Dune HD Max review

The Dune HD Max does plenty of things - but none of them terribly well Tested at £400

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

We’d sooner it did less, better, but the Dune is bound to appeal to space-savers


  • +

    A stack of useful functionality in one regular-sized box


  • -

    Iffy ergonomics

  • -

    so-so picture and sound quality

  • -

    no way to surf the net

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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 player

As 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.

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.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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