Blu-ray Players

Sony BDP-S5100 Blu-ray Player

ARTICLE INDEX

The Sony BDP-S5100 Blu-ray Player In Use

Watching films on the Sony, its performance with Blu-ray material was as I expected. With any 24p film that I watched on it, which is probably what 98% of people watch on their players, it was great. Images looked wonderful, it was quick to load, and menus were nice and responsive. For general Blu-ray watching, it looks like any other well-designed Blu-ray player, as it should. When done right here, bits are bits, and there aren't "deeper blacks" or "more pop" to be had from a correct image.

Most players now differentiate themselves through streaming, and the Sony has a very large selection of services to pull from. Their Sony Entertainment Network and Music Unlimited streaming give them one area to stand apart, though they are subscription based and not included for free with the player. I focused most of my attention on the streaming services that I use most often, and most readers probably use: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and Amazon.

Netflix support is very good, with the same universal Netflix interface that we see from most companies now. There is the kid's mode, which I love as a parent, but that adults can just bypass. One feature still missing, at least that I can find, is a "Start from Beginning" option with "Just for Kids" mode, which I'd like to see. Sony has support for the new SuperHD streaming from Netflix, though since Comcast does not, I can't test it. It also will support 3D streams that Netflix plans to offer, and offers 5.1 audio for supported titles. It is nice and quick to start and buffer, and works quite well for Netflix streaming.

I'd avoided using Vudu in the past, but finally started redeeming UltraViolet codes, and now Vudu is essential to me. On the BDP-S5100, logging into Vudu is made clear and easy, which is nice as it is often hidden on some players. Titles in my UltraViolet catalog all play back great over wireless, streaming the HDX versions without a single hiccup or stutter. None of the streaming services ever gave out or stopped and buffered, even with higher bitrate content. The on-screen display for Vudu could be slightly faster, but it isn't slow, and the image looks superb.

Amazon On Demand has had a redesign, with much larger and more colorful icons on the Sony than in the past. Browsing titles is quick and easy, and the larger images and icons make for a better experience. Watching Side By Side, buffering is quick, there isn't a break at all in playback, and the image looks superb. Hulu Plus also does well, with the same interface that Sony uses on their previous players. Nothing on Hulu seems to have changed from before, so it's still a custom Sony interface and not the standard Hulu one, but it still works well overall.

One thing Sony still needs to fix is their Apps interface. Some use custom Sony ones and some use the stock ones, and the login approach is different across them. You can't remove them from the main home menu, and the Sony Entertainment Network screen is a small step forward, but reserves most of the screen for the proprietary Sony apps. They need to simplify the home screen, and let you remove apps you don't use. They also could work on a quieter drive mechanism. The prior three models all have this issue as well, where sometimes a disc doesn't sit well and it will spin incredibly loudly, being audible even when the film is playing. Overall, the BDP-S5100 handles Blu-ray discs and streaming quite well.