Sony BDP-S3100 Blu-ray Disc Player with WiFi Review

So I have a standalone Blu-ray player, a Wii U for Netflix, and a ChromeCast for Youtube videos. If only there was some way to combine all of these together into one package for the ultimate viewing experience. The wait is over and it’s already here! The Sony BDP-S3100 Blu-ray Disc Player with WiFi, which currently retails for $88.00 on amazon.com, does all of this! It is a Blu-ray player that is bundled with network capabilities and has over 100+ streaming apps including: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and many more. This specific Blu-ray player is marketed with Sony’s super WiFi functionality which supposedly makes it a stronger and faster connection. The lower tier version, the BDP-S1100, does not come with WiFi capabilities while the higher tier version, the BDP-S5100 comes with both WiFi and 3D capabilities. It is important to note that this is the #2 best seller in Blu-ray players, the #1 best seller is the BDP-S5100. This product is also currently the #38 bestselling electronic item on amazon.com.

Sony BDP-S3100 Device Sony BDP-S3100 Front Controls

Upon first opening the box and plugging in the product I was surprised at how much smaller in size it is compared to the DVD and Blu-ray players of just 5 years ago. It’s sleek and slim. You can just about throw it anywhere and it will fit in because it’s so small. Packaged in the retail box is much what you would expect: the device, a remote with 2AA batteries, user manual, registration card, and warranty card. The setup of the device is also very straight forward. The back of the device features one Ethernet jack, one HDMI jack, and one digital audio out jack. Simply plug in the HDMI cable from the device to your TV, set up the network, and you’re off!

Sony BDP-S3100 Back Inputs Sony BDP-S3100 Remote

Menu and Navigation

Sony BDP-S3100 Navigation

Got a Sony PS3? Well then you are already familiar with the navigation on this device and you might not even want to get one of these standalone players.  Just use your PS3 instead, because it will do everything this device is capable of and more.  One gripe I do have is the input functionality is severely lacking when used with the remote packaged with the device. It is very difficult to type because of the IR communication and difficulty scrolling using the onscreen keyboard. For those of you who have become accustomed to the convenience of touch keyboards, you may want to consider purchasing a USB keyboard to plug into the front bus.

Sony BDP-S3100 Netflix Input

DLNA

I was pleasantly surprised when my Plex media server showed up when booting up for the first time. Everything streamed flawlessly from my server to the Blu-ray player. The only thing missing is the fancy UI that Plex boasts. Otherwise browsing through the media is very simplistic and I was able to access everything including pictures and music.

YouTube

Sony BDP-S3100 Youtube

Sony BDP-S3100 Youtube PairingYouTube was a pleasant surprise on this device as I was not expecting it. One great feature is that it allows me to pair it to my Samsung Galaxy SIV and play videos and search from there. This makes the interface and usability basically the same when compared to using YouTube on my ChromeCast. However, if you don’t have an android smartphone capable of broadcasting anything to the Blu-ray disc player, the interface is actually not that bad. However it is somewhat slow due to the inability to type quickly. At one point when I was trying to play videos from my phone to the Blu-ray player, it actually froze. I couldn’t even turn it off. I had to hard shut down. Since then, I haven’t had any problems like that, so it was an intriguing one indeed.

Netflix

Sony BDP-S3100 Neflix

Sony BDP-S3100 Netflix ButtonThere’s a dedicated Netflix button?! At any point in any menu or any app simply press the Netflix button and you will be brought to the Netflix app. Netflix browsing experience was fairly straightforward and went without any hitches or mishaps. It was able to stream everything in so called “Super HD” or 1080p and I experienced no network issues. This was not the case when I was streaming from my Wii U, often times the image would be pixelated; the Super WiFi claim may have some truth to it.

Blu-ray

Sony BDP-S3100 Star Trek Blu Ray

I tested two Blu-rays (Star Trek and Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Both of these booted up fairly quickly and playback is similar to any other Blu-ray or DVD player. So if you’re looking for any increase in Blu-ray playback functionalities, I’m sure they’re all fairly similar. One important thing to note about this device is that it is internet connected. That means once you insert a Blu-ray into the tray it will pull information from Gracenote’s database. This can be fairly useful if you were interested in finding out about any of the actors or the director of the movie. However, I personally find this feature lacking and would rather pull out my phone and the imdb app since it is much quicker than this and provides more details.

Hulu Plus

Sony BDP-S3100 Hulu Plus

Setting this up required a few extra steps when compared to Netflix and Youtube. It required me to register my device to “activate enhanced features” and also register the device with Hulu Plus. The process is not particularly difficult but it must be security features set up by both Sony and Hulu Plus to ensure that you’re not activating too many devices for whatever reason. After setting up and logging in the UI is fairly basic and I was able to navigate and find the shows I wanted without much trouble.

Additional Features

Sony BDP-S3100 Pandora

Sony BDP-S3100 Smart Phone ControlsThere are some other cool features which you may want to activate or use to enhance your experience with the Sony BDP-S3100. There is a setting which is called “quick start mode” which allows you to boot the system up in under 3 seconds. Normal boot up times are significantly longer and can take up to 10 seconds. I’m assuming that this puts the device into “sleep” mode rather than completely turning the device off, so if you are concerned about phantom power draws when devices are in their sleep state this may not be for you. Sony has also come out with a TV SideView app which gives you a virtual remote and TV guide as well right on your phone. It also allows you to “throw” your videos, picture, and music from your mobile device right to your TV. I was somewhat hoping that the ability to type stuff into text fields would be enabled when I installed the SideView app, but I was forced to use the same input method as with the standard remote. I don’t see myself using the SideView app, but for those who may be prone to losing their remotes may consider this option. There are also some minor music apps which include Pandora and Slacker internet radios. I may occasionally use this to pipe music through my TV’s stereo system but I don’t see this happening very often.

Conclusion

If you don’t already have a Smart TV with internet capabilities or a PS3 and are also looking for a Blu-ray player but don’t necessarily need 3D functionality, go for this device. I can’t think of any other device which puts all of these features together at this price point. The device has so many app choices for everyone that I can’t imagine anyone not using at least one of these apps on here. The “Super Wi-Fi”, even if it’s just a regular WiFi receiver/transmitter, works. I didn’t have any problems with it streaming any HD videos from any source be it Netflix, Hulu, or my own Plex Server.

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