Kaleidescape's digital media plans

Kaleidescape’s digital media plans

The market for hard drive based home media libraries is growing, and is increasingly competitive. Microsoft is pushing their Windows Vista Home Media Center products through brands such as Niveus, LifeWare, and Inteset. These products offer not only hard drive storage for video and audio, they also access online media through Netflix, Rhapsody, Amazon, YouTube and other providers. Even non-Windows based servers are adding these features. Escient, for example, has a new line named Vision which can access online radio stations and Rhapsody.

As the leader in home media storage, I contacted Michael Malcolm, founder, president and CEO of Kaleidescape, and asked him about their future plans to include digital delivery services. The original intention of Kaleidescape was to deliver content over the Internet, and they even obtained patents on this technology. They used this knowledge to distribute multiple streams of high-quality video to multiple rooms simultaneously. But seven years ago things were different, and the studios did not want to allow their content to be distributed digitally. Things have changed and all major studios are providing digital delivery. (Bold text is my question; Italics are Michael Malcolm.)

Kaleidescape logoNow that the studios are willing to deliver their movies in a rights-managed format over the Internet are you looking to add digital delivery to your product? If so, would this be offered directly through you or would you use a service like Music Giants?

We have been watching this drama unfold for the past eight years. With regard to digital distribution of movies via the Internet, the studios have progressed from a state of denial to one of cautious experimentation. Some studios are now willing to make some content available for Internet distribution, but usually only in sub-DVD quality formats. While this represents great progress for the studios, the vast majority of movies people actually want to watch in their homes are not available for Internet delivery, and those that are available are more suitable for watching on a laptop, not on a home theater screen. In fact, most of the movies people would like to watch in their homes are only available on DVD. We believe that electronic delivery of high definition movies is inevitable, but we also believe that it will be years before we will see the selection of movies available online approach anything like the selection available today on DVD. Kaleidescape plans to support Internet delivery of video entertainment. We plan to support third-party Internet delivery services as they become viable sources of significant numbers of high-quality motion pictures.

On a similar discussion, are you considering adding Internet radio streaming or Internet music downloads through Rhapsody, Pandora or a similar service?

Yes. Internet radio and streaming Internet music are on our road map. Eventually the Kaleidescape System will provide the user interface to all types of entertainment sources and distribute them throughout the home.

Early this year, Kaleidescape also announced plans for Blu-ray Disc support. In the mean time they’ve released an upconverting 1080p media player that has been compared to Blu-ray quality.

I was still curious about their Movie Collections. Would these be converted to high-def where possible?

Finally, now that a lot of movies are in high-def on Blu-ray and HD DVD, considering most studios are now archiving their movies in high-def, will you be changing your movie collections to high-def where available? Criterion Collection is now releasing Blu-ray movies, that would be a great collection to have in high-def available in one of your Kaleidescape Collections.

We will consider this in the future. However, today the number of movies in one of our larger DVD collections is approximately the same as the total number of movies available on Blu-ray. So, the studios will need to dramatically increase the number of titles available on Blu-ray before it will be possible to design interesting collections of Blu-ray movies.

While I have seen a lot of smarmy, anonymous comments about the price of the Kaleidescape systems, I haven’t seen any product that has the same build quality, back end support and engineering know-how as this one. Their products simply work, they work well and they work solid. They’re also the only DVD storage system with a DVD-CCA license.

The sales representative I spoke with wanted to reassure me that Kaleidescape intends to remain the market leader, not allowing any company to pass them up in innovation. He mentioned plans for growth which have me excited to see what the next few years will bring.

My thanks to Michael Malcolm for spending his valuable time answering my questions.

Correction: Originally I had reported the Blu-ray player was confirmed for first quarter 2009. I have been informed this is wrong information. There is no date given for a release on this product. I imagine this will be pushed back until there is a much larger library of Blu-ray releases. I apologize for this false report.

Correction part two: For clarification purposes, the Blu-ray product will not be “pushed back” because it was never announced for the first quarter. Michael Malcolm wanted to comment on this matter personally:

Earlier this year we announced to dealers that we planned to release a Blu-ray player in 2009. We never mentioned any quarter, and many dealers have assumed this means 4th quarter. We have been working diligently do produce a Blu-ray player in spite of the fact that there is not a large library of Blu-ray releases. We have not pushed back the delivery of this product, but it is still too early to even schedule a release date. Also, Kaleidescape does not make a practice of pre-announcing release dates of future products. It is unusual for us to announce anything about what we are working on for the future, as we did for Blu-ray.

Kaleidescape and the Kaleidescape logo are trademarks of Kaleidescape, Inc.; they are registered in the United States and certain other jurisdictions. Other trademarks and trade names are owned by third parties and may be registered in some jurisdictions.

About Steven Kippel

Steven Kippel has worked as a systems designer for a leading high-end audio/video custom integrator in Southern California since 2003. He is responsible for researching new technologies and integrating them into existing systems and new construction projects. He has designed several high-profile systems for discriminating clients on the cutting-edge of technology. When he is not hard at work, Steven is spending time with his wife, playing with his band or promoting concerts and bands in the Inland Empire. His favorite bands include The Cure, U2, Eisley, Living Sacrifice and DragonForce.

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