Kaleidescape Strato Movie Player 4K HDR $4,500
So I bought a 10Tb Strato a week ago. This was my first K product. So here is my initial thoughts on the whole “K-experience”
I had considered jumping in years ago, but ultimately ended up building my own Blu-Ray server consisting of AnyDVD HD, MyMovies Collection Management , Dune Players, and Qnap NAS. I have two Qnap 8-bay NAS units with all 4TB drives, both in Raid 6 configuration, which yields 24Tb of usable space in each. Both of these NAS units are full of full Blu-Ray rips.
This really was a very easy to use and a completely automated system. Drop a Blu-Ray disc into my computer, and it automatically ripped the disc and cataloged it.
Then along came 4K Blu-Ray, and going back to loading 4K disc in either my Oppo or Panasonic player felt antiquated.
I have multiple Apple TV 4K units and they are by far my primary source for content. I watch tons of both Netflix and Amazon 4K and HDR Original Series. Narcos, Bloodline, House of Cards, The Crown, Stranger Things, Man in High Castle, etc. The quality of these shows is truly phenomenal considering they are streaming and not at super high bit rate. In addition to these services, the video quality of Apple 4K HDR movies is very impressive. The only real downside to the Apple TV is the lossy audio and no Atmos.
So here is where my journey starts with K. I decided long before ripping of UHD disc was even possible, that I had no interest in doing this. Ripping Blu-Ray disc at 35GB or so was one thing, but I had no interest in trying to rip these 60-100GB disc. And in this mobile world we live in now, I wanted a system that not only gives me true bit-for-bit quality of UHD disc, but I also want access to these titles on multiple devices, anytime, anywhere.
I fully believe that UV and MA both are extremely important to the success of K and their movie store. I hope to see MA added in the not so distant future. I understand that K doesn’t make anything off titles purchases elsewhere, but I’m not confident enough in K, to allow all my content to be locked solely into their ecosystem.
So my Strato has been running around the clock downloading only the UHD/HDR titles that I already had in my UV locker. I have just over 200 UHD/HDR titles in iTunes and of that about 70 of those UHD/HDR titles are also in UV.
I have no problem buying new content in the K-store as long as it has UV rights. I currently will not buy any title that doesn’t, unless it’s a movie I know I’m likely to watch multiple times. I also expect to buy the Terra server in a month or so. But considering that K has done away with all redundancy in these servers, if the K-store were to ever disappear, and we had a drive failure, we would have no way to re-build the content. Currently with the Strato / Terra, if you have a drive failure all the content has to be re-downloaded. This really brings me to my next thought. Considering the drive cost is so minor compared to product cost, the Strato should have either 2 6TB or 10TB disc in a mirrored configuration, so if one drive failed, you could simply change it and copy all the content over from the mirrored drive. This would be a way to protect all this content, in the event the K-store ever went away, and would be much faster than trying to re-download 6-10TB of data. My feeling is that K is only going to have a tougher and tougher time being successful as these other streaming devices continue to grow and quality continues to get better and better.
My thoughts on the “K-experience” which has long been touted as one of the best selling points for K. My first thought was, this is a little underwhelming. I’m sure back in the day when DVD and Blu-ray movies had to be played from the disc, and streaming services didn’t exist, this seemed like a monumental upgrade. But now with my home-made Blu-Ray server and with these Apple TV 4K unit, the operation of K almost feels slightly outdated. The on-screen GUI is ok, nothing amazing. The info provided on titles and extras are far more limited than what you get from a device like the Apple TV. Then there is the fact you have to do all your “shopping” on a computer. No searching for similar titles or certain actors and buying on-screen seems behind the times.
But I can live with these short coming for the one reason I bought the unit. So I didn’t have to get up to load UHD Blu-Ray movies into a player and I get the very best video and audio quality. I also love that I can finally buy early release titles, like Apple and others offer, but finally get those early releases in the best quality.
So here is how I hope to buy titles moving forward. I am willing to pay more for titles to support the K-store, but these titles need to support UV and be in 4K on Vudu. If they are in 4K on Vudu, any movie that I buy on the K-store will give me the best quality on K, but will also give me UHD UV rights and port over to Vudu. From there it will port over to Apple in UHD, as long as the title is in UHD on Vudu. Apple TV is certainly my second preferred method of viewing behind K. I’m not a big user of Vudu.
I’m hopeful K will soon support MA, and then my K purchases can port directly to Apple, which gives me the ability to play UHD/HDR titles in their second best quality, and allow me view these titles while traveling, etc.
Overall, using the Strato as a 4K UHD Blu-Ray server has met my initial expectations. Mainly being able to have a vast catalog of top quality UHD/HDR content available instantly at my fingertips.
Again, I think it’s critical that K gets on board with MA, as soon as possible. I can live with the missing Atmos tracks on certain titles, more than I can live with buying a title on K, that’s solely locked into the K ecosystem. To me it’s imperative to know that by going disc-less, I’m not solely putting all my eggs in K’s basket.
K certainly is the best game in town for high-end systems, but they must continue to step up their game if they want to stay ahead of the Google and Apple companies of the world. Now provide us with same day content as theaters, and K will once again raise the bar and further set themselves apart from the competition.
My wish for K- Live Long and Prosper
Edit- One additional note on K. I have been keeping a detailed log of HDR metadata between UHD Disc, Apple TV, and the Strato. The metadata seems to be all over the place. The Strato seems to be more consistent with UHD disc, but not perfect. Apple TV seems pretty accurate for HDR titles, but the vast majority of their content is Dolby. When they convert the Dolby titles to HDR10, they all have the same exact fixed metadata. K can further separate themselves by making sure the HDR metadata is always correct, but I have a feeling this is more a studio issue than anything.
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Last edited by ccool96; 02-04-2018 at 10:50 AM.