A Review of the Sony FMPX10 4K Ultra HD Media Player
Sony’s FMP X10 4K UHD media player is already starting to look just a little tiny bit dated now that a number of new streaming 4K UHD media boxes have emerged for the home entertainment market. However, while it may lack a few things in comparison to machines like the Nvidia Shield 4K box or the Roku 4 4K box, the FMP X10 still has plenty to offer users who want a great selection of 4K UHD content in one very simply designed piece of media technology.
With access to a huge selection of Sony’s own proprietary selection of 4K UHD movies and other programming, full compatibility with a number of different ultra HD TV models (not just Sony’s) and the ability to deliver native 4K entertainment even if your home doesn’t have an ultra-high speed internet connection like that necessary for streaming 4K, the FMP X10 is quite an interesting offer despite its select deficiencies. While this 4K UHD media player box may cost quite a bit more than it’s streaming media box alternatives, it’s definitely something worth considering for those who want a maximal selection of native 4K UHD entertainment for their new UHD TV.
Right off the bat, we can’t say we don’t like the sheer simplicity of the FMP X10. This is a definite no-frills piece of media player hardware and it shows even in its design. Connecting the FMP X10 to a 4K TV is a piece of cake, compatibility with 4K TVs is very straightforward and media options control is also pretty down to the one. While the interface that runs in the FMP X10 may not be as fancy as Roku’s OS 7 or Amazon’s Fire TV platform, it delivers what you really need from a piece of video media technology, easy access to movies and other programming for the 4K UHD TV of your choice.
Secondly, as a sort of extension of its simplicity, we love the overall compatibility of the FMP X10. Sony formerly had this media player locked down exclusively to their own brands of 2014 ultra DH TVs but later wisely decided to open the box up to full usability with any 4K UHD television that meets three essential conditions: HDMI 2.0 connectivity, HDCP 2.2 content copy protection and HEVC video compression decoding capacity. Since virtually all 2014 and 2015 4K TVs come with these three specs as standard parts of their design, the FMP X10 is one very widely compatible media player regardless of whether you own a Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Sharp or even Vizio 4K TV.
Furthermore, the access to content provided by the Sony FMP X10 is indeed exceptionally broad. While the media player doesn’t offer access to some select streaming services it does give you the ability to stream 4K UHD content from at least Netflix and these streaming options (compressed by HEVC H.265 compression) only add to the already broad selection that Sony’s Video Unlimited library offers via the FMP X10.
This brings us to the final awesome feature of the FMP X10. In addition to the streaming content options it offers, this particular device also delivers access to Sony’s huge Video Unlimited 4K content library. We’re talking about hundreds of hours of 4K UHD feature content, movies, documentaries and other programming, all available for downloading and with a number of the most popular movie titles available pre-loaded to get you started watching and seeing the content quality in native 4K right out of the box. The Sony 4K content library is still arguably the largest in the world of its kind and only the FMP X10 offers access to it among all currently available set-top box devices. Best of all, because the Video Unlimited content selections are downloaded instead of being streamed, you can get this while selection of 4K content regardless of whether your internet is ultra-high speed or not.
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On the other hand, not all is perfect about the Sony FMP X10. While none of the issues that this media player suffers from are deal breakers, it does have a few defects worth noting.
First of all, there’s the issue of the price. Those competing new streaming media boxes we already mentioned above, like the Nvidia Shield 4K, Amazon Fire 4K TV box and Roku 4 4K set-top box to refresh your memory, may not have access to the same amount of downloadable 4K content as the FMP X10 does and they also lack the enormous internal storage of this media player, but they also cost much, much less, with none of them selling for above $300 dollars or so. The Sony FMP X10 on the other hand is still retailing for $497. This is quite a drop from its older price tag of over $600 but still a steep retail price.
Furthermore, the FMP X10’s vast Video Unlimited content library from Sony isn’t completely free to access despite the media player’s steep price tag. As of this writing, Sony was offering the player with several popular 4K movie titles pre-loaded into it but other programming in the entire library has to be bought or rented individually, somewhat reducing overall value received with the FMP X10. In addition to this, since the Video Unlimited library depends on the download model for delivering content, waiting times for your favorite movies or other programming can indeed be long. Even larger internet connection speeds can cause a download to take several hours due to all those pixels in 4K. Yes, some users can still enjoy their Netflix 4K UHD subscription via the FMP X10 in instant streaming form but for those who have this player in a home without at least 15Mbps of connectivity, downloading content could be a test of patience. This device does NOT support Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Finally, we don’t entire like the Sony interface that works with the FMP X10. This media player’s platform can definitely be slow and buggy at times and the somewhat flimsy physical remote is nothing less than the cherry on top of the defects for this media player.
Max Supported resolution: 4K ultra HD at 3840 x 2160 pixels
Supported Video Codecs: XAVC S, AVC (H.264), HEVC (H.265), Dolby Digital Plus
Remote Control Features: Roku remote with Voice control and private listening headphone jack
Networking: 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless, 10/100 Base-T Ethernet
Connectivity: 1 x HDMI 2.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x Ethernet, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi
Extended Storage: internal 1 TB storage memory
Software/Apps: Sony Unlimited video content network access
Dimensions (W x H x D): 9.8 x 2 x 9.8" inches
Weight: 7.9 lbs
Design-wise, the FMP X10 is about as simple as a piece of home entertainment electronics gets. With a relatively small form factor of 10 by 10 by about 2 inches, the X10 is basically a small black box with an accompanying remote and its several connectivity ports at the back on one side. These consist of 2 USB ports, a single HDMI 2.0 port, the power adapter and of course an Ethernet connectivity slot. Users can also connect the FMP X10 to the wider web via its built-in dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi capacity.
The body of the dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi is completely black and comes with a glassy black top half and a matte black bottom half with a small panel at the front of the media player which opens out and down to reveal a power button, one of the media player’s USB connections and a small “reset” hole.
In terms of interactive platform features and other special goodies like gaming access and the ability to browse dozens of apps, the FMP X10 is a pretty weak device relative to its competitors the new streaming media boxes that are now available on the market.
Instead, this little 4K UHD media player offers what we’d call a relatively interface navigation system that offers access to Netflix and of course, Sony’s own Video Unlimited content library. The Netflix app is built right into the OS of the FMP X10 in fact. As far as navigation in general goes, the Home screen of the FMP X10 is a simple colorful page with icons for Recommended content, the Video Unlimited 4K store, Netflix, My 4K Videos, Video Player and Music Player. The Video Unlimited Store is where you can go to buy or rent and download new 4K selections and a notification will show up on your home screen any time new movies or other programming have been added to the Video Unlimited library. My 4K Videos obviously takes you to your own already downloaded movies and this is also where Sony will have left any pre-loaded films that came with your own FMP X10 unit, while the Video Player button lets you access other video files via USB connectivity and Music Player does the same for music via USB as well.
As far as the 4K video features of the FMP X10 go, we’d honestly have to say that they’re superb. The baked-in Netflix app will offer streaming 4K UHD content from whatever Netflix itself has on offer in your region and the quality of this video source should be great for compressed content if you have the right level of internet connectivity. On the other hand, the real quality of 4K UHD video comes from Sony’s own 4K Video Unlimited selections. These have for the most part been wonderfully produced or remastered into native 4K and because they’re downloaded to the player over time for viewing on your TV via HDMI 2.0 cables, the sharpness and detail level of the 4K content itself is definitely superb, superior to streamed 4K video in our opinion.
New movies are sometimes only available for purchase for a price of roughly $30 but generally speaking, many titles can be rented too, for $7.99 for a 24 hour rental. There are also assorted types of non-feature film content that can cost as little as $2.99 to rent. Currently, Sony has over 200 different titles available in their Video Unlimited 4K library and among these are roughly 90 feature 4K UHD movies. This is a collection that definitely beats anything else available through any other 4K UHD service, streaming or otherwise.
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Connectivity-wise, the Sony FMP X10 access the web via Ethernet or dual-band WiFi and also comes with HDMI 2.0 connectivity for smooth transmission of 4K UHD video between the media player and your TV at a full 50 frames per second. In order for any TV to be compatible with the X10, it also needs to be capable of HEVC H.265 decoding and of HDCP 2.2 content copy protection.
What we particularly like about the FMP X10’s connectivity for 4K content is the fact that it download’s Sony’s own collection of movies as you buy or rent them. This means that, unlike the case with streaming content, your home entertainment system does not need to be connected to the internet at speeds of at least 15 to 20 Mbps for you to enjoy high quality 4K UHD movies and other programming.
Performance-wise, the FMP X10 is a great little piece of technology. It runs smoothly, quickly and its main OS interface is dead simple to operate and navigate. Since you’re not dealing with dozens of media apps on this media player, there isn’t much need for search options beyond those that exist for your own USB or HDMI connected content, the content available in the easy to navigate Sony Video Unlimited library and the latest streaming selections from Netflix. We did notice a certain lag in how fast the features of the X10’s user interface loaded and ran but this is a minor detail given the general simplicity of running everything.
The Sony FMP X10 4K UHD media player is currently on sale on Amazon.com for $497.90. Down from its former price of $699.
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• Access to a superb selection of feature 4K UHD videos
• Baked-in Netflix 4K App
• Easy to use and very easy to set up
• download delivery of 4K content
• Compatible with many 4K TV models
• Definitely on the expensive side for what it offers
• A little bit dated by now
• No access to the wider web and numerous apps
• No gaming functionality