Dune is no stranger to squeezing a quart into a pint pot, but with the HD Max it’s surpassed itself.
This is ostensibly a Blu-ray disc player; but, in addition to the usual online and networking features that show up on rivals costing a quarter of the price, the HD Max has some extra functionality.
As well as Blu-ray, DVD and CD playback, and in addition to network streaming of music up to 24bit/192kbps and video of many formats, the HD Max also includes: an integrated HDD rack with hot-swap ability; an SD card slot; 7.1-channel bitstream and LPCM decoding; internet radio; three USB slots that can be used for a wi-fi dongle, DVT tuner or external HDD playback.
Ergonomically, the Dune is so-so: disc-loading times are lengthy, the remote control is convoluted (and the iDevice remote app is the most literal of its type we’ve seen – a straightforward replica of the handset).
On-screen menus are humdrum. And just as these traits become more and more niggly over time, the Dune’s overall performance is similarly troublesome.Only an average Blu-ray playerAs a Blu-ray player, it’s average at best. Pictures are slightly soft and a little noisy, and while the HD Max deals with motion confidently and draws from an expansive colour palette, it’s spooked by complex patterns and is short of fine detail.
More after the break
High-def soundtracks are delivered in matter-of-fact style, with little dynamic emphasis and, again, a shortage of outright detail.
This same flatness is apparent in the Dune’s across-the-board performance. It may stream high-def audio, but you won’t automatically recognise it as such, and online it’s slow and clunky.
We’ve nothing but admiration for the sheer flexibility of the HD Max, but it’s infuriating to use – you can buy an excellent Blu-ray player and a decent laptop for this sort of money – and that’s what we’d be tempted to do.