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Dune BD Prime 3.0 Blu-ray Player First Look

Dune BD Prime 3.0 Blu-ray Player

Dune BD Prime 3.0 Blu-ray Player


  • Product Name: BD Prime 3.0
  • Manufacturer: Dune
  • Review Date: August 16, 2010 03:30
  • MSRP: $449 (+$129 for optional 500GB hard drive)
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

Main features:

  • Playback of retail Blu-ray and DVD discs
  • Playback of full Blu-ray structures from HDD and network (with Blu-ray menu, BD-J, BonusView, BD-Live)
  • Playback of video, music, photos from any media source (HDD, PC, NAS, etc)
  • Optical disc formats: data discs (CD/DVD/BD) (MP3, JPEG, etc), Audio CD (PCM/DTS), DVD-Video (retail and user-authored discs), Blu-ray (retail and user-authored discs)
  • Support for modern video file formats (MKV, H.264, VC1, etc) with very high bitrate (up to 50 Mbit/s and higher)
  • Dune Network Playback Accelerator: special optimizations ensuring best-in-class network playback performance for the Sigma Designs 864x platform and enabling smooth playback of any supported kind of media content via any network protocol (including NFS and SMB) in both 100 Mbit/s and 1000 Mbit/s networks.
  • Dimensions: 430 mm (width) x 260 mm (depth) x 50 mm (height)


  • Processor: Sigma Designs 8642
  • Memory: RAM 512 MB, system Flash: 128 MB, expandable with a HDD partition or USB flash drive (2GB recommended)
  • Media sources: built-in Blu-ray drive, external HDD (eSATA, USB), external optical drive (eSATA, USB), USB devices (USB flash drive, USB card reader, etc), PC and NAS in local network (SMB, NFS, UPnP, HTTP), internal 2.5" SATA HDD (option)
  • Video codecs: MPEG2, MPEG4, XVID, WMV9, VC1, H.264
  • Video file formats: MKV, MPEG-TS, MPEG-PS, M2TS, VOB, AVI, MOV, MP4, QT, ASF, WMV, Blu-Ray-ISO, BDMV, DVD-ISO, VIDEO_TS
  • Video output modes: wide range of supported modes and resolutions, including 23.976p, 24p, PAL, NTSC
  • Audio codecs: AC3 (Dolby Digital), DTS, MPEG, AAC, LPCM, WMA, WMAPro, EAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), Dolby True HD, DTS HD High Resolution Audio, DTS HD Master Audio, FLAC, multichannel FLAC
  • Audio file formats: MP3, MPA, M4A, WMA, FLAC, WAV, DTS-WAV, DTS, AC3, AAC
  • Pass-through and decoding of HD audio formats, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio
  • Picture file formats: JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF
  • Subtitle formats: SRT, SUB, text/SSA/ASS (MKV), VobSub (MP4), PGS (full Blu-ray mode)
  • Playlist file formats: M3U, PLS
  • Filesystems: FAT16/FAT32 (read-write), EXT2/EXT3 (read-write), NTFS (readonly)

Other features:

  • Upscaling: high-quality upscaling and deinterlacing of DVD and other SD content to HD resolution (up to 1080p)
  • Access to network: browser of network shares (SMB, UPnP), user-defined shortcuts to network shares (SMB, NFS), links to HTTP media streams
  • NAS function: SMB and FTP access from network to the player's attached storage devices
  • IPTV: direct playback and recording of multicast IPTV streams (raw-UDP and RTP-over-UDP, SD and HD)
  • Internet radio: HTTP/MP3
  • Powerful file manager (copy, move, delete, rename, etc), built-in FTP and SMB file server (NAS function)
  • Photo viewer: slide-show function, picture transition eff ects, picture rotation
  • Playlists: music/photos/video, user-defined and automatically generated playlists, repeat and shuffle
  • FullHD-quality, fast, convenient, customizable interface (with covert-art and icon browsing support)
  • Future (free f/w upgrade): Flash Lite 3 support
  • Future (free f/w upgrade): Netflix support (for the USA market)


  • Wi-Fi 802.11n
  • Internal 2.5" SATA HDD
  • Future option (Q1 2010): RF remote, a part of your future affordable Smart Home system

Very rarely does a product come along that has us at a loss for words. It isn't that we can't figure out what it is (OK, occasionally with some of the esoteric gear that's the case), but that we have a hard time explaining it. Such is the case with the Dune BD Prime 3.0. Obviously, it's a Blu-ray player. It's also a media server and a networked storage device. But it is so much more. Maybe it would be easier to start off with what it doesn't do - SACD or DVD-A. As far as we can tell, that's about it.

The only consumers that might be hesitant to consider the Dune BD Prime 3.0 are either those that are tied to their DVD-A and SACD discs and are looking for a universal solution and those that are scared of products with too many features. If you look at that above specifications (click the + next to specifications above), you'll see that the laundry list of what the Dune BD Prime 3.0 can do is quite long. The player will play back just about any retail or user created format on the planet, is region free (meaning it works in any country with any disc), and upconverts all these to 1080p. On top of that, it has 512MB of RAM which is expandable with an external drive connected to one of the three USB ports or an optional internal SATA hard drive.

Why would you need a hard drive? Well, the Dune BD Prime 3.0 is way more than your typical Blu-ray player. While your typical Blu-ray might use storage for the occasional BD Live feature or to remember where you left off in a movie, the Dune player can do much, much more. Not only can you use the hard drive for the normal BD functions but you can also move content to it from your network (essentially creating a new storage place on your network) and play it back. On top of that, the Dune BD Prime 3.0 is cable of accessing the Internet and playing back and recording IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) and Internet radio. For those that are not aware, IPTV is much like cable TV (without all the choices and costs) but can be more interactive. It is also free (as long as your ISP supports them). While you might not want to replace your cable/satellite service with IPTV, it is an option that might end up working for you.

The Dune BD Prime 3.0 also supports NAS or Network Accessible Storage drives via SMB or FTP. This pretty much ensures that there is no content anywhere on your network that the Dune will not be able to stream. With a browser of network shares (SMB, UPnP), user-defined shortcuts to network shares (SMB, NFS), and links to HTTP media streams plus a future upgrade to stream Netflix natively for US owners and Flash 3 support, you are pretty much covered. The Dune BD Prime 3.0 utilizes a Sigma Designs 8642 chipset which has been optimized to upcovert not only local content but content that is streamed over the network from NAS drives and other sources. On top of that, it has a Dune Network Playback Accelerator which optomizes video playback over a 100 or 1000 network for supported files.


The Dune BD Prime 3.0 has three USB 2.0 ports (one front, two back), an eSATA and Ethernet 100/1000 Mbit/s port plus HDMI 1.3, S/PDIF (optical and coaxial), 7.1 analog audio, 2.0 analog audio, component video, and composite video outputs. Aside from the HDMI 1.4 support of Audio Return channel and 3D (along with a few other features), there is very little missing from the Dune. the 7.1 analogue outputs should be of particular interest to power users that haven't yet made the switch to and HDMI capable receiver. One thing that we are interested in is how the Dune upconversion will compare to some of the other Universal Blu players on the market


There is so much to talk about with the Dune BD Prime 3.0 that it is impossible to cover it all in a first look (or maybe even a full review). The fact is that it is always changing. From the Dune website users and consumers can vote for possible changes and upgrades to future iterations of the player. While there is no option for adding SACD and DVD-A playback available leading us to believe that these options will never be available, the Dune team has promised to take the votes into consideration. This is much better than the type of feedback mechanism for most companies which consists of people whining about features on various forums. 

The downside of such a player typically is that the "Swiss Army" style approach to shoehorning as many features as possible usually leads to a clunky interface and strange problems. Casual users and non-enthusiasts probably need not apply. Be prepared to futz with the player and the settings to get all the features working and don't be surprised if some "supported" features work sporadically. While the user interface looks to be pretty straightforward from what we can tell, we'd bet that you'll find some weird quirks that make sense to nobody except the programmer that created the interface.

One of the most impressive features of the Dune BD Prime 3.0 is the price. At only $449 US/399 EUR base (options such as an included 500 GB hard drive cost extra), the Dune is priced right to be very competitive. If you are more interested in a company that solicits your feedback, a player that is more worried about network streaming and upconverting than legacy HD audio formats, then the Dune BD Prime 3.0 might be the player for you. It certainly has our interest piqued. 

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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