Back to DRM and Lawsuits
The Blu-ray powers-that-be, including the AACSLA, don’t have a rule book for DRM, according to Malcolm.
“It’s just like with DVDs,” he says. “There is a set of organizations that you need to get licenses with. It’s the same old people, they just operate under another umbrella. It’s another shell organization that essentially is controlled by studios.”
As such, while the Blu-ray police run a battery of tests to ensure players meet certain performance parameters, you can’t approach “them” to vet a shiny new product.
But Kaleidescape is tiptoeing gently through the DRM landmine.
“Our strategy is to be confident that we comply with the agreements and try not to upset the studios,” Malcolm says. “They [studios] could not be worried about rent-rip-return if the disc has to be in the machine.”
Although it is quick to appease the Blu-ray gods, Kaleidescape is not about to put similar restrictions on DVD playback.
“With the DVD CCA license, we’re confident that products shipping today are within the four corners of the agreement and we comply,” Malcolm maintains.
Even so, he adds, “You never know what a court is going to do.”
The DVD loader will give Kaleidescape a nice fall-back in case the DVD CCA prevails in the lawsuit.
“If the court goes against us, this is plan ‘B’,” Malcolm says.
Regardless, a disc changer is a nice thing to have, according to Malcolm. “I have 1,200 DVDs loaded in vinyl. I’d rather have them in a loader.”
That way, the Malcolms can easily locate and eject “Dora the Explorer” for long road trips.
More on the M-Class Series
In addition to the M500 Blu-ray copier/player, Kaleidescape is coming out with the M300 player that omits the disc tray.
The M500 will retail for $3,995, or $1,000 more than its DVD-only equivalent, the 1080p Player. The M300 will retail for $2,495, or $500 more than the DVD-only 1080p Mini Player.
Both units have the processing power to render the Kaleidescape TV interface in native 1080p vs. the upscaled images rendered on current players.
M500 importer/player (bottom) and M300 player: $4,000 and $2,500 respectively
The resolution of the on-screen display (OSD) is one of Kaleidescape’s “major improvements to the UI [user interface],” says Wong. “We’ve been shipping for seven years and we haven’t really made substantial changes to the UI because customers love it.”
With the new OSD, “The cover art is much sharper, the color is brighter, and we changed the font to make it more readable,” Wong says.
The early feedback from integrators is “all fantastic,” according to Wong. “They love the user interface. They feel they can upgrade customers just on that alone.”
Enhanced processing power and new software makes the new M Class “a platform for future sources of content,” says Wong, but he’s vague when it comes to naming those “future sources.”
Integrators have been asking Kaleidescape for any kind of networking solution, either for streaming from a NAS or the Internet, or syncing with iTunes. But they won’t see that in this generation of product.
And certainly don’t expect streaming movie rentals a la Vudu or Netflix anytime soon.
“When we think of content delivered over the network,” says Wong, “we really think of it as something that people want to download and own. We view content coming from the Internet as another way to load into our system.”
The M-Class platform does not yet sync with iTunes, but “it’s still on our road map,” says Wong. Ditto for AVCHD, the format used by most high-def video cameras: “It’s on our list. There are lots of things on our list. We had to triage. Right now, we’re focused on commercially available Blu-ray. Home videos are very high on the list, especially given our focus on families with children.”
One of the “major improvements to the UI”
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Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.