"what's up with release mechanism being under the binding? I'm sure that's first thing there gonna change for next year."
I'm not one for knowing what goes through the R&D departments at ski companies, but I tend to think that they're not looking to change that.
The reasoning behind the release being under the binding, from my perspective, is to prevent unintentional pre-release from accidentally flicking the release lever. They are meant to be more of an extreme AT binding.
As Whiteroom remarked, the Duke is looking to be the stopgap between alpine and AT bindings. It's really meant as more of an in-bounds set-up for short day hikes out of bounds of a resort, so primarily a lift-served AT set-up.
They're meant to be burly and heavy and to instill a feeling of the same, as opposed to the more "flimsy" feel of a more traditional AT binder like Naxo or Fritsche.
I rode a pair back in April and they felt burly and heavy and solid. That's why I plunked down on a pair.
Additionally, there's a ton of info about The Dukes floating around the Net, so much that you should be able to find plenty of early reviews, comparisons between Fritsches and Naxo, weight discussions, etc.
TGR has quite a number of threads focusing on all of these issues as it's a binding aimed at their core demo (a little moreso than here at Epic, though there are a number of us--Me, Bushwacker, Alpinedad, Sinecure, to name a few--who will be riding Dukes this season).