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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.

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

Photos & Slideshow

Julie Jacobson · December 11, 2012

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.

  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics

Audio/Video · Software & Technology · News · Media · Slideshow · DVD CCA · Kaleidescape · Netflix · UltraViolet · Vudu · Warner Bros. · All Topics
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