|Kaleidescape: The Mini System|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Video Related Articles|
|Written by Mike Flacy|
|Wednesday, 08 April 2009|
We got a chance to speak with Cheena Srinivasan last week, the Chief Operating Officer of Kaleidescape. For those that haven’t been paying attention to recent hardware announcements, Kaleidescape just launched the Mini system. The Mini is Kaleidescape’s first component that integrates a multi-zone system into a single unit. It was also launched at a price point that’s 40% less than the previous system.
Based on the design, we were curious if Kaleidescape was attempting to break into the consumer market rather than targeting custom installers as they have in the past. While the mini system is still being targeted to installers for retrofit job and remodels, the mini player is designed to be used as a free-standing set top box in your home theater setup. It comes with rubber feet on the bottom of the player for display or it can also be rack mounted with the proper fittings. The mini is about 17 inches wide and weighs a bit over 20 pounds.
The Mini is compatible with all previous Kaleidescape hardware releases. The base capacity for the mini system is 75 DVDs or 825 CDs. Using 2.5” disk cartridges, the mini system can be expanded to a maximum capacity of storing 225 DVDs or 2,500 CDs (1.5 TB). These can be inserted right on the front of the unit behind a faceplate. Similar to previous systems, the storage structure uses RAID-K to prevent importing data repeatedly in case of hard drive failure. You can also hook it up to one of the Kaleidescape servers and expand your hard drive space beyond 10 TB.The mini system can upscale DVDs to 1080p and they don’t have to be stored on the mini system to be played. If you want to pop in a DVD, the mini system will bring up the cover art / movie data (presumably downloaded via the ethernet connection) and the disc will play immediately. It also skips past all the trailers and advertisements automatically to start the movie immediately. While a DVD is being watched, the Mini can play music in two other sections of the house, presuming the home is wired for multi-zone playback.
We asked Cheena about any future expansion for consumers shifting their software libraries from DVD to Blu-ray. By the end of 2009, Kaleidescape plans to release a Blu-Laser player to implement Blu-ray discs in a similar fashion as DVDs. The mini player is expected to be fully compatible with the Blu-Laser player, but we wonder if it will face capacity issues with Blu-ray discs. Hypothetically, if the average size of Blu-ray disc data is 20 gig (movie only), the base Mini System would only be able to handle a small percentage of titles compared to DVD.
The user interface on the mini is identical to other hardware releases and uses an identical operating system. In fact, all Kaleidescape hardware receive new software releases concurrently to ensure system compatibility. The user interface allows users to browse through their media by genre, director, actor, artist, etc… You can take a look at a demo of the user interface by clicking this link.
The Mini system may or may not turn out to be a well-timed response to the current state of the economy. The Mini System is priced at $7,995; well above the average consumer's threshold, but much more affordable for anyone doing a custom job with Kaleidescape components. Additionally, prices on the 1080p Player, the 1080p Mini player and Disk cartridges have been reduced. Still, the product design and ease of installation lends to the possibility that Kaleidescape is moving to directly attract consumers directly rather than through dealers. That being said, there’s no push towards opening up a direct sales channel through Kaleidescape’s website at this time.