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Economical Housewide High-Def
October 14, 2009 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Blu-ray movies travel from five servers to 13 TVs with zero degradation—on a budget.
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Posted by Kevin  on  10/14  at  10:47 AM

I have to say this set-up is insane.  MyMovies is old and looks outdated.  Media Browser (which is free) is a much better choice.  Plus, you are reliant on buggy blu-ray playback software that has to be constantly updated. 

Plus, all the sound is analog, which is fine but is kind of silly.  If you are ripping everything to hard drives anyway, just convert them to 1080p MKV files with lossless audio.  Everything can be distributed then via HDMI.  No external player required and MCE can handle it with minimal codec updates.

If you want to avoid MKV files. the new ATI cards can now bitstream all the latest HD audio codecs.  Not bad for a $150 video card.  No need for analog.

Technically, this set-up is illegal in the U.S. I know it is in Canada so maybe they do not have a comparable DMCA law.

Posted by John Nemesh  on  10/14  at  02:38 PM

This is a very brave installer to be taking on this project!  First of all, there is the legal liability.  Hollywood does not like anyone ripping movies to a hard drive.  If they ever come knocking on the client’s door, guess where the finger points!  Even if you are in the “right” on this matter, most integrators would not even be able to afford the legal fees to defend themselves properly in court.  If you can’t afford $50,000+ for legal fees, stay far away from a system like this!

Additionally, you are setting yourself up for HOURS of wasted time dealing with computer related service calls.  I know Windows 7 is more stable than Vista or XP (supposedly), but it only takes one teenager poking around the system (or visiting a dubious website) to muck up the entire system. 

There is a REASON Kaleidescape is the price that it is.  It is the ONLY system that has proven technology that is RELIABLE, REDUNDANT, and LEGAL.  (dont even get me started on Escient Vision or iMerge or the other “experiments” out there)

If the customer can’t afford to do things properly, my advice would be to provide the infrastructure (cabling, matrix switches, remotes, etc) and let the customer build and maintain his own servers and software.

Posted by AV Guy  on  10/16  at  03:45 PM

I agree with the other posters. This is a TERRIBLE system that is just asking for problems. I have installed some high end media centers from Niveus and Inteset and they are always riddled with issues. Installing 4 or 5 networked together is like the perfect storm, and as others said has legal implications.

Not to mention there are some inaccuracies in this article. Kscape cannot natively handle digital photos like it does music and movies, although there are some workarounds. Also, they are doing HD distribution through component and claiming full 1080p. This is unlikely as almost no sources will output 1080p over component, although you will get 1080i HD. I realize component can carry 1080p, but normally that is never the use case.

Anyway, there are some better solutions than this that are cheaper than kscape, but i don’t want to go into them. At the end of the day though, for a system like this kscape should have been the way to go. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

Posted by DJ Gerling  on  10/16  at  07:53 PM

Just to clarify a few things:

1 . As far as the “Ripping” of movies, we did not provide services or information of techniques on copying the clients movies to the network system. The client actually already had more knowledge than us on the subject and had most DVDS already on a previous system. They just moved them from one system to the other. We were not involved in any way with these “questionable’ actions. We merely reccomended my movies as a catalog system. the client configured it himself. Essentially the network was provided by us for file sharing, but that was it. We do not get involved with what the customer does with their media. Initially the system was to distribute recorded TV programs to the various rooms for the kids.

MEDIA CENTRE DOES MORE THAN PLAY DVDS if you are not aware. It is a simple system that anyone can operate, which is what was required of the customer.
It was created to be a one system solution to Watch TV, listen to Music, View Photos, Listen to radio etc that even Grandma visting could use.

You should get off your high horses and respect what MEDIA CENTRE has done to build awareness for our industry. Before MC, Home Automation was seen as only available to the rich and famous. The average non-techy family could care less about it. There would be no LifeWare, Kscape, or HAI home control, to name a few, without Media Centre.
The entire home automation industry has been influenced by Media Centre in some way or another. Good or Bad.

By the way, does anyone own an iPod? You are not going to tell me that you have never illegally downloaded or ripped a CD legally with artists rights reserved!  It is the responsibility of the owner of the media they bought to decide what to do with it.

2. I myself have had a Media Centre system along with HAI home control in our home for many years with nay a hiccup. Even when we switched to Vista last year, still no problems. We use our system for watching TV, DVD’s/Blu-Rays (Using the Discs in DVD Changers) and sharing photos and music. Our family loves it. Granted being a “Windows PC” based system, there are possiblities for issues, but keep your “teenagers” with itchy fingers out by a simple password and you shouldn’t have many problems. A far as service calls, if one server goes down the rest still work, so the customer was fine with it if it happens (unlike one Kscape server for everything)

3. Kscape is a great product, Yes. No one disagrees with that, including myself. But it is still not technically LEGAL even after years of court battles. For now, it can be sold and used, against the MPAA’s wishes,  but who knows if it will stay that way. Copying and media you do not own the rights to is ILLEGAL, pure and simple, no matter what the manufacturers or “experts” say. I don’t think it will ever change.

4. To all you haters of “My Movies”
If you take the take to check it out, My Movies was originally created primarily as a catalog system for your DVD’s. Not a piracy machine! Yes it could use some sprucing up visually, and yes it isn’t the best for playback by any means. But it does WORK. By the way, you have an option when setting up your library to choose the “offline” option for playback. Meaning multiple DVD/CD and soon to be Blu Ray changers to store and playback your discs from Sony. This is a completely LEGAL way of using the interface for anyone who is interested. If you have a 1000 DVDs/CDs, trying to remember what you have is difficult to say the least. You can scroll through the DVD covers, pick what you want and LEGALLy play the movie exactly as if you were doing it the other way. Until the whole LEGAL thing is finally resolved, I choose this way. And it is a lot more cost effective to buy multiple changers than even one Kscape system and you are not putting all your “eggs” in one basket (machine). Talk about service calls if that one Kscape machine doesn’t want to work with 10 people waiting to watch a movie !!!

5. In a perfect world, HDMI will reign supreme. Until then, HDMI is not a proven reliable path for Video distribution. Any one that has tried to use HDMI has had problems with signal loss, no signal at all, or handshake issues. V1.3 has not fixed everything…yet. Until that happens, we (as well as others, I’m sure) will continue to use component video/digital audio for distribution. If it needs to be HDMI to the TV, use a scaler before the TV to upconvert the signal. We use the gefen and DVDO products and our customers can’t tell the difference afterwards nor do they care.

Concluded in next comment

Posted by DJ Gerling  on  10/16  at  07:54 PM

I wish I lived in an economy that every customer has the money to invest in a 16 input HDMI Balun Distribution system (does it even exist yet?) and a Kscape client in every room. We work hard for our clients to give them the best system they can get for their money and HDMI is not it…yet. I would love to sell the best of the best to every client and return to my 20,000 sq ft home in my gold plated lamborghini while stopping to buy a 40 carat diamond necklace for my beautiful wife. But that isn’t the world or economy we live in. The true challenge is to create a system that maximizes performance with the budget the customer has without sacrificing quality. 
If the customer is happy, isn’t that the point. 20% profit is better than 0% profiit beacuse you only want to sell the best and scare, or worse #### off the customer because it is the only way to do the project in your eyes.

I think you fellow “designers, installers” etc are missing the big picture here. Our job is to give our customers an avenue to add RELIABLE technology to their home making it more enjoyable for their family, but still keeping it within their budget. EVERY customer should be given the most attention to their needs and address them with proven technology solutions that work for them. This system was not designed to circumvent copyright protection laws, bankrupt the customer, or provide interfaces that are difficult to use just because they are the best money can buy (I have had my share of Kscape install issues as well). Nor was it an opportunity to run a clinic on how to design the Best system money can buy.

It was designed with the CUSTOMER in mind. Can my kids use it without me being there? YES!  Can my Mom use one remote easily to listen to her music while she is babysitting the kids? YES! Can my wife record her favorite TV programs and watch them in any room in the house later on? YES!  Can I enjoy listening to my satellite radio comedy channel while working in the garage on my cars? YES!  Is it easy to use?  YES!

Can I afford this right now for my family with all our other moving expenses and still get all the technology for my new home that I want?  YES!


Posted by armendiel  on  10/19  at  07:11 PM

Mr. Gerling,

You, sir, have earned yourself a cinema “slow clap.” Well played, and congratulations on what seems to be an excellent installation.

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