Kaleidescape Hard Drive Movie Server Entering New Phase
Injunction reduces product functionality, but Kaleidescape answers with downloads.
June 04, 2014 by Grant Clauser

If you’ve had any interest in a Kaleidescape DVD movie server for your home theater or media room, you’ve got between now and November 30 to buy one before it loses a key part of its appeal.

For years Kaleidescape has been waging a legal war with the dark side, otherwise known as the DVD Copy Control Association. Those are the folks who won’t let you do with your movies what you already do with your music.

Anyway, Kaleidescape last month settled a decade-long lawsuit (lots more info on that here) with the CCA over the Content Scramble System (CSS). The settlement terms require that Kaleidescape systems purchased after the injunction date will no longer be able to import (copy) CSS-protected DVDs (pretty much all the ones you’d want to own) to its hard drive movie server. You’ll still be able to play your DVDs on a Kaleidescape player, and the discs will start directly from the beginning of the movie, rather than force you to sit through boring trailers, but that’s it.

If you want the full-featured Kaleidescape experience, then you better get your system now. After November 30 it will be a download-only device for storing DVDs equivalent movies. For importing Blu-ray discs, you’ll still need a Kaleidescape disc vault attached (which has always been the case).

I should probably make it clear here—this injunction doesn’t change how Kaleidescape plays, imports or stores Blu-ray discs. This news refers to DVDs only, which you probably don’t buy anymore anyway.

The spin of all this is that Kaleidescape expects to have “most DVD movies available for download from the Kaleidescape Store in the United States.” Currently the Kaleidescape store, which lets you download either Blu-ray or DVD quality versions of movies, only has a couple of Hollywood studios represented, but perhaps this news about “most DVD movies” is a subtle announcement that more studios will be signing on soon.


The Kaleidescape video download store.

Kaleidescape clearly sees online delivery as key to the future of media, which is why the press announcement highlights movie downloads while downplaying the end of DVD copying. Kaleidescape has been moving in that direction for more than a year, ever since it first launched its online video store. Most recently Kaleidescape added more compatibility with UltraViolet, the Hollywood-approved system that lets users develop an online collection of virtual copies of movies held in the cloud.

Long before news of the injunction, Kaleidescape had been encouraging users to move from disc copying to downloads by offering a variety of ways to convert existing discs to UltraViolet copies or to upgrade DVDs to Blu-ray downloads.  The image below illustrates that:

Kaleidescape has won awards for its user-friendly interface and easy access to movies, scenes and features. That part of the product won’t change. The system has long been a favorite among owners of high-end home theaters who also value the pristine quality of a Blu-ray (or Blu-ray equivalent download) over the convenience of streaming services like Netflix.

Still, it’s a shame to see such an integral feature of the system go away. The entry-level product, Kaleidescape Cinema One (read our review here), will still cost $3,995, but it won’t do everything that it currently does. When I asked Kaleidescape about that, the company replied: “We have no plans to adjust prices after the injunction goes into effect,” but added that “for most DVDs that are imported today, Kaleidescape will provide Disc-to-Digital conversion to a downloaded movie of equivalent or better quality for a discounted price. This will be especially convenient for a customer with multiple Kaleidescape systems because the customer will be able to download those movies from the store to their other Kaleidescape systems, such as in a vacation home. In addition, a larger number of DVDs loaded this way will receive UltraViolet rights that enable playback on portable devices.”

Kaleidescape also noted that a new feature will make imported DVDs playable from a disc vault, similar, but not identical to the way it plays Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray discs can be copied onto the hard drive, but only played if the system knows that the physical disc is in the connected disc vault. The new DVD vault feature Kaleidescape hinted about sounds like it plays the disc from the vault and networks it to the Kaleidescape players in the house.

In any case, if you’ve toyed with the idea of getting a Kaleidescape system, now’s the time to do it.

More home theater help here:
7 Most Important Features in a Media Manager for Music and Movies
10 Home Theater Receivers Under $1,000
Great Basement Home Theaters

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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Comments (6) Most recent displayed first.
Posted by wifi apartamentos  on  06/19/14  at  08:10 AM

Thanks for share


wifi apartamentos

Posted by Paul  on  06/09/14  at  02:56 PM

Lee Ann:  What you are/were pondering was the same setup I used when I got into the digital server hobby.  While it work(s)ed reasonably well, there are still well documented issues with using HomeSharing and Apple TV.  I would frequently run into issues where a stream would just stop, or content wouldn’t load via the Apple TV, even though it would work flawlessly from a computer via iTunes.  The issues occured both when using wired and via wireless connection to the network.  To the best of my knowledge Apple still has not fixed this issue, as whatever was causing it is a complex issue, and difficult to replicate.

Posted by Lee Ann  on  06/09/14  at  12:39 PM

Clearly Peter is only handling small collections.  Not what a Kscape system is about. When users with seriously large collections and multiple homes, a suitable solution such as the Kscape is valuable.  I have tinkered with the idea of converting and loading all the 10-12k collection of movies and simply loading them on a NAS server with a simply interface such as Apple TV which does have a very nice interface.  But given the fact I can load these movies with an autoloader in a handful of days versus the months it would take to convert all of these to digital files.  Then I can also duplicate one Kscape server to another. Its well worth the money.
Plus, I know you are downgrading your quality by converting and when watching movies over the 80inch screen it is quit noticeable.
Kaleidescape is for those of us who want a quality experience with our movies.
There is no fast, cheap option for quality.

Posted by hometheater  on  06/09/14  at  12:10 PM

My understanding is that you can import Blu-rays to the Kaleidescape server and instantly play them back (provided the disc is in the system), but DVDs must be played off the disc itself and no copy can be made to the server.  Is that correct?

Posted by Paul  on  06/09/14  at  11:32 AM

Peter:  I’ll ignore the blatant legality issues and focus on the Kscape side of your statement, which like most people, I assume you have never seen or personally used.
I started my digital cinema hobby as many people do: by building a media server and basically trying to build a cheaper Kscape.  Between the time involved in ripping and adding meta data to my digital files and what seemed like constant ‘problems’ my wife and kids had using the system (which I thought was pretty darn simple), I looked for a bulletproof system where I wasn’t getting the blame for anything that went wrong.  Enter the Kscape system.  I have had my KScape server for about 4 years now, it has never crashed, frozen, disconnected from the network, or done anything other than work flawlessly. 
If you enjoy what you are doing currently, then good on you, but please don’t mistake your homebrewed product(s) for something with the elegance, reliability, and ease of use of a Kscape system.  Yes they are pricy, but when I added up all of the time I was spending on stuff I wouldn’t have to do with a Kscape, I decided it was worth spending the money on… and I haven’t regretted it for a second.


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