Disc players are dead, you say? Pas du tout!
French company Reavon is bringing new Oppo-like players to the market soon
It's no secret that physical media has seen a great decrease in popularity during the last 5 years or so, as Internet streaming took over households the world over. Home cinema enthusiasts know that Ultra HD Blu-ray discs offer superior picture and sound quality, but they now seemingly belong to a minority of consumers that value these things: most people just want to sit in front of a Smart TV, press a button, arrive at a selection screen, pick something and start watching. Decent sales of Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, though, prove that many people still use disc players for a number of reasons - and newcomer Reavon is looking to address the needs of the most demanding among those same people by releasing two such players in April.
The French company announced the Reavon UBR-X100 and UBR-X200, two universal disc players that offer playback of Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, CD, Super Audio CD and DVD Audio discs. Both devices have a similar look to the last great universal players for the consumer market, that of the Oppo 203/205 before that company decided to exit that product category in 2018. They are similarly constructed, too, with rigidity in mind so as to maximize stability and minimize distortion during playback. Both also support multimedia file playback in a variety of video and audio formats, either through external USB storage or DLNA/Samba local network storage.
Differences between the two models mostly have to do with advanced sound support, as the more expensive of the two models (UBR-X200) offers a complete range of analog ports as well as a powerful digital-to-analog conversion subsystem. Both models offer a second HDMI output port for legacy receivers, though, as well as Ethernet, USB 3.0, coaxial and optical ports. Crucially, they both support Dolby Vision for the best possible picture quality from Ultra HD Blu-ray discs that feature it, as well as optional conversion from SDR content to HDR.
Reavon's players are based on the Mediatek 8581 chipset, which features a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 main processor and an ARM Mali-T860 MP2 graphics processor. Both, although not cutting-edge by now as they are the ones Oppo used, are powerful enough to decode 4K video of any complexity and bitrate, as well as upscale sub-4K content. There is no information yet regarding the operating system these players are based on - whether it is Android or Linux, whether it allows for third-party apps etc. - and software support through timely updates from Reavon is, of course, an unknown at this point.
Home cinema enthusiasts are understandably excited about these two players, though, because of the way this category of products has degraded over the years: since 2018 Samsung has also exited the disc player market while LG, Panasonic and Sony (who did launch new models in 2018-2019 but haven't refreshed them since) have chosen to not release an Oppo-quality product, focusing on cheaper models instead. The Reavon UBR-X100 and UBR-X200 look like proper hi-end disc players at long last and their Oppo vibe makes them even more desirable to audiovisual aficionados.
Quality such as this never came cheap, of course, which is why German e-shops list the Reavon UBR-X100 and UBR-X200 for €799 and €1599 respectively. The UBR-X100 is not actually that expensive if its performance is comparable to the great Oppo 203/205, but consumers who need the UBR-X200 would pay a hefty premium indeed. It's true that Reavon is not a known brand in the home cinema market - and consumers will have a better idea of what to expect from these products when the first reviews hit the Web - but the very fact that there will be new hi-end disc players for the enthusiast home cinema market in 2021 is exciting indeed. April can't come soon enough.