My Kaleidescape Escape: Checking out the 1U Server and M700 Disc Vault

Living the life of the 1 percent with the ultimate entertainment server


I’ve been living the life of the 1 percent for the past few weeks, thanks to a Kaleidescape movie server. As Ferris said, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

So what’s life like with Kaleidescape?

While most of the country was watching a game being played in Indianapolis, I was flipping through several hundred movies until I settled on one then spent my Sunday evening happy that I was avoiding those overhyped Super Bowl commercials. Not once throughout the entire Raiders of the Lost Ark or 300 did MIA or anyone else try to flip me the bird.

On Super Bowl evening, you’ll find nothing of any great value on other networks because no one wants to compete with the big game (unless you count Animal Planet’s adorable Puppy Bowl). But I had access to a huge movie collection, delivered quickly, without buffering or compression artifacts, and I didn’t have to dig through the shelves and boxes with discs or wait through painful load times as some internet service refreshed itself on my screen.

While waiting for my favorite TV show, Walking Dead, to return for the season, I had my horror show cravings covered with a great selection of scare flicks. Yes, I’m spoiled.

Well, at least for a few weeks I was spoiled.

But back to my story. Kaleidescape is a movie server—the movie server—for anyone who wants a serious luxury home theater experience. Sure, the projector, the speakers, even the touchpanel remote, will get some oohs and aahs when you fire them up, but nothing beats watching guests’ eyes when they see you cruising around on screen through hundreds of movies in Minority Report fashion. There’s a good reason why Kaleidescape servers show up on most of the Electronic House award winning theaters.

The Kaleidescape I used combined both DVD and Blu-ray discs titles into one system using a 1U server and an M700 Disc Vault. Both kinds of discs get copied and stored onto hard drive bays that slide easily into drive slots on the 1U server, which can hold over 1,000 DVD titles or 225 Blu-ray discs (a 3U server can hold 5,400/900 DVD/BD discs). The original DVDs can then get stored in your closet, under the bed or buried outside under the dog house. Blu-ray discs actually remain part of the system in a carousel device (the M700) that is connected to the 1U via an Ethernet cord so that that the system knows you actually own the discs and didn’t just copy them and return them to Wal-Mart. I’m not sure why that’s so important to the movie studios because what K-scape owner is so cheap to have to rip off discs… but I’m getting off the subject.

Anyway, the K-scape doesn’t copy the movies the way iTunes or other music ripping apps do. This system makes a bit-for-bit copy of the movie and everything else—the metadata, bonus features, yup, everything, so that you end up with the exact same quality experience of watching off the original disc, without worry that your three-year-old copy of Twilight has accumulated any fatal scratches since the last time you knew where it was.

I spent this time with the K-scape system not to do a full-fledged review. Electronic House actually published a review by Robert Archer of the M500 player last year (you can read it here). And in truth, there’s really not that much to say. It’s an incredibly easy to use system, and does exactly what it promises to do. It offers a huge amount of content (limited only by what you purchase and add to it) that is easily accessible. Most system owners have their K-scape integrated into an audio/video distribution system, so they can access their media collection from multiple locations and do neat things like start a movie in one room and finish it in another.

There are some other cool tricks that add to the wow factor of this system. When surfing around the cover art menu for something to watch, it will intuitively reorganize the menu when you hover over a particular title then display movies with similarities to that title. For example, if you scroll over Gladiator, the menu titles around Gladiator will all change to other action or historical dramas, thus making it easier to find something you want to watch.

A recently added scenes feature lets you easily find favorite movie scenes and add new favorite scenes. Being a person with a short attention span, I loved this. I could flip around and just watch scenes with amazing explosions without having to search through shelves or cabinets full of single discs.

Don’t even try to compare this to searching for a movie on a Netflix-connected TV or cable video-on-demand service. I’ve given up and picked up a book some nights waiting for those menus to load or the movies to stream. Kaleidescape is instant gratification.

Of course this kind of fun comes at a price. The system I borrowed cost over $20,000, and that’s before installation, wiring and all that. Kaleidescape isn’t for people who worry about such things. It’s for people who want the best of what’s available. I have a big movie collection myself. Some of it is in a cabinet in the living room (piled, shoved and squeezed into that cabinet), while 80 percent of the collection is in boxes and storage bins in the basement. Many of the disc boxes are probably missing their discs, and even if they’re in the right box, finding a movie is often more trouble than it’s worth. For that alone, many people would find the Kaleidescape worth the investment even if it didn’t perform as splendidly as it does. And it does.

Read about how one family uses their Kaleidescape.


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