Sony BDP-S5100 Review

With my Roku 2 XS fleet grounded, I found myself once again in search of a device that would support my streaming needs…

  1. Netflix
  2. Amazon Instant
  3. Simple DVR
  4. Plex
  5. PlayOn

To my delight, the svelte BDP-S5100 did this — and more.   In fact, first and foremost, the BDP-S5100 is a highly regarded 3D BD player which upconverts standard DVDs, plays files off a thumb drive, and streams video.  It has both wired and wireless internet, can play files of a USB disk, and included apps from Sony Entertainment and the Opera App Store.

BDP-S5100 manufacturer refurbs can be purchased via Amazon for $54.99 and carry the same 90 day warranty as NEW Rokus.

The BDP-S5100 is a very good 3D BD player.   Review the specs here and read reviews from CNET, T3, and Trusted Reviews.  There are nearly 2000 user reviews and 1000 questions answered on Amazon.com.  The bottom line is that the BDP-S5100 is a great disc player.

The BDP-S5100 plays files off a usb device.  There is a usb port on the front and one in the back.  Supported file types include: .asf, .avi, .mkv, .mov, .mp4, .wmv, — just about anything.  One of my favorite features is that, if you start a video in a folder, when that video finishes, the next video in the same folder will play without intervention.  If you name the files properly, you can play through three or twelve parts of a series in order without intervention.  Great way to spend a rainy weekend.

We wouldn’t be talking about this device on a Roku blog if it didn’t stream.  It streams.  The BDP-S5100 streams content from Sony Entertainment as well as apps installed from the Opera app store.  Let’s start with the apps that matter most to most people…

  • Netflix: Netflix is a great source of premium programming.  The BDP-S5100’s Netflix app does not require a PC to activate.  A lot of people who are buying streamers do not own or use PCs, so this is a great feature.  The Netflix app supports profiles and Netflix Kids (unlike most Rokus).
  • Amazon Instant: Amazon Instant/Prime is another source of premium programming.  Prime registration can be completed via the streamer or a PC.  The interface is snappy and attractive, but I ALWAYS find it difficult to locate media I own.
  • Simple DVR: I have an antenna and six Simple DVRs.  These things are awesome.  They sit in my basement recording shows I like.  It’s important for me to be able to easily access the recordings.  While there is no Simple app for the BDP-S5100, there is a Plex app and this app plays files from the Simple DVR disks.  It will not, however, schedule recordings or stream live TV.
  • Plex: Plex is a free media server.  With Roku, you pay $4.99 for the client app.  With the BDP-S5100, the client is free (or included or not necessary).  The server shows up under the Video section.  When you select the server, you browse files and streaming media channels as if they were files on a computer.  Plex provides access to ‘cable’ program episodes posted to the internet.  Shows from CBS, Food Network, Fox News, HGTV, History Channel, MSNBC, MTV, NBC, Nick Jr., PBS, PBS Kids, Spike TV, The Colbert Report, The CW, The Daily Show, Vevo, The WB, and other web sites are available via Plex.  You must run Plex on a computer/server.
  • PlayOn: PlayOn is an inexpensive media server.  You pay around $80 for a lifetime subscription to PlayOn, PlayLater, HD plugins, and a Chromecast.  PlayOn provides access to ‘cable’ program episodes posted to the internet.  Shows from A&E, ABC, Adult Swim, Animal Planet, BET, Bio, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, CNN, Cooking Channel, Discovery Channel, Disney, DIY, ESPN, ESPN 3, ESPN Live, Food Network, Fox, Fox News, HBO Go, HGTV, History Channel, Hulu (free), Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, Live News: BBC, Live News: Bloomberg, Live News: C-Span, Live News: NHK, Live News: RT, MLB, MTV, NBC, The CW, National Geographic, NFL Rewind, NHL, Nick, OWN, Oxygen, OBS, PBS Kids, Redbox Instant, Spike TV, SyFy Rewind, TBS, TLC, TV.com, VH1, Vevo, Vudu, WWE, and other web sites are available via PlayOn.  PlayOn also supports third party plugins.  PlayLater is a DVR for the channels that PlayOn streams.  You must run PlayOn/PlayLater on a WINDOWS computer/server.

The BDP-S5100 natively supports ACC Network (college sports), Amazon Instant, Crackle, Facebook, Huffpost Live, Hulu Plus, Netflix, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, NHL GameCenter, TMZ, Vimeo, VUDU, WealthTV, XOS College Sports, Yupp TV, YouTube, and other content.  The Opera TV store adds games, social media apps, screen savers, and niche channels (Speed Racer).

The BDP-S5100 includes a web browser (authenticating on public WiFi is not supported on other streamers).  You can plug a keyboard into a USB port to help navigate the internet with the built in web browser.

Other areas where the BDP-S5100 distinguished itself from other streamers…

  • Sleep timer (my TV shuts itself off after the BDP-S5100 goes into sleep mode)
  • Parental Controls
  • HDMI Control with compatible televisions
  • Advanced BD settings
  • Rock solid performance
  • Snappy PS3-like user interface
  • Remote controls TV functions; has Netflix and SEN hot buttons; takes AA batteries

I highly recommend this device at any price and love it as a $55 refurb.

 

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By Len Mullen Posted in Review

5 comments on “Sony BDP-S5100 Review

  1. The unit seems quite versatile, but what a kluge of devices/protocols you must maintain in order to obtain this multiplicity of services. A lot more complicated than having a single streamer like the Roku. You must have a lot of remote control devices.

    • The Roku is/has always been a limited part of our entertainment infrastructure. We mostly watch broadcast television, then Netflix. I liked my Rokus — I own six — but support is terrible. My Rokus have been out of use for a month or so after many months of unsatisfactory use following a series of botched updates. I’m testing v5.5.410 right now and it looks like they may have worked things out finally, but I will always live in dread of the next update.

      The list of Netflix channels is impressive, but most are not what members of my family would watch. We used Insignia BD players to stream Netflix before the Rokus and switched back when the Rokus started crashing.

      As far as my ‘kluge’ (it’s kludge), it’s not that bad. We installed an antenna more than four years ago. While the picture was good, we missed Comcast’s guide and DVR, so we put an EchoStar DTVPal on each (5) set. The DTVPal has excellent DVR (pause, rewind, slow motion, fast forward, record) functions, a 320g disk, and a really nice guide. To date, most of our viewing is of the OTA signal via the DTVPal DVR.

      I purchased my first Roku at the recommendation of Mediamall (the PlayOn/PlayLater people). I liked the Roku. It provided a lot of news channels I had not watched since cable and it was a decent Netflix player. I ended up getting three of the Roku 2 XS streamers and three Roku LTs. I was very happy with them (still am happy with the LTs) until Roku forced updates which made the streamer less and less reliable. Acceptance of the Rokus was very slow at my house just because you had to use a separate remote control, switch inputs, and navigate using the tile/drill down interface. It helped when I introduced All-In-One remotes. In the end, we reduced Roku apps to Netflix, Plex, RARflix, Simple, and Fox News. Netflix was a hit, Plex/RARFlix, got some use, and Simple got some use. When the Simple Plex channel came out, that became an instant hit with all as it was all of a sudden possible to watch shows or movies continuously without human intervention.

      I have a couple of the Amazon Fire TV streamers as well. Generally, this is a much better experience than the Roku, but content has not grown as fast as I had hoped. They are terrific streamers for Netflix and especially Prime, but the apps do not take advantage of the hardware. The kids enjoy the games.

      This BDP-S5100 will replace the Insignia BD player that replaced the Roku 2 XS on the new television. So, we will have a DTVPal and a BD Player on that TV with one Harmony remote managing the whole thing.

      I bought the BDP-S5100 as a BD player for a new television.

  2. Hi Len
    Intriguing but when I installed Plex a while back it wouldn’t handle my .wmv files …. not sure why I believe the recordings are ok.. they play on everything else just fine…oh and my Sony PS3 would play the .wmv file but no audio…. not sure if this Sony bluray player would either. I haven’t tested whether my playon will stream the .wmv files properly to the PS3
    Thanks for the post….

  3. The BDP-S5100 plays WMV off a USB disk. I think, because the BD player will play wmv off the usb drive, it should also play it via Plex. If you want to send me a sample file that will not play, I would be happy to look at it for you.

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