Note: this review was written in 2009 and updated in 2014.
I have been using Blockbuster Online (for those who don't know, it is similar to Netflix) to get my high-resolution movies in HD DVD format ever since I got the Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player. Even though HD DVD lost the format war to Blu-Ray, some HD DVD movies were (and are) still available. But eventually I wanted to switch to Blu-Ray and was waiting for players to come down in price. Then, I got a Sherwood BDP-5003 Blue-Ray player online for $65 shipped (price mistake, but honored by the site, American TV).
What Is Sherwood BDP-5003
The Sherwood BDP-5003 is a Blu-Ray (Profile 1.1) and DVD player with HDMI 1.3 and up to 1080p output. In addition to BluRay, it plays DVD-Video, Audio CD, MP3, DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, CD-R/W. The player can scale/upconvert regular DVDs up to 1080p over its HDMI out as well.
The BDP5003 can output lossless audio from Dolby and DTS through its HDMI out. The player has both optical (Toslink) and coaxial digital audio outs as well as analog stereo audio out. It can downmix audio to two channels if needed. It also has a component video out, S-Video and composite view outs.
It supports DTS, DTS-HD, DTS-ES, Dolby TruHD, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Digital audio formats. The player weighs 7 lbs 11 oz.
After the player arrived, I was surprised at how small the manual was. Fortunately, I didn't have to read it all. The player also comes with the remote control, analog audio and composite video RCA cables, AAA batteries for the remote.
I connected the BDP5003 to my Panasonic SA- XR57 receiver with an HDMI cable I had. The non-detachable power cord was connected to the surge protector. The receiver is connected to my Hitachi P50H401 50-inch plasma TV with an HDMI cable. The speakers are Athena AS-F1 towers in front left and right positions, Athena C.5 in center and Athena S.5 as left/right surrounds. The subwoofer is Athena AS-P400.
I also downloaded the latest firmware updated from the Sherwood's web site and burned it onto a DVD+RW disc. It you do it, make sure you unzip the files and copy not the BDP5003 folder to the disc, but copy the files (actually a file and a subfolder) from the BDP5003 folder to the root of the disc. I followed instructions on the website did the former at first, as a result of which the player refused to update its firmware. Only when I copied the files/subfolders directly to the root of the DVD+RW disc did the update proceed. It took about 2.5 minutes.
When in use, the player has a backlit BluRay logo and rings around its control buttons on the front panel. Kind-of cool, but I wish there was a way to dim the brightness thereof. The front panel also has a disc tray (sturdy), a mechanical power button (probably good for power consumption when off) and an informative display.
The player itself is hefty enough to create a feel of solid construction. And unlike some older Blu-Ray and HD DVD player, there is no fan on the back panel. The front panel buttons and the rear panel jacks are all clearly marked.
I played with the menus first. The menus look good, are easy to understand, feature fast navigation (which I cannot say about my TV's menus) and provide basic adjustment functionality. I wish there was more tweakability however. I couldn't find the way to adjust sharpness or contrast, but I guess I can adjust that on my TV. I set the output to 1080i since, even though my TV can accept 1080p signal, my receiver is designed for up to 1080i.
I got a couple of Blu-Ray discs to test the player. They were "W." and "You Don't Mess with the Zohan". I started with the latter. The disc loaded in slightly over 20 seconds. The movie was, expectedly, stupid. The playback was excellent with great color, sharpness and sound. The player froze right after Zohan faked his demise and before the chapter where he arrives to New York. This was the only place where it froze and there were no hiccups on either of both discs. And once it froze, I could simply skip to the next chapter and continue watching. This is in stark contrast to the Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player, which, once frozen, has to have its disc completely restarted to attempt to resume the playback.
The movie "W." also produced excellent video quality and sound. While playing these two movies, I discovered that the player responded pretty fast to commands (faster than the Toshiba A3) and had a nice progress indicator, accessible by hitting the "up" or "down" menu control buttons on the remote. While looking at the progress indicator, you can use the colored remote buttons to sep/erase bookmarks and do other navigational tasks. Too bad the player still doesn't remember where you stopped watching last time.
The player's remote control is good-looking, light and has a good, but not perfect button layout. Major buttons are easy to find, but some others will take getting used to. The "ok" button in the middle of the menu control buttons lights up as a confirmation every time you push any button.
The remote even has volume control buttons that control volume without having to program the remote for your TV or receiver. It adjusts the volume as output from the player, at least through the HDMI out.
The image quality when playing BluRay discs was excellent and film-like. Subjectively, I feel that Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player produced marginally better picture, but most likely it is just subjective. What it definitely did better, albeit only slightly, was upconversion of standard DVDs. Sherwood upconversion is pretty good and by no means objectionable, but Toshiba is one of the best scalers and Sherwood's looked slightly flat by comparison. I personally don't care since I still have the Toshiba HD-A3 as well as the Pioneer Elite DV-48AV. I did, however, have to upgrade from a 2-input passive HDMI switch to a 3-input auto-sensing HDMI switch.
The player produced excellent sound quality (output through HDMI as PCM since my receiver doesn't decode most advanced HD audio formats). It refused to play DVD-Audio discs, as was expected. I wish it did though, but this is what I have my Pioneer Elite DV-48AV for. And having both coaxial and optical digital outs is a plus for those who intend to use a digital audio connection (I use HDMI and therefore don't care).
The player still worked perfectly well, but I bought a new one: Insignia NS-WBRDVD Blu-ray Player With WiFi, Netflix, Ethernet, MKV and USB, primarily because it has WiFi built-in, Netflix streaming and MKV playback.
I since bought the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-ray player.
Pros: Price, performance, responsiveness, features, good remote, solid build quality
Cons: I wish it had DVD-Audio playback and USB
I am very happy with my purchase and expect to watch a lot more high-def material in future. Despite not being a well-known brand, Sherwood produced a surprisingly good Blu-Ray player and I recommend this model to anyone looking for an inexpensive Blu-Ray and DVD player.