most advanced image decoding and processing technology available for 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and user generated media formats.
HDR and HDR to SDR Conversion
One of the more exciting elements of the new 4K UHD format is the inclusion of high-dynamic range (HDR) video and an expanded color range, allowing for more natural and true-to-life colors. The UDP-203 supports the HDR10 format, and it is also capable of providing an accurate conversion from HDR to SDR for older displays.

Support for Dolby Vision will be available in the future via a firmware upgrade.

Lossless High-resolution Audio
Audio format support has been expanded to DSD64/128 or multi-channel DSD64, as well as 192kHz/24-bit PCM used in high-resolution lossless formats such AIFF, ALAC, APE, FLAC and WAV.



The remote is very similar to previous ones and if you have used an Oppo before, the controls, setup and menus will be very familiar to you. The new remote has motion sensing.. and the buttons have a better tactile feel than before. , plus it's perfectly usable, just not as good as a Marantz Reference series remote. But those products cost a lot more.

Setting up the wifi was a cinch, and it's pretty fast. I did an update which came up as a prompt, and with my 200 mps fibre net, it was done in minutes.

Loading time is quite impressive, and is as brisk as most modern players, and matches the Oppo 101ci.

The metal work is fine, and looks very industrial, but you won't mistake it for a some reference series amp or CD player, but that's fine, as the money goes to the importanit bits inside. The buttons on the player itself can be used to operate the menu, and you will find 3 USB ports, including one in front.

It's a slimmer player than the older 105 and even the 101ci, and will fit into smaller spaces. But since it does not have an inbuilt fan, do leave some room around it.

There are two HDMI outputs, but only one does video (HDCP 2.2) compliant, and the other port is meant to output audio, in case you have a legacy system that is not HDCP 2.2 compliant.

There is also a HDMI input, which allows you to use the SOC chip inside to upscale other devices such as a media player to 4k.

Bearing in mind that Oppo intends this to be primarily a disc spinner and media player rather than a all singing all dancing player with additional apps like Netflix, one must recognise what it does and it does playback well, otherwise you will then complain about the lack of functions and apps.

The new transport is very well made, and apart from the chips and other hardware for 4k, this is where the money has been spent.

Associated test equipment:
My gear


So let's get down to how the video looks.

I have enlisted the help of a few friends, who have 4k displays to show off the 4k capabilities, and I should declare that the jury is still out as to whether it will work if the entire HDMI chain isn't HDCP 2.2.
(I will post more once I have reviewed it with a variety of 4k displays and I will update this review as I try it on more video displays)

Into 1080p, it's pretty impressive. However as they say: "YMMV" or your mileage may vary. Watching Blu Rays without any upscaling will give you similar picture quality and color saturation as other players. Here the display quality will give more variation in the results.

There are many options to tweak, and if you have a HDR compliant TV set, the colors can be very good. Even out of the box, it's very solid, and the colors, clarity are quite superb.

In comparison: 

I just finished a comparison of the Samsung and the Oppo on a 65" LG E6, and my own conclusions are: don't be in a hurry to sell the Samsung..

From a purely end user point of view, the excitement of watching a UHD disc in 4k clarity, plus the enjoyment of the sound in an Atmos-equipped HT system was more than sufficient to overcome any perceived deficits in picture quality.
Of course from a technical standpoint, when one bothers to pause the movie, compare scene by scene, get the right calibration and so forth, small differences begin to emerge, and these are mostly in favor of the Oppo in terms of color, clarity and most importantly the upscaling. But the smaller the screen, the less noticeable are the differences.

Both players handle motion well, and there were no great issues with Full HD Blu Ray being presented on a 4k TV.

My opinion is of course my personal one, and I would appeal to all buyers to look objectively, because even amongst some of my mates, they do go in expecting the Oppo to best the Samsung in all areas, but when asked to explain what they feel is better, they can't. Yet they refuse to accept that the UHD picture quality is quite similar.

However when it comes to user experience, the Samsung has less glitches, less stutters and freezes. I hope Oppo will correct this in future.

In terms of the build and speed, the Oppo is one up, with a solid remote, player chassis and I am confident the transport matters and will allow the Oppo to be a good CD transport as well. But for current Samsung users, it's ok, don't tear your hair out and sell your player too cheaply. Instead enjoy it to your fullest. Cheers


As for sound, well it's quite similar in presentation to the Oppo 101CI

A scene for all fans of ambience to try:

Riddick - 2013 movie
The Mud Demons approach the Station as Riddick is being interrogated, and the rain begins to fall.. drops land on the zinc roof with all kinds of reflections - but it's not just another 'rain' scene. As the monsters approach, you feel the tension being conveyed by the music, and then the monsters land and move on the roof. The roof squeaks, groans and cracks. Inside another battle goes on as Riddick beheads Santana. The crisp singing of the blade interrupts the tension as Santana attempts to behead him, only to suffer a similar fate.

Then the Mud Demons pick off the bounty hunters, one by one.. random shooting ensues and the ping of the ricochets echo throughout the hut.

Try that for ambience and 3D sound. It's not created in DTS-X, but with Neural X, you could have sworn it was.. the footsteps on the roof, distinctive and discrete.. a real demo scene..

And it only works if you do your setup right.. :)

I also tried 13 Hours, which is encoded with Atmos.
You can hear the discrete bullets flying from front to back and across, the sound of the rounds being fired echo around you, and of course the explosions are a real blast, with really meaty bass.

For the stereo listening, I used the Oppo, and fed it into my Marantz PM 11 S3 with Wireworld Equinox 7 Interconnects, and played a few familiar hits. My Dynaudio Confidence Platinum One will happily take apart a less than competent player.

The soundstage is deep, subtle and wide. It's easy to pick out instruments even in a complex piece. The does not plunge the depths as would a better dedicated CD player, but you will get some good bass. The tone tends to stay fairly neutral, and will suit systems that are quite neutral to the warm side. It's revealing enough without being bright. Detail retrieval is good, and that AKM DAC is probably responsible for the quality. Again, I would say it sounds quite similar to it's cousin, the Oppo 101CI. At the end of the day, it's quite good, but not special, as it's not as good as a dedicated player, despite what Oppo fans may say. But for such a low price, you get a 4k player with a decent Redbook playback throw in.

Comparing it to the older Oppo 83 Nuforce, with souped up audio section, the audio depth is a tad smaller, but it's a tough call. Bear in the mind this older machine cost almost twice that of this one. Now that's progress.

More importantly I was keen to see how it would perform as  transport. So I tried it as a transport, to feed my Marantz NA 11 S1, and here it come alive, with the very capable transport. The sound was typical Marantz, warm, three-dimensional, and a definite step up from the internal AKM DAC of the Oppo. The soundstage was definitely better, and more laid out, wide and deep.

This will be a good transport for audiophiles who want to integrate their player into a good audio system, whilst enjoying their movies.

The bottom line:

If you have an existing Oppo or other Blu Ray player, and will not be upgrading to view 4k anytime soon, you do not need to rush out and get this. However if you already own such a 4k display, then this should certainly be on your shopping list.

However in my opinion, this is a good player, but the player is still a beta machine, with glitches like stutter, HDCP issues and such.

 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.