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vNet Drops Media Server: The End of an Era?

Vibe Movie Server follows Sunfire, Escient and Xperinet into the server cemetery. Will Hollywood and streaming media put an end to movie servers?


Vibe Video Server from Colorado vNet: R.I.P.

Add Colorado vNet to a long list of companies that has dropped its movie server, following Escient, Sunfire, Xperinet and Axonix (which morphed into Mozaex).

“We know some dealers really liked the piece but we needed to step back, see what products made the most sense right now and in the next few years,” says Petro Shimonishi, the head of sales and marketing for vNet.

vNet launched the Vibe Video Players (VS1 Series) in 2008. Starting at $4,000 the player was on the lower end of the price scale for a 3-zone, 1 TB server.

Perhaps the low cost was why the product “wasn’t particularly profitable for anybody in the food chain,” according to Shimonishi.

So, are we approaching the end of movie servers that enable DVD ripping and storage?

The industry has been fearful of digital copyright issues, after Real Networks lost its RealDVD case against the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) and the DVD CCA, which licenses the decryption software for DVD players.

Kaleidescape, a favorite server among custom installers, is set to face the DVD CCA in court.

Some manufacturers such as Crestron and Control4 have opted to ship their servers without decryption software, leaving the burden on dealers and consumers themselves to download their own DVD ripping software.

As for Colorado vNet, Shimonishi wonders if there’s a future for movie servers.

“Streaming solutions are really where the market is going,” she says.

Is she correct?

DVD Ripping: The Whole Picture
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DVD Ripping: The Latest on the Legal Front
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Understanding the Kaleidescape, RealDVD Cases
What have the courts really decided on DVD copying, and what are the implications for the future? We debunk the myths about the the two lawsuits and clarify the current legal state of DVD ripping.
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Copy Protection Group Sues Kaleidescape (2005)
Kaleidescape has a license from the DVD CCA to employ CSS decoding in its media servers, which it does. Now, DVD CCA is suing Kaleidescape for breach of contract.
Would Studios Rather We Buy DVD Ripping Products Offshore?
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The DVD Copyright Control Association (DVD CCA) is a bunch of bullies. The organization manages to coerce all manufacturers of DVD players to sign away their rights to innovation.

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Video · Digital Media · Media Servers · Movie Server · Kaleidescape · Dvd Ripping · Dvd Cca · Realdvd · Mpaa · Vnet · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
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. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

33 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Paul  on  04/30  at  11:04 AM


What’s with all the negativity on media servers? We’re still doing pretty good. I guess if you’re a big player, it may not be profitable compared with other lines, but we’re finding more and more customers want to be able to playback their movies, music, photos and HDTV from a server. Maybe their cost structure is different to ours?

Less competition is good is some respects (we’ll take all of the Escient, K, ColoVNet dealers anytime), but just because the “bigger” companies don’t want to do it/don’t understand the market, doesn’t mean it’s an end of an era. We’re still innovating, investing and bringing out new products all the time. No demise of the market for us!

Companies like S1Digital and Niveus continue to invest in this space and develop new products and solutions (media servers that support 3D, ingesting content from set top boxes, etc). I firmly believe that there is no other solution on the market that can do as much as the media centers we offer, espcially once we add our customizations and tune it appropriately.

So next time you get negative on a whole market, remember that there’s companies that are still doing well here smile


Posted by emes  on  04/30  at  11:55 AM

Apple TV, the device itself and the streaming with local storage model in general, is a big reason.  Our customers just don’t seem to be placing a big priority on large/expensive local digital media archives when they can get to content pretty much instantly through the net.  Initially they did not draw many, but with HD content, they are at the “good enough” point.  Feels a lot like the airplane seat back telephone situation.  I would expect the future is streaming, maybe with a little box priced at a couple hundred bucks…  There’s definitely a market for servers, but it will be for those who want to store lots of blue-ray.

Posted by emes  on  04/30  at  11:58 AM

It should also be noted that this product was almost completely non-integrated into the rest of the vNet audio and lighting line.  I know many dealers resisted it for that reason.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  04/30  at  12:07 PM

Paul, I should clarify that I was referring to dedicated, single-purpose movie servers. Your product (which I have and I enjoy!) serves multi purposes, including Netflix and Pandora and—to me, most importantly—an EPG and DVR, which is our No. 1 use of the server.

And don’t worry, I’ll be in touch with all of the server mfrs for a rebuttal article!

Posted by joel degray  on  04/30  at  12:23 PM

The passing of Escient was unfortunate.
Short of the Vision, the Fireball became quite stable over the years, practically inventing the category. For C-V-Net, (IMHO) this was a me too product
and lacked the enthusiasm of purpose built products such as items from Kaleidescape, ReQuest and Sonons.
Simply, they needed to fill a hole in their line.

Posted by Bruce Carter  on  04/30  at  12:49 PM

This is actual the beginning of a new and exciting ERA for the Custom Media Server market.

At eHabitat Solutions, we saw that the need for a single purpose movie server was going away.  Clients want to stream Netflix, Pandora,and other services and have DVR in one box. Which is why we started building the eMedia Server. This is a Media Server solutions that does all that and more. With the introduction of the Ceton Quad Tuner Cable Card, Media Server builders also have a better way of providing a multi-tuner subscriber TV option internal to the Media Server in a self-contained platform with a reasonable footprint.

We are very excited grin

eHabitat Solutions

Posted by joel degray  on  04/30  at  01:18 PM

The future is certainly heading in the direction of downloads. Some of the big issues I see are limited library selection, download time / buffering, secondary devices (PCs) needed to act as intermediate portals and HD content still to come. This aside, I still feel as thought there is a great value in legacy / physical content where you don’e have to worry about vaporware, finsing the titles you want and then having your usage rights re-written after you purchase the content.

Posted by Innovation  on  04/30  at  01:29 PM

Without a doubt, streaming is the future, and a viable solution is not far off.

From my experience in this market, Windows Media Center builders have a capable, multi-faceted product on their hands. With the introduction of Win 7 Embedded, they’re going to be able to put out a true appliance that is a few notches above a well disguised PC. It’s not hard to imagine MFG’s like S1, Niveus, and others putting out a full featured ‘TIVO’ with a good app library (like My Movies). This type of product can sell against TIVO if marketed properly, and has a much broader mass market appeal.

Dedicated Movie Servers don’t have a single feature that isn’t bested with an inexpensive Digital Media Adapter. Realistically, only top tier MFG’s like Kalidescape are able to provide a reliable, well designed product (because they have the resources to do so) and they’re functionally limited on purpose. They serve a niche’ market and will remain that way until they’re obsolete (my guess would be 2 years).

A lot of integrators need a solution today, and MCE Embedded is several months away, Kalidescape can be cost prohibitive, and a NAS/DMA set-up is too “black box” for some. So poorly supported box MFG’s will spring up and sell what they can to take advantage of a slight demand, without regard for the future or their own sustainability.

I say, as Integrators, doing only A/V installs is for Best Buy and Walmart (and good luck to them as the erode their own margin). Add personalized service, remote programming, lighting, HVAC, and general automation, and that is where the real talents of CEPro’s come through and that’s what they’re selling. After all, ‘Integration’ is the art of putting together complete, comparable solutions that work seamlessly.

As always, just my perspective and cheers to all who read and share their thoughts with the industry.

Posted by Paul  on  04/30  at  01:31 PM


I agree that downloads will be the future - at some point in the future. But in the short to medium term, there’s one main reason why people like watching Blu-ray movies over downloading them - the picture quality of downloads does not match the quality of a BD movie. While both are compressed, you don’t get 10-20GB movie downloads (about the size of the main movie). Not to mention no lossless audio. If you’ve spend $100,000+ on a home theater, generally, customers want the best possible source content. Our customers are likely to have Digital Projection projectors, Mark Levinson audio equipment, etc. so they’re also likely to want to watch their movies on Blu-rays, rather than downloads, espcially compared to Apple TV HD quality.

In addition, you’re seeing cable companies introduce download caps, that while still somewhat high, once you start downloading larger movie files, will start to become an issue.

Hence the need for flexible, large storage media servers. The great thing about them is that they support downloadable content too!


Posted by joel degray  on  04/30  at  01:40 PM

Paul, I agree with many of your points. That is why my company offers collections of wonderful, pre-loaded content. We feel that it’s the content that matters first, not so much the technology. Don’t get me wrong, I have sold DP, Krell, Meridian and JBL Synthesis- so I love the high end and would always reccomend the best source possible.

I think the real proliferation is 3-5 years off. Until then, we should earn our income with what works today.

We are adding Blu Ray collections for those who have changers and we regret that we are unable to pre-load those items like we do for Kaleidescape and ReQuest.

Posted by Robert Archer  on  04/30  at  01:56 PM

Don’t dismiss the digital copies during the immediate future. They are an incremental upsell for the retailers to get consumers to buy the BD and or digital and DVD copies of a movie. They can then view the content in HD from a disc, digitally from an Apple TV as stored 480p content or they can take it with them and watch it on an iPod or iPhone.

Disney is working on a digital download that was part of the Pioneer E-Tap demo at CEDIA when they showed that consumers can buy a disc and choose to purchase an HD or SD copy of a movie once the disc is authenticated.

Posted by Mark Coxon  on  04/30  at  11:38 PM

@Robert Archer

Bingo.  Authrorized digital copies provided by the studio for purchase will kill all “rip” based products shortly.   
As for content already purchased, the studios just need to come out with a plan where you send in any BD/DVD and they send you the certificate for a digital copy in that resolution.  Then you could upgrade to multiple versions for your phone,etc.

The MPAA isn’t dumb.  If they don’t want copies ripped, they won’t be. Just make K-scape irrelevant and partner with another server company to do digital copies.

That storm is brewing, and the cloud will eliminate the need for local storage altogether shortly thereafter.

Posted by Dave F.  on  05/01  at  09:14 AM

Petro is right on.  Streaming is the future and we’re already seeing signs of that.  Many of my clients ask for the ability to view content from Hulu and other online sources on their TV.  Those that have Fios see an improvement in speed and quality but it’s still not quite there yet.

Posted by Tuck  on  05/01  at  10:34 AM

Have you ever streamed a movie that had quality that was worth a crap? The technology is NOT here today, IMO. IP service is shoddy at best in some locations. I never want to rely 100% on internet service for my entertainment. I want a back up plan.

Posted by Paul  on  05/01  at  11:31 AM

Hey, I’m one of the geekiest guys out there. I watched an entire 5 seasons of Lost streaming on my Xbox360 (I ad to watch them all before the current season started. Have you tried watching five years of lost two months? Mind boggling, I can tell you).

For casual watching, streaming is great! But for movies, on my big screen, I’ll only watch them on Blu-ray. Call me a bigot, but I can’t even watch DVDs anymore smile. I want the best possible quality on my expensive display (we’ll it’s all relative), why would I settle for less?

Obviously that’s not a priority for everyone, and the convenience of streaming is important, but for our customers, BD has the biggest importance.

That’s why I think the demand will be there for the foreseeable future for BD libraries.


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