What is the BDP-S5100?
Styling, Build, and Connectivity of the S5100
At the top right there are some basic controls for eject, play, stop and on/off. As is becoming increasingly popular, the dimensions are rather diminutive, measuring 360 x 199 x 43mm (WxDxH) and weighing only 1.3kg. The latter number gives rise to our only real complaint, which is that the S5100's all-plastic construction feels a bit flimsy and the glossy finish does tend to show up finger prints. However, the loading tray and disc mechanism are pleasingly quiet, so we're glad to see that the lack of bulk in the construction hasn't translated into noisy operation.
The rear connections are the standard selection incorporated by most Blu-ray players these days - there's a single HDMI output, a coaxial digital output (rather than the usual optical), an Ethernet socket and a USB port. Whilst the connections are limited, we're glad to see that the useless composite video connector has finally been dropped - did anyone really buy a Blu-ray player and then use that output?
The remote control remains a good example of concise design, with everything you need sensibly laid out and easy to use. The relatively small size of the remote makes it comfortable to hold and you will find all the controls you need, including navigation, playback and other useful features like the Home, Option and SEN button for accessing the Sony's online service (Sony Entertainment Network).
Features on the Sony BDP-S5100
The Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) includes both Sony’s Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited services. These services can be accessed via the Music, Video or SEN menus on the XMB and are subscription based, giving you access to a multitude of Sony Entertainment created content. If you press the SEN button on the remote, you have a choice of Apps, Video or Music, with the latter two providing access to the Video and Music Unlimited services. If you select Apps, you can access all the applications which along with VoD services includes vTuner, Facebook and a multitude of games.
The S5100 can be connected to your network by either Ethernet or built-in WiFI and provides media streaming capabilities with DLNA compliance. In terms of disc support it can play BDs, DVDs, CDs and SACDs and you can also access content via a connected USB drive. Thanks to the inclusion of Gracenote music and video recognition technology, the S5100 can access their database and identify the content that your listening to or watching. In terms of file support the coverage is excellent and it's good to see that lossless audio has been added. In terms of video the S5100 can handle MPEG1/2/4/AVC, Xvid, VC1, WMV9, AVCHD and Motion JPEG. For photos there's JPEG, PNG, GIF and MPO, whilst for music it covers MP3, AAC/HE-AAC, WMA9, LPCM and FLAC.
Sony's remote app has had an upgrade and this year is called TV SideView but remains one of the best, offering control not only of Sony's Blu-ray players but also their TVs and Home Theatre systems. TV Side View is freely available for both iOS and Android operating systems and can be used on smartphones and tablets. There is an attractive user interface that offers full control of the player through a simplified or full interface. Other features include providing details on the content you are watching, finding media content spread across various services or devices, messaging about the content you are watching, a full QWERTY touch-screen keyboard and a touch pad cursor.
Is the BDP-S5100 a good 3D Blu-ray Player?
We watched the whole of the final season of Spartacus and the S5100 did a fantastic job of delivering every skin pore, speck of dirt and jet of blood. The same was true with the 3D Blu-ray of Texas Chainsaw, which whilst not a great film, is a surprisingly well shot 3D feature. The S5100 did a great job of delivering detailed, layered and artefact free 3D images to both a Sony W9 and an LG LA860. The presence of Sony's W9 gave us an opportunity to investigate Sony's Triluminos Colour feature, which the manufacturer claims delivers a wider colour palette. Frankly we're dubious as to the merits of Triluminos, especially when it comes to Blu-ray players. We can understand that a Sony TV with Triluminos Colour might have a wider colour gamut but as always we would want the TV to reproduce Rec.709 because that is the standard used for Blu-ray. However given that fact we fail to see how a Blu-ray player can output anything other than Rec.709, nor would we want it to. Certainly in the case of the S5100, we regard Triluminos Colour as nothing more than marketing mumbo jumbo.
1080i Playback on the S5100
BDP-S5100 480i/576i video quality
Sony BDP-S5100 Blu-Ray Player Video Review
Disc Load Times
- Standby (Quick Start off): 0W
- Standby (Quick Start on): 5W
- Idle: 6W
- Playing a disc: 8W
- Excellent 1080p and 3D Playback
- Superb scaling of DVDs
- Very impressive deinterlacing
- Extensive VoD Services
- Remote app is very good
- Good media streaming
- Quiet in operation
- Fast load times
- Low energy consumption
- Build quality feels a touch flimsy
- 'Quartz' styling might not be to all tastes
Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray Player Review
Unlike this year's Sony TVs, the S5100 remains saddled with the Cross Media Bar (XMB) menu system which continues to as acquired a taste as ever. If you're used to it, there won't be any real issues but we suspect it will be gone completely next year and we won't mourn its passing. Setup is fairly straightforward, the built-in WiFi makes connecting to your home network simplicity itself and the video settings can be accessed during playback via the Options button on the remote. As with last year's models, we’d advise leaving the Picture Viewing Mode as it is to ensure the most accurate representation of the video signal, although we're glad to see that the noise reduction features now default to off. The S5100 is essentially a digital transport and as such it delivers the goods, with a flawless Blu-ray, CD and SACD performance. The scaling and deinterlacing was especially impressive, so anyone with a large DVD collection will be able to get the best from their standard definition discs.
As is usually the case, a new generation of Blu-ray players incorporate the previous TV generation's Smart platform but since Sony try and deliver as much VoD content as possible, that's no bad thing. The Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) page breaks down into Apps, Videos and Music and includes all the main services such as BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Netflix and LOVEFiLM and many more besides. Sony’s new remote app for Android and iOS remains superb, providing access to your home network, SEN and any disc you are playing, as well as offering full control of the player through a simplified or full interface. Media streaming also proved to be very capable, with extensive file support and a well-designed interface.
The Sony BDP-S5100 is an excellent all-round player that not only looks like a stealth bomber but also delivers an impressive payload of features.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.