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HDD/Network Player - Benefits of spending more?

I'm looking for a media player to hook up to a 37" Panasonic X20B.

Right now my wishlist is that it has an internal SATA HDD bay (I can provide the drive) and ethernet so that I can transfer and store stuff on it.

The bulk of playback will just be random video downloads, mostly Xvid or H264 or WMV (or so VLC tells me :D)

Where I'm struggling is that I can go online right now and find all sorts from this for £40:

Cit HMP3500 HDMI Media Player 1080i SATA HDD Enclosure | eBay

To this at £210:

Dune HD Smart D1 Network Media Player - Detailed item view - Custom built Home Theatre PCs from my-HTPC

I'm not looking for something that is capable of fronting a home cinema setup, I just want to be able to watch stuff on the plasma with it looking half decent, so my question is what is the benefit of spending 5x more on something such as the Dune?

Thanks.
 

awink1

Distinguished Member
I went through about 8-10 different media players of all kind of price ranges before settling on the Dunes. They all kind of worked but it wasn't until I tried the Dunes where I was happy with file compatibility and picture quality. One of the great things about the Dunes is how responsive and quick they are. Picture is excellent... Wouldn't change either of my players for anything at this point in time :thumbsup:
 
I went through about 8-10 different media players of all kind of price ranges before settling on the Dunes.
See ideally that's what I'd like to avoid. Call me naive but I just assumed that if you have a video it should play and that's that?

Currently looking at the Xtreamer range, just doing a search here and watching some Youtube reviews - thing is I only have a laptop and don't really want to be buggering about with USB HDD's and NAS devices to store stuff so if something can act as a NAS and also a media player that seems a double-win?
 

awink1

Distinguished Member
See ideally that's what I'd like to avoid. Call me naive but I just assumed that if you have a video it should play and that's that?

Currently looking at the Xtreamer range, just doing a search here and watching some Youtube reviews - thing is I only have a laptop and don't really want to be buggering about with USB HDD's and NAS devices to store stuff so if something can act as a NAS and also a media player that seems a double-win?
I've had a Xtreamer and for me it was an awful experience... Slow, buggy, just frustrating.

If you look at the Dune Smart H1 and D1 they can both hold up to 3Tb drives internally and will also act as NAS and torrent clients if you wish to...
 

JDCFH

Novice Member
I bought a Cyclone Primus HD with a 2TB hard drive and it was appalling.

It wouldn't play any rips I made myself or downloads in MKV without stuttering and losing audio sync with picture.

That was £145.

I sent it back and spent double that on a Dune HD H1 and it is worlds apart for quality. Build quality of the unit itself as well as the software it runs on feels better.

It plays eveything smoothly and without stuttering - I'm now in process of re-ripping all my DVD's into .iso

Highly recommend Dune players :thumbsup:
 
Oh god you're not helping :D The Primus was one of the ones I was (I think "was" being key) considering - I thought it may still be like the "good old days" of DVD players where the cheap obscure far east units would play pretty much anything/everything when some of the big names wouldn't touch them?

Is there anything in between the Cyclone and the sort of thing I mentioned in my OP and the Dune?

Ignore the current price of HDD's as I have a few kicking around, so all I'm after is the unit.

Being candid, spending the money isn't the issue, it's feeling like I'm getting sufficient vfm for the extra to not mind spending it, IYSWIM.
 

awink1

Distinguished Member
Mate, just have a read around on the forums here and you'll see that there is no perfect player as yet, but the Dunes and the Popcorn hours are the most elaborate ones with the best firmware and community support. They will play everything that you throw at them including HD audio support. If you don't want to spend that kind of money you could look at the dune 101 and 301 or even the WDTV live series.
Really don't go for el cheapo Chinese no name as you won't be happy with the results.
 

JDCFH

Novice Member
Oh god you're not helping :D The Primus was one of the ones I was (I think "was" being key) considering - I thought it may still be like the "good old days" of DVD players where the cheap obscure far east units would play pretty much anything/everything when some of the big names wouldn't touch them?

Is there anything in between the Cyclone and the sort of thing I mentioned in my OP and the Dune?

Ignore the current price of HDD's as I have a few kicking around, so all I'm after is the unit.

Being candid, spending the money isn't the issue, it's feeling like I'm getting sufficient vfm for the extra to not mind spending it, IYSWIM.
You would have only been disappointed with the Primus HD its shocking even at its low price I was disgusted with its performance. Truly awful.

The Dune is amazing compared to it.

I have a friend who demoed me some .iso files on his PCH and that was as good as the Dune.

I went for Dune as seems simpler to use.
 
Yeah I'm detecting a theme and the Dune's do seem to come out well.

The D1 looks quite appealing and seems to tick the boxes.

How future proof are these things? I'm assuming if you pay more for something like a Dune that, within reason, there is a longer useful lifecycle and updates are more forthcoming for any new formats that come out?
 

awink1

Distinguished Member
Well just look at this: when I first bought the Dune HD lite 53d (september) it didn't support blu-ray iso or hd audio pass through now it does :)

Now for me that is a major feature enhancement for free :smashin:
 

MarkE19

Moderator
How future proof are these things? I'm assuming if you pay more for something like a Dune that, within reason, there is a longer useful lifecycle and updates are more forthcoming for any new formats that come out?
A media player is only as good as the firmware running on it, and writing good firmware costs a lot of money. Therefore to get the best players with good firmware is going to cost more to buy.
Dune write their firmware to work across all of their players. It is only once the older hardware can no longer handle new features that they stop getting the updates. My Dune Prime 3.0 is 2 generations old now but it can do everything that the new TV101 can - and more due to the higher specs.

Another thing that pushes up the price of most of the Dune players is that they have a full BluRay license which costs Dune money to get on their players. They also decode the HD audio and these decoders also have to be paid for.

Mark.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Is anyone going to recommend anything other than a Dune? :D
Nope! :rotfl:

Oh ok then - have a look at the Popcorn Hour media players as well. They are very similar hardware to the Dune's but have very different looking firmware.

Mark.
 
I think my reservations aren't so much affordability, just.. well how do I put this - this is an AV Forum, I just want to be sure that I'm not spending £200 on something that is full home cinema standard when all I really want to do is stick a few downloaded flicks on the plasma rather than watch them gathered around a computer screen.

So basically I'm not looking for the slickest interface or the last word in quality, but being able to decode/play pretty much anything I chuck at it.

Hopefully that makes sense on where I'm coming from on the cost front?

Do AC Ryan fall into the cheap(ish) cheerful Chinese category?
 

awink1

Distinguished Member
Is anyone going to recommend anything other than a Dune? :D
If you read my earlier response I also recommended Popcorn Hour and WDTV live... :rolleyes:

But seriously go for something with a good firmware. Mark explained earlier why some players cost more than others.

You wanted to avoid going through 8-10 players like I did, you want something that works and you want to be able to put a Hdd in it. This narrows it down to Dunes and PCH players. Both have great picture quality and there are different models to choose from. This is the advice given to you.

Do let us know what you'll go for.
 
So from doing a little digging into the Popcorn Hour boxes, I'm undecided.

The Dune's are undoubtedly very good, but the Popcorn Hour boxes appeal as they seem to be capable of a little more than the Dunes with things like iPlayer and Youtube and the Jukebox - I may not use it now but if I like whatever I buy who knows.

From looking at some reviews on Youtube, the A-300 looks amazing - I'm just trying to work out the difference/benefit of it over the cheaper A-200, other than it just being newer.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
I came across this page on the Dune HD Smart: Dune HD GmbH: future upgrades for the new Taiwanese models » Dune HD GmbH

An upgrade path is good, but I noticed they mentioned Sep-Oct for the new chip. Now I know there's always something new around the corner, but is this something that's imminent?
I think that new report is out of date and the goal posts have moved somewhat since it was written.
It now looks like the Smart players will upgrade to the 8670 that is in the TV101/TV301 players and the Max (and possibly Duo) will go to the 8910. Do some searching on the forum as it has been mentioned several times, but there does seem to be a lot of contradictory info floating around on exactly what will be made available and at what cost.

Mark.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Dune vs PCH is a difficault one as each have different advantages over the other.

BBC iPlayer is promised for the Dune's, as is a video jukebox but we don't know when. YouTube is already available as a plug-in for the latest firmware.

AFAIK the main differences between the A210 & A300 are the chipsets - A200/A210 uses the older 8642 and the A300 the 8647.

Mark.
 
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jetsetjimbo

Novice Member
You could just get a dune tv101 and plug a USB hdd into it? They're only £100 and will do everything you require of it.

If a 3.5" internal sata is a must only the smart range is going to fit the bill.
 

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