An Oppo-bituary: Some Parting Points On Oppo Digital's Passing

True Story: as I was driving down to Menlo Park, CA to pick up my new -- and last -- Oppo Universal player, a song from Harry Nilsson's classic animated tale, The Point, popped into my head. But instead of singing "Me And My Arrow," I started humming "Me and my Oppo..." With apologies to Mr. Nilsson, I'll share some slightly revised lyrics to sort of make a... um... point... 

Me and my Oppo

Straighter than narrow

Wherever we go, everyone knows

It's me and my Oppo

AR-OppoUDP20325.jpgYou see, while I just bought a new Oppo universal player, I am genuinely sad. Not because I am disappointed with Oppo's product. On the contrary, I am extraordinarily pleased with it. But as many of you know, it was announced recently that Oppo was closing its doors for making audio-video related consumer electronics products. And thus, this new player will be the last one I'll be able to buy from them.  

I have had many grand A/V adventures with my trusty Oppo BDP-83.  There have been a multitude of surround sound demos I've made for friends showcasing key moments from Queen's A Night At The Opera, Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon, The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots on DVD Audio and Blu-ray Discs. Or, how about those times I've wow'd friends with The Carpenters in 5.1 from a very rare SACD.  I remember expanding the minds of guests by showing them the Criterion Blu-ray editions of some of my favorite films from the past such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Jean Cocteau's Beauty and The Beast, both with wonderful surround soundtracks. And then there was that time I sat slack jawed watching The Wizard of Oz on Blu-ray for the first time from a restored edition, seeing visual details I never imagined possible. 

All this happened simply because I had this neat Oppo player set up in my living room.

Me and my Oppo

Taking the high road

Wherever we go, everyone knows

It's me and my Oppo

AR-OppoLogo225.jpgI bought my first Oppo around the time I got my first big screen plasma TV. It was the model BDP-83 and it has been the center of my home theater set up ever since. It has been a workhorse, rising to the challenge of most anything I have placed in its path:  5.1 surround sound, DTS HD Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD, LPCM, Wav files, AIFF files, cruddy MP3s, Blu-ray Discs and DVDs, DVD Audio Discs. Heck, it has even played European PAL format discs.  This thing is a trooper and I suspect the new one will take me at least through the next 10 years or more of home theater enjoyment.  

Given that I live in Northern California, when I ordered my new UDP-203, I decided to save on shipping charges while making a loving tech-geek's pilgrimage to Oppo's nearby US headquarters. My visions of consumer electronics grandeur were slashed when I pulled in to the parking lot of a nondescript industrial office park. Inside, I saw a generic corporate space stripped to its bare. I quickly came to terms with that concept, considering that they probably decided to put their money into their product offering instead of building out a fancy workplace.

When I spoke with the representative about picking up my player, I detected a decided air of justifiable sadness. Another customer arrived making a similar journey to mine and we commiserated for a moment. We discussed how Oppo's high quality offering and focus on a somewhat niche oriented market may have contributed to its own demise. This is purely speculation from two fanboys, mind you; I'm sure the background story is probably more involved....  

Now, as a marketing oriented technology enthusiast myself -- I've spent much of my professional career supporting consumer and professional electronics products and their respective companies, from Sega to DTS --  I liked Oppo immediately when I first learned of its Blu-ray based universal players. That they were getting good reviews from journalists I knew and respected certainly didn't hurt either! Oppo's product pricing felt very fair given what they offered.  

AR-oppo203.jpgBut, while chatting there in the doorway, I wondered if perhaps Oppo would have been smart to offer an entry level model basic Blu-ray player in the under $200 price range. For me, the $500-plus price point was not a deal breaker because I fully understood and appreciated the multi-format capabilities of their Universal player.  A lower priced bare-bones model would have been something of a loss leader perhaps, but it might have also become something of a Trojan horse to reach a more mainstream consumer. It would have offered the aspirant enthusiast an opportunity to choose an Oppo over the blow-out priced big name brand models found at discount retailers. It could have been a step-up model offering the quality for which Oppo was renowned, perhaps offering a path for customers to upgrade along the way.

But that is just outsider speculation and 20/20 hindsight dreaming. The sad reality is that it all seems to be over. 

And in the morning when I wake up

She may be gone, I don't know

And if we make up just to break up

I'll carry on, oh yes, I will

AR-OppoCellPhone.jpg

I recently learned that Oppo's parent company specializes primarily in mobile devices.  Until now I never bothered to dig down and learn about the parent company, which apparently is highly regarded in the area of cell phones and such. Well, that is exciting in a way.  Would I buy a high-end cell phone that incorporated higher quality digital components for better sound reproduction and related applications? Quite likely! 

Thus while I'm still sad to see Oppo exit the world of audio and video products, I'm intrigued about their mobile device possibilities and need to explore what they offer in that area. 

Anyhow, for now its a fond farewell, Dear Oppo. I look forward to new journeys with my UDP-203 and continued adventures with my trusty old BDP-83 (which now resides in my office system for stereo-only listening/viewing) and hope that their future is bright and sunny on the other side.

Me and my Oppo

Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, straighter than narrow

Wherever we go, every one knows

It's me and my Oppo

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