Earlier this week a court basically told Kaleidescape that the DVD movie server they sell is illegal and they have to stop doing it. I won’t get into the detail of the case here (but if you want to learn all about it, you can read a thorough analysis at our sister publication CE Pro), but I’ll say that the Kaleidescape system has been for several years the premier video product for luxury home theaters and integrated homes. It’s not some hacked system any kid can build (we’ll look at some of those later). This is a well-engineered, licensed and supported product favored by many custom installation professionals.
But that product’s future is now in question. If it were out of the picture in it’s current incarnation (we have no doubt Kaleidescape will work on an agreeable solution), what then is left for people who love their massive movie collections? Music collectors found nirvana in iTunes, music servers and iPods. To combat crappy compression you can encode at higher rates, use FLAC or a handful of other high resolution formats—still, managing and accessing a massive music collection really isn’t difficult.
But then there’s movies. Why should movies be treated differently than music? There are reason that lawyers understand, but me, I just get mad. I can take the CD collection I spent years and thousands of dollars amassing, rip them legally onto my computer (because I own the CDs, own the computer, and own the iPod the music will eventually land on), but I can’t do anything remotely like that with my movies. And I’ve got boxes and boxes of them. Garage sales at my house are great because I usually end up selling tons of movies for a buck each because I don’t have anywhere to put them.
So back to the question: What’s the best way to manage your movie collection, now?
My guess is that movie studios want that way to be something akin to UltraViolet and what Walmart (shudder) and Vudu announced yesterday. Oh gee, I can’t wait to line up to pay $2-$5 to watch movies I already paid $15-$30 for when I bought the discs. Sure, that’s gonna work.
What about Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services? Should we just give up on the idea of owning movies and instead rely on VOD-style services? To be honest, that method serves my home pretty well. It let me catch up on old episodes of Jericho last week and the season finale of Walking Dead I missed on Sunday night (why didn’t my DVR get it?). But it’s no way to watch a high-quality movie if I want the best picture and sound. For that, I buy a Blu-ray.
Is turning to cloak and dagger DVD ripping software the way to go? Not if it could land me in legal hot water. I like my kids, but I don’t want them visiting me in jail.
So far, the industry and movie studios haven’t given us a fair and reasonable option. At this point I don’t really think they want to. I’d really like to know what other people do.
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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. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.