So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Dune HD TV-102AW media streamer
This simple, cheap media streamer is great for high-quality video
- Simple, powerful interface
- Interface needs polish
- No internal hard drive support
Dune’s smallest media streamer, designed to give your TV a new lease on life with access to your USB or networked movies and TV shows, is simple and cheap. It doesn’t have the flashiest interface, and you’ll need to pay more if you want to store media files on it, but for the price it’s a powerful piece of hardware.
Price$ 159.00 (AUD)
Dune HD is a Taiwanese company with a trio of media streamers. The Dune HD Base 3D, the current top dog, houses a 3.5-inch internal hard drive, while the lesser Dune HD TV-303D uses the same platform but moves to a 2.5-inch drive to save space. The TV-102AW doesn’t have any hard drive at all, so it’s even smaller again — it’s a competitor to WD’s Live TV and the Apple TV.
Dune HD TV-102AW: Design and features
The Dune HD TV-102AW is a squat, black rectangular box that looks quite similar to the aforementioned WD and Apple devices. Attach the included aerial to the Wi-Fi antenna jack on the TV-102AW’s rear (the -W is for Wi-Fi, naturally) and gains a little more personality, though.
The front of the TV-102AW is basic. There’s a red-or-blue power status LED, there’s an infrared receiver, and there’s a front-facing USB 2.0 port to which a portable hard drive or flash drive can be connected. The sides, top and base are entirely devoid of any feature, while the back has a small selection of input and output jacks — from left to right you’ll see a multi-puporse A/V output (which also supports SP/DIF coaxial digital audio), HDMI 1.4a, a 10/100 LAN port, a jack for an infrared extender, the Wi-Fi antenna and the power socket.
The remote control that’s bundled with the Dune HD TV-102AW has plenty of buttons, and is quite similar to the remote control bundled with the Oppo BDP-103 except for the lack of back-lighting (which helps a lot at night or in a dim room).
Dune HD TV-102AW: Performance and usage
The performance of the Dune HD TV-102AW is effectively identical to the Dune HD Base 3D, with which it shares the majority of its components and software. We recommend you read that review for more details.
The Dune HD TV-102AW’s interface is simple, with a series of rounded-corner squares arranged across the screen. You’ll mostly be using the Sources sub-menu, which shows you the file structure of any hard drive or flash drive you have attached, but the TV-102AW can also access YouTube and a small variety of other international video and media services through its rudimentary application store. This is only in its infancy but Dune says it’s set to grow in the near future.
What this Dune HD media streamer does well is play basically every file type that you throw at it. Unlike most other media streamers, which tend to have a few gaps in their codec support, the TV-102AW is effectively just as powerful as a media centre PC in terms of the number and variety of video and audio containers that it supports. If you have extremely high bit-rate HD video files saved in MKV containers — typically the most stressful file type for a media streamer to handle — the Dune HD TV-102AW will handle them without skipping a bit.
Supporting so many file types, we couldn’t find a single legitimate downloaded or home-made media file that the Dune HD TV-102AW couldn’t play. If the company continues to update the device to suit future codecs — it should have the processing power to support h.265, for example — the TV-102AW should be adequately future-proof. We’re confident of this going on the number of firmware updates that Dune HD has already released, and the speed with which the company has released them.
Dune HD TV-102AW: Conclusion
Dune’s TV-102AW is a simple media streamer, with an interface that’s not bad but not great. Its real talking point is its ability to play back basically any media, in a form factor that’s small enough to hide behind your TV.
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