My bass player is looking for a new bass, and he's thinking of getting a 5 string (he currently has a 4 string, and short scale at that). Any thoughts as to whether this is the right call or not? My band plays a big variety of songs, from jazz to metal, so versatility is good.

Also, he's looking for something between 500-1000.. any suggestions? I was looking at a Godin Freeway 5 or an Ibanez SR705, both for around 800. Any other suggestions or recommendations? Thanks.
I recommend carting his ass down to a music shop and trying out every 5er he can get his hands on.

General Comment- There seems to be a huge thing about "am I ready to play a five string?" But really... it's not that far removed from a 4. It doesn't make you a better player, playing a 5. However, it can make it easier on a bassist if they use a 5er- economy of motion. More notes in one position. I think it's a shame that more people don't pick up a 5er, or are religiously against them.
My second bass was 5 string, it doesn't matter how good you are at 4 string, you will have to adjust slightly, just get him to play a few and get one he likes.
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My second bass was also a 5-string..
Its up to him really, i think its personally a good call, gives him another string to play around with and its got the ability to fit into most types of music really.

But yeah, as the others have said, get him to check out all the 5's he can until he finds one he likes really..
All my basses are 5ers. Thats what I started on. I was asking myself that same question before even learning how to hold a bass..."Can I handle a 5string?".

I think they're more comfortable and efficient than 4s. I have trouble playing fours now. The necks are too thin.
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Some people like the feel of a five and others prefer a four. It depends if you need a fifth string and whether you want to play a five string. Some people just don't like the feel of one and it's that simple. Others don't really see the need for one and don't want to sacrifice the four string feel for something they're not sure they will use. Like Ben says, you need to get him down to a shop to try out as many fivers as possible and see what the deal is. Personally, I prefer the feel of a four string, but am willing to sacrifice that slight bit of feel for the immense versatility and usefulness added by another string.