Among lower-priced Blu-ray players, the Sony BDP-S5100 sits at the top of the heap. Though it costs only a little more than stripped-down Blu-ray players, this Sony disc spinner is fully loaded, including 3D, robust streaming and built-in Wi-Fi. Even better, picture quality with DVDs and Blu-ray Discs is excellent overall.
Excellent in most regards. Depending on the yardstick you use, picture quality is either perfect or merely excellent. Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity does the most rigorous testing, and notes some benchmark stumbles on the HD side of things. However, Chris Heinonen is quick to add that when it comes down to watching typical Blu-ray movies, the Sony BDP-S5100 is just as capable as any other Blu-ray player available. Other reviewers have fewer reservations, saying that Blu-ray performance is top shelf overall, and all, including Heinonen, say DVD performance is very good as well.
Quick to load, usually. Blu-ray players in general are much faster than in past years, but the Sony BDP-S5100 is among the class leaders in this regard. One tester reports a Blu-ray Disc load time of 18 seconds. Heinonen is also impressed with load times, though he grouses a little that the player is slow to power up and start reading a disc. Don't forget, however, that some discs can choke even the best Blu-ray player. What Hi-Fi? notes that their copy of "Toy Story 3" took four minutes to load -- something the site apparently did not encounter with other Blu-rays.
Could be better, could be worse. With all the features packed into modern Blu-ray players, getting the user interface right is a challenge. According to reviewers, Sony either got it completely right, mostly right, or completely missed the boat with the BDP-S5100. Again, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity has the most gripes. It's a lack of cohesion that bugs Heinonen. "The interfaces of the apps are a hodge-podge where logins and controls work differently, and some use the Apps standard look and some have a custom Sony look," he says. He's also disappointed that there's no way to hide apps he does not use. Others say that interacting with the player and apps is relatively easy, though not as clean as on some other players. What Hi-Fi? has no apparent issues at all with usability, calling it "nice."
It's (mostly) in there. Though it's priced just a few dollars more than Blu-ray players that lack 3D and other features, the Sony BDP-S5100 comes pretty much fully equipped. As indicated, there's support for playing back 3D discs. Sony's lineup of streaming partners isn't as large as those from some other makers, but all of the important ones -- Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, Vudu, etc. -- and tons of minor ones are represented. In addition, Sony offers exclusive movie and music content that might be attractive for some. Wi-Fi is built in, and Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity reports that its range is better than some competing Blu-ray players. Connectivity is limited compared to more upscale Blu-ray players; there are no analog outputs at all, just a single HDMI output along with a single coaxial digital audio output. There are two USB 2.0 inputs, but you might need to keep a 1 GB or larger thumb drive plugged into one, as there's no onboard memory for Blu-ray's BD-Live profile (for downloading additional Blu-ray content from the web). SACD and broad file-format support are nice to find at this price point.
Nearly unbeatable. If only the best will do, no Blu-ray player provides better picture quality than the Oppo BDP-103 (Est. $500) . But for less than one quarter of the price, the Sony BDP-S5100 provides picture quality that all but the pickiest of videophiles will have no quarrel with, along with 3D capabilities, good streaming features, fast performance and broad disc and file support. This player can't upscale to 4K, but at this price -- and at this point in the development of next-generation UHD sets -- we don't think that's much of an issue at all. On the other hand, the lack of connectivity can be a concern in some home theater setups, but to address that you will need to step up to at least a mid-range Blu-ray player, such as the Samsung BD-F7500 (Est. $250) . But at the end of the day, for most users, the Sony BDP-S5100 presents a value that's going to be pretty tough to beat.
Sony BDP-S5100 is among the Blu-ray players tested, rated and ranked by
ConsumerReports.org. Evaluations are hands-on, and information is boiled down
so as not to overwhelm readers. The flip
side is that discussion is brief compared to some other reviewers.
Review: Sony BDP-S5100, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
2. Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
The most in-depth review of the Sony BDP-S5100 can be found here. Discussion is highly detailed, though some of what's presented will be overkill for casual readers. Chris Heinonen seems pleased with what he sees, though no rating is provided and his praise is muted. Excellent Wi-Fi performance is a plus, while a confusing user interface is a minus. Everything else is just as it should be.
Review: Sony BDP-S5100 Blu-ray Player, Chris Heinonen, July 8, 2013
3. What Hi-Fi?
The editors at this British site seem to be unabashed fans of the Sony BDP-S5100, rating it at 5 stars and calling it a "top budget buy." Picture performance and features are well liked, though streaming offerings are markedly different from those on this side of the pond.
Review: Sony BDP-S5100, Editors of What Hi-Fi?, Not Dated
More than 200 owners have weighed in on the Sony BDP-S5100, and they are largely a happy bunch. The 3D Blu-ray player earns a rating of 4.1 stars overall. Some have issues with updating the firmware, but otherwise no consistent complaints are reported.
Review: Sony BDP-S5100 Blu-ray Disc Player with Wi-Fi, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of July 2013
As with Amazon.com, more than 200 user reviews of the Sony BDP-S5100 can be found at BestBuy.com. Satisfaction is even a touch higher, with more than 95 percent saying that they would recommend this cheap 3D Blu-ray player to a friend.
Review: Sony - Smart 3D Wi-Fi Built-In Blu-ray Player, Contributors to BestBuy .com, As of July 2013