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Warner Bros. Brings Highest-Quality Video Downloads to Kaleidescape Servers

Kaleidescape's new online media store, launching today with Warner Bros., offers highest-quality (legitimate) downloads available anywhere. Movies, TV shows stored locally or streamed via UltraViolet.


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Kaleidescape online store, launching with Warner Bros. movies and TV shows.

Kaleidescape is finally delivering downloaded content to its pricey movie servers, thanks to a new online store populated with titles from Warner Brothers Digital Distribution (WBDD). Warner is Kaleidescape’s first licensing partner, but the plan is to attract many others.

When it launches today at store.kaleidescape.com, the new service will offer roughly 2,000 feature films and TV episodes, adding about 500 new titles per week until all 3,000 Warner flicks are loaded. More TV episodes – of which more than 8,000 currently are available—will follow.

In addition to media downloaded into Kaleidescape’s proprietary hard drives, the titles will be available via off-the-shelf media devices, thanks to the new UltraViolet cloud-based scheme embraced by key studios.

While Kaleidescape is hardly the first vendor to implement UltraViolet – Walmart made it famous through the retailer’s Disc to Digital service – one thing about the Warner deal is especially unique.

“This is the first distribution deal for downloading movies in precisely the same audio and video quality as a Blu-ray disc or DVD,” says Kaleidescape senior marketing director Tom Barnett in an interview with CE Pro.

Barnett notes that Vudu, known for its 1080p HDX streaming, is nice, but it isn’t bit-for-bit like Kaleidescape downloads.

“Vudu has done a very good job of compressing video so that 1080p looks pretty good,” Barnett says, “but it’s not literally bit-for-bit the same.”

RELATED: Dealers, Beta Testers React to Kaleidescape Store with Warner Bros. Titles

Furthermore, in order to protect video quality while keeping files small, Vudu and other streaming services like Netflix, tend to skimp on audio.

“Blu-ray will often use four times as much storage for audio than for video,” Barnett says. “Streaming providers tend to use their available bandwidth for video because they know it’s important to get video to look as good as possible. But audio often suffers because they think, ‘How many people actually have more than two speakers?’”

Tour of the Kaleidescape online media store

Kaleidescape is well known in high-end circles for its bit-to-bit renderings (including DRM) of physical media including DVDs and Blu-rays. But there has only been one way to load the content onto its servers until now – by sticking discs into the machines and copying them (or ripping them, some would call it).

There was no streaming or downloading of any kind, whether from the Internet or local PCs/hard drives.

The studios and the DRM police have been unkind to Kaleidescape, despite its protected ecosystem with solutions that can cost well into the five digits. A legal battle has raged between the DVD CCA (Copy Control Association) and Kaleidescape for eight years. (The latest? Kaleidescape Gets Another Reprieve: DVD Servers Survive Another Year.)

The deal with Warner Bros. marks Kaleidescape’s first relationship with any content provider and paves the way for the manufacturer to extricate itself from the DVD CCA’s grip.

“Any form of content that is not DVD lessens the impact of the DVD CCA,” Barnett says.

Warner Bros. Plus Kaleidescape Equals Love


Discs, especially of the DVD variety, are so passé given the wide availability of online alternatives. Even so, Kaleidescape customers own on average 509 physical discs, loading about 189 movies onto their systems in the first three months of ownership, Barnett says.

So you can see why the studios might want to tap this small but important base of wealthy customers. They’re known to be trend-setters.

The same could be said of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution group, which “tends to be a bit more progressive,” Barnett explains. “Their whole charter is to make as much headway as possible for Warner Brothers in digital delivery.”

The studio was among the first to launch “day and date” movies on iTunes and Video on Demand (VoD), releasing them on the same day as they are available on DVD; it was the first to launch “App Editions” of movies available for sampling and purchasing within individual apps; and it was the first to launch movies through Facebook.



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Warner Bros. Brings Highest-Quality Video Downloads to Kaleidescape Servers


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Article Topics

News · Product News · Video · Digital Media · Media Servers · Kaleidescape · Netflix · Dvd Cca · Vudu · Ultraviolet · Warner Brothers · 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]

13 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Bill Maxey  on  12/10  at  10:18 PM

Would this be the ticket that gets the DVD CCA off their back?  Or is it the beginning of the end for physical discs?

Posted by Whitevan Lifestyle  on  12/10  at  10:45 PM

Bill, we are beyond beginning of the end for physical discs. We are well into the process.

As for Kscape, I hate to say it but I believe its too little too late. I would venture to guess that better than 98% of Kscapes clients bought with storage in mind rather than an emphasis on audio quality. I would also venture to guess that most people who have watched and heard a Vudu streamed movie in HDX would be absolutely happy with the quality and the other 97% of the world is ecstatic to have Netflix through a cheap DVD player and cranks their best music through whatever system they have via an iPod.
As much as I hate to say it, psychical media storage was their forte and that is a business model that can no longer compete with the available options. Their stance in becoming the audiophile media streamer is not one I would be comfortable investing in. That audience is far to small for survival.

Posted by 39CentStamp  on  12/10  at  11:21 PM

I think Kscape is still in the game. They still have a place in the upper end…where they have pretty much lived their whole lives anyway.

We stopped pushing it for a few years hoping for something better or for the law suits to vanish or for Kscape to offer digital downloads. We eventually caved because our clients demanded it and no one else produced anything even close.

This summer i installed my first (in a couple of years) kscape system and as soon as i fired it up…bliss. Blu-ray (or dvd or cd ) ripping 1080p and now streaming. I remembered why we (and our clients) fell in love with it in the first place.

The primary reason most of our clients buy kscape is because they want to collect movies and make them available at any time in any room. Streaming is great but streaming only devices suck when the internet sucks (think vacation homes off the beaten path and yachts).

Once more studios get on board i think their business model is solid again. The next step should be to bring Netflix and Or Vudu on board and they will be a one stop shop thats hard to beat.

All this assuming the UI and ease of use remains the same.

Posted by David Haddad  on  12/10  at  11:38 PM

Jeff, I am really surprised by your statements, it seems to me you are not in touch with the average Kaleidescape project.  It is still the PAR EXCELLENCE movie media server experience, and many people love having a movie collection.  The ONLY major thing it’s been missing is the ability to purchase movies straight to the device.

Of course 97% percent of the world is happy with Netflix, 97% percent of the world is happy with a 50” TV and a Ford too, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for high end video projectors and Ferrari’s grin.

Posted by Whitevan Lifestyle  on  12/11  at  12:04 AM

Don’t get me wrong David. I love Kscape. I just don’t think the business model can survive with the Trends I’m seeing.
I believe their audience will be much smaller in the coming days and I can not imagine how they will sustain a profitable company.
As UltraViolet grows and bandwidths increase across America we enter into an age where every device you buy has the ability to stream your collection to it from the cloud. Its always there!

There is a place for Ferraris but if every car including the cheap ones look like a Farrari then suddenly the real thing doesn’t have much appeal.

Posted by mhudzinski  on  12/11  at  09:08 AM

I would reply to your last statement by simply saying that it is our job to show clients where a product like Kaleidescape is quite a bit different than Netflix via a Blu-Ray player or iTunes via an Apple TV.

The video is better, the audio is better, the user interface is better, and in my experience with the product, it works every time.  I can’t say that for any streaming service.

Posted by Whitevan Lifestyle  on  12/11  at  10:19 AM

How many of the richest people you know own an iPod?

Im saying that Kscape will have a thinning audience due to lack of storage needs in general. I’ve had many clients go from media storage to streaming over the last year. Its just the way things are trending and my job is to make money and keep clients happy. UltraViolet is a game changer and Vudu does a way better job than they are given credit for. Theres an excellent thread on RC regarding this topic. I agree with much of what has been written.
Again, I love Kscape. I just dont see the current offerings able to sustain profit for the long term. You and I both know what it costs to run a company. Do you see the type of profits they need coming from this?
Think about the competition. There are some streaming devices with amazing DACs for a fraction of the cost and they offer 20x the content. Just talking business here.
I don’t see it.

Posted by Marc-Etienne  on  12/11  at  10:57 AM

How good would be a Ferrari without the right engine under the hood ?

Of course the streaming services are great and mostly reliable now.

But these are video club substitutes. When KScape is a library of the movies (concerts, tv series) you love and want to be able to peek in whenever you feel like it.

Posted by David Haddad  on  12/11  at  11:04 AM

Jeff,

I see your points but your statements seem to assume that there is no difference between what Kscape does and Apple TV or Vudu does thean ic quality.  Can either of those product tell a movie screen what aspect ratio to go to?  As of now they can’t, and I can’t imagine them having the least interest in investing in that because the market for it is too small.  So Kaleidescape remains the premier server for high end theaters.

Even with the advancements in internet satellite, it’s still difficult for yachts to be streaming Vudu simultaneously to several different rooms at the same time, so Kscape remains THE solution for yachts.

Another specialty area where Kscape might excel in the future is 4K content, and it’s another are where the standard players have little interest.

I even think they should explore the types of deals Prima Cinema has which allow people to watch first run movies in their home.  Except instead of needing a new 30K dedicated server that can’t even function as a mvie library people could use their Kscape server.

I am hopeful that the niche Kscape has will thrive for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Whitevan Lifestyle  on  12/11  at  04:03 PM

I hope so too David. I just think the audience is too small.

If I were looking to invest in a product I believe has a future and would ultimately make me money then as a business man I would have to walk away from this table.

I don’t think that bringing in streaming of Warner Bros. content (regardless of quality) is anywhere near enough to undo the hurt that has already been done. I also believe that a large percentage of their audience has already moved on and they seriously damaged their chances at a come back by firing most of their dealers when they stopped pushing the product due to their completely justified discomfort.
At no point did I ever say its not a great product. I just said its not a great enough audience to sustain profitability and the audience that does exist is shrinking.

Posted by kt  on  12/11  at  07:19 PM

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned here is the download size of the movies.  Assuming the numbers in the article (1.5 hours at 50mbps) I get just under 34GB per movie.  Most ISPs have monthly broadband caps and will even cancel your service if you go through it a few times.  I know Comcast’s is 250GB/month.

While 7 movies a month (for Comcast users) may sound like a lot I’m assuming it isn’t for this target audience.

Posted by paulcunningham  on  12/11  at  08:48 PM

We never stopped putting these systems in, but having been waiting for the store forever! David I agree, it’s the ease of use and the overall experience that truly sets it apart, coupled with practically bulletproof hardware.

Jeff - if the cheap cars look like Ferraris but drive like Yugos not only does a Ferrari maintain its appeal, but people are more disappointed with the cheap cars because of the higher expectations.*

As to the niche, just like everything else there are more entertainment options now than ever before and perhaps that means less people are prone to building collections of movies. But one thing Kaleidescape is good at is continuing to sell to their existing client base so I think they can get a lot more mileage out of what they’ve got going on right now, as well as picking up new customers that care about quality and availability (i.e. not at the mercy of their ISP or the UI decisions of Walmart and Netflix).

* I have a standing contest with a couple buddies on who can drag out car analogies the best. Style points are awarded as well.

Posted by Mark Sipe  on  12/12  at  01:18 PM

There has been, and will always be a place for high end products.  Jeff, the size of the market is relative, while there aren’t as many high end clients, there are still plenty out there willing to have the “best”. 

Many of the coolest technologies that filter down to us “little people” started in the high end before becoming mass market.  Early adopters paved the way for Crestron, Control4 and even HD TV.  If you aren’t going to sell as many you have to sell for a lot more.  I think Kscape has that covered.

This is a fresh offering for that product, If I had the money I’d want it, probably still cheaper than fine wine and scotch in any given month for one of these customers.

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