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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
WOW! Seems like alot has evolved since I looked at Media servers a year or two ago.


So here is where I am at. I have alot of devices with some overlap in the Home Theater area. Pretty much everything I have is pretty high end so I am not looking for the cheap way out.


So here is what I have


1) Plasma, (built in Netflix streaming, HDMI inputs for video only)

2) HTPC, (used for videos only, typically sit with a laptop while viewing TV).

3) Sonos, used for FLAC files

4) NAS, used to store music, vids etc

5) Oppo BD-83 used for Blue Rays only, bitstream , optical out

7) Rotel amp and preamp, no HDMI inputs, optical/coax digital inputs



The goal is to have a simple, all in one media server to eliminate the HTPC for vid files and photo viewing and quite possibly the Oppo if the audio and video quality is truly there. I have tons of family photos which we'd like to view on this device. So a device that favors a nice GUI for photos would be a plus. Vid files, obviously the media server biggest plus. Music, I'd still use the Sonos. An occasional web surf on this device would be nice. Netflix, I assume this is standard on most?


I was leaning toward a Dune years back as they seemed to be the most hi-end. Any other suggestions as to what would fit the bill for me? I thought I read Dunes weren't favorable for photos, why?


As my Rotel doesn't support DTS HD and the other latest fromats, it's not that important. It certainly would be nice to be somewhat future proof though.


Any help would be great. I'd certainly prefer to avoid alot of tweaking out of the box. Simple user interfaces or easy to install / configure GUI's would be nice. BTW, how do you surf without a keyboard on these devices? is there a way to hook one up?
 

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(1) You are looking for a media PLAYER. A media SERVER is the back end device (like your NAS) that hosts the files and serves them to a player.


(2) So, if I'm reading your list correctly, you want to playback video files (what format?), dvd and bd discs, and photos (from your NAS?). Anything else?


(3) The Dune isn't optimized for photo playback. It works, but it is not the best slideshow I've ever seen. HDI's focus has been first and foremost on video playback, with everything else secondary. I haven't tried photos on the most recent firmware, so perhaps something has been improved. Hopefully others will chime in. However, video playback is pretty solid. Web surfing is available, but frankly, it's just like any other non-pc device - it's not its original purpose, so it will be less than optimal. For "occasional" use, it's ok. I know at least one company (Diamond Design, a Dune reseller) who sells a wireless keyboard to be used with the Dune.


(4) No, Netflix is most certainly NOT the standard in these. Some have it or state they intend to have it. I don't believe that the Dune has it as a feature that is expected anytime soon. The other top contender that would have bd disc playback is the C200, and I haven't kept up with it to know if it has Netflix playback or not.


Once I got my Dune, I stopped paying attention to what every other product was doing, so I can't really give you any comparisons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1812 /forum/post/20809494


(1) You are looking for a media PLAYER. A media SERVER is the back end device (like your NAS) that hosts the files and serves them to a player. Thanks for the clarification


(2) So, if I'm reading your list correctly, you want to playback video files (what format?), dvd and bd discs, and photos (from your NAS?). Anything else? Yes, DVD rips BD rips MKV, AVI, everything

(3) The Dune isn't optimized for photo playback. It works, but it is not the best slideshow I've ever seen. HDI's focus has been first and foremost on video playback, with everything else secondary. I haven't tried photos on the most recent firmware, so perhaps something has been improved. Hopefully others will chime in. However, video playback is pretty solid. Web surfing is available, but frankly, it's just like any other non-pc device - it's not its original purpose, so it will be less than optimal. For "occasional" use, it's ok. I know at least one company (Diamond Design, a Dune reseller) who sells a wireless keyboard to be used with the Dune.


(4) No, Netflix is most certainly NOT the standard in these. Some have it or state they intend to have it. I don't believe that the Dune has it as a feature that is expected anytime soon. The other top contender that would have bd disc playback is the C200, and I haven't kept up with it to know if it has Netflix playback or not. Thanks for pointing this out with the Dune...guess I could use the Plasma for it if need be


Once I got my Dune, I stopped paying attention to what every other product was doing, so I can't really give you any comparisons.

Thanks for the reply.


Y
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1812 /forum/post/20809494


The Dune isn't optimized for photo playback. It works, but it is not the best slideshow I've ever seen. HDI's focus has been first and foremost on video playback, with everything else secondary. I haven't tried photos on the most recent firmware, so perhaps something has been improved. Hopefully others will chime in.

I have the D1 w/latest FW, photo playback is solid if unspectacular.

I shove the SD card from our camera in the D1's front SD cardslot, a second later the SD card shows up on the Dune's media menu- I drill down to the actual photo folder- highlight the first jpg file and hit play on the remote. It starts the slideshow- with simple transition effects, pause & zoom works if you want to dwell on and examine a particular photo. It also auto rotates portrait mode photos so they're rightside up. I don't know how it determines which end is up on the portrait shots- but I hold out camera with the shutter button down, my wife holds it with shutter button up- which gives you two different orientations for your portrait shots. Somehow the Dune hasn't guessed incorrectly even once on which end is up on the portrait shots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbone1026 /forum/post/20809967


Honestly HTPC is your best bet


The Dunes are great (I have two) but lack in the Photo department. I would say Photos lack on most media devices. Most of what you are looking for is not really standard in media players yet (Netflix is only on a handful of players such as Boxee ox, Roku, etc...), web surfing is poor, etc...

I have my laptop for surfing so I don't see the need for the HTPC in my living room anymore.


What exactly lacks in the photo dept? Picture quality? Organization? I have Photoshop for edittng and organizing on my home office PC so the media player would simply be for family viewing of the photo albums
 

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Does your Rotel have multichannel analog inputs?


If so give Mike a call at DunePlayer ... maybe he can hook you up with an older Base 3.0 HD... This unit has multichannel analog outputs and is what I first used with my older Prepro that didn't have HDMI. It works awesome... Then when you get a new PrePro... you will still be able to use the HDMIs on the Dune.


Unfortunately, the only Dune that currently supports multichannel analog outputs is the Max... which is pretty steep in cost compared to what the base originally was.


When you finally do get setup with a Dune... you will not be looking at any other players for quite some time.


Best of luck
 

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The photo interface is fine but not great. On my RokuLabs HD1000 circa 2001, the photo interface generated thumbnails from which you could click to get the full pic. The Dune presents just a list of files. If you want to see a particular file, you can click on it or click on a directory to see all of the files. You can also create a playlist ahead of time or select multiple files at once to create a playlist on the fly. You can zoom and pan on any photo. The Sigma chip is not the fastest at rendering photo files but it is reasonable.


The Dune does an incredible job with music, in particular it plays every hi-res or low-res audio file I throw at it. It will simultaneously output digital and analog so that I can actually use it via multiple zones on my pre/pro. The built in music interface is lacking but using Musicnizer to create a coverart style jukebox is simple. The Dune will output multichannel audio via toslink and hdmi.


I am a video/audio snob, so I do not have the patience for NetFlix, but if you NEED it, you can use a program called PlayOn that you install in your pc and the Dune will use Upnp to then display Netflix, pandora, hulu, youtube, espn, etc.


The web interface is usable but be prepared to purchase a wireless keyboard to really make use of it. My cheapo Logitech keyboard and mouse works fine on it.
 

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dbone's statement was pretty much right on target for what you're looking for.........unless you're willing to make a few sacrifices


Do you want/need 1080p playback?

Do you need Dolby HD/ DTS-MA 7.1 audio playback?

Do you currently have a movie file collection and multiple formats/containers?


I made 'a few' sacrifices to get as close to an all in one solution as i could. I sacrificed 1080p playback for 720. All of my screens are 12-15ft from the viewer and proportionaly sized. The difference is negligable at best. My movie files are a bit of a hassle to encode and add to the library but once they're in, they're solid stutter free with excellent PQ and sound. No HD codecs but they're not BD rips anyways. I've got a BD player for that.


So the device i chose was the Apple TV2. It has an excellent GUI, Netflix, Youtube, Access to all of my iTunes music and movie content and....it just WORKS. No tweeking,tuning,code writing, troubleshooting,etc. For me, it was well worth the tradeoffs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes, I'd like 1080P playback for sure.


All my vid files are scattered in no particular order/format. Typically I search by folder name. Guess I have work to do if I want it to look nice in the GUI.


As far as my Rotel, yes it has multichannel analog out. I use this from my Oppo for SACD and DVD-A. The Rotel does not handle the newer HD audio formats Dolby HD/ DTS-MA 7.1


My plan would be to use an optical out from the Dune if (it has one) and the HDMI out for video.


I already have an HTPC, I hardly ever fire it up which is why I am looking at the media player for ease of us.


Can I get the same audio and video quality out of a Dune with built in BD as I do with OPPO or am I asking for too much here.


Recap......I DO NOT need an audio interface, my Sonos handles all my FLAC files
 

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Have you looked into the Boxee Box? I rarely use it for viewing photos, so I'm not sure how great the experience is, but it can be used to view them. One of the only drawbacks with it right now is problems bitstreaming HD audio formats, but you indicate you don't need that capability. It has a great UI that doesn't require a lot of effort, a great Netflix interface, and a web browser.
 

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I don't think you're missing anything. It's just a little confusing reading your original post and the responses as to what exactly you are trying to accomplish.


As the discussion has progressed, here's my understanding:

(a) Music - don't care - you're still going to use Sonos (though the Dune can handle music also).

(b) BD/DVD - continue to use Oppo unless the media player has the capability with equivalent a/v.

(c) Web surfing - this would be sporadic, not a necessary item (frankly, you'd be better off using a smartphone/tablet/laptop than a media player)


So, your REAL needs are:

(1) Photo playback

(2) Movie/Video files playback (a range of file types, formats, and codecs).

(3) Possibly Netflix, but you can handle that otherwise if not included.


Does that sum things up?


Both the Dune HD Max and Smart B1 will meet (1) and (2) using your stated requirements of HDMI & Optical connections, as well as let you evaluate it's playback ability to handle (b) above and potentially replace the Oppo. For (3) you would need to use Netflix on your tv or through the PlayOn workaround noted above. And yes, if you want a pretty GUI for video selection, you will need to do some work on your file collection. It also sounds like you might have many different formats. While most media players support a wide variety, bear in mind that not every file is supported (hence one reason some suggest HTPC).


I think what has many saying HTPC is that they are thinking you want EVERYTHING in your list, and that really can only be accomplished (best) by an HTPC at this point in the game (truthfully, the first thing that entered my mind when I read your first post was "HTPC"). However, if you take out items (c) and (3) above (given the caveat of using PlayOn to accomplish (3) on the Dune), you can easily accomplish the other requirements with a media player, and the Dune is a top-notch component to put into your system.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fmzip
Why? What am I missing here. All my files are on a NAS
The problem is that few media players have a decent photo display capability. Most don't have Netflix. The Apple TV doesn't have 1080p yet. Most have a terrible GUI ( the Boxee Box being an exception) and require the use of an external Jukebox which you manage from a computer. What about the WDTV Hub? It is popular and has a built in gui. It comes with local storage which may or may not be important to you. It's available from places that accept returns. To me you should almost never buy a media player unless you can return it with no restocking fee, no questions asked. That would argue for something you can buy at a local place such as Best Buy or Amazon. Both the Boxee Box and WDTV Hub fit the bill on that count.


You can get a quiet fan less HTPC which is small and costs not much more than a media player. Far more flexible and assuming you sort out the remote issues it will display photos easily. Shuttle, Zotac, etc ... make really nice ones and the new Mac Mini is also something to think about.


The problem I now have with the PCH-C200, which I have and the Dune line is that these are very expensive with no premium content. They exist in large part because of relatively easy access to questionable content. The lack of premium content means they will become increasingly unimportant as time goes by. To me, this argues for an HTPC or a Boxee Box or one of the WDTV ( ).


Philip
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishdoom /forum/post/20825058


Have you looked into the Boxee Box? I rarely use it for viewing photos, so I'm not sure how great the experience is, but it can be used to view them. One of the only drawbacks with it right now is problems bitstreaming HD audio formats, but you indicate you don't need that capability. It has a great UI that doesn't require a lot of effort, a great Netflix interface, and a web browser.

I'd second the Boxee Box suggestion. A few months ago I did a ton of research into streamers and had settled on the Boxee. Then Logitech dropped the price on the Revue and I went with it instead, but really only because I like the way it integrates with the DVR. I understand why you don't use the HTPC. I ditched mine a while back too.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmystikcfl /forum/post/0



I'd second the Boxee Box suggestion. A few months ago I did a ton of research into streamers and had settled on the Boxee. Then Logitech dropped the price on the Revue and I went with it instead, but really only because I like the way it integrates with the DVR. I understand why you don't use the HTPC. I ditched mine a while back too.

I agree with you that the Boxee Box would be a great way to go or at least to try first. My main issue with it was the fan.


I went through a media player phase and have mostly returned to the HTPC world with a Mac Mini and a Shuttle passively cooled slim Ion based system. Both the Mini and the Shuttle have required zero maintenance ( and I run XBMC over windows 7 on the Shuttle). Browsing on either the Mini or the Shuttle is ages ahead of anything on a media player.


HTPC's are far more flexible and have reached the point of being low maintenance, unless you start using them as PVR's. Then things get messy.


Philip
 
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