Hands On: Kaleidescape Movie Server and Disc Vault

The king of media servers continues to evolve.


Since the company’s introduction, the Kaleidescape line of hard-drive-bases media servers have taken the throne as the king of all movie devices. That kind of accolade , from both Kaleidescape owners and professional installers, is due to the system’s ease of use and performance, and also to the fact that the company has consistently stood nose-to-nose with the movie industry (which doesn’t particularly like what this device does) and not flinched.

Despite ongoing legal battles with Hollywood, the company continues to innovate new products. Wanting to demonstrate how easy its products are to set up and operate, Kaleidescape sent me its KSERVER-1500 1U rack server with 6TBs of storage, as well as its M500 player, modular Disc Vault, some support accessories, and pre-loaded Essential DVD and Best of Blu-ray collections.

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The rack server is a RAID-enabled unit capable of providing multiple terabytes (TB) of storage and network integration for metadata retrieval.

The M500 is the brains through its inclusion of components such as a Blu-ray drive, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio HD decoding, bitstream audio outputs and a user interface that can make Apple envious. The M500 facilitates home CD/DVD library content ripping and management.

The Disc Vault provides a means of storing and managing Blu-ray collections. It holds up to 100 discs, and dealers can utilize multiple Vaults as long as they are connected to the M-Class products.

As for software, Kaleidescape offers a growing selection of media packages that it can pre-load.

I ran an Ethernet cable to the demo unit’s router and I connected an HDMI cable from the M500 to a Key Digital video processor. I linked an optical cable to the M500, ran it to my Bryston pre/pro, connected the Vault to the M500 via USB and powered everything except for the Vault.

Per Kaleidescape’s instructions, I turned the components on so I could verify the latest version of its operating system. After seeing version 4.0.1, I rebooted it, which activated an automatic update, and with the download installed I plugged in the Vault and began to load Blu-ray discs.

I tried to access the dealer menus by typing in “my-kaleidescape” into my PC’s browser. With the link not working, I entered an internal IP address, which successfully brought me to the “installer” menu where I was able to select the proper audio output.

The entire setup took about 60 minutes.

Driven by a user interface that’s so good and intuitive, my family and I found the system simple to navigate for content. With choices such as Dora the Explorer, The Backyardigans and Disney/Pixar titles, even my kids were completely engaged.

The system also became a big conversation topic with family and friends visiting during the holidays. Most of their questions dealt with the interface, which wowed everyone, and the impressive storage capabilities.

Content looks every bit as good as the master hard copies, with no added noise or artifacts. DVD material like The Princess Bride, for example, presented with fine quality from a Digital Projection Cine-260 projector. Also, the pure speed was very good, even Blu-ray loading worked instantaneously.

I found system’s ability to rip and catalog content, as well as include accurate metadata, worked within a reasonable time line. About the only thing negative I can point to is the propensity of the cover art menu to rearrange the titles before you finish reading the descriptions.

I know there’s a lot of engineering, but I’m not going pretend that any server system is a “value” at Kaleidescape’s luxury range. That said, no one has ever questioned the reliability and potential of such a “go-to” product line. Kaleidescape has established its products as the benchmark in the category and I found the system lived up to its reputation as the best server line on the market.


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