A Quick Update On The Dunes

by Damian on September 15, 2011 · 23 comments

in News

There have been a lot of questions of late regarding the Dune HD line of media players. In particular announcement of the Dune HD Pro and the Dune HD TV 101/301 have left many of drooling (the Dune HD Pro) and also scratching our heads (the 101/301). I have been trying to dig around some of the forums and some other sources for info, and here is what I have come up with so far (PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT MUCH OF THIS INFORMATION IS NOT OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED BUT JUST GATHERED FROM DIGGING AROUND, I WILL UPDATE THIS POST AS MORE OFFICIAL INFORMATION BECOMES KNOWN)

Dune HD TV 101/301:

These players  generated a lot of interest because the expected price point (between USD 130 – USD 159). However, they will be running on the Sigma 8670 and not the Sigma 8642 that the current crop of Dune media players utilize. It appears that with this there will be several drawbacks with the 101/301. There will be no BD Iso or folder support and as well no DTS(MA) / TrueHD support. For many current/prospective Dune owners this will be enough of a reason to not even consider the 101/301. From what I can see the 101/301 is targeted more towards people who want to take advantage of IP TV capabilities with basic H.264 support, it is not meant to be a replacement for the current Dune Smart series. The 101 is due out around November and the 301 tentatively in Q1 2012.

Dune Pricing On Current Players:

I was just made aware that in the near future there will be a price increase on all Dune products. I don’t know exact amounts, but if you are seriously considering a Dune player now might be the time to act.

Dune Players Sold On eBay:

Dune players sold by vendors on eBay are not sold via authorization of Dune HD. As such, they are not supported and the warranty is invalidated. Please keep this in mind when you are shopping around.

Next Batch Of Dune Players:

If you recall, when the Smart series was announced an upgrade path to the Sigma 8646 was also mentioned. Dune HD will not be going through with this, as it really makes no sense with the next gen Sigma 8910 on the horizon. I will try to get confirmation about whether there will be an upgrade path to the 8910 (although even if available I am not sure how financially feasible that would be). There is still no definite timeline on when the 8910 players will get released, but a safe assumption would be Q4 2011 or Q1 2012.

THX Media Director:

Here is an interesting tidbit, Dune HD is the first device to be certified by THX to use the newest technology offered called “THX Media Director”. THX Media Director™ simplifies this home entertainment experience, allowing your TV and home theater system to automatically select the appropriate playback settings and modes specific to each piece of content. With THX Media Director, the entertainment experience is finally delivered to your home in a way that faithfully represents the artist’s intent – all without navigating through any menus or pushing any buttons – except “play.”


Of course the ugly step mother who is looking to ruin everyone’s party is Cinavia. There is still no indication if/how Cinavia will be implemented into the next crop of media players. I really have no clue where this is headed. My personal opinion is that it is in the best interest of these media player companies to find a way around it (if Slysoft or others don’t) simply because Cinavia would effectively kill off their business. Right now it is just wait and see

Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


Graham Myers September 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

While it may be true that there are no legitimate sellers on ebay US , here in the UK there are least 3 (including ourselves) that are authorised Dune resellers.

As far as I am aware there are no plans to use Cinavia incorporated chipsets in any upcoming models. How that changes over time depends on whether Sigma force the hand by incorporating it into all their chipsets. Realtek based players would be in a similar position.

Sigma designs, I believe, have delayed deliveries of the 8910 so q1/2012 so the current crop of players will need to last a bit longer, and I have been advised there will be a chip swap option available for the 8670/8671 chips now used in the TV101/301.

I also believe that the lack of dts et al options on these models is an omission on the web site. The “glossies” I picked up at IFA Berlin mention dts in the specs. But its ambiguous. The 301 could be wrong and does support dts and the 101 may be the one that doesnt. However if that is the case, for the extra $20 or $30, 99% of people would opt for the 301 (1gbs, dts, hdd, USB 3.0 slave)

Damian September 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Hi Graham,

Thanks for commenting. Regarding eBay, correct, I was talking specifically about the US as I don’t believe there are any authorized US eBay sellers.

The Cinavia stance is a tricky one. What I always try to tell everyone is that Dune or any of the other media player companies implementing Cinavia can only do harm, and potentially kill their business, so there is a huge incentive to get around this. Nothing is guaranteed of course, but everyone should understand that these companies are very motivated to work around this (unless across the folks at Slysoft crack Cinavia)

Interesting in the chip swap as I heard to the contrary. Either way I don’t believe there is a financial benefit to making the swap.


Rex September 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

I fully expect the Dune HD to have a source direct mode for video since they are touting this THX Media Director thing. I can’t imagine THX signing off on anything that would process the video in a way that altered it negatively. This is the way the Dune players work now, converting the colorspace to 4:4:4 instead of leaving the video untouched. I really want Dune to release a firmware that fixes this in the current Base/Pro models if possible but I’m not optimistic. Confirmation of a source direct mode or colorspace selection (4:2:2 vs. 4:4:4) is the only way I will buy another Dune player.

Graham Myers September 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I asked that very question at IFA-Berlin the other week to the technical guys at Dune. They looked blankly and asked why? This was when quizzing them about the new HDPro (using the new 8910 chip with VXP). It has audio source direct but they have no plans for video source direct.

Mike October 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm

You mention Dune is increasing prices. Why would Dune be doing this? After more then a year the prices have been static and haven’t moved in either direction. NO PRICE INCREASE!

Damian October 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Honestly no clue. I don’t know if the parts are becoming more expensive. Obviously Dune HD needs to be careful since their product line is already at the high end of the price range for comparable players. They really do make great players, so I am hopeful they don’t turn away potential customers with a significant price increase.


Smoothy December 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

The DUNE HD TV-101 in MHO is a total piece of crap….it has NO file browser and can’t see a damn thing EXCEPT the pay service Kartina TV…zip nada, nothing else.

Three different versions of Firmware and every one acts identical. Can’t get anyone to help me and the people that sold me this turd won’t take it back….on eBay.

Media player my butt…..it won’t see anything on my network at all…and doesn’t even have a function from ANY menu that would even remotely let it.

Damian December 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I wish they hadn’t released as it was really not meant to be a media player like the other Dune series. I think it is more geared as an IPTV box

Smoothy December 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

It doesn’t even file a file browser….or ANYTHING that would let you select anything but Kartina TV, Kartina Movies. or DVB-TV via a dongle I don’t have and can’t use in the USA anyway. Someone is pumping false information out about these because it literally CAN’T function as a media player. It doesn’t have user functionality that would be required.

I’m a degreed Electronics Engineer and a computer geek of thirty years.

So I’m no clueless Noob to these things. I’ve got several WD TV Lives and one has WDlx HDTV firmare.

Smoothy December 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Well, this saga is almost at an end….I need to find all the packaging and box it back up and ship it back on my dime….but the Vendor is finally going to refund my purchace price plus the original shipping charges.

I’m not complaining…because I’m digusted at this point….so sorry to say..its going to be a cold day in hell before I buy another Dune…

Sure they might be good….but with what I’ve dealt with at this point…I’m going to grab the latest generation Western Digital WD TV Live to replace this one….The last Generation worked great….the newest ones are likely even better. And they are a LOT cheaper. Shame because I had high hopes after reading about these Dunes.

Damian December 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I am real sorry that you had to deal with this given the Dunes (excluding those TV versions) are very solid players. Your experience was exactly my fear when the TV versions were announced since they were never meant to be a replacement for the current SMART series(unfortunately for the consumer there would be no way for them to know that)

Smoothy December 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Exactly…..even us informed consumers that are not technical nephytes that actually expect a product to work as advertized. Or at least try to.

Advertized as a network media player….(which means it SHOULD at least be able to find network files to play or at least streaming ones)….and not actually be a single purpose machine that does everything but be a network media player.

I don’t think thats expecting too much.

So? January 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm

This is very odd. I think you may have bought a Kartina-branded version which may have neutered firmware. Reviews have been positive.

Smoothy January 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Well, this was able to phone home to Dune, and pull firmware updates…of which there were three, and I tried every one of them. Whatever the deal was….I complained loud enough they offered a refund when they got it back with all of the contents…I should have the refund in the next couple days…there really aren’t many places to get that here in the USA.

Yes I know about some of the other “reviews”. Which is why I decided to give it a try, I had seen them first. However after what I got and dealt with it made me wonder exactly WHO was posting those glowing reviews….or if they were plants by shills as happens all too often on the Internet. I don’t know, I liked the interface, it seemed to be pretty responsive, more so than the older version WD TV Live..which has worked very well for me. I had the feeling it had potential…IF IT HAD THE FIRMWARE inside to use it. Unfortunately my window of time to return it or lose my money was running out fast.

You might be right…as it had parallel versions of firmware and it was seeing only the updates for the type it had….but I had gone to the website to download directly and the releases available there matched exactly what the unit itself saw as available. And Unlike the WD TV Live, it let you select any available ones and ever go back to earlier versions without playing any tricks. Something I did like also.

Maybe I might be willing to try one again in the future….just not the near future unless I can do a hands-on first after this experience.

I wasn’t willing to spend the $300 range for the higher level models, not buying blind for just a player. Not when Dvico has one that will record as well as play that’s also rated pretty well.

asianjabba March 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

$1900 for the DUNE HD PRO? that’s absolutely ridiculous. the most i’m willing to pay for a media player is $499.99. why would a media player cost $1900? i got this information from the anandtech article.

Damian March 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

This is meant to be a premium player (a la Kaledescape). This is not really targeted at the current Dune users, and honestly, there is no guarantee this will even hit the market. Most of us are simply waiting for a next gen Dune that can handle Blu-ray 3D and is reasonably priced

harvey June 18, 2012 at 8:21 am

Any chance you’ll review the 301 soon. It seem to fit my needs except for the HD audio support but I hear there is a patch that will make it work.

Damian June 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Hi Harvey,

My TV 301 arrived a little over a week ago. I am hoping to get up my review by this weekend. Do you have any more info regarding that HD Audio patch, I haven’t heard about it?


harvey June 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm
Damian June 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Thanks, I will give that a shot as part of my review. That was one of the first things I noticed when I got the 301 is the HD Audio logos were missing from the box!

Graham Myers September 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

The review of the TV-101 on the UK AVForums website was by a well know member on the forums. The actual unit was sent by my company (a UK reseller) to him to review and I specifically requested a warts and all review. If he found a problem then he would have written about it. having said that, since the review a couple of dts bugs have emerged!

I personally have streamed Avatar BD ISO to the Tv-101 without a problem along with several other titles I always use as a test (ege the opening scene of Cowboys and Aliens – the panning shot is always a good test!)

sorry for the late reply, my notification emails didnt arrive :)

Damian September 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Hi Graham,

Not sure if you saw, but I had posted my TV301 review a few weeks ago:


Has a lot of promise, but some annoying bugs are still present (subtitles, hd audio, etc…)

Smoothy September 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm

OK, new update for me. A local store started to carry the Dune 101 and the 301. Because I could easily return them if it didn’t do as I expected. I decided to have another go at it. I bought the 301 this time.

Well while I have ZERO streaming apps on this….it does handle my media files on my home network like a champ. This unit does everything the previous unit I had didn’t. Apparently as was suggested I had on with a crippled firmware for a specific application.

I am actually now very happy with it. While it doesn’t do EVERY file my WD will play…it does do almost all of them, and its very responsive. More responsive than the WD.

Still haven’t played with it long enough to see any other bugs or uirks but my early impression is favorable.

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