Why has Dune has Become My Choice for Integrated Stored Media Playback?

We have all been through it. Attempting to add a device to our systems to play stored media. This has been one of the biggest headaches for both consumers and integrators since the first stored media players hit the market. I remember years ago with my first attempt with a stored media player “D link DSM320” that it was a great concept with many flaws to over come. At that time BluRay wasn’t a problem it was the required software and storage that was the issue. Today years after this first adventure storage is readily available and cheap, and the software is at least readily available. The issue now has been BluRay. With all the security, copy protection, and organizations that I would rather not mention because I fear black helicopters, finding a player that will fulfill all my stored video needs has been hard to find.

>NOTE: We are not discussing “disc carrousel’s” here. I personally need more functionality than one of these can provide.

I had intended on putting my opinions on this subject out earlier but I decided to live with the device for a little while before I gave it any type of praise. My test unit was a Dune HD Smart H1. This version was a bare version since I did not need a disc tray or an internal hard drive. The H1 however did still come equipped with a front USB and SD card slot. On the rear panel you get Composite, Component, HDMI, Analog R/L Audio, TOSLINK, 2 more USB slots, an eSATA connection, a USB Slave port, and yes an Ethernet jack. Dune covered just about every connection, well almost. They did forget the good old coax audio known as SPDIF.

So why did I decide to go the direction of Dune HDI anyway? Bluray of course. While there are network media players out there that support BluRay play back they are still rare in the sea of media players so you better get your BOAT “Bust Out Another Thousand”. This is not the case with Dune however. For between 4 and 5 hundred you can get a solid network media player that will support BluRay play back. Not only do these players do BluRay but they go even further with full support for Blu-ray menu, BD-J, BonusView, BD-Live – for both Blu-ray discs (retail and user-authored) (*) and full Blu-ray structures (Blu-ray-ISO, BDMV) played from HDD and network. So this alone makes it the ultimate network BluRay player right? Well before you make that decision what about the audio side of things? This is where Dune really gets nuts supporting  AC3 (Dolby Digital), DTS, MPEG, AAC, LPCM, WMA, WMAPro, EAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), Dolby True HD, DTS HD High Resolution Audio, DTS HD Master Audio, FLAC, multichannel FLAC, Ogg/Vorbis; support for very high quality audio (up to 192 kHz / 24-bit), and music audio formats like MP3, MPA, M4A, WMA, FLAC, APE (Monkey’s Audio), Ogg/Vorbis, WAV, DTS-WAV, DTS, AC3, AAC.

Even though the player list support for all these formats how is play back? I have used the best possible combinations including best video quality with Dolby HD audio and it floored me that it worked so perfectly. I do want to note here that quality network gear is a MUST when doping BluRay with HD audio. On my personal system there was not a single movie played at the max that showed any signs of not being an exact match to the original content.

 

 

 

So now that I have let you in on the little secret that this player pretty much supports everything out there how does it integrate? Even on this point the device is a surefire winner. In a Control4 environment 2 drivers have been developed. The first was created by a company we have all become familiar with, Extra Vegetables. This driver does work great and we were able to test this driver during it’s beta stages. The second driver to come out was created by Diamond Designs. Diamond Designs has taken a little bit different of an approach however. Being a Dune distributor themselves you can get the driver for FREE if your dealer purchases the player from Diamond Designs. The driver can be purchased without purchase of the player but nothing beats a bundled purchase!

Integration functionality is awesome. Both DVD and BluRay can be selected from the Control4 navigator movie interface and can even be accessed by Green Wave Technology’s “Movie Guardian” application. Full Disc menu support and all standard commands are supported. James at Diamond Design tells me that the 5th version of their driver currently under development will support even more functionality such as internet browser support! I hope to see this driver released soon as I am anxiously waiting to maximize the Dune’s abilities.

So all you movie “hoarders” don’t waste your money on those high end brands. Get the affordable Dune player and save that extra cash for a bigger display to enjoy your entire BluRay and DVD collection.

FUTURE TECHNOLOGY: I have been told that DUNE is currently working on 3d support.