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Musings on Kaleidescape, CEA, Media Servers

Although its Blu-ray solution is not ideal, at least Kaleidescape has a roadmap. Where is CEA in all of this?


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My, my, a lot of negative comments on the “big” news that Kaleidescape is adding Blu-ray support to its movie servers … with the caveat that the disc must be in the tray in order to play it.

OK, so it’s not ideal. You think Kaleidescape is happy about it?

The really big news in the announcement is that Kaleidescape does in fact have a road map.

What is the most worrisome thing about a Kaleidescape system? That the courts will rule its DVD servers illegal and the company will fold, leaving a bunch of rich people stranded. Or that Kaleidescape would never touch Blu-ray because it already has the wrath of the studios.

They had to show the world that they do have a solution. It’ll just take some time – possibly more than a year. Will that be too late? Possibly, but for now it will appease nervous dealers and consumers.

As for the argument that the need for multiple disc changers and lots of expensive, proprietary hard drives would be a deal killer … Kaleidescape is for rich people. It’s expensive already. Why should another $50,000 matter?

If there’s anything damning about the Kaleidescape news – as many dealers have suggested – it’s that there is really no discussion about streaming content from the Internet or over the home network. That could be a problem. Open up the system to iTunes and generic storage … now you’re talkin’.

Can’t CEA Help?

And most disappointing of all: Where is the Consumer Electronics Association in all of this?

It’s sad that Kaleidescape is fighting this battle single-handedly (except for the brief period where Real Networks fought to keep RealDVD alive).

Media servers could be a growth category if everyone weren’t so afraid of the bullies at the DVD CCA (Copy Control Association) and the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA).

I can answer my own question: CEA is not taking sides because the folks who make the DRM rules are some of CEA’s biggest customers and allies. Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic and other giant friends-of-CEA are founders of the AACSLA and probably the super-secret DVD CCA. These organizations write the rules for DVDs and Blu-rays and the little guys all beat them to the movie-server punch.

Back in 2005, a CEA spokesperson told me, “We have members on both sides so we’re not commenting officially.” (See “DVD CCA is an Innovation Stifling Cartel.”)

I don’t really get that. CEA has many members that are for free trade and many that are against, yet CEA is aggressive in its free-market charge.

Several good DRM suggestions have been proffered by CE pros in the original Kaleidescape/Blu-ray article. (I like Richard Stoerger’s suggestion of a server that rips, and then shreds the disc. Genius!)

Couldn’t CEA work with the studios and DRM gods to come up with a viable solution?

As fanatical as I am about streaming media, physical DVD and Blu-ray discs have a few more good years of life in them. There’s got to be a better way for DRM.



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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