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

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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15 comments on “Sony BDP-S5100 Review

  1. I’m confused. You say, “We have had a lot of streamers and currently use six Rokus plus two Fire TVs.” but then the next blog entry says your Rokus are “grounded.” Are you still using them, or not?

    I very much want to cut my cable ties but my husband likes to catch sports – specifically college basketball and football and pro football. Any suggestions?

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    • This is a hobby for me. I have five antennas, lots of streamers, lots of DVRs, and lots of televisions. Of the six Rokus, three are the XS model and those are grounded. They reboot a lot and we do not like that at all. The other three are LTs and, while old and slow, they still work fine.

      Hope that clears the issue up for you.

      Most NFL games are on broadcast television, so I recommend you purchase an antenna if you get reception in your area. Most college sports are on ESPN. Generally, you need a provider to stream ESPN, but that is changing. Check out Dish’s Sling service.

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    • I have two addresses:
      http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d2c159d7c485bd9
      http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d2c154e0c788fd4
      I was planning in getting this: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00APPDX86/ref=gno_cart_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

      I was considering the basic TiVo (which will work with OTA) with the annual plan (~$12.50/month) b/c of the interface. Have you used this? How do you like the Chanel Master DVR+ in comparison?
      Thanks for your thoughts!

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      • I think you will have good luck with that antenna in Chicago, but I don’t think you are going to have much luck with any antenna in Scottsdale. You have UHF and VHF channels in two directions along with a lot of 1-edge and 2-edge signals (LOS is line of sight, 1-edge means there is one obstacle, and 2-edge is at least two obstacles). If you only watch one television or one television at a time, you may want to mount a big, directional uhf/vhf antenna on your roof with an rotor. Personally, I would likely combine a 91xg and a y10-7-13 with an RCA TVPRAMP1R just to have the best possible uhf and vhf antenna.

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      • Really! I was thinking the Scottsdale would be a piece of cake b/c everything is so close whereas in the city I’m surrounded by huge bldgs. I’ll report back!

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      • Oh brother, I think I was looking at the Chicago results and swapping them with AZ. I’m on the ground level so thinking the Leaf Curve might be best based on the article you reference. I’m not sure what to do for AZ. It’s a single story and I don’t want a terribly big antennae on the roof – looking at this site, it appears I need at least two to get around 25 channels. http://www.antennaweb.org/ I think I may need to get a pro involved. ha.

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    • Whew, just checked the price of the Channel Master and it’s a lot more than the TiVo. And I’m realizing you’re reviewing the 5100 here but mentioning the 5200 – do you have both?

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      • I’ve had the S5100 since summer. Just got the S5200s on Black Friday. I haven’t used the S5200 enough to review yet.

        As far as the DVR+ vs TiVo, remember you need to pay for a monthly service or a lifetime subscription with the TiVo. And that subscription is PER BOX. I also do not like paying $700 for something with a ninety day warranty. At retail, the DVR+ with a 1t disk will cost you half or that. On Black Friday, they were $175. Until New Years, they were $210. Not sure I would get the 1t model for a lot of reasons. No knock on TiVo. It’s a great choice for a lot of people — just not me.

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      • But you don’t have to pay the sub for the Tivo mini, no? It’s $149 for the main and each mini and then $12.50/month. Can you link to this DVR you’re tlaking about? I was thinking they were much more.
        Did you see my comment above with the antennae info?

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      • I saw it. You are asking questions faster than I can answer them.

        Let’s do the math on a TiVi Roamio plus a mini vs a pair of DVR+s with 1t disk on each. Let’s stick with retail prices — because Black Friday is over and I cannot find your $12.50 price. Let’s assume the $50 OTA only model with a service fee of $15/month.

        2xDVR+=$500, 2x1tDisk=$140 (ignoring $25 gift card for each), total $640
        1xRoamio=$50, 1xmini=$150, $180/yr subscription, total YR1=$380, YR2=$560, YR3=$740, YR4= $920, YR5=$1100.

        Cost-wise, you break even during the third year.

        In both cases, you get four tuners, but with the DVR+, you get 320 hours of HD storage vs 75 for the TiVo.

        Tivo hardware is warranted for 90 days vs 1 yr for the DVR+.

        I’ll leave it to you to put a value on the features and interface. You should read my post on LinearOTT, though, especially for your scottsdale home.

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