Kaleidescape is well known for its ultra-high-end, ultra-expensive movie-server system as well as its legal battles over protecting the copyrights of movies that are imported from physical discs onto its hard-disk-based servers. Today, the company announced a new product that brings its highly regarded system to a wider audience.
The Cinema One is Kaleidescape's first product to be sold at retail rather than through custom installers. For a list price of $3995, the Cinema One can store and instantly access up to 100 Blu-ray or 600 DVD-quality movies, and two units can be combined to double the capacity and allow owners to view the combined library on a second TV.
The highlight of all Kaleidescape systems is the user interface that is based on the company's Movie Guide, which includes over a quarter million titles. Movies are presented with high-resolution cover art and a short synopsis; as users browse, the system highlights similar movies based on genre, director, actors, and more. Even better, movies are played without the delays of previews, menus, or ads. Cinema One also connects to any home-automation system, allowing one-touch integration of playback, lights, screen masking, etc. In addition, Kaleidescape's CinemaScape feature lets you use a fixed anamorphic lens on a projector and automatically processes the signal to display the correct aspect ratio on a 2.35:1 screen.
Movies can be imported into the Cinema One from physical discs via its optical disc drive or purchased from the online Kaleidescape Store, which offers movies with the same audio/video quality of Blu-ray discs. Downloads include all the special features, audio tracks, and extra content that is otherwise available only on the physical disc.
If you want to watch a Blu-ray title that was imported from a disc, that disc must be in the Cinema One's drive in order to comply with copyright law. This obviates some of the advantage offered by a movie server—after all, you still have to find the disc and put it in the drive to watch the movie.
The jury is still out—literally—on Kaleidescape's legal battles over DVDs as court appeals remain pending. Meanwhile, owners can import DVDs to the server and play them at will without needing to put the DVD in the drive. I found it interesting that the press release says, "...viewers can browse through hundreds of movies in a snap, no longer having to search through stacks of DVD cases." Notice it doesn't say, "...no longer having to search through stacks of Blu-ray cases," which you still have to do. And if the legal appeals don't go Kaleidescape's way, who knows what restrictions will be placed on existing owners?
For me, the bottom line is, if you don't already have the Blu-ray or DVD and you want the Cinema One server, get the titles from the Kaleidescape Store and avoid all the legal mishegas and having to insert a Blu-ray disc into the drive. That way, you can enjoy all that the Kaleidescape system has to offer—and it offers a lot.
The Cinema One is the first in Kaleidescape's Cinema line of more affordable products for smaller installations; the current high-end system will now be known as the Premiere line and is intended for professional custom installation. The new server is available at all Magnolia Design Centers, any of Kaleidescape's 1800 dealers worldwide, or directly from store.kaleidescape.com (US only).