"Much More Than a Bluray Player!"4.5 starson by Louis-Kinney
Pros: Low price, easy set up, compact, good picture and sound
Cons: No WIFI, No front display
Summary: I've been very impressed with this video player. I have a PS3 that over the years has changed from primarily a games machine to primarily a video machine. My wife and I use it for Blurays, DVDs, digital video rentals, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu in lieu of cable. The PS3 is quite capable but it is very loud. The fans on the PS3 are so loud I can't hear dialog unless I turn the TV up very loud, and then action sequences are too loud requiring the volume be quickly lowered. After realizing how much the constant volume fiddling was ruining movies I decided I needed something else.
I originally planned on an Apple TV as I have a lot of Apple stuff and I think they make the best products. The problem for me was that not everything is available on iTunes. A lot of stuff is on iTunes, maybe a majority of stuff, but some things are only available on Bluray and DVD. I really wanted something that could do digital video rentals, and streaming from Netflix and Amazon, and that could also play optical discs. The Sony BDP-S185 does all of that.
From a raw feature list perspective the BDP-S185 is pretty close to perfect. It comes with multiple options for movie rentals including Sony's store, Vudu, CinemaNow, and Amazon. It has plenty of streaming options like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus. It also has internet content such as podcasts and Youtube. There's a whole bunch of other niche internet video services available on it, most of which I haven't heard of or played with; still, it is content and some of it may be good. It offers multiple music services including Sony's own subscription service, Slacker, Pandora, and I think some others. It can also do some stuff with playing video files and displaying photos. I will never use the music, photos, or video file features so none of those matter to me nor have I reviewed their functionality. And of course DVD and Bluray playback are perfect.
While the device is complete feature-list win it is much more on the mediocre-to-crappy axis on the user experience side. This is the part that makes me wish Apple just sold an AppleTV with a Bluray drive. Setting the device up and updating it is awkward. Getting the device updated took multiple tries as it kept failing for no reason. There are a lot of services, but they all require different accounts and activation methods. I was able to figure it out but it was a pain in the butt. Less technically inclined folks may never get use out of the additional features as it is a lot of leg work to activate the system, and set up a Sony account, and activate Hulu, and activate Netflix, and activate Amazon, etc, etc, all with their own sites, instructions, and logins. The user interface is familiar thanks to it being like the PS3, but unlike the PS3 it is jerky and slow. The "apps" I guess you could call them are also pretty jerky and slow. Not unusably slow, it isn't really laggy, it is more like very low frames per second. Entering text with the goofy 90s-text-messaging style on-screen keyboard is horrifying and should be avoided at all costs.
All-in-all it is a good device with a lot of functionality. Until I started shopping around I didn't realize that Bluray players like this did more than play disks; this player and others like it are more like an Apple TV or Roku than the single-purpose DVD players of yore. The user interface and experience leave a lot to be desired but that is pretty much the norm for every device not made by Apple so I kind of expected that. I would definitely recommend the S185 if you are looking for a whisper-quiet multi-function video device that plays optical disks. If you don't need Bluray or DVD playback I'd recommend an Apple TV over it. If you are religiously averse to Apple products and only shop by feature lists I would recommend the S185 over a Roku or Boxy or other non-Apple video player because it has a Bluray drive. Even with the mediocre user experience considered I still give this device 4 our of 5 stars because it offers a ton of great functionality, has been reliable, is quiet, and is very inexpensive.
Note: Read full review and check for best price for the Sony BDP-S185 at: Blurayplayerreviewsbuy.com/blu-ray-disc-players/sony-bdp-s185-review.html
Thank for reading, and I hope this helps.