Sony Ultra HD Media Player- Planting the 4K Flag
A lot of people ask, what does the Sony Ultra HD Media Player do? It doesn't have a disk to insert Blu-ray into nor does it stream 4K content. Rather, the Sony Media Player lets you purchase and download 4K movies from Sony and then play that 4K content from the Media Player hard drive onto a 4K TV using HDMI 2.0. Assuming you have the bandwidth and patience to download large 4K movies into the Media Player, this approach promises to give you the best picture quality and avoiding some of lack of soft features and artificial artifacts that you can get from online streaming. Unlike Internet streaming where video has to be compressed, HDMI is designed to pump protected uncompressed video to you TV so assuming your source movie content is good, it should look awesome on your TV as well.
The Sony Ultra HD Media Player was the first 4K Media Player that customers in the US could buy to play 4K content without using online streaming. For quite some time in 2015, it has been the only 4K player that people could buy first with the FMP-X1 and then later with the FMP-X10.
In India, Sony did have a similar media player called the PDP-FMPA60 but this was only used to demo Sony 4K TV's in stores rather than be sold into retail.
Being desperate for 4K content but not wanting to spend over $600 for the Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player, I found a lot of manufacturer refurbished FMP-X10 units being sold for under $200 at eBay. This plus the low user reviews should have been a red flag but like I said, I was desperate to play 4K content.
After placing the order on eBay, I was pleasantly surprised to see the 4K media player show up within a couple days. It only had a few scruff marks on the outside and turned on from the factory original settings without a hitch.
Setting up the 4K media player was straightforward but you need to make sure your media player is connected to the Internet.
One of the trickier things is that you must connect your Sony 4K Media Player HDMI Port 1 to a TV HDMI port that supports HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. Also, if you use a AV receiver, you need to use the Media Player HDMI Port 2 just for audio to connect to the AV receiver. Most receivers don't support HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 yet. On most TV's not all ports support HDMI 2.0- those that are are usually labeled as 4K@60 hz.
The Sony 4K Media Player immediate shows you the library of 4K movies available to purchase and download. You first need create an account to purchase these movies.
The 4K Media Player did come with one 4K movie, Air Racers, to try for free.
Unlike NetFlix where you need at least 20 Mbs to stream 4K content instantly and lower quality, the Sony Media Player requires that you have 10 Mbs to download 4K content (while you wait patiently) at really good quality.
The Sony 4K Media Player also has other features such as playing uncompressed FLAC files for the audio enthusiast.
The only built-in online steaming service bundled with the Sony 4K Media Player is NetFlix.
You can also stick in a USB drive to the Media Player and import videos into the player. This doesn't work too well for 4K online content though since the Media Player could recognize most of the audio and video formats used by that content.
You also need to make sure you have a stable Internet connection. If not, you can sometimes find strange user unfriendly warning messages like below. The only way to get past this warning message is to power off/on the Media Player.
While the Sony Ultra HD Media Player works well with Sony's 4K TV's (surprise, surprise), getting it to play properly on another popular TV brand, Vizio, was more problematic. where audio just did not work. For those struggling to get quality 4K content in 2015, the Sony Ultra HD Media Player is the only option but buyer beware of compatibility issues with non-Sony TV's and limited and pricy content.