May 11, 2010
| by Julie Jacobson
For seven years, Kaleidescape has been recognized as having the most reliable multiroom movie server.
But some have been twiddling their thumbs while the manufacturer developed a solution for Blu-ray storage.
Those who have been waiting will finally get what they wished for … sort of.
Two new M-Class players (M500, M300), which will ship May 18, let users add Blu-ray discs to a Kaleidescape movie library and play them throughout the house – with one major caveat: The physical disc must be in the DVD tray.
That DRM Thing
DVD copying is a sticky business. Real Networks lost a lawsuit last year for its RealDVD movie management software. And Kaleidescape has been battling the DVD CCA (Copy Control Association) since 2004. The DVD CCA, which licenses the Content Scrambling System for decrypting DVDs, maintains it is a violation of its licensing agreement to copy DVDs, even if the CSS remains intact.
In light of the murky DRM waters – and especially Kaleidescape’s highly publicized legal struggles – the industry has wondered if the company would even touch Blu-ray.
They’re touching it, but that’s about all for now.
The new M500 can copy Blu-ray discs onto a legacy Kaleidescape server. The Blu-rays, along with all of the metadata, appear in the standard Kaleidescape library.
“Just like DVDs, the Blu-rays are a pristine bit-for-bit copy,” says Linus Wong, director of product marketing.
In order to play a Blu-ray title, the physical disc must be in an M500 DVD tray. At least you can place it in any tray on the network. And, as Wong says, “Most installs would have a few M500 players.”
The system then verifies that the user actually owns the disc and didn’t simply rip it from a rental.
“One of the studios’ main concerns is that they’re worried about rentals – that someone going to rent a movie and copy it,” says Wong. “In our implementation, we require that a physical disc for Blu-ray be present when you play a movie.”
He admits, “It’s a little less convenient, but it’s an interim inconvenience.”
It’s just a short-term fix because Kaleidescape plans to introduce a multidisc changer next year. Users can load (and copy) their entire movie collection, and the server will validate that a Blu-ray disc is present before it plays. As before, standard DVDs can be copied and played without the extra measure of DRM.
So Why Bother?
The inconvenience notwithstanding, the M Series offers plenty of value to Blu-ray-loving consumers.
“It’s actually nice to even see on the [TV] screen what Blu-ray discs there are,” says Kaleidescape CEO Michael Malcolm. He notes that users can even sort their libraries by Blu-ray titles.
The complete library, including Blu-rays and DVDs ... or search only Blu-ray movies.
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.