Sunday, June 20, 2010

HDI Dune Prime 3.0 Part 3

First, I will run through USB playback test. Well, nothing big deal here as this is the basic that a player must handle well. Following that the tests will be direct streaming from my NAS, the central storage for all my data.

You may wonder why there is no USB icon on the main screen if you are observant to scan through every photo in the previous post. That's because I did not plug in any USB drive. Once plugged, there you go...


Press the Enter button on the RC will bring you into explorer view shown below, the view is configurable through the Appearance setup though...


Notice the different icons? Closer view...


The first 2 is just like ordinary folder icon whereas the third is a different one that indicates a Bluray folder (or Bluray disc structure). Let's get to the first folder first, we will get to Bluray matter later...


Now the file icon is a film roll, that indicates a playable movie file (in fact, this is a sample 1080p mkv file). The file name will scroll automatically if it's too long to display. One click away to play the file...


There is a blank screen of about 4-5 seconds to load the movie, DViCO 7000a has the same delay but at least there's a message "loading..." to prompt the user. During playback, you can change some playback setting such as toggle between audio streams and subtitles with the RC...


Beside the forward button, you can also fast forward with the right (or left to rewind) directional key in increment of 10 seconds...


All the basic (and must have) controls play well. Let's move on to the other mkv file...


Another 5 seconds of blank screen before the explorer screen reappear. In the explorer view as shown above, it not only lists the movie file but also other file types, you can differentiate it with the icon. Now play this mkv which is a sample of a Chinese movie...


Okay, the Chinese subtitle does not display properly, it comes out as ?????. It's an external SRT file. Changing the encoding in Miscellaneous setup yields the same result. Sigh. A big big no, but I will hold it until I try the same file with a different player, it could be a problem of the subtitle file.

Exit to the explorer view. Press the Pop Up Menu button on the RC brings you a familiar Windows-right-click context menu...


So this player has the basic file management ability. This is good, for instance, you can delete the file right after you're done with the movie. One thing I observe here is this player does not prompt whether to start playback from beginning or resume from last view point when you replay the movie. It's either auto resume or never depending on what you set in the Playback options in Miscellaneous setup. Also, if you have "Enable Subtitle by default" enabled in Playback options, you can only change the subtitle from one language to another but not able to adjust the other option like font size during playback. Disable that will not play the subtitle automatically but allow you to enter subtitle option.

Now try on the Bluray folder, this prompt pops up when click on the folder...


You're given option to open the folder in explorer view or to play the folder like a Bluray disc. Similar prompt when open DVD folder. Let's play it...


Look like not a good sign with this message. This Bluray title was bought recently from Amazon.com (dirt cheap!!) and ripped to the hard disk (digress a bit here, buy online is much cheaper than buy locally here which a title can cost you RM99 or more!). Meaning, the disc requires later version of Bluray Profile, there may be hardware limitation on this player to enjoy the additional interactive features. Nonetheless, the player is still capable to continue playing the movie without hiccup (movie menu then play).

Click on the Setup button brings up the contrast/hue/brightness and click on the Pop Up Menu button brings you the movie menu while the movie is still playing. When try on another Bluray movie, message above does not show up in this title. Other Bluray feature like U Control (PiP, Picture in Picture) is supported but not BD Live...


I will need to try it out the original disc. Likewise, Bluray in ISO format plays well by the player too.

That concludes the playback test and I am moving onto network test now. Click on Network Browser > SMB > Your workgroup > Shared server.


Direct browsing by SMB doesn't seem to work. So I go back to the main scree (home screen), press Pop Up Menu button and select New Network Folder...


New icon appears on the main screen. I like this feature as it allows you to specify the name you like to display on your main screen and not limited to the shared folder name that you connect to, as some times the shared folder name does not really make sense when appear on the player screen.

Click on the new icon brings you to the shared folder, if configured properly...



No problem playing back through SMB. Let's try with NFS protocol...


Select NFS instead of SMB and try with UDP before you try TCP option. The mount path (folder patch) is case sensitive. Check your NFS server for the mount path. I mount it to my Chinese movie collection and here's the result...


Bad bad bad. Just like the subtitle test above, the player does not support Chinese characters! Let's try another few...



Only the subtitle in Bluray titles play successfully. Other external or internally encoded (in mkv files) Chinese subtitles are either displayed in da Vinci codes or not detected at all! In addition, the player pauses in black screen for a second of two when you have a movie split into 2 files in the same folder. There's no seamless playback to play multiple files into a single stream. The playback is also shuddering when streaming high quality MPG and TS files, I have to stop and replay to get a smooth streaming. Hmmm... I have to get another player to find out if this is due to the 100Mbps network I have now.

One last test on the network is the UPnP feature. I enabled UPnP server on my NAS, go to Network Browser > UPnP > NAS...



Again, Chinese characters become ???. Dune Prime has no problem streaming mkv file via UPnP but Bluray files are transcoded (from m2ts) to mpg format, therefore you lose all the bluray quality outputs and features. Other UPnP features highly depend on the server, I believe the baseline here is that the player is capable of UPnP.

Look like there are more to discover and need to get back Bluray disc for testing too. Short conclusion for now, this player is quite decent in supporting many different file types, flawless on most aspect but some hiccups (playback mpg file) which I believe upcoming firmware will be able to address it. The big draw back is the Chinese character (or Unicode support) support. I suspect the support is already there (since Chinese subtitle in Bluray displays perfectly) but needing some tweaks to make it work outside of Bluray.

Stop for now. Not sure if I would have time to CSI further. Till then, I will share more discoveries.

p/s: copyright of the scenes sampled in this post belongs to respective owners/companies. It's illustrated here for testing purpose only.