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Dune Prime/BASE 3.0: Review

by on Jun.24, 2010, under Reviews




It’s been to long already, media players come and go, trying to dethrone the DVICO 6500A or for me to finally get rid of it.  Some have come pretty close but yet my DVICO player still sits pretty on my TV console, strong and brave, but weary that time is at hand, that it  will not be able to fight any longer.

The new contender will be the Dune Prime 3.0.  I have been waiting for this machine  for many years (through its various models). Slobbering at the specs that came with it. On managing to receive a unit I was delighted in the chance to be able to test them out.

The Dune prime series of media player comes with two models.  Both are exactly the same in specs wise except for a bluray drive coming with the prime.  Dune base come with a option to add a internal hard drive in its removal slot.


Dune Prime

Dune Prime Bluray/dvd tray


Dune Base

Dune Base Side USB Hard drive slot opening slot Hard drive entering Inside the Hard drive compartment

Dune Prime/Base back shot

 Dune Prime/Base Behind

What I like is there’s 4 USB slots (one on the side), One esata input.



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)


  • Wi-Fi 802.11n, internal 2.5" SATA HDD

The Prime come with a Sigma 8642 platform.  Although the unit come with a BLURAY drive there are three extra USB 2.0 ports 3 and a eSATA port for easy plugin of external hard drives.  If you do not have the right equiment for Pure HD surround sound the player comes with 7.1 analog audio connections too.



Dune prime boots up into the home menu from start, faster than the Dvico 6500A. This is a great relief because the startup time of the Dvico was getting to be unbearable already.

Starting menu


Here you are able to choose which media storage or drive you like to activate. If you were using the dune base or plugging a esata drive to the prime a “hard drive” will appear.

Network Shares can be made to be Icons to appear in the menu.


Setup Menu

Setup menu

I be going through most of the important Setup menu found here. Other will be left out because the pictures are quite self explanatory.

Setup Menu – General

General Menu


Setup Menu – Video

Video settings advance video settings auto framerate

HDMI cec in the “advance video settings” is when some of you AV stuff is able to control each other using one remote.

HDMI color depth is where you can set the display output to be 8bit, 10bit or 12bit

Setup Menu – Audio

audio menu Digital audio output bluray audio

The digital audio output mode controls on how you want dune prime/base output digital sound. If you were to choose PCM you telling Dune to decode digital sound and output into stereo analog.  Bitstream is when you have a AVR (amp) to decode the digital sound for you.


Setup Menu – Appearance

appearance menu folder view options - list or icons setup screen view

Here You can adjust whether you want to view files in icons or a list format.


Setup Menu – Applications

Apllications menu torrents icon setup internet audio photo viewer icon setup

New or old applications can be found here. You will be able to add this application to the start menu by just highlighting the icon and pressing enter on the remote.


Setup Menu – Network




Setup Menu – Miscellaneous


Setup Menu – Miscellaneous

- Encodings


- Optical Drive

Optical Drive

- Time Synchronization

Time Synchronization

- Firmware Upgrade

firmware upgrade 

Dune Prime/base is able to automatically scan the firmware on the internet whether you need to update to the latest version. However this option you will need to have a system storage activated on the machine either by creating a partition on a hard drive (base) or using a usb memory stick.

When this option is enabled, the minute you were to activate the dune prime/base machine, and if there is a new firmware on the internet, a pop up message will appear asking whether you want to update.

- Playback


Here where you set the dune to autoresume the media files that you were watching and suddenly stop. 

- System


- Advanced


‘“Power” remote button’ is where you set what the dune player will do when you press the power button on the remote. In the choice of software standby the dune will boot faster as the dune will be on a software standby. USB drive or stick will have power but on standby.

“Power off” selection will be a cold reboot with. No power is pass to the drives when machine is off.

- Information





Using the cursors button Using the search button

There are many ways to search using the remote buttons

1. Up and Down cursors = 1 minute search time

2. Left and right cursors = 10 seconds search time

3. P+ or P- keys = 10 minutes

4. SEarch button = key in the minutes

5. Number pad = by click a number example 2 the film will forward itself to 20% of the movie….

Using Number pad to forward in percentage

I find the dune prime/base search features to be slow and cumbersome except by using the number pad method. Other method you find a delay for the picture to appear when you make you choice.


Files formats

Dune prime/base is able to play Bluray ISO or BDMV folders with full support of bluray menu. Upon clicking on a bluray iso you are given a option to play straight or going into the directory to choose the file you want to play.


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Official spec list mention this are formats dune is able to play

  • 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
  • Audio file formats: MP3, MPA, M4A, WMA, FLAC, WAV, DTS-WAV, DTS, AC3, AAC

    ts, tp also were able to play without problems

    One ace in the card is MKV files encoded with dtshd or truehd sound. With the Dvico 6500A my amp just showed normal dts when playing this files.

    However with prime/base full digital dtshd or truehd blue logo appeared on my amp. excellent.

    MKV with dtsma encoded famouse dtshd bluelogo lighted up


  • Bluray Menus

    Below are full rips from a bluray. The rips are than place on the hard drive to be played by Dune prime/base. Using the “pop up menu’ or “top menu” button on the remote you able to display the setup menu of the bluray and choose what you need to do. From changing language to digital sound formats to different scenes even when the movie is being played.

    Kungfu Panda

    You able to play the built-in games inside the Kungfu panda media.

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    Lord of the rings – Return of the king

    20100429-DSC_0399 20100429-DSC_0400 20100429-DSC_0401 20100429-DSC_0406


    20100430-DSC_0479 20100430-DSC_0486 20100430-DSC_0490 20100430-DSC_0480 20100430-DSC_0512


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    Clicking the subtitle button you able to change different language to be displayed.

    Bluray Region selectable.

    Dune prime is able to play different region bluray disc. You able to select choice by pressing 4 times the mute button on the remote. Make sure you are in the home screen first before doing it.

    After pressing 4 Times click either number 1 , 2 , 3

    1 – Region A

    2 – Region B

    3 – Region C

    Pressing the corresponding number a popup message will appear the region choice and whether its ok to proceed.


    Dune does not come with a quick bookmark button feature like the Dvico 6500A. However if you were to set auto résumé in the setup. Dune is able to remember where you last stop in a movie or tvshow. I did not like the auto résumé and turn it off.

    NFS Network

    After setting up a Hanewin NFS server on my pc and a NFS option in a synology NAS, I can confirm that the Dune is able to play high bandwidth files (ie. Full Bluray rips iso or bdmv) without any lag.


    Here I be mentioning some problem I faced while using the Dune.

    20100429-DSC_0438 20100429-DSC_0446

    Lost Season 1 Disc one ISO rip

    Playing the ISO  of this series everything ran smoothly. However while watching the series and pressing stop on the remote the whole dune froze with the bluray drive ejected itself. Nothing I did on the remote was able get out of this jam. Only pressing the off button and switching it on made the dune usable again.

    Error Message Machine ejected itself and froze

    Toy Story 2 Original Bluray Disc

    Somehow this bluray is a very cranky one on the Dune.  It fail multiple times on my player. Faults like super slow playback at opening sequance, freezed player, error message player is not able to play disc and while watching movie sometimes this error will appear “playback aborted due to i/o error”.  And sometimes it just works without problems. I did not face this problems Toy Story 1 bluray disc though.

    Another error message Stuck with message

    SMB network

    The network connection work as advertised and it was quite simple to setup. There was still a slowdown on playing files with bitrates higher than 20Mbp.


    Some avi or mkv (tv series) tend to lag with the word spoken and image.  There are three ways to solve it.

    One is pressing on remote button A and adjusting delay for sound in seconds.

    2nd way is to click on button B and activating pal sound speed adjustment to on (this is a wierd one as I did not set the media player to play pal but yet this option works).

    Third way is using you Amp (avr) to adjust delay in seconds.

    Pressing button B to activate PAL sound speed correction Pressing Button A to adjust delay

    Missing chapters for MKV

    Dvico 6500A is able to interact with files that has built in chapters search in MKV format. For example Queen live in montreal MKV rip format has chapters done for each song.  In the Dvico you able to forward to each chapter using remote or in the AC Ryan player view indiviual chapters list. Dune however is not able to detect the chapters in the file.

    HDMI color depth

    Some LCD/Plasma will make the dune player stutter or lag when you set the color depth to above 10bit or 12bit. Easily to counter by downgrading to 8Bit.



    Finally my Dvico 6500A is able to retire in peace. The Dune Prime/Base has shown its mettle against all the media formats that I was able to feed it.

    Another plus is the dune handling of Digital sound. Totally unexpected when it played a truehd/dtsma sound from a mkv encoded with the format. Normal bitstream of other files faced no major problems.

    It was also a dream to play all those bluray full rip with menus. Of course there are some problems with newly encoded protection disc like avatar or cranky disc like Toy Story 2, but almost everything else work perfectly.

    Now there’s not to say this machine is perfect, and no matter what player you are using right now, there’s is sure to be major or minor problems. So why Dune?  because its problems are bearable. I was able to watch my media when I want without much trouble. That is a big plus. But if I was to choose between the Base or Prime. I would stick to the Base as having a bluray drive is not a lot of people main priority. And sticking a 2Tb hard drive in the base with a option for a third party hard drive casing solution to fit a further 8TB is totally rocking.

    And to my dvico6500a… The King is Dead!! Long live the king!!


    Other info

    System memory

    New Firmware



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    Fitting another 8TB solution…


    Just by plugging this casing the prime/base is able to detect through USB a whopping 8TB worth of media.  Esata does not work because Dune does not have a port multiplier solution.

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