A World Class Blu-ray Player?
What is the Sony BDP-S5200?
If you love both football and movies, then this might be the Blu-ray player for you.Yes folks, the Sony BDP-S5200 is the Official Blu-ray Disc Player of the 2014 FIFA World Cup but doesn’t really do much to justify that position other than by carrying a suitably logo emblazoned covering sleeve. Once the festivities are over in Brazil – or at least a suitable time following – the retailers will be able to simply remove said sleeve and resume business as normal with the standard packaging.
But that’s enough about a box of the cardboard variety but what can the one inside it do? Well, obviously it can play Blu-rays, both 2D and 3D, and it can also scale up your DVD collection in to Full HD resolution and it does Screen Mirroring, Smart TV ‘stuff’ and has very nice companion app for your mobile device. Price-wise, the S5200 it’ll set you back around £100, so let’s see if this one is on the ball?
Design & ConnectionsWell it’s a bit different, that’s for sure. The S5200 is so small it could be reasonably labelled as portable. Our tape measure revels vital statistics of 260 x 40 x 200mm (WxHxD) and it weighs only 0.9Kg so you should be able to squeeze it in somewhere or even have it on show on the top of your cabinet. Sony has dressed up the S5200 for such a duty by designing it with four tapering, triangular panels that rise to form a prism and making one of those panels in a very shiny, metal effect. We could take it or leave it, in all honesty, but some will like the showiness.
To aid the compactness, the power supply is external, so you’ll need somewhere for the small ‘power brick’ and its connection is on the rear, along with all the rest. These are a simple set and number a single HDMI port, a LAN connection and a coaxial digital audio output. You do get WiFi built into the rather flimsy box, too, which is a little noisier than some of the larger Blu-ray players, in the same price-bracket, during operation. We like the supplied remote control which is considerably less fussy than the box, in terms of design, and features, with nice, large rubberised buttons including some useful Smart TV shortcuts
The design is certainly different!
MenusBy Gads, the BDP-S5200 is like a step back in time with its XMB (Cross Media Bar) Menu System. It is intrinsically no worse than Sony’s newer User Interfaces, other than the fact it is less pretty, but we’ve never been convinced it works that well for AV kit. Nonetheless, there are all the settings you need. From the ‘Screen Settings’ sub-menu in the Setup tab, we have options for 3D output, with choices of Off or Auto. During testing we left this set to Auto with no issues. Below that is a setting for TV Screen Size in order that 3D images are optimised and also a TV Type option that allows aspect ratio choices of 16:9 or 4:3. Cinema Conversion Mode is the option to engage film cadence detection for standard definition video.
Very unusually, there’s an option to output 576i over HDMI which will interest those with outboard video processors, in particular. Other than that, everything else is as one would expect with other options of 480/576p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p to choose from. Naturally, if your TV is 1080p, set it at that although the Auto selection should take care of it for you in any case. The BD/DVD-ROM 1080/24p Output item is an Auto/Off option that you'll only want off if you have an older TV that doesn't support 24p playback or, for some reason, you like a bit of added judder to your movies. Next up, or in fact down, is the YCbCr/RGB (HDMI) option can be set as YCbCr 4:2:2, YCbCr 4:4:4 or RGB so you'd need to know which converts the 8 Bit 4:2:0 data on the disc better - the player or the TV and as most are very unlikely to know, we'd probably recommend Auto as the safe option.
FeaturesYou can access all of these from the XMB but you’d be better served using the SEN button on the remote to take you to a much cleaner and more contemporary interface. From here you are presented with four tabs for Favorites (spelt wrong buy Sony – come on localization team), Apps, Video and Music. There’s a good choice of Apps, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant and Demand 5 for streaming, that are complemented with some social media and a multitude of other VoD services for you to get your teeth in to.
The Video and Music sections are vehicles for Sony’s own Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited services. Video Unlimited allows you to rent movies and TV shows, whilst the other is an all-you-can-eat streaming music service. The latter doesn’t have enough content for our money and we’re more Netflix/Amazon kinda guys when it comes to video streaming but there’s a good selection of up-to-date titles at non-shocking prices. Given this is a Blu-ray player, you may just want to invest in the disc versions, however.
Something new for the Sony BD range this year is compatibility with the TV SideView App, which as well as being able to act as a remote replacement, is also a companion to further your viewing edification. In other words, it has access to a database of movies and TV shows and a built-in recommendation engine to suggest further content. It’s not quite as useful as it is with a Sony TV with PVR functionalities but it’s still one of the slickest around and we really liked it. We even still use it beyond the review process, which should tell you something.
TV SideView app is definitely one of the best
Sony BDP-S5200 Video PlaybackThe BDP-S5200 has a choice of three ‘Picture Quality Modes’ with varying degrees of brightness. There are ‘Brighter Room’ and ‘Theatre Room’ options but you’d be best leaving it in the default ‘Standard’ configuration and making any necessary adjustments on your TV. By doing that, you bypass any tampering with the signal, which allows the S5200 to display your Blu-rays pristine and as intended. There was no reason to suspect that the player was adding any of its own influence during run-throughs of Gravity, Frozen and House of Cards Blu-rays and taking some quick measures of colour patterns revealed no anomalies against the calibrated Sony W706, beyond the panel's own.
We then hooked up the player to the Panasonic AS640 to test out the 3D capabilities and the BDPS5200 was not found wanting here. Spinning the 3D version of Gravity revealed no flaws in playback and, likewise, our copy of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug gave no cause for concern and all the depth and pop-out expected. Those reasonably rare Blu-rays that come in interlaced format are also well-preserved by the BDPS5200 with fine details preserved and next to nothing in the way of jagged lines observed.
Pretty much faultless, playback wise
As we’ve come to expect from Sony, the scaling of standard definition signals was also superb without any loss or general fuzziness. Film cadence detection tests showed the S5200 was a flawless performer here, too, and it locked on to the most common 2:2 and 2:3 cadences without any problems. Definitely of note to some is that the player reviewed here has been made multi-region for both DVD and Blu-ray by the retailer who supplied it for review, so if you have a large collection of NTSC DVDs and/or you like to import your Blu-rays, this player can be given the option.
Sony BDP-S5200 Video Review
Disc Load TimesBy enabling Quick Start Mode in the Setup Menu of the XMB you can shave a few seconds off the average start-up time and by disabling BD Internet Connection you can shed a few more of Blu-ray disc load time. Set thus, we could go from a standing start to the main menu screen of the disc in typically around 30 seconds, and when the player was already on this fell further to nearer twenty seconds.
- Perfect 2D/3D Blu-ray playback
- Great scaling of DVDs
- Lots of VoD apps
- SideView app is great
- Build quality could be better
- A little noisier than some
- Ditch the XMB menu system
Sony BDP-S5200 Blu-ray Player ReviewThe Sony BDP-S5200 is the Official World Cup Blu-ray player by virtue of the fact it just is. There is no special mode, nor exclusive football related content to be had by virtue of its standing but priced at only around £100, you’re hardly paying for the endorsement. That money does get you an unusually distinctive player, however, with a shiny finish and a tapered design. Both the remote control and connectivity options are more routine, with a single HDMI output, a coaxial digital audio connection and both wired and wireless LAN. The supplied controller is of a nice size and has easy to find rubberised buttons, including some handy shortcuts to the Smart TV features.
Those features include a great set of video-on-demand and streaming services, including the likes of Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant, iPlayer and Demand 5 plus access to Sony’s own Music and Video Unlimited services. The S5200 also gives access to the TV SideView app, available for iOS and Android, which acts as both an alternative route and content companion with its database of movie and TV show information. We would advise getting to any of this via the dedicated SEN user interface rather than the clunky XMB menu system, which makes its outdated way in to this player and has to be used for set up.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the BDP-S5200 as a disc player. It kept our 2D and 3D Blu-ray collection fully intact and, provided you stick with Standard picture mode, you’ll be seeing everything as it should be. Even your old DVD connection will receive a lick of paint with some excellent scaling and rock solid cadence detection ensuring you’ll be losing no detail. The player was reasonably quiet in operation, although we have experienced more noiseless rivals but disc loading times were on the quick side, which definitely enhances the experience.
The Sony BDP-S5200 ticks virtually every box required of a Blu-ray player in 2014 and we therefore have no qualms in giving it a hearty AVForums Recommended Award.
Ease Of Use7
Value For Money7
Our Review Ethos
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