Kaleidescape demos at CEDIA

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Lots of stuff to tell you about the CEDIA show in Birmingham yesterday once I’ve had time to recover from last night’s horrendous drive back to London in the worst thunderstorms I’ve ever seen. First up is Kaleidescape’s (no that’s not a typo) entertainment server – which is perhaps the most impressive thing I’ve seen in the video market for years. It’s been available for a few months but this is the first time the US product has really been demonstrated over here.

Basically, it’s a hefty behemoth using its own proprietary operating system and comprising multi-region DVD player, DVD Recorder and 400 Gig entertainment server all in one (it’s possible to piggy back several units together for even more storage). But it’s not the tech spec which is most impressive about this product but the intelligent way it works to make searching for movie content really easy.

It’s sort of like a large Video iPod but much, much better. As soon as a DVD is burnt to the server (this is apparently legal as long as the owner signs a massive contract saying he/she owns the content etc. etc.) it runs off to get content information about the disc from Kaleidescape’s website – in much the same way as www.cddb.com gets CD information. Cover art is downloaded to the server along with director, actor, genre and synopsis information. Between 600-660 movies can be stored on a standard server though obviously much more if you piggy back several together.

Either you can search for films in your collection by cover art or by genre, actors etc. Best of all you can set up video bookmarks that take you right to the beginning of the film, even create favourite scene ‘playlists’ from different movies. One natty feature is ‘script movie night’ which lets you personalise intro sequences (ie. ‘Welcome to Tech Digest’s Movie Dome) and pick trailers before the main feature presentation. Compatible with High Definition (1080i) and offering HDMI output, the entertainment server currently retails for between £14K and £18K. It may seem steep but it’s not a bad price at all when you consider everything it does. 


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