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Dune HD Pro 4K II
Dune ecosystem Ultra-HD 4K HDR+ Media Player. New 2020 Realtek 1619 chipset. 4GB RAM / 32GB storage.  £279.99  €321  $376

Author Topic: Review: Dune Pro 4K II  (Read 359 times)

Sledgehamma

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Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« on: August 02, 2020, 05:40:20 PM »
The new generation of media players is about to be available and Dune is the first one available with the latest Realtek SoC inside the Dune Pro 4K II.

The Hardware:
The Pro 4K II uses the latest Realtek SoC, namely the RTD1619. This brings some very welcoming additions like support for HDR10+ as well as VP9 profile 2 (YouTube HDR). In addition its a significant upgrade in terms of raw processing power: Its based upon an ARM Cortex A55 Hex-core CPU with 1.3 Ghz and paired with 4GB of RAM. Plenty of storage for the Android apps and the database of your media is offered by the built-in 32GB of storage.



Here you can see the booting time of the player:
https://youtu.be/BlG1bZ4yFi8

The I/O is as follows:
On the back of the device:
  • Wifi-antennas
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • HDMI 2.0 output
  • HDMI 2.0 input
  • A/V out (analog output)
  • Optical S/PDIF
  • MicroSD card
On the right of the device:
  • External SATA connector
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB 2.0

The package and what’s inside:







The case:
The case of the Dune Pro 4K II is relatively small and is made from metal. Therefore it feels sturdy and lets it look more premium. However, the feet are very basic rubber feet. Having said that, more premium feet are not required as there is no room for a HDD anyway so that there is no isolation needed. The left side as well as the button has holes for ventilation. A nice advantage is that the Pro 4K II does not come with a fan so that it is dead silent.
On the front sits a display which shows the time when the unit is powered one as well as a blue LED to indicate that it’s powered on. When a movie starts it shows the elapsed time.

 

Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2020, 05:41:36 PM »
The remote:
The remote is made from plastic and uses IR to communicate with the player. It sits relatively well in the hand but the lightness makes it feel on the cheap side.
There is a plethora of useful button so that you can access aspects like “TV” or the “Setup” very quickly. One drawback of the remote is the fact that the buttons are generally very mushy and the key travel varies depending on the key. For example the D pad doesn’t have much travel, but the “Info”, “Pop Up menu”, “return” and “top menu” have significantly more travel. Since these buttons are frequently used it makes the player seem slower than it actually is.
One can always use the tablet or phone app to have the exact same functionality but based on wifi. This makes the player seem reacting faster to inputs. There is also the option to buy the “Dune HD Premium IR Remote” which may not have these limitations.
Another downside is the fact that the remote needs to be pointed directly at the player in order to work. One way to circumvent this downside would be to use CEC and then use the remote of your TV. However, CEC does not work as this time on the Pro 4K II.




The graphical user interface (GUI):
Thanks to the powerful hardware the GUI is very responsive in general. Like basically all other Android based media players or even 4K TVs for that matter the GUI is only in 1080p. This makes text and pictures less sharp compared to players like the Apple TV 4K, which offer a GUI in 2160p.

The standard home screen when the unit is booted:


Different view for the file manager:
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One has the ability to open a file with different apps. A default app can be set in the settings as well:


This gives you the overview of all installed Android apps right out of the Dune GUI:


When moving an app to the favourites section you even have the ability to start this app as default when the player is booted. So you can boot right into the Android TV interface or the Netflix app for example:


The TV app, which can be hidden in the settings, is by default the katrina.tv service. However this can be changed in the settings to other apps like Netflix for example.


The original google Appstore is present:


The movies app is somewhat strange as it lists a lot of movie that are not even in the local collection. Similar to “My Collection” you first have to select a category. If you have the movie you selected you can choose to play your local copy. In case you don’t have, the Netflix app will be opened:


Dune legacy programs are fully compatible and can be found here:


The file manager gives you all the necessary options (copy, move, rename, delete, etc) for file management directly on the player itself.


A short video of the GUI:
https://youtu.be/AHZSgbqmKS8
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 05:43:39 PM by Sledgehamma »

Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2020, 05:44:19 PM »
My Collection:
This is Dune’s own media center for your movies and TV shows. While the player remembers exactly where you left off on a single file, the media center has no watched indicator for movies or TV shows that you have already watched. This is a major drawback and should not be missing in the year 2020. Furthermore, it seems that My Collection seems to have problems with large TV databases as the scanning  always failed after a short time (between 17 seconds and just over a minute).

When starting “My Collection” on the home screen one is presented with this view:


When selecting “All movies” one can choose between the different categories:


After that the previous selection is presented. From a variety of different views can be chosen


When selecting a movie:


Summary of the movie:


Cast:


Similar movies:


One can edit the match in case Dune matched the wrong movie:


From the data storage menu one can update the database and change some settings:


Several folders or shares can be merged to one database:


It also supports TV shows, but they are mixed with the movies. Strangely all seasons and episodes are listed even if they are not present on the share. This can be very irritating.


Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2020, 05:45:09 PM »
Dune Control App:
The Dune Control App is a very handy tool to not only control your media via Dune’s My Collection but also to quickly alter various settings. This is especially useful for owners with a projector who don’t need to turn it on, then wait 30 seconds to get a picture and then make some changes. All this can be done directly via the app. It’s almost like a second screen.
One can browse the shares, start a movie, an app or use it as a remote to control the Dune:

It offers all the function of the remote:


The size can the changed:


Change several settings directly in the app without even turning on a display:


Browse shares and start playback:


Different views of My Collection:


Movie details:



Trailer:


Cast:


Similar movies:


Simple playback controls and the possibility to scrub through the movie very fast or to a precise time:



The App can be downloaded here:
iOS: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/dune-control/id1458522641?l=en
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dunehd.dunecontrol&hl=en

https://youtu.be/iP5oKBG3cbA

Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2020, 05:47:18 PM »
Playback:
In general the playback of the Dune Pro 4K II is very good. One has to take into account that this review is based on a very early status of the device.
All bugs have been sent do Dune and this review will be updated in case of any change.
Let’s start with the good:
Starting, stopping, skipping and time seek are extremely fast most of the time. Sometimes they are a bit slower but it only ranges from “almost instant” to “very fast”.
The forced flag inside mkv is finally honoured so that remuxers do not need to check for those every time a film starts.
In contrast to previous models with the RTD1295 the Pro 4K II sends the correct HDR10 meta data (thanks @Manni01). This is important to users who have a display device that applies its tone mapping based on those values. A further improvement from the previous generation is that it always sends the correct frame rate depending on the content. This has been confirmed by user @Manni01 with a HDFury vertex. With test videos for different frame rates this could be confirmed. Another improvement over the RTD1295 is the fact that VC-1 no longer produces irregular stutter. This is still present on the Zappiti 4K HDR series, even after 3,5 years!
In addition the player is able to playback mkv as well as UHD BDs with HDR10+ without any problems.
The names of chapters are working and displayed correctly, so are the subtitles. The name of the subtitle track is displayed within the info frame while playback, but not for the audio track for some reason.


Name of the subtitles is displayed (NAME), but not of the audio. Nevertheless, the most important features of the tracks are listed like codec, no. of channels and the language. It would be really handy if the same flags of the subtitles could be used for audio.


The language of the subtitles is very apparent:


The subtitle track can even be shifted in time, +/- more than 60s. This is remembered for this file and does not apply to other files. One has also the ability to not only change the color, size but also shift the subtitles. These settings are remembered globally. This setting is especially useful for projector owners with a cinemascope screen. This way they can shift the subtitles upwards so that they are always inside the visible frame of their screen. Unfortunately, these settings do not apply to full BD menu playback.

The different settings for subtitles can be seen here:



The Bad:

While the forced flag works without a problem, the default flag does not. Furthermore, the language settings which apply to the BD menu playback do not apply to mkv playback. Therefore, the first audio track will always be selected, no matter the language.
Although the SoC supports the HDR format HLG, which is mostly used for TV, the Dune doesn’t support it. To be fair, it is not listed on Dune’s spec sheet in the first place. Weirdly, when booting the player for a brief moment it will send an HLG signal.

When using full BD menu and using fast forward or rewind it doesn’t show by how much you forward or rewind. Only when you press the info button and then FF or rewind it will show in the top corner. Furthermore, the picture is also garbled as long as your FF or rewind.

3D MVC inside mkv plays only if there are no PGS subtitles present. For this it doesn’t matter if the subtitles are forced or not. When playing pack a 3D MVC with subtitles there is only a black screen with no audio for about 4 seconds and then the playback stops completely. After removing those PGS subtitles the video plays normally in 2D (please note that 3D playback couldn’t be tested because recent OLEDs do not support it anymore).

Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2020, 05:49:32 PM »
Blu-ray:
Of course Dune implemented their proprietary BD engine in this device as well. The following features of (UHD) BD menu have been tested and confirmed working:

-the native BD Java resume function
-different angles (such as Star Wars) which correct switching when changing the audio track
-playlist obfuscation

These features work, but not reliably:
-forced subtitles:
In general those forced subtitles are selected automatically and work. However, there is a bug that enables subtitles by default. In this case you will get the “normal” subtitles while playback. Then you have to manually disable them via the subtitles button. Disabling them via the BD menu does not always work. However, this means that you need to know which subtitle track contains the forced parts (for example Fury US UHD BD). This pretty much defeats the purpose of having full BD menu playback in the first place. Sometimes disabling the subtitles does work within the menu (Thor Ragnarok for example)
-correct menu language and audio setting (which can be set via the interface language “Setup —> General”):
This works most of the time, but a few titles were found for which this doesn’t work.
-As with previous generation BD live features do not work and its not clear whether those BD live servers are any longer online anyway.

When making a chapter skip on a UHD BD with HDR the Dune sends SDR signal for a brief moment and then back to HDR. Its like this: Pressing chapter skip —> the display goes black —> picture of the movie (SDR) —> black again —> picture is back in HDR. This is only in full menu playback. Playing back HDR mkv there is no black screen whatsoever and the skip is usually super fast. The same goes for the warnings and notifications which can be observed when starting a UHD BD with HDR.


While a vast amount of (UHD) BDs have been tested and started without issue there are still some cosmetic issues with the menus from time to time. See for example this issue present on the X-Files Blu-rays:

This is how it should look:


This is how it looks:


This makes the selection rather inconvenient and the sad part is that this issue was found on my review of the Dune Solo 4K 4(!) years ago and it is still present. A very similar issue can be found on the UHD BD of Gemini Man:


The only disc that made problems is the latest Benchmark disc from Spears and Munsil. This disc uses almost the maximum number of streams included on a single disc allowed by the BD specifications. So this disc really is an odd one. The problem is that not all clips are playable by the Pro 4K II. Some start while others just show a black screen.

Not all discs from previous reviews could be tested because they were deleted. Nevertheless, a short impression about the loading times should be made available. These times are from starting the discs to the main menu. It should be noted that there is a limit in how fast these can be loaded as there come several logos, or warnings because the menu loads. Please also note that the current setup for testing is not 100% the same as it was when testing the other players a few years ago :


Android Apps:

Netflix:
Dune advertises this player to be able to playback Netflix in 4K HDR. However, this is particularly buggy at this moment in time. While 4K in general works reliable, HDR does not. For this review a Philips 804 has been used which has support for all major HDR format ranging from standard HDR10 over Dolby Vision to HDR10+. The latter seems to cause problems with the Netflix app. Shortly after starting the Netflix app and just browsing through the catalog the app sends BT.709 HDR10+ to the Philips. While playback the Pro 4K II still sends a HDR10+ signal. When the video is in SDR the Dune sends BT.709 HDR10+ and when its an HDR video it will send BT.2020 HDR10+. It could only be managed to play a single episode in SDR and the proper color space. After that episode it was again back to HDR10+.
Please keep in mind that this behaviour might be completely different on a TV that doesn’t support HDR10+.
It is also important to note that neither auto resolution nor auto frame rate are working with the Netflix app.


YouTube:
While Dune specifically mentions VP9 profile 2 support that enables YouTube 4K HDR playback it doesn’t work as of writing. Instead the video will be played back at 4K SDR.

General:
For apps like Emby you have the ability to use an external player for playback. Right now only the native Realtek player app is available to select. This is the stock app that all Realtek players come with. Dune not only skinned the app but also added features.

Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2020, 05:50:11 PM »
Picture Quality evaluation:
Picture Quality evaluation:
Let’s come to the important part of this review. In order to test and compare the quality of different players the Spears and Munsil Benchmark Disc(s) have been used.
For this purpose the Dune was set to 4:4:4 chroma and auto resolution was disabled. For comparison the Philips 804 and its internal player were used in addition to the Apple TV 4K with Infuse as a player.

Chroma upsampling (1080p AVC):

Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

Neither Infuse nor Philips exhibit banding on the blue bar. Dune however does. It’s unfortunate to see that Realtek still hasn’t got a grip on the banding isse, which I could observe in the Review of the Zappiti 4K HDR Duo with an RTD1295 back in January 2017.

Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

It looks very similar for all of them. Seems like nearest neighbour for all three players.

Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

It looks like Infuse and Dune using the simpler nearest neighbour upsampling method whereas the Philips uses one of the superior methods bicubic or bilinear.

Chroma upsampling (2160p SDR HEVC):
Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

Very hard to see differences.

Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2020, 05:50:30 PM »
Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

Again, only the Dune shows banding in the blue bar. The lower horizontal blue bar shows the chroma upsampling. Again, the Philips uses either Bicubic und Bilinear while Infuse and Dune are using the nearest neighbour.

Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

The pattern is very fine but its still visible that Philips provides the best chroma upsampling algorithm whereas Infuse and Dune are inferior. Still Infuse is ahead of the Dune in this regard as the lines are a bit smoother.


Chroma upsampling (2160p HDR HEVC, CLL: 600 nits, FALL: 400 nits):

Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

This time all three of them exhibit banding. However, the Philips is still the best one with very little banding. Infuse is second place and Dune is by far the worst.

Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

This pattern shows a very surprising and weird result with the Philips and the Dune as there is a yellow shadow around the blue line as well as a green shadow around the red one. Furthermore, the red line becomes pink at button. This should definitely not occur and the picture should look like the previous ones or like Infuse in this example.

Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2020, 05:50:53 PM »
Upscaling:

Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

None of the three players really excels at this pattern as all of them show some double contours and some artefacts. Only the degree to which they show them differs. The least side affects can be seen by Infuse, which does a very decent job on the horizontal and vertical lines. This is the point in which the Realtek SoC is not as god as it tries to sharpen the image too much. This can be seen by the two vertical lines where a white line appears right next to them. The Philips is softer than the Dune, which is a good thing but it still shows double contours as well as some scaling artefacts around the white cross.

Dune:

Infuse:

Philips:

The image of Dune and Infuse is definitely cleaner with less scaling artefacts than the Philips. Dune is the only player which can clearly distinguish the dot of the i. With Infuse and Philips the small i looks almost like a capital I as they try to merge them together.
The “Audio-Video-Technik” writing in general looks much cleaner on the Dune. The same holds true for the “Burosch” Logo.
It’s hard to pick a winner in this comparison. However, the third place clearly goes to the Philips TV.

SDR to HDR:

Note: The pictures you are seeing do not really show the real difference that is visible. This is due to the limited range of the camera (Canon EOS 700D) as well as the fact that the pictures are in SDR.
In order to have a comparison for the SDR to HDR conversion the corresponding function (Perfect Natural Reality) of the Philips 804 has been used with the setting to “maximum”.

SDR:

Philip’s SDR to HDR:

Dune’s SDR to HDR:

This picture was chosen to look for difference in the shadows and if the algorithm has some side effects like lost shadow detail. As it has to be expected with these kind of processing there is some loss in shadow detail. With both methods from Philips and Realtek there is significant loss in shadow detail. Its just slightly more with the Dune, but that’s negligible. Whats more is that the Realtek algorithm inside the Dune changes the colours as well.

Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2020, 05:51:15 PM »
SDR:

Philips:

Dune:

The image of the Philips doesn’t look that much different. The most apparent change is in the sky which has been brightened. However, the picture of the Dune looks decidedly different, the colours are completely off and have very little to do with the original image.

SDR:

Philips:
 
Dune:

Very similar to previous results: The Philips darkens the already dark parts of the image (animal) and brightens the bright parts (the grass just above the animal). While the Dune does not try to brighten up the bright parts, but only darkens the dark ones. As before, the color change of the Dune is apparent in this one as well. Best seen on the animal: In SDR the animal looks almost grey in comparison to the brown and purple one on the Dune.

SDR:

Philips:

Dune:

Philips algorithm does not change the colours at all. However, there is again a loss in shadow detail. This also true for the Dune and can be observed in the stem of the plants. The white tulips appears a little bit brighter as well on the Philips. The picture of the Dune has significantly more saturated colors. This can clearly be seen in the already saturated red of the tulips.

While the algorithm on the Philips tries to darken dark parts of the image and brightens the bright part of the image, it leaves the colours untouched. Furthermore, the intensity of this method can be changed from Minimum, Medium, Maximum.
On the other hand Realtek offers only an on or off toggle for the SDR to HDR conversion. It also couldn’t be observed that the method tries to brighten the bright parts of the image. It looks more like a “make it pop” setting for a showroom to make the picture stand out.
If one remotely cares about an accurate picture, leave this setting disabled (that is leave “SDR/HDR conversion” to “auto” so that you get SDR when playing SDR and HDR when playing HDR.)

Sledgehamma

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Re: Review: Dune Pro 4K II
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2020, 05:51:33 PM »
Settings:

One aspects where the Dune shines is the sheer amount of settings. Especially the Chroma upsampling settings for different frame rates is an excellent feature.


































Conclusion:

The new Dune Pro 4K II eliminates some  serious bugs from the previous generation like missing HDR meta data and and wrong frame rates while also adding support for HDR10+. It’s a nice jump in speed while keeping the BD engine from previous models (although it still has some bugs). While the chroma upsampling quality and the banding issues should have been improved, the upscaling is generally very decent although it sometimes tries too hard to sharpen the image.
My Collection is still at a very rudimentary stage despite being introduced years ago. It lacks rudimentary features like watched status/filter and the Interface isn’t up to date, either. A total contrast is the Dune Control app, which offers the unique ability to almost function like a second screen so that you can quickly change settings or browse your share.
The “source direct” function is tremendous feature in case one has a separate video processor.

Please note that this review will be changed in case bugs have been fixed.

 

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