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Flimsy, noisy, DVD playback could be much better
on 22 January 2014
I got this Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray player as an exchange for a recently bought Panasonic DMP-BDT230EB which was failing after a month (you can read my review of the Panasonic separately).
Looking at various ratings from review sites, it looked like a candidate for a good player.
However, as soon as I put a 3D Blu-ray disc into it, the player ramped up the spin speed, and everything started to rattle and shake very badly. Anything in contact with the player, even through the HDMI cable connector, touching it, would transmit the vibrations and make the table and TV stand (in our case) resonate!
Lay your finger gently on the player while that happens, and it's very strongly felt!
It felt like the disc plate was not properly balanced, and making the player shake when a disc was spinning at high speed.
This meant that every time I put a Blue-ray disc in there, I had to go and physically adjust the player's position!
After a few minutes (maybe the player needs to spin the disk that fast only for a while), the vibrations would die down, but were still there. Note that DVDs obviously were spun nowhere near as fast - there was no problem. Blu-ray 2D disc were quite noisy too, but nowhere near as bad as 3D discs.
Networking was straightforward (I connected using Wi-Fi), the Sony Entertainment Network appeared to work, streaming was surprisingly working well (trying BBC iPlayer on a slow 2 Mbps broadband connection).
In term of video quality, 3D Blu-ray playback was fine; I couldn't detect anything wrong. The player would also automatically adjust the 3D effect if you enter the size of your TV screen (in centimetres).
2D Blu-ray playback was fine too.
DVD playback on the other hand, was not good. The first disc I tried was Avatar, which simply looked enlarged up to HD resolution, but without much done to it; so there was a lot of fuzziness. To be fair, this came after experiencing Panasonic's excellent upscaling, so maybe Sony's effort was simply 'standard'. I had the feeling the colours were not that great though, and this was confirmed quickly: The second disc I played was Sherlock Holmes (with Robert Downey, Jr.). It looked washed out, and I suddenly realised that the characters' faces were quite green, with "patches" visible. It took quite a bit of fiddling with the player's settings, and my TV's too, to get rid of the worst of that - and still the colours weren't really lively.
I have a large collection of DVDs, and do not want to spend 10 minutes every time fiddling with controls until the picture is acceptable.
I also do not really the initial shaking and rattling of playing 3D Blu-ray discs (and that can't be good for the player, surely!).
So this player went back. Sorry Sony.