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Media Servers – Exploring your Alternatives – Part 1


There is no doubt that on this site, and as well as the sites owned by some of my friends in the industry, Windows Home Server is pretty much regarded to be the king when it comes to making a choice as to what kind of Media Server you’d like in your home. And while the intention of this article is certainly not to “de-throne” Microsoft Windows media server solution Windows Home Server as the “King” of Media Servers, we feel it is our duty to expand your horizons just a bit and show you what other options are out there when it comes to streaming media to your HTDVs throughout the house.  With the growth in the Home Automation Industry and the attention that Home Technology is starting to garner, it is safe to assume that there are going to be more and more contenders for the throne of “Best Home Media Server”.

Just to be clear, we’re not covering the typical NAS (Network Attached Storage) device with UPnP support that many companies out there try to pass off as Media Servers here.  Nor are we talking about using a PS3 media server.  No we’re talking about a full fledged system that will take your Blu-ray, DVD, and CD collection, digitize them and then stream that media to any TV in your home.

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The system we’re going to talk about today is called Kaleidescape and here’s the general description of it in their own words:

The Kaleidescape System provides a powerful and entertaining movie-watching experience in your own home. With its award-winning, intuitive onscreen interface, the Kaleidescape System organizes and visually catalogs your collection of Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and CDs in high definition with eye-popping detail. Kaleidescape’s exclusive Movie Guide, provided automatically through the Internet, covers more than 135,000 Blu-ray and DVD titles and provides video bookmarks so movies start instantly, without advertisements, trailers, or menus. It also provides easy access to songs on concert films, and control triggers for automatically adjusting screen masking, lighting, and curtains during playback.

The System

My previous sentence should give you a bit of a clue about Kaleidescape when I mentioned the word “system”.  In a nutshell, Kaleidescape:

  • Stores and protects an exact copy of your DVDs, Blu-ray Disks, and CDs by importing them into your system by a simple click of a button once the disk has been loaded into the DVD drive.
  • Automatically organizes your movies, TV shows, or CDs and then provides instant access to any movie, episode, scene or song by searching by any of the meta data (i.e. genre, actors, year, etc).
  • Allows you to enjoy your movies anywhere in your home, regardless if someone is watching a different selection somewhere else.
  • Once movies and albums are imported, Kaleidescape gives you complete control on how you select your movies and music with its award winning user interface.  You can search using lists, movie covers, and personalized movie collections generated by your preferences.

The Hardware

Being a system, you would assume that there are multiple pieces of equipment and that assumption would be correct:

Digital Storage – Kaleidescape Servers

Kaleidescape ServersObviously there needs to be a place to store all of these Movies and Music and that’s where the servers come in.  A Kaleidescape server stores an exact digital copy of your Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and CDs on a reliable array of hard disk drives, and delivers movies and music across your household Ethernet to players throughout your home. Adding servers expands your storage seamlessly, and Kaleidescape’s proprietary RAID-K technology protects against disk drive failure. Servers can be grouped to handle collections of thousands of movies and albums.

Kaleidescape 3U Server

Throughout Your Home – Kaleidescape Players

Kaleidescape PlayersYou’re not limited to one room with a Kaleidescape System. You can expand to as many rooms as you like by adding players. Once you’ve added a Kaleidescape player to a room, you can watch any movie, even while someone else watches a different one or even the same one in another room. A Music Player provides four independent streams of music.  The players are also able to be controlled by a wide variety  of control systems including Control4, Crestron, Logitech Harmony, and even your iPhone to name a few.

Integrated System – Kaleidescape Mini System

Kaleidescape Mini SystemThe Kaleidescape Mini System is designed for your living room. It’s an elegant addition to your home, and its quiet operation won’t distract you from your movies and music. Compact and affordable, it’s also the first to include a remote control, so it’s ready to entertain right out-of-the-box.

The base Mini System holds up to 75 DVDs or 825 CDs – the perfect “starter” system. As your needs grow, so does your Kaleidescape System. Expand to more rooms in your home by adding players. Add more storage by adding Disk Cartridges or servers. Or, add a Mini System to increase both!

Wrapping it up

Kaleidescape LogoIt’s easy to see here that Kaleidescape has really put together an amazing Home Media Server system that in many ways gives the higher end systems like Windows Home Server a run for its money.  There is even more to this system that has been covered in this article, although enough of the devices ( and certainly all of the essential ones) have been described to give you the impression that you are dealing with a very professional system.  In fact, you’ll need a professional to install the system as the system is only sold through dealers.

If you are in the market for a new entertainment system that integrates nicely with your entire home and will work with all of your TVs, then Kaleidescape is well worth taking a look at!  Personally, I’ll be looking at becoming a dealer as well, so if you are interested, be sure to look for us on their dealer page!

Stay tuned  as we are expecting a write up by our very own John Reyes about other alternatives to Windows Home Server in the Media Server category!


About the Author

BillyPut simply, Tom (a.k.a Billy) loves technology! He’s been involved in the IT world since leaving the Navy in 1992 and has moved his way up to the top on the systems engineering side. After taking a short deviation into home automation, he’s never been able to shake his love for creating an environment of complete integration at home. If there is a way to make the various systems in his home more seamless (even if they weren’t originally meant to talk to each other) he’s up to the challenge of figuring out how to make it work!View all posts by Billy

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