Dune is at the forefront when it comes to the media player category. This isn’t really surprising when you see their stable of versatile players boasting different shapes and sophistication levels. With competition by a number of different companies, Dune has played smart by specializing itself in this particular niche. One appreciable thing about Dune is that though their products generally have better build as compared to the competition, the designers have not let aesthetics cloud their judgment when it comes to audio quality. Dune’s product line lies at the premium end of media players, but by the virtue of having rewarding features and not being available colorful!
Out of the Box
It is unusual to find a player with an ultra compact, lunch box size doing all the functions that a full 19” player performs. The whole dimension of the player is smaller than a 12-cm diameter disc—so obviously it does everything else but play a disc (as there is no disc drive). But we need to get used to this fact, as this is the future. I must clarify that the small size is also due to no internal power supply or an HDD, in fact there are no buttons on the panel but a lone IR receiver. Similarly, there are no direct card slots but just a single USB slot at the front.
All wrapped up in a neat little package
At the backside there is an Ethernet LAN connection port, an HDMI output, 3.5mm composite video and analogue stereo output. That’s it, talk about being lean! Power input comes in the form of a socket demanding 5V DC and the red light on the front panel glows and becomes blue if the TV- 101 is on. There is a covered port behind, and little more research on the internet shows that it is to accommodate the Wi-Fi antenna. The unit is literally palm-sized and so ridiculously low in weight that it’s even possible for the fairer sex to carry it around in their purse or hand bag.
This little wonder box has all the goodies that one can think and wish for. It has high-definition playback capabilities for all sort of videos and very high-quality audio formats ranging from high bitrate MP3 to WMA and FLACs, whether it be on the connected HDD or flash drive or on the NAS drive/computer on your home network. Just share the files/folder/drive and the player reads it through the LAN connection. With Sigma Designs 8670/8671 processor and 256MB RAM, the player is fast and feature loaded.
Simple but effective connectivity options
The Dune HD TV-101 also has built-in BitTorrent client to download movies and music without a computer. However, it mysteriously asked me to log on to the client from some other device (I did not have time to solve this problem) to start download—it needs a computer to download and this device alone cannot replace the computer as far as downloads are concerned. Wish it could make presentations for me to eliminate the need to carry a laptop, but it is an entertainment device and it doesn’t probably want to mix work with pleasure, though I think it would have been a welcome feature to show PDF, PPT and other, similar formats.
There is a small little remote control to operate the HD TV-101—this is the only interface to the device, so please ensure that you keep it safe and secure, else the device is simply useless. The remote is rather small and handy, but cumbersome if you want to handle it for long (like typing text from the virtual on-line keyboard.) I also struggled a bit and didn’t quite get used to the fact that the play/pause key is small and at a very inconspicuous place. There are some interesting accessories on the Dune website like a QWERTY keyboard with mousepad, which can work on PC and Mac too, cool!
Full function remote
This Dune player is pretty fast when it comes to starting up or accessing media files from the connected HDD. The best part is that the detecting and reading of the HDD is definite and does not need disconnecting and reconnecting like many other players.
The Dune HD TV-101 read the UPnP files as well as other shared folders from the connected computer on the network. However, again, the inserted music CD was not played as is, but the ripped content and other MP3 content CDs did play perfectly. There are easy options in the player to change the file view and high-res backgrounds to ease navigation.
This change is quick and on the fly while browsing through the files. While the player is fast and easy to navigate, there is no option to deal with folders having many files—a scroll down option would have been a boon. The player may not directly play the DVDs and BDs from the computer drive, but it does play the ISO and MKV rips with ease. However, there is something that I found very annoying about the player; it doesn’t have the capability to memories passwords while one accesses the folders/files. This makes navigation very painful, as every time one needs to wrestle with tiny keys on the remote.
Movie playback was uninterrupted and handing over of the baton from one file to the next was smooth. Picture quality on high-res rips was simply stunning and one cannot be missing the dear old disc format with TV-101 around. Even the high-definition multi-channel audio was pristine and very well resolved. The real test was when I played 192kbps, WMA files on the player through a pen drive and gave a head-on comparison to Yamaha, Marantz and Teac CD players on the same content CD through AB comparison. I couldn’t believe that the Dune came frightfully close to my Marantz CD-6000OSE except the bass of the Dune being (very) slightly weighty and lacking of definition. But this is just nit-picking. Bear in mind, the competition was unfair as higher grade formats and less compression was possible and Marantz was connected with high-grade cable versus the stock EP to RCA AV cable of the player.
Verdict and Price in India
Except some very minor operational glitches, the Dune HD TV-101 is a brilliant player by all means. It is good to know (and we are happy if this can change the norms of the hi-fi world) that good and powerful things can come in small packages too! I am very sure that the world will soon perform a mass exodus towards the flash media, except a few legacy-loving audiophiles, for all their audio-visual needs. With the pricing, convenience and performance of the HD TV-101, the journey would be far easier and more pleasurable.
The Dune HD Media player has an Indian price tag of Rs. 11,900 (MRP).
AV MAX is a special interest audiophile magazine that focuses on reviewing high-end AV equipment like amplifiers, stereos, floorstanding speakers and related news
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Oct 27, 2016