Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D

Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D

Today, more and more often to watch the video, as well as for many other popular tasks using mobile devices. However, fans of high-quality content continues to focus on fixed media players, as only these solutions can provide support for the most advanced formats of media content, not to mention the coordinated work with TVs, projectors and multi-channel sound. After the mass transition to the format of Full HD and a relatively short burst of interest in 3D, the media industry is trying to interest customers new technologies, such as 4K, which will help them to sell new camcorders, televisions, iPods, CDs and subscriptions to services. At the same time the actual current state of affairs can be described again the familiar analogy of chicken and eggs on the example of the emergence of content and devices for its use. And the latter includes both players and TVs that is even more difficult. In any case, when considering this issue, we must be aware that the device that you can buy today may not be suitable for content released tomorrow, and do with it something impossible. Here, the “do not approach” implies not only the ability to decode a particular format content player, but displays it is not in the highest quality on the TV. One of the well known reasons for this situation is the delay between the adoption of the standard, the appearance of the chips with its implementation and creating them for the final consumer products. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the need for support for you personally certain technologies or specifications assessed by reading articles, watching illustrations and communication forums at least difficult. So, in our opinion, the choice of media player now better focus on current needs in its capabilities than trying to predict the development of technology. However, even with a traditional “problem” a choice between bird in the hand and a pie in the sky, each in their own way to cope.

Dune HD brand known in this market for a long time. The first products with the same name were presented almost ten years ago. Since then, the company’s solutions often fall in the publication on specialized sites, and are one of the most talked about in the forums. The latest model, which has been tested in our laboratory for two years ago, was a compact Dune HD Connect. Since then, the focus was mainly on devices based on Android operating system, which flooded the market due to its low cost and the stated capacity.

And then, finally, at the end of last year it was announced the new product – Player Dune HD Solo 4K. As is clear from the title, a key feature of the model is to support 4K video. And what exactly is meant by this manufacturer, and what else is different this device, we will try to understand this material.

Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D

In addition, from a hardware point of view, the model may be of interest built-in tuner DVB-T2, a compartment for the hard disk format 2.5 “and a wireless controller with support for 802.11ac protocol. Embedded software, except the implementation of the basic features of a media player supports a variety of online services, the BD menu, as well as the installation of custom plugins, almost indefinitely extend its capabilities.

As for the comparison with other models of news Dune HD, it looks more closely, perhaps, Dune HD TV-303D. The main differences Dune HD Solo 4K are:

  • support video decoding of H.265 codec;
  • support for 4K resolution files and the output HDMI;
  • faster wireless controller;
  • built-in digital TV tuner;
  • staffing can be fixed to the wall;
  • menu full support for BD images.

Dune HD Solo 4K: Contents of delivery

The player, in contrast to its predecessors, is more appropriate to their status and price segment packaging. It is made of thick cardboard and solid good framed. In particular, there are photos of the model, a list of key features, technical specifications, and other useful information.

In our case, it was all in English, despite the official version provided by the local model. Box relatively compact – about 20 × 20 × 10 centimeters. It weighs about 1.2 kg.

Inside on the “top floor” under the direction of the user and the instructions on connecting in a special insert is the player itself. Under it in one big heap collected other elements supplied with: external power supply (12 V 1.5 A) with interchangeable plugs for different types of sockets, remote control and a pair of AAA batteries for it, two detachable antenna Wi-Fi, polutorametrovy HDMI cable, special cable to output analog video and audio, remote IR receiver for the remote control cable, bracket for wall mounting.

Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D

As we can see, the set is rich enough. Noteworthy is the presence of an HDMI cable, eliminating the user’s concern for the acquisition of high-quality options, which is especially important for 4K and 3D. Yes, and the manufacturer will be easier in terms of reducing the number of problems for customers, related to this issue. Also note the complete set of cable to connect the composite video and audio, although, of course, this way of working does not correspond to the level of the player Dune HD Solo 4K. But as a backup connection method, for example, in the country or at a party, it may well be useful. The last interesting item – bracket for wall mounting. A bit strange that the distance between the holes is 96 mm instead of the usual for VESA 100 mm. However, on TV with large diagonals still not using this standard. So what we are talking about installing on the wall behind the TV or beside him. In this case, it will be useful for remote sensor for remote control.

Note that some of the components described in the documentation specified as optional, since equipment may vary by region. But in any case, the minimum required for operation, the composition is, of course, be present in the box.

At the time this article on the manufacturer’s site has been submitted directly to the electronic versions of the documentation for this player models, and firmware updates. However, the new version today is still installed with the device via the Internet, and the documentation for this type of equipment no longer has such significant, as previously.

The guarantee provided by the player Dune HD Solo 4K stitched serial number so that there is no separate ticket from the manufacturer here. As for the term, it is, as usual, is one year.

Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D

Dune HD Solo 4K: Appearance

Player Dune HD Solo 4K company refers to a series Compact. Of course, it is far from the format «HDMI-stick”, but considering the features and configuration, its 131 × 124 × 37 mm deserve evaluation “compact”. The top and side of the case is made of black plastic.

Wherein the cover has a matte texture of coarse, gloss and side portions. Note the presence of a company logo on top, and ventilation slits along the contour of the cover. To be honest, even in this embodiment, the use of gloss seems not very practical. The bottom of the player Dune HD Solo 4K, which probably serves as a part of the cooling system metal.

On the front side is set one USB 2.0 port, and is the name of the device. Behind the front panel also hides two-color LED status of the receiver and the remote control signals. No display on the device is not present. Almost all other ports and connectors are located behind the rear panel. It has a relatively small area which is difficult to find space.

Connector for the power supply has a built-in compact switch. We have such an option not previously met, so there is some doubt as to the reliability and convenience of this element. However, it is unlikely that it will be used frequently. Next we see a second USB 2.0 port. As usual it will connect storage devices, and they have cables, dense posting here will not be a hindrance.

Following is a wired gigabit network port with a pair of indicators. The second option to include the player Dune HD Solo 4K  in the network – built-in wireless controller. He has a pair of removable antennas, so if you are working with a cable, you can not install.

Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D

The main option to connect to an AV equipment is an HDMI port. In addition, there is also the easiest option – combined port in the form of a 3.5 mm minijack output for composite video, stereo audio and S / PDIF.

With hidden installation, you can ensure that the work of the regular remote control using a remote IR receiver. Completing the picture standard input for the digital TV antenna.

The minimum variant – power, HDMI and network – with the connection should not be a problem. But if you need something more, probably will have to pay attention to this issue for a comfortable accommodation of all necessary cables.

At the bottom of the player Dune HD Solo 4K  there are four large rubber feet and a special slot for a hard drive installation size 2.5 “. It is designed to model not more than 7 mm, where the majority today. Of course, we support and work with the SSD. Fixing allows relatively quick change disc, but it will take to turn the housing and unscrew a few screws with large heads. So to carry out this operation to drive operational will not change.

In general, the model makes a very good impression of the appearance and workmanship. It does not look like “plastic boxes” anonymous producers. Player Dune HD Solo 4K Weight-mounted disk is about 500 g.

To say it is possible and about the included remote control, which is very similar to the used for the Dune HD Connect model. It has a plastic housing, the large size and fits comfortably in the hand. Buttons on the remote a lot, but the group makes it easy to get used to the basic operations without looking.

Compared with the previous model, it has changed the location of some functions. Highlights from the buttons in this model is not provided. The only remark concerns the texture of the top panel. In case of contamination, clean it can be difficult. Also I would like to be able to bind to a specific remote player control and TV training.

Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D

Dune HD Solo 4K: Specifications and opportunities

The player Dune HD Solo 4K uses a SoC Sigma Designs SMP8758, which is hardly a novelty. This solution was first shown back in 2014, but at present a large variety of products on the market to it, to put it mildly, is not observed. In fact, this model is the only media player device. Perhaps this situation is another consequence of the uncertainty of the parameters for new video formats. In fairness it should be noted that in the market there are other manufacturers of graphics processors that support specific versions of 4K, so absolutely unique this chip is certainly not. However, if we talk only about Sigma Designs products, namely SMP8758 / 8759 are the first officially designed to work 4K solutions company.

As with most such devices, media player Dune HD Solo 4K capabilities are determined to a large extent it is this chip. Change anything substantial subsequent firmware updates is virtually impossible for this class of products. Therefore, once we point out a couple of parameters that cause the most active discussion in specialized forums – 4Kp30 and HDMI 1.4b. Note that no secret of their manufacturer does not. So if you are vital 4Kp50 / 60 and / or HDMI 2.0 (and you know what exactly), then covered by Article player you do not fit. For a long time to discuss the question of whether those characteristics today or even tomorrow binding, in our opinion, in this publication does not make sense.

Following tradition, as we point out that the amount of RAM is 1 GB and the flash drive has a capacity of 4 GB.

We now describe those new formats with the general title «4K», which the chip is able to cope and note controversial and impossible variants. Perhaps this is the most essential part of the article, since it is this model different from other players. It will talk about the official data, in one of the following sections describe the real experience.

The first enhanced characteristic, marked directly in the name of the device relating to the settlement of videos. The player is able to decode files with the codec H.265 / HEVC with 4K resolution (3840 × 2160) and a frame rate of 30 fps (23,976, 24, 25, 29,97, 30). In some cases, files may be reproduced and the higher frame rates (50, 59.94, 60), but there is no guarantee, and in addition, HDMI video output mode 4K is still limited to 30 fps.

Official support described permits and the number of frames per second H.264 / AVC codec chip not. However, the developers say that many of these files can still be played device.

Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D

The second new chip implemented in regard to the possibility of working with 10-bit color representation. It is described in the profile 10 Main Profile for H.265 codec. Supports H.264 High Profile to 10 last-generation codec device no.

Thus, if you plan to actively use the new format, it is necessary to pay attention to the details of file encoding options. In particular, many manufacturers demo videos video and photographic equipment can not fit in certain characteristics. The optimal (maximum) option for this model will be 4K video codec H.265 and frame rate up to 30fps inclusive. Availability of 10-bit color coding option.

A more detailed study of the hardware base in terms of the names of chips and memory chips, we will not, and will focus on the characteristics of practical significance.

To connect audio-video equipment in the device provided and a standard HDMI minijack to composite video and analog stereo audio. This combination will allow you to receive both high quality and opportunities of the digital connections and to implement the work with much antiquated equipment. Limitation HDMI version in this case leads to the fact that you can not get 50 or 60 frames per second for 4K format (but can for 1080p). But today, it is considered essential for most consumers, we would not have.

Of course, it supports digital audio output via HDMI. Besides, you can get the S / PDIF instead of the left analog output by changing a setting in the menu.

The player Dune HD Solo 4K is equipped with a pair of USB 2.0 ports. These can be connected to the local media and media content, which allowed the use of file systems FAT, EXT2 / 3/4, NTFS, exFAT, HFS + (all versions except the last – and to read and write). SATA port is also present for the installation of a hard drive or SSD size 2.5 “with up to 7 mm thick.

Is used for the network connection port gigabit wired network or an integrated dual band wireless adapter based RTL8812AU chip connected to the USB 2.0 bus of the main processor, supporting 802.11n / ac and maximum connection speed of 867 Mbit / s (at 5 GHz with a corresponding router).

Player Dune HD Solo 4K is controlled by an IR remote control staff. The main receiver is mounted on the front panel. Additionally, you can use the remote sensor if the player is installed secretly.

The device is equipped with a built-in digital TV tuner (Silicon Labs Si2141 + Si2168) with support for DVB-T / T2 and DVB-C standards, which allows to realize the function of the digital set-top box when working with a TV of past generations. Note that the device only works with open channels.

Power is supplied from the AC 12 V input connector is provided on the switch, but to completely disconnect from the network will need to pull out of the outlet the power supply itself.

The player is equipped with an active cooling system with low speed fan ADDA production. Blowing occurs through the left side of the lattice on the top of the player chassis. In actual operation the fan does not manifest itself in terms of noise and guess about its presence is almost impossible. According to the manufacturer, the current version of the firmware it is running at a constant speed (about a third of the maximum). The implementation of automatic control depending on the temperature, it is planned to update the firmware.

The European version of the player is also present chip controller protocol home automation systems, Z-Wave and the appropriate software for it. It is expected that after the required certification, this decision will be implemented and delivered to our devices market.

Player testing was carried out with firmware version 160523_0237_r11. The device is able to independently determine for updates and prompt the user to install them.

Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D

Dune HD Solo 4K: Connecting and Configuring

To start working with a player Dune HD Solo 4K in most cases will be sufficient to connect the power and HDMI, but for the disclosure of networking opportunities, of course, require and connection to the home network. Optionally, you can install a hard drive, which can be useful if you do not have a network drive, or plan to work primarily with the local media library. Similarly, one can use USB ports. They also can connect a keyboard and mouse for more convenient text input and navigation in certain applications. Do not forget about the use of external optical drives, which are supported formats CD, DVD and BD. To work, this scheme will only unencrypted discs.

When first turned on or after a reset, the user is prompted to specify the basic settings of the player, including interface language (Russian, of course, is on the list), TV standard, video output mode, network connection, and other time zone.

Then you meet the familiar interface of players, sold under the brand Dune HD. Apparently, the firmware on the main features is little different from the previously released models. But some new features still exists here.

Please go through the regular player settings. Only ten icons shown in the respective interface page. In the “General” you can change the interface language, set the timeout for the screen saver, as well as to carry out a factory reset. The player Dune HD Solo 4K is able to synchronize time over the Internet, so it is usually enough just to select the time zone and enable Daylight Saving Time, if necessary.

In the list of video output options in addition to the main (mode), there is an option you can enable automatic switching of the output frame rate, depending on the playing file, as well as several office HDMI settings (such as color depth, color space, 3D). In most cases, after the initial setup wizard is not necessary to change anything.

But about the audio output of this to say anymore. Depending on the system configuration (only TV, the last generation of the receiver, receiver and so modern. P.), You can flexibly select the decoding parameters, mix and output audio tracks.

In Network Setup, attention is drawn to a built-in PPPoE client and the possibility of organizing on the basis of the player to the access point on your network. It can operate in either of the two ranges, when adjusting the particular need to specify the channel number. The connection may be done via NAT technology and in the bridge mode.

In the device of the manufacturer can install additional applications, which greatly expands their opportunities. Some modules are integrated into the firmware, while others can be downloaded from the official catalog Dune Store or from third-party sites. This program can be integrated into the system, including the creation of custom settings in the standard interface pages. Also in the group “Applications” you can disable unused icons for easier navigation on the main screen.

The player, like his predecessors, has ample opportunity to change the appearance of the interface. In the group of parameters “Design” can be, in particular, set the desired theme, select the type of the folder list, Turn off the animation. So if you are already using players of the manufacturer, you can easily do the same interface design.

“Playing” is responsible for the choice of languages, character sets, subtitles, storing positions and other options Playback. Several associated with viewing parameters placed in another menu of the “Other.” In particular, it comes to encoding for file names on different sources, start playback from the menu of the folder of images of disks.

It also has options buffering duration, which is used to improve the smoothness of the video display, fan control and sleep mode, tuning the firmware update system, item creation system drive, installed plugins and other management.

On the last page – “Information” – provides the firmware version, serial number of the player, and other ancillary data.

In general, any difficulties in setting up and connecting the player we have not met. These operations will be under force, even for beginners. And those people who have experience with similar equipment will be able to flexibly configure it to your needs, including the implementation of a beautiful design directory.

If we talk about working with files, the player in question is able to work with a wide range of sources, including installed inside the case hard drive, external USB-drives (including optical), network access via SMB and NFS protocols. All of them can be presented in a single section home page menu interface. At the same time for external disk icons appear automatically as they become available, network resources can be set up in advance, or use Windows Explorer. After the “discovery” of the source can not only launch files from it, but also to carry out additional operations, including copying and moving data, and check the speed of reading. In addition, the machine is equipped with UPnP / DLNA services (client and server), but given the controversial versatility and compatibility, we would not count on them heavily.

For a media player Dune HD Solo 4K with support for high-definition video, speed is important receive data from different sources and media. So as a first test, we evaluated the possibility of Dune HD Solo 4K using the built-in test functions for reading firmware. Note that in general, it may give little overestimated results, since in actual video viewing and computational resources being spent on the video player. However, there are times when the video bitrate, comfortable viewing over the network, does not exceed 20 Mbit / s, it is long gone. Today, as the new requirements, we would call the value of 100-150 Mbit / s. Formally, this content is now massively not represented, but given the current trends, it is likely that these options in the near future may become popular among consumers.

As an internal and an external drive in this test was used SSD-drive SanDisk (in the second case – through the USB-adapter). The role of external storage media library by performing NAS of Synology. The wireless connection was tested with the router Asus RT-AC68U. The distance between the devices was about four meters line of sight. Please note that the results presented in megabytes per second, while the other unit is usually used for video bit rate and network connections – megabits per second.

As can be seen by the results, the model is able to provide the work with all modern video formats, including obviously artificially created videos with very high bitrate. And in most cases it will be a substantial margin

Despite the fact that we always recommend using a wired network connection when it is not a mobile device, the availability of dual-band wireless adapter with a pair of antennas in this model may be useful for those who forgot to lay the network cable from the router to the place of installation of the TV. Note, however, that a good result over Wi-Fi can be obtained only if the “right” of the router.

While viewing a user has access to such popular operation like the selection of audio tracks, subtitles switch, change the image format, the audio and video sync correction, fast navigation, display settings, and other content.

Please note that TV screen illustrations in the article were obtained using a capture card, only supports up to 1080p, inclusive, and so was he listed in the screenshots. Photograph 4K-screen TV, we did not.

A formal set of supported container formats and codecs meets modern requirements. In particular, the container list, you can find MKV, M2TS, MOV and MP4, and video codecs – MPEG2, MPEG4, VC1, H.264, H.265 and H.265 Hi10p. It is also implemented to work with BD and DVD images in a folder or ISO files. Note that the model supports, in this case to work with disc menu.

For 3D-video can be used as the original MVC, still popular and Side-by-side and Top-Bottom. No comments and to implement work with audio tracks. Among the compatible formats there are MP3, AAC, AC3, DTS, and others. There is also support output to the receiver multi-channel audio tracks in their original form (including HD-modification Dolby Digital and DTS, and LPCM).

Do not forget to implement in the video player and work with subtitles, which can be either embedded in the video, and still presented as separate files.

Testing the device in this scenario, we spent a couple of Full HD TV formats and one 4K (Philips 55PUS8809 / 60). To check the correctness of the output audio tracks used by Onkyo receiver. The video files are played as a local drive (built-in ROM and USB-HDD), or from a network drive.

With Full HD or less any difficulties we encountered. In particular, the most popular “best” options in the form of BD devices can playback the images without any comments, as well as numerous transcoded version.

Testing 4K format, as we have mentioned before, it is not a very easy task because of the lack of precise specifications and the presence of many “primitive” versions. Somehow, this situation recalls the times MKV format spread, which, thanks to its versatility and flexibility, often caused difficulties on the hardware media players.

Testing confirmed the basic characteristics claimed by the manufacturer. All files and 4K resolution codec H.265 (including the profile for the 10 bit color) successfully reproduced, the number of frames if they do not exceed 30fps. Also managed to see a few samples and a higher frame rate, but this option is not guaranteed.

As for the H.264, many videos 4K (in particular, with modern cameras and camcorders, the demo TV manufacturers and others, including high (on the order of 100 Mbit / s) bit rate), we were able to see. But there a limit on the fps – no more than 30. And only 8-bit color.

Subjective impressions of familiarity with 4K quite controversial. From a distance of three to four meters on a TV with a diagonal of 55 “to find a significant difference in image detail is very difficult. Especially when it comes to the movies with a pronounced grain pictures. In our view, no comparison with the “wow effect” from the transition from DVD to BD in this case.

If necessary, the player Dune HD Solo 4K can also be used for viewing photos and listening to music. Although this is not its main purpose, fans of high-quality sound can be interesting format support lossless (FLAC, WavPack, APE and ALAC) in combination with a digital output via HDMI or S / PDIF.

The device supports a wide range of network protocols (including multicast, Apple HLS and DASH), which may be of interest for the realization of additional plug-ins or specialized services. In particular, it is quite possible to arrange a viewing IPTV open channels from your ISP, but to solve this problem will require an individual approach.

Dune HD Solo 4K: Digital TV tuner

Frankly, the presence of a digital tuner in this model, we were somewhat surprised. It is difficult to imagine a fan of HD-video with modern TV or projector (even if you do not talk about 4K), which may be of interest to view the open channels of digital broadcasts on this player.

Of course it may well be that in other countries the situation with DVB different from ours, where at the time of this writing were available two multiplex ten channels in SD format. At the same time half of them are designed for 4: 3 format that quite sad.

Built-in firmware program module provides the basic features of a digital receiver – Search (Scan) channels available, to navigate through the channel list (the icons are downloaded automatically), the show broadcast, watching TV, teletext, control zoom mode and deinterlacing and others.

When installed drive can be carried out and the video recording on the disc by pressing the appropriate buttons on the remote. Scheduled Entries for the current firmware is not provided.

Slightly improve the quality of ethereal images can VXP video processor, but miracles from it should not wait on this source code.

Dune HD Solo 4K: Additional functions

As one of the other functions of the device are the built-in SMB and FTP servers that allow remote control for the local storage of the player (both built-in and connected via USB). To test the network speed of access to the internal drive, we used all the same formatted EXT4 SSD. During the test, the player Dune HD Solo 4K is idle. The table below shows the results for the SMB protocol and the three options to the network.

Despite the Gigabit LAN controller, the speed of the drive via a cable just half times greater than the possibility of 100 Mbit / s network. As for wireless connectivity, there is of course all very sad. Given these results, much sense to use the internal drive if network drive, in our opinion, no. However, if working with the drive by FTP protocol, the results will be roughly twice as high – about 30 MB / s and read and write.

Another interesting solution is built-in access to Yandex.Disk via WebDAV. It allows you to view videos directly from it without downloading. Online you can find similar versions of the modules to work with other cloud storage.

We should also note the presence of the player file manager interface functions, although the script for the network operation is not required.

The basic version of the player more than 20 pre-installed plug-ins. The official store Dune Store, you can find half a dozen programs, grouped by category (TV, video, music and radio, social networking, applications).

You can also download it from the design options and the device interface. After installation in the relevant group of main menu, new icons. In addition, many will be compatible modules created by independent developers with this model.

As a further useful in certain situations, the ability to control technology note player on the network using a proprietary API, based on HTTP. This, in particular, can be used in automation systems, and “smart homes”.

Using SoC processor cores with ARM architecture allows you to run on the Android operating system player. To use it, the manufacturer plans to implement a dual-boot feature, available directly from the management interface. However, at the time of the test image was not available. In our opinion, for this model, this function is not required. More logical would be to pay more attention to the basic scenario, and, abandoning Android, to reduce the cost. But apparently this decision has the fashion for “smart” products.

Dune HD Solo 4K: Conclusion

About the quality and software features Dune HD products, we have written many times and the novelty here we are not surprised by anything. More interesting is the question of «4K» in the device name and related features for users.

Sell Extender during the transition period, when only is the formation of standards and specifications approval of new types of content are always difficult. It can be such situation that the player just entering the market, and can no longer meet certain requirements. And, unfortunately, fix anything firmware updates will not succeed here. In addition, today we are witnessing another important trend – the significant increase in video viewing online services. In particular, Amazon and Netflix offer more diverse in 4Q than shown on Ultra BD movie discs.

In these difficult conditions, the company Dune HD still decided to release a new model of media player Dune HD Solo 4K. In assessing its capacity, first of all, is to determine to what exactly you want from a 4K-player right now and what kind of content in question. At the same time focus on the available network demos do not have much meaning. Predict the development of formats is not easy, especially when the process involves a lot of media, and each with their own interests. In our view, if we talk about movies and TV shows, chances are that they will remain within the framework of compatibility with the established player in the processor, are quite large.

Source: dune-hd

Dune HD Solo 4K Review and test: network media player with support for 4K and 3D was last modified: October 9th, 2016 by Casey Rembrandt