Review: Dune TV101

MarkE19

Moderator
Dune TV101 Review

As many on this section of the forum will already know I am a happy user of a Dune BD Prime 3.0 media player. So when Dune eventually managed to get the new TV101 to the UK I was asked by graham.myers to do a review of it and see how good (or bad) it is.
Connections are limited on this player, but that does make it less confusing I suppose. There is just the one USB socket which is on the front of the player, but a USB hub can be used to connect multiple HDD’s etc. On the back of the player there are sockets for the power supply, HDMI cable, network cable and a breakout cable for composite video & analogue stereo audio which is supplied with the player.
As I have a non HDMI AV processor I was not able to test the audio performance other than through my plasma speakers.

Setup
Connect the power supply, HDMI lead from plasma and network cable from my router – and that’s it, everything is connected. Other than HDMI you can use the supplied breakout cable for Composite video and stereo analogue audio.
As an existing Dune owner I was already familiar with getting around the menus in the firmware, so it was quick & easy to get the player setup with my TV. New users shouldn’t have too much trouble here though as everything is displayed as Tabs along the top of the screen, so using the cursor keys on the remote just move to the Setup tab and from there you can set the player to your TV.
All my media is stored either on my PC or my unRAID server/NAS and is shared already so all I had to do was point the TV101 at the shares. For the PC I could just use the Network Browser on the Sources tab to navigate to the PC, but for some reason the unRAID server is not seen (this is the same as on my Prime) so I had to use the Pop-up Menu button on the remote while on the Sources tab and select ‘Create New Network Folder’ from the menu options. I was then able to enter the name of the new folder, IP address of my server and select the folder I wanted the link to point to, along with username & password if they had been required to access the server. I then had a shortcut to the server on the Sources tab of the Dune for easy access to my media. I could also add a folder to my PC but didn’t worry as it was easy enough to get to via the network browser.
However to be able to create a shortcut to any of the Dune tabs requires System Storage to be setup on the player. To set this up I plugged a 2Gb USB flash drive into a USB hub that was plugged into the player. Then from the Setup tab you can initialise the flash drive, or a locally attached HDD as system storage. This is then used by the player to store shortcuts and store firmware updates while they are being installed etc.

The TV101 I received is Graham’s demo/test unit so had previously been installed by him. Being lazy I just adjusted the settings as required and tried playing some test media. With a BluRay rip as soon as the bitrate hit ~40mbps it started freezing up or running slow with constant audio dropouts. So after trying to change a fair few settings such as Fast SMB enabled & disabled without any improvement I bit the bullet and did a full system reset. I then set it up again from scratch and since then everything has played fine – phew! All settings were left at their defaults other than the output resolution and refresh rate which were set to best match my plasma.

Media Playback - Streamed
Most of my media is from DVD or BluRay as an ISO or full disc folder structure rip. I do have a few MKV and M2TS rips for testing as well.

DVD – The TV101 has a full DVD license so playing a full disc rip gives the disc menu and plays back exactly the same as it would by putting the DVD into a standard DVD player. Playback of any of my rips was as good as from my Prime with fairly good upscaling to my 1080p plasma screen and even played a multi-angle rip that can be a problem on some media players.

BluRay – The one thing missing from the TV101 compared to all the other Dune models (with the exception of the Lite 53D) is a full BluRay license. Therefore on pressing play on a full disc rip the player generates a playlist of all the available video files on the disc and showing the number of chapters for each one. I found that the first option always tends to be the main film with extras being further down the list. Pressing enter on the remote then started the film directly with no options to change audio settings as you would from the discs menu. However once the film has started pressing the Pop-up Menu button on the remote gave any available options such as Play List (i.e. chapter selection), Audio Tracks, Subtitles and several settings such as Zoom and Time Search.
I played several rips with bitrates of up to nearly 50mbps and they all played without judder or audio dropouts. All films could fast forward or rewind and jump chapters easily from the basic navigation buttons on the remote with the player responding quickly to any button presses.

MKV – I have a couple of test MKV’s created from both DVD & BluRay discs. Obviously these have no menu so the main film just starts when you play the file, but they all played back with no issues. Chapters could be jumped between from the Pop-up Menu options of using the skip buttons directly.

M2TS – I have a program called WinX Blu-ray Decrypter that I use to rip a BD to a single M2TS file. These played fine but I was unable to fast forward or rewind and no chapter navigation was possible, I couldn’t even pause the film. I’m not sure if navigation is disabled by the program I used to rip the disc as a few other M2TS files created by other programs don’t seem to have this problem.

Media Playback – USB HDD
I connected a USB HDD to the TV101 with a couple of ISO & folder structure rips. One of these films was the high bitrate BluRay version of Avatar and they all played without any problems and in the same way as those streamed from my PC or NAS.

BBC iPlayer
The TV101 is the first Dune media player to be advertised as being able to access BBC iPlayer. So I had a search around the firmware to see if there was an app in there for accessing it, but I found nothing. So I opened the web browser and went to www.bbc.co.uk and clicked on the iPlayer link. This then went to a plain black screen with the web address ending with error.htm
I had not yet installed System Storage on the TV101 so did this and then retried, but the iPlayer website still failed to load. So as far as I can tell iPlayer is not yet available on the TV101 and so must be coming in an updated firmware. The specs for the TV101 do state that it is available via the NetFront web browser, but from what Dune said when they first added the web browser to their firmware it is currently a Mozilla browser that does not support Flash which is required to access iPlayer.

Dune DVB-T TV Stick
The Dune DVB-T TV Stick is yet another USB device that needs to fight for its place in the one and only USB socket on the TV101. Despite the name of the player suggesting that it is a TV device out of the box this is actually an optional extra and the TV101 does not have any TV tuner included in the box. As this is only a DVB-T tuner it won’t receive the UK’s DVB-T2 Freeview HD channels, but it does work with all the SD channels available from my local transmitter. It is also not an actual Freeview device so the likes of the Freeview red button services are not supported
The first time you plug the stick into the TV101 and then open it in the TV tab of the UI you are asked to select you Country and Local City. Well country is obviously United Kingdom but your local city actually requires you to select your local television transmitter, which for me was Crystal Palace. It did take me a minute or two searching the available list of so called cities to realise this though. But once selected the TV101 scanned the channels and automatically saved the TV & radio stations it found.
Now normally with Freeview you would have channel 1 being BBC1, ch2 being BBC2, ch3 ITV1 etc. but the TV101 lists the channels alphabetically which makes finding the channel you want more difficult than it should be. But you can rename the channels and even create folders and move channels into them as required. You also have the option of copying channels to the favourites tab.
Selecting a channel brought the TV program up quickly and in fairly good quality, but I did notice a bit of motion judder with any fast movement. Pressing the Info button on the remote brought up the Now & Next program information along with the resolution and bitrate of the channel, but it was not the best layout so not always easy to read.

Dune Keyboard
The Dune HD Qwerty is another optional device for use with a Dune media player. It is a Bluetooth keyboard and touchpad that also has all the keys from the Dune remote control. The keyboard is supplied with a very small USB Bluetooth receiver and a USB lead for charging its battery.
So why would you need a keyboard with a media player? Well you don’t need one as you can enter alpha numeric characters from the remote in the same was as you would on a non-touchscreen mobile to text. But as the TV101 also has a web browser it makes life a lot easier to have a keyboard to enter web addresses etc. and is also helpful when setting up shortcuts to a NAS or PC.

Old vs New
So how does this new player with the new Sigma Designs 8670 chipset compare to their older models with the 8642 chipset? Well the clock speed is only slightly faster at 700MHz vs 667MHz which in boot times from a full power down about the same for both chipsets at approx. 42 seconds. The new chipset is smaller so produces less heat and uses less power, with the TV101 using 6w in use and 4w in software standby and the older Smart H1 using 8w & 6w and in full power down neither register any power usage. But with a HDD installed the H1 used 18w when playing media from the HDD, but this was using a Samsung 7200rpm 500Gb HDD so a green drive would use less power.

Conclusion
The TV101 is a very small unit that packs a punch for its size and stands up well beside the older but bigger players in the Dune line-up. It does have limited connections available but with the use of a USB hub and an AV system with HDMI it can do all that the other players can, except for its lack of a full BluRay license. But many users will simply want to go directly to the main feature of a disc rip rather than working their way through the adverts and waiting for the Java menu to load so this wont be an issue for many.
So if you are looking for a small media player that handles all the common file types and don’t need all the extra connections then I think this would be a great media player to consider. At around £110 there are many media players out there that are cheaper, but you wont be getting the excellent support that Dune offer with regular firmware updates and one of the largest range of features of any media players. Yes they need to catch up with a few things like a built in video wall and access to iPlayer, but there is a new firmware due towards the end of December and I am hopeful that they will be adding these features.

Any questions then please ask :smashin:

Mark.
 

graham.myers

Distinguished Member
Thanks Mark. I can also add to this that I have personally tested the TV101 with HD Audio using the bitstreamed option and it does give dts-ma etc. The Dune website does not mention this and is an omission. We have advised them of the omission but they still haven't corrected it.
 

Dan201

Member
Thanks for ther review. Ive owned a HD Max for several months now and agree with most of the review relating to Dune. I wouldn't decribe them as offering excellent support though, more like they promise more than they can deliver.

Its great that they will be adding iPlayer but stating it as a feature on release is a lie. Still waiting for an EPG for their tv functions which were promised months ago, and the TV cards for the Max.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
When I stated 'excellent support' I wan't just meaning customer support but also CODEC support and additional features such as a full BluRay license and HD audio decoding that is unique to Dune players - although neither of course are included with the TV101 :blush:
Dune have let their game down a fair bit recently, but in the not too distant past they were the leaders in the media player market alongside PCH.

I've always suggested anybody looking to get a media player makes their choice based on the features it has at the time. Never rely on promised features as many (all?) of the makers will at some time likely promise something that never arrives. These are fairly low powered devices and the great firmware we get on them pushes them to their limits, and sometime it is just not possible to do something you previously thought you could and therefore promised feature fail to arrive.

Mark.
 

DLoop

Active Member
Excellent review and my limited experience so far would agree with you, its a very capable machine.

One rather small thing but I think you can create shortcuts without the system drive. My usb thumb drive is currently only acting as storage for my Zapitti library but I was still able to create a shortcut.
 

Dan201

Member
The codec support is excellent in my experience, I just misunderstood what you mean by support. I like my Max but you're right, I shouldn't have expected Dune to release things just because they said they would. But the iPlayer is stated as a feature which it isn't. I don't think there is any defence for that.

Ive got a 301 on pre-order so im no Dune hater its just that I wish they would do what they say or say nothing at all. It also feels like they are falling behind a little, making new products when they havn't finished the ones they have already released. If they wanted my opinion id tell them to concentrate on delivering their promises rather than churning out yet more devices.
 

DLoop

Active Member
The other thing I think it is worth mentioning is that the remote is a bit disappointing. I have to lean forward for the unit to receive the signal and I am probably only about 7ft away from it.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
But the iPlayer is stated as a feature which it isn't. I don't think there is any defence for that.
I can't disagree with that - but they have done this for years, My Prime was advertised as having Netflix support in the USA but never has.
Ive got a 301 on pre-order so im no Dune hater its just that I wish they would do what they say or say nothing at all.
Join the queue, this has been an ongoing complaint about Dune over at MPC Club.
It also feels like they are falling behind a little, making new products when they havn't finished the ones they have already released. If they wanted my opinion id tell them to concentrate on delivering their promises rather than churning out yet more devices.
Its no different to how they have always worked IMO. There are promised features for my Prime that still haven't arrived, so you can guess how I felt when they released 3x Smart players, the Max & Duo - then the Lite 53D, and now the TV101 and soon to be released TV301
The other thing I think it is worth mentioning is that the remote is a bit disappointing. I have to lean forward for the unit to receive the signal and I am probably only about 7ft away from it.
I never had any issues with the remote and I sit about 6 - 7 ft from the AV rack. Have you tried new batteries as I've often found those supplied with a remote are not always very good.

Mark.
 

Outrider

Standard Member
Mark - Thanks for the useful and detailed review. Can you or Graham answer a few nagging questions?

1. I've seen it mentioned several times the Dune 101 supports DTS-MA. What about Dolby TrueHD? Probably does but wanted to ask.
2. You say in your review you were unable to use FF/RW or even Pause when playing a ripped bluray M2TS file you made using a program called WinX Blu-ray Decrypter. Was that the exception - Were you able to use FF/RW and Pause on M2TS files you made using a different decrypter (i.e. AnyDVD and ClownBD)?
3. Most of my DVD and Bluray rips are movie-only (no disc menus or trailers) using ClownBD to create movie-only folder structures. For Bluray, this results in a BDMV folder structure with a single M2TS movie file and an MPLS playlist file. For DVD, I get the Video_TS folder structure with multiple files in it. How does the Dune 101 handle playing back movie-only rips in the BDMV and Video_TS folder structure format? Do you need to navigate through the subfolders and find the individual movie files, or does the Dune 101 recognize the movie and make it simple for you?

Thank you.
 

awink1

Distinguished Member
I'm not Mark, but I know these:

1. Yep Dolby TrueHD is supported

2. I have pleanty of M2TS files and I have not experienced any issues with FF/RW that I recall

3. it sees BDMV and Video_TS folders as 1 file as standard, but you can set it to see the folder structure or you can have it ask you whether you want to play the film or open the folders.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Just to confirm what 'not Mark' (aka awink1 :D ) has said:

1. Yep it supports all the current HD audio formats
2. Other M2TS files seem to have normal navigation
3. If you press enter on the BDMV/Video_TS folder you go into it and see the individual files and can play them individually, but if you press play on the folder it just plays the contents as if playing the actual disc if it is a full disc rip or just the film if that is all that was ripped to the folder

Mark.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
You're welcome ;)

and welcome to the forum :hiya:

Mark.
 

Marco11

Standard Member
Hello,
my name is Marco (from Italy) and this is my first post !
sorry for my english.... :)

:lease:, could you help me choosing a good and easy to use mediaplayer ? (it is a gift for my father)

these are the only two things that he is looking for:

-1 see and archive a lot of .MTS video from his camera (Panasonic HDC-SD60), with original quality and no losses

-2 see and archive a lot of ISO images of DVDs created some time ago with a DVD recorder from older cameras (SD quality), with the best possible upscaling.

The TV is a LED TV SAMSUNG FULL HD
We have also an ethernet connection to iMac to transfer files.

we are considering DUNE HD 101 / 301 or Mede8er 400 / 500.

we would like the best video quality.... what is the best mediaplayer on the market at this moment ?

thank you very much
and happy new year to everybody !:hiya:

CIAO
Marco
 

Donnacha

Distinguished Member
raising this thread !

Does anyone know, if I was to get one of these, are thumbnails for movies and music etc. locally stored on the thumb/flash drive even though the actal movies are accessed from a NAS? I have WDTV LIVE SMP at the moment and that stores all thumbs on the NAS along with the film and takes ages to pull the images across when you access the movie gallery.

Anyone know what's the case with the Dune?
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Dune don't have a video wall built into their firmware. So a 3rd party app is required to create the cover art and that gets put wherever the program puts it.
I use Zappiti (but there are many others) on my Dune and that lets you put the cover art wherever you want, either on internal storage in the Dune or on a NAS/PC. Mine is on my NAS and it loads in just a couple of seconds even though the Dune needs to wake my NAS up as it spins down the HDD's when not in use.
Zappiti is a movie & TV jukebox only, to get cover art for music there is just the one program I'm aware of called Musicnizer but this is a paid for program - Zappiti and most other video jukeboxes are free.

Mark.
 

MarkE19

Moderator

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