Kaleidescape launches download store
Kaleidescape has launched the beta version of their online retail store for owners of a Kaleidescape System. Backed by a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, the store is providing bit-for-bit downloads of DVD and Blu-ray Disc content directly to the Kaleidescape server.
How the process was described to me by a Kaleidescape representative is that Kaleidescape buys physical copies of the movies for each download and stores them in their own warehouse. This way the copyright license is intact without having to create a new digital version with its own license structure and licensing rights to be negotiated, and the studio gets their “disc” sale. This is also beneficial to the end user who doesn’t have to store the physical discs at home, and the download comes complete with the special features every DVD or BD comes with as well – unlike other digital versions. Obviously this is a hokey legal work around, so hopefully these high-quality, feature-full downloads will be available without the disc ownership issue in the future.
Because the data is bit-for-bit identical to the physical disc, the video resolution is not compromised, and the audio remains high-definition surround sound. Additionally, titles with UltraViolet digital copies provide additional digital access from tablets, smartphones, and computers.
To make things explicit: This is not a streaming service, but a complete digital download. The files are stored on the local hard drive, and played from the local server to the local player. Once the video is downloaded to the local Kaleidescape System, the full HD video will play immediately with no buffer.
The Kaleidescape System features a proprietary RAID hard drive array which prevents data loss, but if there is a catastrophe and the server data is lost, the downloaded titles may be downloaded from Kaleidescape again for no cost. Any titles loaded into the system at home would have to be loaded again from the physical disc.
The store will allow the end user to purchase individual titles, or they can select a complete collection to purchase. The store is smart enough to know what movies you already own so you won’t purchase multiple copies. For example: you can purchase a collection called “Academy Award Nominees — Best Picture” to purchase and download the entire listed collection, but if you already own the Lord of the Rings collection, those titles won’t be purchased.
One interesting collection is the Leonard Maltin Recommends collection, an exclusive to Kaleidescape partnership of movies selected by famed film critic Leonard Maltin.
One feature that isn’t active yet but I’m told will be is the ability to upgrade a DVD copy to a Blu-ray Disc copy. I’m not sure how this would work, and I won’t make any assumptions. The new high-def copy would replace the standard def version, but I’m not sure if the standard def version is completely wiped out or made available through the menu still. Some DVDs have different special features, so some collectors may want to have both. UPDATE: Kaleidescape claims DVDs can be upgraded to Blu-ray Disc for $8 each, to include all bonus features of the BD. This is only available to titles with UltraViolet HD rights.
The Kaleidescape System is expensive, but it’s also the best and only solution of its kind. If you have a few bucks and are serious about movies, find out where your local dealer is and ask for an in-home demonstration.