I Tried Two Network Players: Zappiti Mini 4K HDR and Dune HD 4K Solo

Introduction

In my home theater, master bedroom, and home office audio/video systems, I enjoy the convenience of having my entire video collection at my immediate fingertips via a Synology NAS and networked Oppo UDP-203 and UDP-205 4K blu-ray players. I was interested in extending that same convenience to my guest bedrooms...but I didn't want to pay the Oppo price and I didn't want...or need...media players that had a disc transport. I evaluated a Zappiti Mini 4K HDR ($249) and a Dune HD 4K Solo ($360).

Both Dune and Zappiti warn that the wifi performance of these players is iffy. However, some owners have reported good playback results with 2K and 4K media streamed wirelessly.

The Dune and Zappiti players were each tested in all guest bedrooms. The 5 GHz wifi signal was transmitted from the Amped Wireless Athena-EX AC2600 range extender in the home theater system. The farthest distance between the range extender and a player was 33 feet.

One of my Oppo UDP-203 ($549) blu-ray players was also tested in each bedroom and it performed flawlessly over 5 GHz wifi. No 4K media was played...only blu-rays ripped to BDMV folders, DVDs ripped to MKV format, and 720p and 1080p mp4 videos.

The television in each room was a 32 inch LG 32LF500B 720p LED TV. HDMI cables were 6 foot SecurOMax.

Dune HD 4K Solo

Blue-ray and DVD videos were very slow to load over wifi, on the order of 30 to 90 seconds. Load times were cut to 15 seconds over a wired Ethernet connection. However, even with a wired connection, the player would sometimes freeze and require a hard restart if I used the chapter forward/backward and fast forward/fast backward functions.

194ia8fj1bd3.jpg
Figure 1. The Dune player had a function where the file read time could be measured. This provided insight into how fast the file was being read from the server.

Dune file read times for Blu-ray content over wifi with an SMB connection was an average 8.7 MB/s.

Dune file read times for Blu-ray content over wifi with an NFS connection was an average 19 MB/s.

Dune file read times for Blu-ray content over a wired Ethernet connection with both SMB and NFS connections were an average 38 MB/s. A 50 foot Cat5e cable was ran from the player to the home theater system's range extender.

The available transmission speed reported from the range extender was 434 MB/s.

The information in the manual was incomplete regarding how to set up NFS shares. I had to search online to find an answer. There was also no information in the manual on how to do a factory reset. Again, I had to search online for the information.

Updating the Dune's firmware to the latest version did not improve network video delivery performance.

jdglh2hdppbc.jpg
Figure 2. Dune HD 4K Solo.

The Dune is able to play Blu-ray and DVD folders in disc emulation mode with full disc menu functionality. The Oppo players are able to play Blu-ray folders with full menu functionality, but not DVD folders. The Zappiti does not have menu functionality for either. I did not test the Dune's DVD folder playback because all my DVDs are in MKV format.

u3hac9ev2vr7.jpg
Figure 3. Dune HD 4K Solo test setup.

A USB keyboard and mouse can be connected to the Dune. This made setup much easier without having to "hunt and peck" using the on screen keyboard.

iqzhjogcvr47.jpg
Figure 4. Dune HD 4K Solo graphical user interface.

The Dune's graphical user interface is rather plain. Files and folders can be shown either as a list of names or as a group of icons.

The Dune's picture quality was brighter, clearer, and more detailed than the Zappiti, but not as good in those areas as the Oppo UDP-203.

Zappiti Mini 4K HDR

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Figure 5. Zappiti Mini 4K HDR.

I did not find a facility on the Zappiti similar to the Dune's file read time measurement. Blu-ray movies started 5 to 10 seconds sooner over wifi and wired connections compared to the Dune. There was also no freezing with chapter forward/backward and fast forward/fast backward functions.

The Zappiti'c case is metal compared to the Dune's hard plastic case.

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Figure 6. Zappiti Mini 4K HDR test setup.

Like the Dune, a USB keyboard and mouse can be connected, negating the need to use the cumbersome on-screen keyboard.

Ergonomically and aesthetically, I preferred the smaller, sleeker Dune player's remote over the larger, bulky Zappiti remote.

Oppo UDP-203

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Figure 7. The winner is...Oppo UDP-203. Nobody does it better.



I'm not sure why the Dune and Zappiti players have such abominable wifi performance. Perhaps a better radio receiver would have increased the size and cost of the player too much. The Dune's feature set and small form factor would have made it ideal for my guest bedrooms...if the wifi worked. I asked Oppo why was the wifi performance of their players so good. This was the answer I received:

"There is a built in WiFi antennae built into the side of the player and the player has plastic side panels to allow for better WiFi reception. So for most installations the player should get good WiFi performance as long as there are no major obstructions like shelves, blocking the signal."

The Oppo would be ideal in this application if I could get it in a version without the disc transport and in a smaller case.

m6ke87pz6otm.jpg
Figure 8. Oppo graphical interface. I've been spoiled by the Oppo's easy to navigate and informative high resolution graphical user interface.

Summary

Each of the three players evaluated demonstrated different feature sets and levels of performance. Each used a different system-on-chip (SoC) processor:

Dune HD 4K Solo - Sigma Designs SMP8758 SoC.
Zappiti Mini 4K HDR - Realtek RTD1295 SoC.
Oppo UDP-203 - MediaTek OP8591 SoC.

The Sigma Designs and Realtek chips are off-the-shelf parts. The MediaTek chip is a custom design commissioned by Oppo, and is claimed to be the result of a multi-million dollar research effort.

Neither the Dune nor the Zappiti had acceptable DVD or Blu-ray streaming performance over 5 GHz wifi. The Oppo's wifi streaming performance was perfect. Even with a wired Ethernet connection, the Dune's streaming performance was not glitch free. The Zappiti did not have streaming issues with wired Ethernet connection, but there were issues with subtitle display and there was no capability for menu-based playback for Blu-ray folders. Even if the Dune had been usable over a wired connection, I was looking at an additional cost of $100 per Ethernet drop.

Bear in mind that these performance results apply to my home network. Your results may be different.
"So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
"Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
"Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
"Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK

Comments

  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    Nice write up, thanks for sharing.

    I really like Plex, if you have a large video library it's worth checking out to see if it will do what you want. The great thing is you can run it full screen on any PC, you could snag one of those small HP Slice or Intel NUC models and run Plex on it in full screen mode and nobody would ever know it's a computer. I personally run Plex on the 4K Apple TVs around the house with great results, but there's no disc menu support with that option.
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,193
    With a Plex/NUC setup, how are remote control functions handled?
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    I honestly don’t know but assume there are third party remotes, just wanted to throw it out as an option in case you wanted something with a more feature rich interface
  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    May also want to take a look at the Chromecast Ultra, a lot of Plex users seem to like that one and it comes with a remote.
  • EndersShadowEndersShadow Posts: 15,602
    edited May 24
    With a Plex/NUC setup, how are remote control functions handled?

    Make it even more simple..... Plex Channel on a Roku (whichever one you want)..... Done..... I think the Plex Channel is FREE on Roku's.

    I run Plex Media Server on my HTPC, but use other devices to access my stuff (Roku's in my loft and bedroom, Xbox One downstairs). Super easy to use. Media is easily organized on the NAS and then you can adjust how you view it in Plex.

    You can also setup PLEX to have your media accessible OUTSIDE your house....

    I have all my music (and movies) from my house available to me via the Plex App on my iPhone/Laptop, etc (understanding there is a data aspect to it).

    You dont have kids (that I know of) but for me its a GODSEND to be able to watch our own house movies while staying at a hotel with the kids, or on a trip via their tablets.

    Roku's are stupid cheap, small and easy to use.

    I'd seriously consider using it. I went from a full on HTPC using Kodi and other methods to Plex and never looked back.

    Here is an example of the PC interface...
    tx2cf6gz9uem.jpg

    On the left side the Kids Movies & Non Kids Movies (under Libraries) are collated from a couple different folders across a couple hard drives on my HTPC. Music is a separate NAS entirely from the HTPC.

    The Top bar (All | Movies | By Title) are all drop downs that let you filter by Year, Genre, etc. All this info is pulled from the Metadata of the file (which you already have).

    You can adjust the art for a movie using a picture of the web, edit the metadata if its wrong and lots of other things.....

    Along the right side the letters let you jump to specific titles.

    There is lots more it does, so I will end my plug by saying give it a try.

    Plex server has a free version you can run on our NAS, and you can sign up for a free PLEX account as well and play with it on your laptop and any devices you have for super cheap.

    If you get a Plex Pass Lifetime membership (130 forever IIRC) you can download the app on any device free. Otherwise some of the apps cost like 4 bucks a shot.
    "....not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." William Bruce Cameron, Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking (1963)
  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    You also get those apps for free if you take the monthly subscription which is $5
  • ZLTFULZLTFUL Posts: 4,421
    I am so happy I paid for my lifetime Plex subscription when it was $75 but I wouldn't hesitate to do it again at 3 or 4 times the cost...it is that good.

    The system we had set up at LSAF was running Plex or Tidal the whole time and playing FLAC, DSD or MQA the whole time.
    "Some people find it easier to be conceited rather than correct."

    "Unwad those panties and have a good time man. We're all here to help each other, no matter how it might appear." DSkip
    2 Channel: Silverline Audio Sonatina MKI, Monitor 5 Series II, DIY Seas based bookies
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    HT: JTR Triple 8 LCRs, DIYSG Volt 8LX Surrounds, DIYSG Volt 6LX Atmos, 6 SI HT-18D2 Subs
    Guest BR 2 Channel: Swans D1080MKII
    Deck: Pyle BT Speaker pair with upgraded woofers
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,049
    Just curious Ray, why you felt a need to do this especially since they seemed sub par for your standards....and gear you already have.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    Tad 803 bookies
    Polk 500 surrounds
    Polk s35 center
    SVS SB-2000
    Sonos

    Music-

    Joule la-100 pre
    B&k 1403 amp
    Cary xciter dac
    Cullen modded Sonos
    ERA D5 bookies

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Analysis plus crystal oval ic's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,193
    tonyb wrote: »
    Just curious Ray, why you felt a need to do this especially since they seemed sub par for your standards....and gear you already have.

    These would not have been for me, but for house guests:
    In my home theater, master bedroom, and home office audio/video systems, I enjoy the convenience of having my entire video collection at my immediate fingertips via a Synology NAS and networked Oppo UDP-203 and UDP-205 4K blu-ray players. I was interested in extending that same convenience to my guest bedrooms...but I didn't want to pay the Oppo price and I didn't want...or need...media players that had a disc transport.

    The Dune player had the form factor, physical configuration, and all the features I wanted, but I couldn't get it to work with my home network. This fellow in Thailand was able to get his Dune HD 4K Solo to work on his 5 GHz wifi network:



    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • mrbironmrbiron Posts: 4,715
    Great write-up as usual.

    I can also 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Plex. Also have a lifetime subscription ($75 sale).
    I use an Amazon Fire TV (non-stick), wired connection, and the interface is perfect. Running plex off my HTPC. Starts, stops, skips in seconds.
    Fire TV comes with a remote making navigation a breeze and the form factor is a fraction that of the Dune. You should be able to find them pretty cheap on the used market or maybe just check the Amazon Fire Stick capabilities?

    Also stream to my iPad Pro, Xbox One, Fire Tablet, and cell phone
    Zu Audio Omen MK-1B's, Peachtree Decco65, Bryston BDA-2, Cheap TT, PS Audio UPC200, PS Audio AC3's, Zu Mission SC's, HTPC, One, Bottlehead Reduction & Crack w/Speedball
  • billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,741
    edited May 29
    Did you consider setting up Kodi on an Intel NUC?

    A NUC7PJYH1+4GB RAM+32GB SSD will probably be less than either of those off the shelf items. ($170+$35+$25) RAM and SSD from Ebay, NUC from Amazon. The NUC has AC wireless built in and built in IR receiver (works with Harmony).

    Install a LibreELEC "Milhouse" test build to support the latest Intel chips, 4k, etc. HDR support might be pretty far down the road, but 1080p support is totally there.

    I use Plex as well, but you would need a decent server to run that properly. You can run it on a WIndows PC, but you'd need to have it on 24/7, and be there when updates cause a reboot. Plex won't autostart after reboot on Windows unless you do some advanced configuration stuff. You would also not see the Disc menus etc.
    Main 2-ch:
    Sony SS-M9; LSA Statement Amplifier; VPI HW-19 Mk3/Sumiko Premier FT-4/Audio Technica AT15SA; Pass Labs DIY Pearl Phono; Sony SCD-C333ES SACD Changer; TEAC UD-301 DAC; Dell/WYSE 5010 (running Daphile); Sony ST-SA5ES Tuner; Nanotec Golden Strada speaker cables (SR+#79 Shotgun); Audioquest Coral interconnects
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,193
    I have considered the NUC/Kodi combo. The next thing I will try is an nVidia Shield running Kodi.
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • EndersShadowEndersShadow Posts: 15,602
    I have considered the NUC/Kodi combo. The next thing I will try is an nVidia Shield running Kodi.

    Ray, from a guest users perspective, you may find that Kodi is not as intuitive as you'd like for them. You also may get bogged down in doing the customizing it to work how you want.

    I say that as someone that used a highly tweaked KODI version on a HTPC. I spent a lot of time trying to customize it to make it as easy to use as possible. My wife hated it and never got on board.

    Plex worked on our existing devices in a very intuitive way. The ONLY downfall as stated is the lack of 4k support, and the loss of the DVD/Blu-Ray menus (which I didnt rip to begin with).

    For my guest's, I dont think I'd put in that much work TBH. Heck, the only 1080 device in my house in downstairs. The other devices using my PLEX server are only 720 and stereo and I've yet to have complaints.

    In your setup, PLEX would work perfect for your guest, and you could still use your existing setup in your HT.

    I'm pretty sure your NAS is up to the task of running Plex Server and distributing video to your different rooms.

    Heck my Plex "Server" is a Intel G3220, which is by no means "pricey" or a "fast" processor compared to most laptop or desktop systems. And it works fine and can dish out video to 3-4 devices easily at the same time.
    "....not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." William Bruce Cameron, Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking (1963)
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,049
    For house guests Ray ? I would think you'd want something with a bit more "ease of use" to it then. Besides that, do you want your house guests to stay in their rooms trying to figure out how to work electronics ? I would think any house guests you have came to see YOU, not what movies they can watch in their rooms.

    Throw an Amazon 4k firestick at 'em and be done.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    Tad 803 bookies
    Polk 500 surrounds
    Polk s35 center
    SVS SB-2000
    Sonos

    Music-

    Joule la-100 pre
    B&k 1403 amp
    Cary xciter dac
    Cullen modded Sonos
    ERA D5 bookies

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Analysis plus crystal oval ic's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable
  • billbillwbillbillw Posts: 5,741
    edited May 29
    If Kodi is setup with minimal menu items (just Movies, TV Shows, and Music), then it is every bit, if not more intuitive as Plex client is. I use both. My kids have no problem navigating either.

    Ray,
    The Nvidia Shield is a good setup for Kodi. AFAIK, everything works on it right now.
    Main 2-ch:
    Sony SS-M9; LSA Statement Amplifier; VPI HW-19 Mk3/Sumiko Premier FT-4/Audio Technica AT15SA; Pass Labs DIY Pearl Phono; Sony SCD-C333ES SACD Changer; TEAC UD-301 DAC; Dell/WYSE 5010 (running Daphile); Sony ST-SA5ES Tuner; Nanotec Golden Strada speaker cables (SR+#79 Shotgun); Audioquest Coral interconnects
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,193
    tonyb wrote: »
    For house guests Ray ? I would think you'd want something with a bit more "ease of use" to it then.

    The Dune and Zappiti players are as easy to use as a DVR or TV. Kodi is not difficult to navigate either.

    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • GospelTruthGospelTruth Posts: 302
    @DarqueKnight

    With the Synology that you already have, you can install the Plex Server. You get the basic server for nothing. You would need the membership if you want to open up all the options. I run Plex on my Synology 415+.

    In the settings for Plex, I don't do any transcoding. Files are transferred in the format and bitrate on the server. This saves processing power and I don't have the need to run Plex on a computer.

    For devices, we use the Roku players. I would suggest that you can get the Roku 4k player and download the Plex app for it. For us, it works like a charm.

    I don't believe you compress your files, but have the original .mkv files that come from the ripping process. With DVDs, I have had no issues with the .mkv files that are created. With Blu-ray, there have been some instances of stuttering, but again that could be the network and I have an older 5ghz router. Newer routers may prove better for throughput. Again, that depends on your router.

    I have followed your journey going to the Synology NAS. I know you are happy having your collection at your fingertips. As others have stated and in my own experience, Plex is the next best thing for viewing your library. Searching, images, categorization all take the experience to the next level.

    You have the tools to try in right now for free and can just install the Plex Server on the Synology by looking at the delivered apps under media. Easy peasy.

    If you have a smart TV, you may be able to get a Plex app on the TV and not even need a player. We have the Plex app on some of our smart TVs and it works fine. Give it a try.
    Speakers
    Energy RC-70 Mains, Energy RC-LRC Center, Energy RC-R (x4) Rear Channels, Energy RC-R (x2) Front Effects
    Polk 5jr+
    Polk SDA 2B
    Polk SDS 3.1TL

    Equipment
    Panamax 5510 Re-generator Power Conditioner
    Yamaha RX-V3800 Receiver
    Digital Sources: Sony CDP-X339ES CD Player, HHB CDR830 BurnIt Professional CD Recorder, Sony PS3, Oppo DV-983H DVD Player
    Analog Sources: Sony TC-K890ES Cassette, Nakamichi DR-1 Cassette, Technics SL-7 Turntable
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,193
    In your setup, PLEX would work perfect for your guest, and you could still use your existing setup in your HT.

    Plex would not work for me because all my Blu-rays are ripped to folders which preserve the original disc and menu structure. Plex does not play folders.

    I just finished evaluating an nVidia Shield. Its wireless streaming performance was excellent.

    72pcbsuyw85q.jpg


    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • DollarDaveDollarDave Posts: 2,528
    Nvidia shield and be done with it. Supports 4K and audio formats galore including Dolby atmos.
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,193
    Yes, that's what I decided to go with.
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
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