Kaleidescape, the iconic maker of high-performance media servers, is on the comeback trail after nearly closing shop last year. The company will be back at CEDIA this year in a big way, says CEO Cheena Srinivasan in an interview with CE Pro.
At the show, Kaleidescape will demonstrate a new solution that bridges the company’s original Premiere series of movie servers with the newer 4K-capable Encore line, including the 4K-capable Strato movie players.
Kaleidescape began life in 2003 with movie servers that played physical discs imported into the ecosystem. That was the Premiere series. Since the products rarely die, consumers still enjoy their DVD and Blu-ray collections in their full lossless glory, and will do so for years to come.
But that glory doesn’t come in 4K with high dynamic range, and it never will.
Enter the Encore product line, introduced in 2015 in conjunction with Kaleidescape’s new online movie store. The Encore lineup, anchored by the Strato media players, do support 4K with HDR.
Unfortunately, the Stratos don’t play physical discs imported into the Premiere platform – for many reasons including some that are beyond Kaleidescape’s control. It’s a quandary for customers who want to keep their disc collections but also play 4K titles from the store.
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These users would need to maintain two completely separate ecosystems to play their stored discs on the one hand, and downloaded 4K content on the other … or they could just repurchase all of their DVDs and Blu-rays through the Kaleidescape store, if the titles even existed in the store.
“We put them in a very difficult spot,” says Srinivasan of dealers who had to deliver this news to their existing clients. “Customers don’t want to buy the same content again.”
He concedes that a lack of backward-compatibility was a “cardinal sin” with the new line, but soon there will be a fix.
At CEDIA, expect to see a solution comprising a video switcher and a piece of software that unites the movie collections from both platforms into one user interface. The user need not know where the content resides, nor which player should play it. The system will figure it out and send the content through the appropriate player.
Users will still need to buy Strato players for 4K content, but they can at least enjoy easy access to all of their titles through the same UI.
Srinivasan says the solution “gives you the best of both worlds – full access to Kaleidescape Movie Store content, including 4K Ultra HD movies, and seamless access to all the movies that you have imported on your Premiere system.”
Kaleidescape Still Tops CE Pro 100 Brands
Even though Kaleidescape’s future became tenuous last year, the company seems to have lost little momentum.
Srinivasan says Kaleidescape faced hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of product cancellations when it “closed” in August, 2016. When the company returned one month later, Srinivasan hit the road, assuring dealers the future remained bright for the iconic brand.
Those orders came back, he says. Indeed, Kaleidescape remains the top media-server brand among CE Pro 100 home-technology integrators.
“I am committed to regaining the trust and confidence of the best channel we could ask for,” Srinivasan says.
As for the new Premiere/Encore bridge, the solution will be presented at CEDIA in September, bringing “brand credibility and validation” back to Kaleidescape and its dealers, according to Srinivasan.
Meanwhile, Kaleidescapes new Strato C movie player with no internal storage began shipping earlier this year.
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