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Operating Sony Blu‑ray Player

This information seemed accurate when published at the beginning of 2015. However these things sometimes change very quickly, and it's possible some of this is not currently correct.

Initially I suspected the Sony directions of being overly generic and overly vague. (And sure enough, later investigation showed that indeed although the directions typically display individual model numbers prominently, the content is in actuality virtually identical for many many models over many years, including even continued propagation of outdated or misleading information.) And I found Internet forums dedicated to Sony devices to contain too much inaccurate information, to awfully often misunderstand a question, to try to answer very specific questions by simply providing a rehash of generic marketing literature, to focus on quick responses even to the detriment of helpful responses, and to be so interested in saying something nice that they disturbingly often failed to mention even the most obvious workarounds that could have actually resolved a user's problem.

So I spent a fair amount of time fumbling about, determining the right answers to some of the most troublesome issues. Then I wrote them down for others ...hence this webpage.

I tried out these solutions on my own Sony Blu‑ray player. It's a model BDP-S5100 with firmware version M15.R.0172. (I've assumed -but am not too sure, and would not be surprised to find out otherwise- that this information is mostly generic to other Sony Blu‑ray players as well.) It seems that, unlike many devices, for Sony Blu‑ray players the firmware version is what really matters and the hardware model isn't very important. Different Sony hardware models have different capabilities, and the firmware simply omits from menus items that aren't supported by that hardware (for example 3D), but otherwise the user interface presented by the firmware is the same on different models.

Topics on this page:


User Interface Extensions

User Interface Extension: Keyboard

A physical keyboard can be connected to Sony Blu‑ray players. Some will find the hard keyboard more convenient than the various soft keyboard displays, especially for entering whole paragraphs of text. However there is no way for the keyboard to entirely replace the remote control, because there are no keyboard equivalents of many of the remote control buttons (Return, Options, Top Menu, Pop Up/Menu, Yellow, Blue, Red, Green, Audio, Subtitle, Display, etc.). Even using the hard keyboard to replace soft keyboards is a matter of individual taste (and of the layout of your viewing room), which some will find much more convenient while others will find little or no improvement.

Each content source supplies its own soft keyboard for its own functions. As a result, soft keyboards often contain relevant shortcuts that are quite significant (for example the URI entry soft keyboard has a single key for the whole sequence http://, and the Youtube search function soft keyboard provides completion guesses augmented by a list of recently entered searches.) There is a downside though. Some soft keyboards lay the keys out in typewriter order (called QWERTY), while others lay their keys out alphabetically. As a result key order can be wildly inconsistent from one soft keyboard to the next. Some people deal with this inconsistency without even noticing it consciously; some others find it so awkward they conclude they simply hate soft keyboards even without knowing quite why.

101-Key Keyboard?

Sony literature is very consistent about saying that if a keyboard is connected to a Sony Blu‑ray player, it must be a 101-key keyboard. This is at best highly misleading. In fact, any standard keyboard that would work on a Windows computer and that has a USB connector can be used (but in some cases there could theoretically be some functional limitations which you should understand). All that really matters is the typewriter-text portion of the keyboard (digits and symbols, space bar, alphabet, shift, and caps lock), the enter key, the backspace key, the escape key, and the four arrow keys. For example I have a miniature flexible keyboard with 85 keys in a non-standard layout connected to my Sony Blu‑ray player, and it works just fine.

If present, the numeric keypad just duplicates the digits in the top row of the typewriter layout and the arrow keys. Keys such as Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, Page Down, Pause, Break, Scroll Lock, and Print Screen do nothing at all. Neither the Fn shift nor the function keys F1-F12 do anything. The Alt shift does nothing (in fact there appears to be no way to enter foreign characters). The Ctrl shift also appears to do nothing useful (it does modify some of the alphabetic keys, but in a way I've never been able to make sense of and have not found any use for). The Tab key also appears to not do anything useful. The keys that were added to make the currently standard 104-key layout (Windows and Menu) also do nothing.

If you use a keyboard that has fewer than 101 keys, it will work so long as it has the keys that really matter (the typewriter text block, the enter/backspace/escape keys, and the four arrow keys, all of which every computer keyboard I've ever seen has). If you use a keyboard that has more than 101 keys, the additional keys won't do anything. Neither the newly added standard keys (Windows and Menu) nor any extended or custom or programmable key will do anything useful (probably they will do nothing at all).

Wireless Keyboard?

Whenever anyone asks are wireless keyboards supported?, Sony is careful to consistently answer no. While not exactly wrong, this overly terse answer is uninformative and misleading. The question's words often actually attempt to convey any of several slightly different questions, each of which should have its own separate answer and explanation:

  1. Can any wireless keyboard that communicates via Wi-Fi pair directly (i.e. without a receiver) with a Sony Blu‑ray player?
    No, Sony Blu‑ray players use Wi-Fi only for network connectivity. Although direct wireless keyboard connectivity has appeared in Windows, it's still very uncommon on other devices. Currently it's probably not supported on any Blu‑ray player.
  2. Can any wireless keyboard that communicates via Bluetooth pair directly (i.e. without a receiver) with a Sony Blu‑ray player?
    No, current Sony Blu‑ray players do not include any sort of Bluetooth communications.
  3. Can a wireless keyboard operate together with a Sony Blu‑ray player by plugging the matching receiver into a USB port and effectively pairing the keyboard with its receiver rather than directly with the Blu‑ray player?
    Yes. So long as the keyboard's USB connector is plugged into the Blu‑ray player, the Blu‑ray player doesn't care (in fact doesn't even know) whether the communication between the keyboard and its USB connector is via wire, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, signal flags, or a taut string.
  4. Can a wireless keyboard be shared between a Sony Blu‑ray player and some other device, switching back and forth intelligently?
    I don't know of any way to do this, and suspect it's not reasonably possible. Switching keyboard input back and forth between two different devices would seem to require a lot of specialized hacking.
  5. Can a wireless (or wired:-) mouse be connected to a Sony Blu‑ray player along with its keyboard?
    Only unofficially and incompletely. A mouse is officially not supported by Sony Blu‑ray players, and won't do anything at all in most menus or functional areas. It may however unofficially provide a valuable tool for navigating the web. See the mouse section of this webpage for further information.
What Can A Keyboard Do?

The keyboard shines most for entering volumes of text (which is the same as whenever a soft keyboard appears). This is most often either a movie title or a search string or a web address (URI), or less often an account name or association token, or sometimes the arbitrarily large text field suggested by some webpage. Some individuals will find they can type considerably faster than they can make soft keyboard selections. In theory you can even combine the hard keyboard with the soft keyboard, entering most strings of text via the hard keyboard but taking advantage of the soft keyboard shortcuts to enter a few well-known sequences (for example the entire sequence http:// for URIs). This optional procedure though requires considerable mental and physical coordination; you will sometimes find yourself typing on the keyboard with one hand while at the very same time pressing buttons on the remote control with the other hand.

Most of the time when within either the Blu‑ray player menus or the Web Browser, the keyboard's four arrow keys are equivalent to the four directional ring buttons on the remote control, and the keyboard's enter key is equivalent to the central round button on the remote control. So to some extent you can navigate and make selections with just the keyboard. (You cannot just lose the remote control and do all the navigation with the keyboard though, as there are no keyboard equivalents to several of the important navigational buttons on the remote control [such as HOME, RETURN, and OPTIONS].) Each content provider provides their own meanings to some of the keys. So inside a specific content provider's area you're likely to find the arrow keys accessing functions like next video or viewing history or related video. The buttons and the keys do become different (rather than equivalent) whenever any soft keyboard is being used. The remote control's four directional ring buttons will move the highlight to a different soft keyboard square, and the central round button will add the currently highlighted square to the text. On the other hand, the keyboard's arrow keys will move the insertion point cursor within the existing full text, and the enter key will finish the whole entry and dismiss the soft keyboard.

A keyboard is not good for controlling the display of disc content. There are no keyboard equivalents for Pause/Play, Rewind/FastForward, or PreviousChapter/NextChapter. Nor is a keyboard good for controlling the display of a streamed video clip. For example I've never found a way to pause/fast-forward/play a Youtube selection without using the remote control.

User Interface Extension: Mouse

Connecting a mouse to a Sony Blu‑ray player is not officially supported. In fact, when you first plug in the mouse, and every time your Sony Blu‑ray player is powered on after that, it may display a message explicitly saying the USB device (i.e. the mouse) is not supported. A mouse won't do anything at all in any menu or any functional area other than web browsing (having it connected won't hurt anything though:-). But inside the web browser, having even a mouse with no official support and no documentation can be quite valuable. The clear official statement of no support means your mouse may stop working at any time -even occasioned by nothing more than a minor network firmware update- and you will have no recourse whatsoever. It also means that if your mouse misbehaves, there will not be even the slightest possibility of legitimately reporting the problem or of seeing the problem fixed. — caveat emptor

To be useful with Sony Blu‑ray players, a mouse -like a keyboard- must have a USB connector. Whether or not the mouse can be wireless is the same somewhat murky question as whether or not a keyboard can be wireless, and is answered in detail in the keyboard section of this webpage. Sometimes you will want to connect both a keyboard and a mouse, but there won't be enough USB ports on your Blu‑ray player (unless the keyboard and mouse share a single USB, as for example a wireless keyboard and mouse sharing a single receiver do). You can solve this problem simply with a USB hub (either passive or powered ...except if you want to sometimes also plug in an external drive that requires a lot of power, you must use a powered USB hub).

Once you use the regular controls to enter the Web Browser functionality, a pointer arrow will appear and the mouse will move it just like on any traditional computer. You can move the pointer into the scroll bar at the right and scroll the page up and down. Or -if the mouse has a wheel in the middle- you can scroll by spinning that wheel. The pointer will sometimes change to a small hand and other times change back to an arrow, but not necessarily at the same places a similar change would occur on a traditional computer. I've been unable to figure out what -if anything at all- these changes in pointer appearance mean.

User Interface Extension: Smartphone App

All functions for all Sony AV boxes, including both big-screen TVs and Blu‑ray players, have now been rolled into a single free app by Sony. Among other things this allows the controlling app to be aware of the multiplicity of devices and intelligently choose between then or even coordinate their displays. The combined app is called TVSideview. The app is sufficiently intricate that you may have a problem on a smartphone screen with your fat finger moving too far or pressing the wrong button. If so, it will work better to instead install the app onto a larger tablet computer.

The app unifies control of all Sony devices (for example a big-screen TV and a Blu‑ray player). It offers a large number of functions. It's probably significantly easier to use for many functions than the remote control. It does not however provide access to any functionality that's not already available in some way (except possibly one unnecessary method of webpage scrolling). And it arguably does not make navigating the web browser significantly easier.

If your mobile device does not have an IR (InfraRed) Blaster (as many devices do not), the app will simply communicate with Sony devices over your LAN using a protocol that rides on top of TCP/IP Multicast. (The Sony Blu‑ray player must be turned on for the TVSideview app to fully start up, not just the first time but every time.) But if your mobile device does have an IR Blaster (as for example many Sony Xperia tablets do), the app may be able to mimic a regular physical remote control by sending invisible IR signals through the air ...and may even be able to act as a remote control for some non-Sony devices.

How Is TVSideview Available?

The app is available free from the Apple/iPhone store for installation on iPhone devices. And it's available free from the Google/Play Store for installation on Android devices. No version for mobile devices that use a Windows-based operating system is currently available. (The version that was formerly available has been pulled.) A very similar -or identical- app may be pre-installed on some Sony Xperia tablets. The app is not present in the Amazon Kindle store, and Google does not currently allow Kindle devices to connect directly to the Play Store. Nevertheless a Google search turns up lots of tricks for installing the Android version of the app on a Kindle. The remaining problem on a Kindle is the regular Android version of the app is rumored to not work quite right on Kindles. However, even if the rumors are true, the flaws seem to be proscribed to odd functions such as scrolling a webpage, and are not expected to significantly interfere with your use of the application.

What Does TVSideview Do?

Using the app means one less device to keep track of (you can put the remote control away and use just your smartphone or tablet). And you may judge this looks more sophisticated. As the app is fairly large, to keep it from being perceived as too complex to operate it's divided into a reference portion and a control portion, each of which is further subdivided (the reference portion into four sub-apps and the control portion into five sub-apps). The division between sub-apps is pretty clean, allowing you to perform typical operations with no flipping back and forth between different sub-apps at all.

The reference portion, which the app enters initially, is subdivided into Top Picks, Program guide, My program search, and My bookmarks, While some of these are mainly oriented toward TV, many of them provide a sort of unified search, aware of current moving image programs both on TV and on Youtube. The search seems similar (although I'm not really sure) to some of the functionality provided by the Sony Entertainment Network (SEN).

The first subdivision of the control portion is a replacement for the remote control. It has all the same Blu‑ray (but not TV) buttons with the same labels in broadly similar (but not quite identical) locations.

The second subdivision of the control portion presents only the most commonly used navigation functions (Up-Down-Left-Right, Enter/Go and the Return, Home, and Options keys), and presents them in a way that takes advantage of the device's touch capabilities. (There's less key clutter here than in the previous control sub-app, but no new or different functionality:-) To keep the app from interpreting all touches as though they had been in the center of the crosshairs (Enter/Go), swipe (don't just press) your finger, and swipe it off to one side or the other where it doesn't touch the crosshair lines.

The third subdivision of the control portion is the Free Cursor. It is mainly of use in the Web Browser (in fact it isn't even enabled when playing a disc). It allows you to move a cursor around the screen so you can operate the Web Browser functionality in a way very similar to how you'd operate a Web Browser on a computer. It also allows you to scroll a webpage up and down without changing where the focus is, the one function that's not otherwise available (IMHO for good reason). However because the resolution is insufficient, you may find trying to operate the Web Browser functionality this way frustrating. It helps some to use Free Cursor on a larger tablet computer rather than a smaller smartphone ...but it probably doesn't help enough.

The fourth subdivision of the control portion gives you the same sort of access to many third party services you can get by directly manipulating the Blu‑ray player menus (especially the Video category).

And the fifth subdivision of the control portion allows keyboard input via the app using the usual procedure on your device (which you might find more convenient than using a soft keyboard on the Blu‑ray player's screen). It can be used whenever the Blu‑ray player's screen is soliciting text input (which is whenever a soft keyboard is displayed). Often the app will flip to it automatically at the right times, then flip back seamlessly when the text input operation is complete, so you'll seldom (maybe never) need to explicitly select it. (This method of keyboard input works by collecting the text snippet character by character locally, then sending the whole thing all at once to the Blu‑ray player when it's done. So individual characters will appear on your device as you type, but they will not appear on the Blu‑ray player screen, and this does not indicate anything's wrong.)

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Common Problems

Common Problem: Cannot Connect... / Bandwidth Error / The security of the target page cannot be confirmed / very jerky - especially noticeable accessing Youtube

Sony Blu‑ray players present virtually identical symptoms and error messages for several different problems, of which this is only one possibility.

How Does DNS Sensitivity Matter?

Although it may be hard to believe, many of these (and other) highly varied symptoms all stem from a single root cause, and are all subject to the same simple fix. The problem is many Sony Blu‑ray players are hypersensitive to even slightly atypical DNS (Domain Name Service) responses.

DNS is generally provided by each ISP, and the configuration is often automatically communicated to the Sony Blu‑ray player each time it's powered on. Most of the time the default DNS service provided by an ISP is adequate ...but not always. Sony Blu‑ray players seem to be especially sensitive to three things about whatever DNS service they've been instructed to use:

  1. sometime relatively slow responses
  2. aggressive filtering of responses (ISPs probably call their service something like safe browsing or child protection)
  3. sometimes replacement of NXDOMAIN (no such domain) responses with a success code and a webpage either suggesting alternatives or advertising something

You may have intentionally set up the second or third of these to make web browsing from your computers safer and easier, and don't wish to displace them. You can usually just retain them for your computers, while at the same time making sure the DNS service for your Sony Blu‑ray player is configured differently. In many situations this is simply a matter of specifying different DNS servers when configuring the networking aspect of your Blu‑ray player. Unfortunately if you have a router that enforces the Router Based style of DNS configuration it can be more difficult.

Step-By-Step Procedure For Fixing The Problem?

Conceptually the fix for the currently crippled Sony Blu‑ray player is very simple: just get it to use a fast and unfiltered standard DNS service, such as the public DNS service provided by Google. However, exactly how to go about doing that is somewhat different on different home networks. In fact, the exact procedure that worked for another owner will sometimes not do anything at all for you. Here are all the detailed instructions you'll need, including the additional steps missing from most descriptions. (The additional steps basically tell how to find out which configuration style your home network uses, and things to do differently depending on that information.)

First, find out if your home network uses the Per-Computer DNS style of configuration or the Router Based DNS style of configuration. To do that, on a Windows personal computer on the same LAN (subnet in networking lingo) as the Sony Blu‑ray player, execute (in a DOSbox?) the following command:

nslookup www.census.gov 1.2.3.4

(The command to execute is usually very similar on other types of personal computer too, such as MacOS or Linux. Sometimes it will involve a different command name -such as host or dig- sometimes with a slightly different command syntax.) Querying a DNS server that does not really exist is intentional ...in fact that's the core of this test. The result will look something like this:

C:\WINDOWS\system32>nslookup www.census.gov 1.2.3.4 DNS request timed out. timeout was 2 seconds. *** Can't find server name for address 1.2.3.4: Timed out Server: UnKnown Address: 1.2.3.4 DNS request timed out. timeout was 2 seconds. Non-authoritative answer: Name: e3604.dscna.akamaiedge.net Address: 23.56.94.175 Aliases: www.census.gov, www.census.gov.edgekey.net

All you care about in all the gobbledygook is whether or not an IPaddress for www.census.gov was returned (23.56.94.175 in the above example, likely the same -or at least a very similar- IPaddress when you do it), Ignore most error indications (such as timeout and reply from unexpected source and Can't find server name and Non-authoritative), as they're at best irrelevant to the test and at worst positively misleading. (Only pay attention to error indications if it appears they're telling you the test did not function at all, usually because of a network connectivity problem such as your router being unplugged.) If some sort of address was returned, your network uses the Router Based DNS style of configuration. If on the other hand no answering address at all was returned, your network uses the Per-Computer DNS style of configuration. Instructions for both configuration styles follow.

When you find out with certainty which style of DNS configuration your home network really uses, you may be disappointed. You may have expected and wished it to be the other way. If so, an option is to change it before proceeding. In some cases doing so should be relatively straightforward. However even in these cases the process can be intricate, lengthy and tedious; it sometimes involves reconfiguring not just your router but every computer on your whole LAN. Hence full instructions are not presented here. (Although full instructions are not presented here, some additional information relevant to DNS configuration styles is available.) If you understand the general goal and are tech-savvy, you should be able to do it easily in many (but not all) cases; sometimes your only option will be to purchase a new router. (If all this sounds too complicated and contingent, it may be time to call on your geeky friend for some assistance.)

If your home network uses the Router Based DNS style of configuration, the fix needs to be made inside your Router (your Blu‑ray player doesn't need to be touched at all). Figure out how to access your Router's over-the-web administration interface. (Exactly how to do this differs for different routers. But it's probably something along the lines of: start your web browser on your computer, type something like http://192.168.1.1 into its address bar, then enter the username [such as admin] and the password.) Find the DNS configuration (if there are two, use the one on the LAN side:-).

If possible (often unfortunately it's not), just set up an exception for your Sony Blu‑ray player, and then configure your player as though you have a Per-Computer DNS configuration. If that's not possible, to get it to work replace the contents of the fields that are currently blank or say something like auto or DHCP or have IPaddresses that seem to belong to your ISP, with 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 (Google's public DNS service). Note that if you have to do this, it will do more than just fix your Sony Blu‑ray player- it will completely bypass URI filtering and suggesting for all the computers on your whole LAN, including the ones that already exist and currently work fine. (While you're accessing your Router, make sure its password is unique and very difficult to guess. Especially make sure it's not still the supplier's default.)

In some cases with Router Based DNS configuration, for example if aggressive URI filtering is what's interfering with your Sony Blu‑ray player, it may at first appear you face the Hobson's choice of either leaving Internet filtering on but having your Blu‑ray player remain crippled, or getting your Blu‑ray player to work better but no longer providing good protection to your Internet users. Opting out of your ISP's filtering and suggesting will not evade this dilemma; your Blu‑ray player may start working, but web browsing from your computers will be less safe and easy. One way to escape this unpalatable choice -if your router supports it- is to set up an exception for your Blu‑ray player. Another way -which will always work- is to change your home network's configuration style to Per-Computer DNS. Note though that sometimes the only way to change your LAN's style of DNS configuration is to replace the router you've currently got with a newly bought one of a different brand.

If your home network uses the Per-Computer DNS style of configuration, make the fix inside your Blu‑ray player. From the HOME screen, access Setup then Network Settings and then Network Connection Status, then write down all the information presented on the screen. (The goal is to change only the DNS server addresses and leave everything else unchanged; this is a good way to find out what the current settings already are so you can re-enter them unchanged.) When you've written down everything, use RETURN on the Blu‑ray remote control to go back to where you can make a different selection. Select Internet Settings this time. When asked wired or wireless, enter the same value as before from what you wrote down. When asked how to set up the IPaddress of the unit, select Custom. When asked whether you want to set the IPv6 address. enter the same value as before (probably no). When asked how to set up the IPv4 address, select Custom. When asked for the IPaddress setting, enter the same value as before (probably auto). Finally you will be asked for the DNS settings. For the Primary and Secondary addresses, enter 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 (Google's public DNS service). After that, you will be asked whether or not to use a proxy server. Enter the same value as before (probably no). When finished, verify that the displayed information is the same as what you wrote down previously except that the Primary and Secondary DNS addresses are the new values. To finalize the new configuration, press the round button in the center of the Blu‑ray remote control.

Now your Sony Blu‑ray player should work much better.

Common Problem: Network error / Connection Status Cannot be Confirmed / sudden loss of SEN & all other streaming Internet services / suddenly network update always fails

Sony Blu‑ray players present virtually identical symptoms and error messages for several different problems, of which this is only one possibility.

If Setup->SystemSettings->SystemInformation initially shows no Provisioning Server Status information at all, but after several seconds changes to displaying Provisioning Server Status: Failed, you may be a victim of the abrupt withdrawal of server support for SSLv3 (which is now known to be seriously flawed). This is especially likely to be causing your symptoms if your player used to work (and partially still does, as you can still use the web browser to display some websites), and everything stopped all at once (although you may not have noticed it until much later). It's also especially likely to be causing your symptoms if you haven't routinely updated your firmware as soon as each new version became available. Unfortunately this is a general problem across the entire computer industry. It's not specific to Sony products, or even to all media devices.

(Although the symptoms may seem consistent with the Sony/SEN servers being down, this is not really the problem, and you shouldn't waste time chasing this possibility. The Sony/SEN servers are configured to never respond to ping, so the common ping test will misleadingly suggest those servers are down when in fact they're running just fine.)

Don't change your player's configuration from the original one that was working (it's easy to inadvertently break something else too:-). The only fix for the SSLv3 problem is to update your player's firmware; for model BSD-S5100 get firmware revision M15.R.0197 or later. Unfortunately, because among other things this problem interferes with the normal network update, the only way to escape the Catch-22 (can't operate without updating, but can't update without operating) is to use some alternate (and largely undocumented) firmware update procedure. You will most likely need some help from Sony support to use an alternate procedure to upgrade your firmware (unless you're a computer geek).

Common Problem: Not Enough Power For External USB Drive

External drives connected via USB often draw more power than the USB-2.0 spec requires a USB port to provide (500 milliamps). (The USB-3.0 and USB-3.1 specs require USB ports to provide a higher 900 milliamps, and many devices actually provide extra power via their USB-2.0 ports too, even though the spec does not require it.) While connecting USB devices that require additional power nevertheless works with some Blu‑ray players, it does not work with the Sony Blu‑ray players. Currently those players supply the 500 mA specified by the USB-2.0 spec to (each of) their USB port(s), but not more.

If your USB drive does not spin up, or you see a warning light about low voltage, or the Sony Blu‑ray player displays an error message about overload, this is why. Fortunately, fixing the problem is simple.

Obtain a powered USB hub that supplies sufficient power for your external drive. Be sure it has its own power supply with its own plug into the wall. Be sure it provides more than just the required amount of power. And be sure it does not limit power to just 500 mA per port no matter what. Plug the cable from the USB hub into the Blu‑ray player, then plug the external drive into one of the ports on the USB hub.

That's it; it should work now (unless your USB hub limits its power to 500 mA per port, in which case using it is no different than plugging your external drive directly into your Blu‑ray player).

Common Problem: More USB Devices Than Ports

You may wish to plug in several USB devices (for example both a keyboard and a flash drive, or both a keyboard and a mouse that do not share a single wireless receiver), but find there's not enough USB ports on your player. First be sure there really is a problem. Look on both the front and the back of your Blu‑ray player. Some models have one USB port on the front, and a second USB port on the back.

If there really is a problem, quite likely you can resolve it too with a USB hub. (Unlike for the problem above with an external drive, this USB hub may be either powered or passive [unless you're using it to resolve both issues, in which case the previous case will dictate it must be powered]. To minimize the number of cables and devices, you will probably wish to use just one USB hub for both purposes. But you could use two separate USB hubs if you wished.)

Common Problem: USB-3 Devices In USB-2 Ports

Although this at first may seem to be a possible problem, it's really not. The specs provide pretty good backward compatibility between USB-3 and USB-2. In fact, any USB-3 device with a Type-A connector (the flattish connector about half an inch wide, which virtually all flash/thumb drives and external hard drives use) can be plugged into a USB-2 Type-A port. It will work just fine (although it won't be able to take advantage of the higher USB-3 speed).

So you needn't care -or even know- the details of what you've got. But if you do want to know anyway, here's one way to tell: On USB-2 ports and cables with Type-A connectors, the little dab of plastic visible inside the connector is almost always grayish. On USB-3 ports and cables on the other hand, the little dab of plastic visible inside the connector is virtually always blue (and the outside of the cable is often blue too).

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Using The Web Browser

This information matches model BDP-S5100 using firmware version M15.R.0197. Experience with a model BDP-6500 using firmware M26.R.0214 showed that operation of its web browser was completely different.

The web browser currently built in to Sony Blu‑ray players is a clever convenience, but is not a replacement for a real web browser that runs on computing devices such as desktops or laptops that are updated much more frequently, and is not thoroughly integrated into the rest of the player. One might be inclined to simply accept the previous statement at face value and not get too upset about all the things that don't work quite as well as they might, and so continue to do most serious web exploration on your computer ...except that some other Blu‑ray player manufacturers offer noticeably better web browsers in their players. The web browser software currently in this Sony Blu‑ray player appears to have roots clear back in Opera 6. That version is close to a decade old, and uses the Presto rendering engine (similar to WebKit, Blink, Gecko, Trident, and so forth), which Opera itself no longer uses. Despite the issues, the web browsers in Sony Blu‑ray players may be sufficient to get the job done, especially if you plan ahead to discount or avoid their chief flaws:

Using The Web Browser: Moving The Focus

The focus is the location within the webpage where the web browser is concentrating its attention. It may be a text hyperlink to a different web site, a text hyperlink to a different webpage on the same site, a text hyperlink to another location in the same webpage, a checkbox, a radio button, a clickable image, an image of a button, an area for typing just a few words of text, or an area for typing a whole paragraph of text. On Sony Blu‑ray players it may be indicated either by a blue border or by a highlight (yellow or light blue) or both. (If the focus area begins on one line but ends on the next, some Sony Blu‑ray players may indicate the focus intwo separate pieces, one on each line.) Often the background of the focus area will be given a slightly blue cast.

You're probably used to moving the web browser's attention with your mouse, and may hardly be aware the focus even exists. (Many web browsers denote the focus by a very thin border using a color similar to what was there before, And since the focus doesn't much matter for operation with a mouse since the new focus jumps to the mouse location whenever necessary, the focus is easy to overlook completely.) If you're into keyboard shortcuts or mouseless operation, you probably move the focus with the Tab (and Backtab{Shift-Tab}) keys.

The web browser on this Sony Blu‑ray player is just a little different. To move the focus, use the four directional ring keys on the remote control (or the four arrow keys on an attached keyboard). The keys repeat rapidly if you hold them down, so you can reach any location very quickly (even though it may seem like you're scanning through the entire webpage).

If possible, the document will be automatically scrolled so the new focus point is visible (i.e. on the screen). But if the next focus point is very far away, instead of jumping the focus there all at once, the directional keys will simply scroll the webpage one screenful at a time until it gets close to the next focus point. Another way to think of this is the directional keys flip back and forth automatically (and probably unnoticed) between moving the focus and scrolling the document.

The exact order of visitation of the focus points may be a little different than what you're used to. If the webpage programmer has attempted to control the order of the focus points (uncommon), the specified order will be ignored and simple physical order used instead. If several focus points are quite close together, whichever directional key you're using (for example Down) may skip over some of them. After getting very close, you may need to press some of the other directional keys a couple times to move the focus to exactly where you desire.

Alternatively, you can attach a mouse to the Sony Blu‑ray player, and use that mouse to operate the web browser in the way you're accustomed to. This may feel the most natural for infrequent use, solves the resolution issue, and probably requires no procedural change whatsoever from your desktop web browser. Note however that although this currently works quite well, attachment and use of a mouse is not supported.

Using The Web Browser: Scrolling

Usually scrolling in a Sony Blu‑ray player web browser is automatic. Unlike with the web browsers typical on computers, there is no need to explicitly just scroll (with nothing else at all changing, not even the focus). Scrolling on a Sony Blu‑ray player's web browser is simply a matter of pressing one of the direction ring keys on the remote control (or one of the arrow keys on an attached keyboard) until the desired portion of the document comes into view.

Whenever the focus is moved, the web browser functionality will adjust the webpage's relation to the screen as necessary so the new focus location is visible (i.e. on the screen). If the new focus location is very far away, the web browser functionality will adjust the webpage's relation to the screen bit by bit in chunks so every part of the webpage becomes visible in sequence.

You may  —in spite of the automatic function ready to do it for you—  wish to explicitly scroll the webpage displayed by the web browser functionality without ever moving the focus at all. Web browsers on some models and firmware revisions of Sony Blu‑Blu-ray players will allow you to move the pointer into the scrollbar using the directional ring buttons; others restrict you to only the following two ways to do it (and both of these require some sort of User Interface Extension).

  1. Install the TVSideview app on your smartphone or tablet device, start it up and establish communication between it and your Blu‑ray player. Enter the web browser functionality of the Blu‑ray player. Then go to the Free Cursor function (third subdivision of the control portion) of the app. Finally, to scroll the webpage, drag your finger up or down on the black (it will turn whitish when activated) vertical bar at the right of the device screen.
  2. Attach a mouse to the Blu‑ray player's USB port. (Note attachment of a mouse is not supported.) Enter the web browser functionality of the Blu‑ray player. Make the little arrow on the Blu‑ray screen move into the scroll bar at the side by moving the mouse. To scroll, click or drag the mouse in various parts of the scrollbar in any of the normal ways familiar from web browsers on a computer.

Using The Web Browser: Filling Text Input Boxes

After moving the focus to a text input field, you may wonder how do I enter text here? or why doesn't a soft keyboard appear?. It may appear nothing is happening: no soft keyboard appears, keystrokes from an optional hard keyboard are not accepted, in sum the web browser has become deaf to your intentions. The trick at this point is to press the round button in the center of the remote control (or the Enter key on an optional hard keyboard). The required explicit button- or key-press lets the Blu‑ray player know the focus is more than just passing through, that you really do want to stop here and enter text. (Some earlier firmware versions instead required selection of the Input item from the Options menu. That item no longer even exists.)

After you press the central button (or Enter key) with the focus on a text input field, a soft keyboard will appear on the Blu‑ray screen, different keys on an optional hard keyboard will be enabled, and the optional TVSideview app will automatically jump into its Send functionality and display its own tiny soft keyboard on its own screen.

You can then enter text in one of these ways:

  1. Use the remote control to move the highlight to the next character (or character sequence provided by that soft keyboard) you desire. Most soft keyboards allow you to wrap from one end of a row to the other, which usually makes entering text somewhat quicker. (While some soft keyboard are laid out in QWERTY order, others are laid out in alphabetic order, which can feel confusing and awkward even though you don't understand quite why.) When the desired character is highlighted, press the central round button on the remote control. When the entire string is complete the way you want it, move the soft keyboard highlight to Enter, then select it.
  2. If you have an optional hard keyboard attached to your Blu‑ray player, just type the characters you desire. To remove a character, use the Backspace key. To move the insertion cursor (typically a thin vertical line), use the Left and Right arrow keys. When the entire string is complete the way you want it, press the keyboard's Enter key.
  3. If you have the optional TVSideview app on your smartphone or tablet, type on its mini keyboard the same way you would in any other app. Use the Backspace mini-key to delete a character. Some devices provide either arrow keys or a trackball to move the insertion cursor within the text; others do not do so, in which case sometimes you may have to temporarily delete several characters to get at the one you care about. (As you type, characters will appear only on your device—the Blu‑ray screen will not change.) When the entire string is complete the way you want it, press the Enter mini-key to Send the whole string to the Blu‑ray player. TVSideview will then flip out of its Send functionality back to whatever it was doing before.

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