By December 27, 2008

Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu-ray player review

The Sony BDP-S5000ES is a Blu-Ray player that sits at the upper end of the price range.

Touted as being their "top-of-the-line Blu-ray Disc player" – can it live up to that description ?


What’s in the box?

  • the player itself
  • remote control and batteries
  • composite AV cable
  • Sony USB memory card
  • power cable (the power cable in our test unit was a european 2 pin, but I’d fully expect the final product to have correct region specific plugs)

Personally I would have thought that a product like this would at least warrant an HDMI cable thrown in.


Sony BDP-S5000ES Specification:

  • Weights and Measurements
    – Dimensions (Approx.) : 17" x 4.92" x 14.37" (430 × 125 × 365mm)
    – Weight (Approx.) : 22lbs (10.0kg)
  • Video
    – Video Digital-to-Analog Converter : 1080i, 720p: 14 bit/296 MHz (HD); 480i, 480p; 14 bit/216 MHz (SD)
    – HD Reality Enhancer : Yes
    – Precision Cinema HD Upscale : Yes
    – Super Bit Mapping : Yes
  • Audio Features
    – Dolby® : Built in Decoder & Bit-Stream (via HDMI and Coaxial and Optical) output
    – Dolby® Digital plus Decoding : Built in Decoder & Bit-Stream (via HDMI) output
    – Dolby® TrueHD Decoding : Built in Decoder & Bit-Stream (via HDMI) output
    – dts® Decoding : Built in Decoder & Bit-Stream (via HDMI and Coaxial and Optical) output
    – dts®-HD Decoding : Built in Decoder & Bit-Stream (via HDMI) output
    – LPCM : 2ch & 6 Ch (192kHz/96kHz/48kHz); 8 ch (96kHz/48kHz) output; 2ch (96kHz/24bit) over Coaxial & Optical
    – Individual Speaker Setting : Large/Small; Existence or Nonexistence; Distance



As you look at the player you can see that Sony has gone for a fairly clean design – with just 5 buttons – Power, Eject, Play, Pause and Stop.


There are indicator LED’s above the play and pause buttons, and 3 additional indicator LED’s to denote when certain modes are on (24P mode, HD Audio and SBM[super Bit Mapping]).

Plus the actual display itself of course 😀


Round the back you have more connections than you could shake a stick at. If you look at the full resolution image you can see them all clearly labelled. Pretty much every video and audio connector you would want. The only connection I could think of that wasn’t on there was SCART, but as that’s a European format that is not HD capable I didn’t see that as much of a loss.

DPP_0086 DPP_0088

The XMB (Cross Media Bar) in action


  • very good picture and sound quality
  • remote illuminates at the touch of a button
  • ability to dim and even disable the illuminations on the front of the player
  • upgradable firmware


  • price
  • no HDMI cable supplied
  • slow loading


The very first impression you have when you get the box is that it weighs more than you’d expect. As you can see in the specifications above, the BDP-S5000ES weighs in at 10kg – this along with its size means that it is going to need a bit of space on a reasonably sturdy shelf.

Initially I hooked the player up to a 28inch Sony Bravia.

Once everything is setup and you start the player you are walked through a quick-setup that will get you up and running – you can always tinker with any of the settings again later.

I just want to take a moment to mention a feature on the remote that I find useful – the backlight button. Dead useful when you’ve darkened the room to enjoy the movie and then want to find the pause button.

So now I was setup I had a quick wander around the player’s interface menu.

It’s very similar to the PS3’s XMB (cross media bar) – you select the main area, which offers dropdowns, which in turn can offer sub-options etc. All very nice though with the remote I had it would sometimes double-jump, taking a keypress twice instead of just the once, which lead to a little frustration (again this might just be the test unit we had, but I wanted to mention it).

As you look through all the options it becomes obvious that you can tweak just about anything you want to, there are options in there that I’ve never seen before.

My favourite option was the ability to dim or even disable the illuminations on the front of the player. What you may not realise from the photos above is that the slot for the Blu-ray is illuminated, so that along with the 5 coloured LED’s and the display on the front was very distracting to me in a dark room – a very nice option that I wish more companies would include on their electronics.

And whilst the player can easily handle photo-CD’s and audio CD’s, the main reason for the player is its Blu-Ray playback. So let’s take a look.

Initially I’d connected up with the supplied composite cables (well they included them) and I put in a Blu-ray.

And I have to say I was a little surprised, on first inserting the disc I was greeted with a message that told me that loading of the Blu-ray could take 2-3 minutes. Pardon? The video format of the future takes how long to load ?

This lead me to my second discovery about Blu-ray players – they have loader animations (similar to the hourglass in Windows) between ‘chapters’ – don’t worry this doesn’t happen mid movie, just as you move from one area of the disc to another, like from a menu to the movie or back.

In the end it didn’t take that long to load, but it was a noticeable period – and then I was into the trailers (on a side rant, why do movie companies insist on putting trailers at the front of the disc instead of just letting me get to the movie I’ve paid for? Put them in as additional content and I can watch them IF I want to). Several frustrated clicks of remote later I got to the main menu, started the film and was totally under whelmed by the picture.

Which is what I was expecting from a composite cable. I really don’t understand why it’s in the box, supplying a composite cable with a player of this quality seems like madness, especially when you consider that there’s no HDMI cable provided!

So then I powered down and connected up an HDMI cable I’d borrowed.

Powering back up I went into the settings and changed the video output to 1080i (the highest this particular TV could achieve).

And I started the Blu-ray again, after waiting and clicking and finally getting into the movie, I could now see the sharpness that was missing with composite cable. OK, cool – I can actually see what Blu-ray is offering a sharper picture on HD TV’s.

So now I tried a DVD of the same movie so that I could compare the sharpness between an upscaled DVD and a Blu-ray.

Once settled back on the sofa, Whilst I had a general feeling that the Blu-ray was sharper, I could definitely live with the upscaled DVD – and I could get an upscaling DVD player for a lot less than the Blu-ray player.

Unconvinced by Blu-ray I decided to try it on a friends larger TV.

This time it was connected up to a 50" Panasonic Plasma (very nice).

Again I was connecting up with the HDMI cable, but now I could switch the player into full 1080p mode. So now I was able to see the ‘full HD’ capabilities of Blu-ray. And there is no question that on a large screen in 1080p, Blu-ray is noticeably sharper than an upscaled DVD.

We took a couple of photos to show the difference (not quite the same exact video frame, but you’ll get the idea)



Upscaled DVD on the left, Blu-ray image on the right (click to enlarge)


So having agreed about the differences between upscaling and Blu-ray, and seeing the PS3 under the plasma, I was curious how the PS3 stacks up against the BDP-S5000ES.

The first thing to say is that as we’d been setting up the BDP-S5000ES I’d mentioned some of the things I’d observed on my TV and when I mentioned loader screens I was greeted by blank stares. After inserting the Blu-ray into the PS3 I understood why – it loads a LOT quicker than the BDP-S5000ES, to the point where the loader animations barely appeared before they were replaced by the video after.

So PS3 loads quicker. How does its picture compare?

Personally I preferred the PS3’s picture, banding seemed less noticeable and black and white footage didn’t seem to get colour tinged the way it was on the dedicated player.

I think that the picture on the BDP-S5000ES was slightly sharper, but that’s more of a feeling than anything we measured – we all agreed that both were very watchable.



So if you have a large enough TV that is capable of full 1080p HD playback then you will notice the difference between upscaled DVD’s and Blu-ray’s.

Coming back to Sony’s tagline of "top-of-the-line Blu-ray Disc player" – whilst I’m sure that video and audio philes everywhere will have flame wars about this one, if it were my money I’d get a PS3 and a whole load of movies and games with the change.

That said, it’s a personal choice and with the firmware being upgradable it might be that future improvements to the BDP-S5000ES would change my mind.


Review by: Iain

Posted in: TV & Home Cinema

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