Dune HD Smart B1

Dune has a great background making media players with top performance.

This time, the premium member of the “smart” lineup is here for review. Dune Smart B1 it is!


Packaging – Specifications

Dune Smart B1 arrives in a relatively big (comparable to BLU RAY consumer boxes) carton box.

The media player has great protection just like everything else included (remote, charger, A/V cable, HDMI cable)

Specifications wise, Dune Smart B1 promises the best video playback in 1080p world.

Via LAN or locally, B1 can playback Full BLU RAY  .iso’s and rips with their menus.

Other popular codecs will playback fine as well.

Auto frame rate 24/50/60 makes sure that you will not have to worry about motion issues and HD Audio bit streaming (DTS Master Audio – True HD ) is also supported. 

A premium feature (as far as media players are concerned) is the addition of a BLU RAY drive, Cinavia free, which will play all of your cd/dvd/BD physical discs.

3D is not supported.

Smart B1 is sporting Sigma Designs 8642 (a high quality selection) processor with 512MB of RAM.

I/Os are rich (especially for video connections) with eSata port, 3 x USB 2.0, SD slot (preferably used for internal system storage), HDMI 1.4, Mbit LAN, 1 x optical out,1 x component and 1 x composite.

Wi-Fi is supported via external compatible USB sticks.




Media Player –€“ Remote

B1 has a premium build and design. An aluminum chassis is housing all the components and its clean design (half size with full depth) give a pro look.

The rounded feet almost give a Hi End look.

After many hours of playback, b1 only gets slightly warm. No overheating issues here due to the metal construction and the openings for heat dissipation.

The SD slot and 1 x USB is at the front and all others at the back. No cable management worries there.

BLU RAY drive at the front has quiet operation (has nothing to do with the noisier drive of previous Prime 3.0 v1 model) and does not look “cheap”.

The remote is the best out there in the media player world alongside the one used in Popcorn Hour A400/410 models.

Big, TV like size, with great grip and amazing feel when using the buttons.

Range is also very good.

The only thing missing is a back-lit feature.







 Menus – Settings

Dune has received a lot of criticism regarding the menu design.

Most of people find it a bit dated and old fashioned.

We think so too, but we like it because it is straight forward and very responsive, just like any “A/V purist” would like.

Boot speed is not that great, but it is not a big deal.

Main menu is cycle type with small rectangular icons in the center of the screen.

Settings menu is future rich regarding audio and video options.

Auto frame rate, color options and audio output ones are among others that are not easily found not only in media players but also in consumer BLU RAY drives.

Bottom line, there is no way you won’t find the proper options to connect to your A/V receiver or TV.




This is where the fun begins.

Playback of all sorts of 1080p video files was perfect. Correct 24p lock, correct gamma and a rich file support crown the Dune Smart B1 the king of 1080p media players.

Playback of all your full BLU RAY backups/ISOs/Remuxes is as good as it gets.

Pressing the info button on the remote when in playback provides information regarding the file played, including the bit rate.

Same thing with DVDs (a good scaling algorithm is here making SD look a lot better) and Divx/Xvid files (a software upgrade is needed for better XVID support).

All sorts of audio codecs can be pass through or down mixed.

All of the above apply for all inputs (LAN, USB, BLU RAY drive)

3D is not supported though (it was just starting to appear by the time of B1’s release).

Audio files (mp3, flac) play great, although the restriction of not being able to do other things (Browsing the menus, watching photos in other folders) other than watching the playlist is frustrating.

To sum up, 1080p file playback is the best out there. Class leading as far as media players are concerned.




Apps – Support

Many popular apps are found inside including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Web Browser.

Initially all of them worked fine although we do not recommend launching them without a wireless keyboard/mouse solution. We say “initially” because after specific updates in the firmware section made some of them unusable (YouTube, clock widget).

Bit torrent client is also included but do not expect anything special in terms of speed and number of connections.

Latest reports have the final firmware solving all of the above but by sacrificing the full menu playback regarding BLU RAY playback. Not an option for us since the apps were very laggy anyway due to the small amount of system RAM.

To increase speed, especially with full menus playback, use an extra SD as a system disk (formatted via the relevant option)

Support is great (Firmware updates still appear many years after its release) although, as stated above, some things get lost along the way.

With extra cost you can add DVB-T capabilities via external USB adapter that work really well.


The specific Dune lineup (Smart H1/D1/B1, Duo, Max) are the best out there for 1080p movie playback.

Sporting the best image quality and video features (Sigma processor, auto frame rate, full menus, BLU RAY drive, HD Audio) Dune Smart B1 is a media player for video playback purists who don’t care about bells and whistles in other areas (GUI, applications).


Kowan TV

(23 / 09 / 2016)


Time for something out of the ordinary.

KOWAN TV is a media player with dedicated orientation to Live TV and On Demand content.

Also for the first time we see custom Linux GUI which is extremely fast and elegant.

More in detail below





Packaging – Specifications

The Kowan TV comes in the best packaging we have seen so far.

When the user opens the box, comes face to face with the most well organized and stylish package.

Even the micro USB and HDMI cables are on their own premium-like pouches.

It reminds packaging of hi end motherboards for computers. Good job Kowan!

The specifications are on the higher mid range of media players.

Amlogic S812 is powerful enough and is accompanied with a Mali-450 GPU.

2GB of RAM is great and the “only” 8GB of ROM have actually no negative impact since Kowan TV is closed sourced and the free space available will be more than enough for everything you will ever need.

As expected, no Play Store (or any other store) exists for installation of any application or game.

Wi-Fi is draft N and wired LAN is Mbit which could do better with a gigabit one since we are dealing with a dedicated streamer.

No BT is available, but is not required for any of Kowan’s functions.

I/Os are typical with 2 x USB 2.0 ports, Optical out and of course HDMI 1.4 port.






Media player – Remote

Although Kowan TV is made of plastic, it is superbly designed with clean lines and all I/Os are located at the back for better cable management.

During use, a very distinctive led is lit.

Let’s check the multi-controller. It is without a doubt the best one we have seen in a media player box.

Excellent design and construction, with maximum productivity since the back side hosts a full keyboard quite comfortable in use.

The feeling in the hand is excellent which is also the case for the buttons as well.

It is also back-lit and it does not require batteries because it is charged via a micro USB port.






Menus – Settings

After a short boot, we are faced with a GUI quite similar with the one in Playstation.

Few tabs (Settings, On Demand, Music, Live TV and Add-Ons) are at the top and the user cycles through them with left-right button on the remote. Each tab has its relevant selections below.

We must emphasize that the overall menu navigation is extremely fast without lags.

In the settings menu, the user can select resolution, audio output and select options for download of subtitles and monitoring of system and network usage among others.









Tests – Performance

Both in the On Demand Live TV selections, the user will be find numerous channels and movie options.

In Live TV, the majority of channels are streamed over Filmon and the image quality is quite good, most often sd, but with good bit rate that appears satisfactorily at 40-46 inch TVs.

Of course there is no problem viewing at bigger screens, but the need for more analysis will become more obvious.

While viewing, you can browse the main menu or the EPG without interrupting playback.

In Both On Demand and Live TV selections, you can install more channels / services in a repository form.

As expected in cases with practically unlimited options there will be cases were the links will be broken. No fuss though, there are plenty of others to choose from.

Popular services like YouTube playback well, even in HD.

Regarding streaming of Music, numerous music radio stations are available which can be extended in a similar way (repositories like).

There is a file manager in which the user can navigate to the data of an attached USB stick/HDD, but we faced movie playback issues, in the audio sector. Having tried all the possible settings, we only managed to get 2.0 LPCM sound. Movies with DD / DTS played with no sound. Not even conversion to 2.0 PCM was possible. The hardware is capable for sure. It could be resolved with a software update.

We tried to upgrade via OTA, but no update was available.

Music files however had normal playback.



The Kowan TV is a unique box.

Aimed to the fans of (almost unlimited) Live TV and On Demand content in a absolutely elegant product both in terms of appearance and also in GUI/ usability. Almost premium.

We would like to thank www.geekbuying.com for sending the player in exchange of an unbiased presentation.