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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:04 am 
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Little by little I think I'm moving up on what I want in my media servers. And I would like to have your insight over my options.

All started in 2009, when I bought an LG BD390 player, that was capable of streaming and playing back NTFS mkv files, which very few BD players at the time did, if any. The options were specific media servers, like Popcorn, Tivx or Dune, that were mostly renowned streamers and accepted external sources. The streaming capable WD TV, the Live, had just been released.

Only after more than three years did I find something the LG couldn't play: 3D subtitles on 3D mkv files.

So two weeks ago I went for my second option, very popular in Brazil: the WD TV Live Streaming. There are no MP retailers in Brazil, so you have buy it abroad direct. For the WD the abroad retailer is Amazon, which has some limitations shipping to Brazil. Even so I bought one and it's what I'm presently using.

The WD TV is alright, plays 3D subtitles and all, but it doesn't accept external DVD/BD players through usb, and that is a big issue for me. All my video collection is in DVD, holding mkv files, and I'm not interested in HDDs for long term stocking, I don't think they are reliable enough.

So I'm trying to pick a new MP that will handle all I throw at it, even if there are some limitations with BD menus. Cinavia-free if possible.

What I have been looking at, particularly on the reviews on this site, are some Dune and Popcorn Hour models that seem to accept external optical sources. But seem to have some issues.

The unit I'm looking for should:

1) Play 3D mkv files with 3D subtitles.

2) Play any type of video files, SD and HD.

3) Enhance SD video upscaling to HD, at least through streaming, disc or usb playback.

4) Have good subtitles managing, allowing font size, type and color adjustment, as well as sub positioning on the screen.

5) Accept external media sources of any type, particularly optical, like DVD/BD players through usb.

6) Play all types of 5.1 or 7.1 audio, particularly Dolby and DTS.

Am I asking too much?

Thanks!


Carlos


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:54 pm 
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Unfortunately the "accept media via USB drive like a DVD/BR player" is where you will fall short as no MPs allow that. Best you could do is get a Dune Smart and one of their extension modules, but I believe those are already discontinued.

I use a Dune Smart B1 which has an internal DVD/BR drive as my main media player

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:13 pm 
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What I have been told, by a person that has a Dune D1, is that he could get his to accept an LG external player, but only for DVDs, not for bluray discs. It didn't "see" the blue disc.

Have you tried that with the D1?

In the specifications, Dune claims their players accept the following:

>
Media sources: external HDD (USB), external optical drive (USB), USB devices (USB flash drive, USB card reader, etc), built-in SD card reader (SD/SDHC), PC and NAS in local network (SMB, NFS, UPnP, HTTP), other Internet and local network media sources (HTTP, multicast UDP RTP)
>

Wouldn't a DVD player qualify as an "external optical drive"?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:17 pm 
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You are correct, several MPs accept a DVD drive via USB, I just assume you wanted a combo BR/DVD drive to work. I think I tried this once on an older MP without issue, but haven't had a need to try on any of the newer ones. In theory a DVD should work fine since all the MPs support full DVD menus currently

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:37 pm 
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Well, at least it's something... in fact it's a lot.

A few years ago, when I started using mkv files, I found them to be excellent for my video collection. And BD-R discs never got down in price as DVD-DLs did.

So I decided to make MKV backups of all my stuff, using plain DVD-DL discs, converting the large BD files onto 8Gb. It has worked as a breeze until now.

Another question are my kids 3D BD discs and their subtitles. My former BD player which I was using as a streamer and to play mkvs, does not seem to "see" the 3D subs when converted to mkv. That is, it does play the 3D mkvs perfectly on my Panasonic 3D plasma, but it doesn't play the subs.

That the WD TV Live does play fine, 3D mkvs and 3D subs, but it doesn't accept external DVD players at all.

So if the Dune D1 does accept them, we are game.

Any other players on the same league as the Dune D1?

BTW, I find your reviews very useful. Congrats for them!


Carlos


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:58 pm 
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Can you confirm what type of 3D mkvs you are creating. Are you taking about mvc mkvs (i.e. via MakeMKV) or are you talking about half SBS mkvs? If you are talking about mvc mkvs the only players that can handle them right now are the Realtek 1186 players.

As far as some of your other points, the PCH A400 is probably the better player for upscaling SD content b/c of the VXP chip (although I have seen some mixed reviews on, and since I have nearly all of my content as HD I don't use this feature)

Are you looking to bitstream your HD Audio or decode (depending on your answer this could make a big difference)?

Thanks, glad to hear you find my reviews helpful. I know they don't always cover every aspect, but I try my best to focus on the aspects that seem to be most requested or that I use most frequently.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:33 pm 
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I'm talking about half SBS mkvs. That's probably why my LG BD390 plays the files.

For the audio I always go for Dolby 5.1 640 kbps. The file is smaller than DTS, which helps me fit the file on a DL DVD.

The WDTV Live upscaling is pretty good, so if any of those players is better then it's great.

I am getting to know other brands and models that I did not know, that seem more affordable than the Dune or the PCH better types. Like KDLINKS HD700 and HD680, and the Mede8er MED1000X3D. They seem to be good with 3D, some claim better than Dune Smart. But I wonder.

That's why your advice and opinion is very important.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:32 am 
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carlmart wrote:
I'm talking about half SBS mkvs. That's probably why my LG BD390 plays the files.

For the audio I always go for Dolby 5.1 640 kbps. The file is smaller than DTS, which helps me fit the file on a DL DVD.

The WDTV Live upscaling is pretty good, so if any of those players is better then it's great.

I am getting to know other brands and models that I did not know, that seem more affordable than the Dune or the PCH better types. Like KDLINKS HD700 and HD680, and the Mede8er MED1000X3D. They seem to be good with 3D, some claim better than Dune Smart. But I wonder.

That's why your advice and opinion is very important.


Yeah, my only concern would be if you kept the TrueHD track in mkv, as many of the MPs now cannot decode properly. As far as players if you go the Realtek 1186 route I would definitely recommend one of the Mede8er players. The Mede8er does support mvc mkvs if that is something of interest

One thing as well, I rarely use subs so I can't really comment too well on. I know that the Mede8er does not support forced subtitles.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:00 am 
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What chip to go for is something that is not clear yet, if Sigma or Realtek.

My present MP is the WD TV Live Streaming, which has an SMP8670. I'm not sure how it compares to the others, or what others can improve on it.

I don't quite know what is called TrueHD, I don't quite care for those nomenclatures, as they are mostly commercial names with no real practical meaning. My aim is usually 5.1 / 640Kb audio, as those are the speakers I have at home. Don't quite believe in 7.1 either, as my room is not that large to need that. As I also said, Dolby Digital is enough, and DTS I use only for streaming, never to keep files.

What are "forced subtitles"? I've seen that test on your reviews, usually failed. My preference is for srt subs, merged or not, except for half SBS files, where 3DSubtitler processed subs work well. So the MP should work with them.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:08 am 
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carlmart wrote:
What chip to go for is something that is not clear yet, if Sigma or Realtek.

My present MP is the WD TV Live Streaming, which has an SMP8670. I'm not sure how it compares to the others, or what others can improve on it.

I don't quite know what is called TrueHD, I don't quite care for those nomenclatures, as they are mostly commercial names with no real practical meaning. My aim is usually 5.1 / 640Kb audio, as those are the speakers I have at home. Don't quite believe in 7.1 either, as my room is not that large to need that. As I also said, Dolby Digital is enough, and DTS I use only for streaming, never to keep files.

What are "forced subtitles"? I've seen that test on your reviews, usually failed. My preference is for srt subs, merged or not, except for half SBS files, where 3DSubtitler processed subs work well. So the MP should work with them.


With Blu ray movies the HD audio track is either DTS(MA) or TrueHD (A large majority are DTSMA). When you are ripping/encoding a Blu ray with TrueHD it sounds like you are simply grabbing the embedded AC3 track, so you shouldn't have any issues.

Forced subtitles would be for movies such as Avatar when the blue people speak in their language and the english subtitles appear just for this.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:50 am 
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Oh, I see. In my case that wouldn't be a problem really.

In fact having such forced subtitles under the other ones would be a nuisance. Usually because they are larger in size than the foreground subs.

Are you planning to review the KDLinks? One uses the Realtek 1185, and the other the 1186, so they look similar to the Mede8er, but better priced.

On one of your reviews I also suggested down below to have a table comparing the play/fail playback on the units you have tested. Or you already have such a thing?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:06 am 
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carlmart wrote:
Oh, I see. In my case that wouldn't be a problem really.

In fact having such forced subtitles under the other ones would be a nuisance. Usually because they are larger in size than the foreground subs.

Are you planning to review the KDLinks? One uses the Realtek 1185, and the other the 1186, so they look similar to the Mede8er, but better priced.

On one of your reviews I also suggested down below to have a table comparing the play/fail playback on the units you have tested. Or you already have such a thing?


Right now I don't have any plans to review any other Realtek players. From my experience when it comes to Realtek players Mede8er has always been top notch (not to say some other brands can't be good, but there is no compelling reason to try others unless they are offering something different/unique)

At one point I had thought about doing a table for comparison purposes, but right now I am struggling with finding free time to write/review, so that got put to the back burner. I still have it on my list so hopefully at some point I can look over.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:09 pm 
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dbone1026 wrote:
carlmart wrote:
but there is no compelling reason to try others unless they are offering something different/unique)


Price might not be a compelling reason?

Are there any other types, perhaps from Sigma, that might be more promising?

On a different ground, have you tried any of those Android TV boxes that seem to have become very popular? I learned about them looking for a cheaper media player, something that could have also RCA analog outputs, and I found the Android versions. As I would be using on my travels, and Android machine would allow me leaving my computer home, as I could navigate and do all things I do when I travel.

Unfortunately the Android seems to have some limitations as a media player. particularly on the audio handling.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:56 am 
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carlmart wrote:
Price might not be a compelling reason?

Are there any other types, perhaps from Sigma, that might be more promising?

On a different ground, have you tried any of those Android TV boxes that seem to have become very popular? I learned about them looking for a cheaper media player, something that could have also RCA analog outputs, and I found the Android versions. As I would be using on my travels, and Android machine would allow me leaving my computer home, as I could navigate and do all things I do when I travel.

Unfortunately the Android seems to have some limitations as a media player. particularly on the audio handling.


For me personally price is not a big factor, the stability and support of the player is my top priority. What I mean by that, saving $50-$100 is not important to me if it means that I will get a less reliable player. So for example, Mede8er is the best of the realtek players IMO, not just the hardware but more importantly the software/support. I rather spend a little extra for the comfort of knowing there is an active community, the developers are very responsive, etc ... Look at the Dunes, you definitely pay a premium over other players, however I have had Dunes running as the main players in my house since 2009-2010 with rarely an issue

As far as Android players, I honestly have avoided. Many apps are not quite optimized for TV and not that reliable. I have an Android tablet that if I really want the Android experience I can just simply connect to a TV via an HDMI cable.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:23 pm 
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Just curious: what media player do you use at home at the moment as your main MP?


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