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NEWS: New Kaleidescape "M-Class" players announced, with Blu-ray support

josh

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Kaleidescape today has announced several new hardware products as well as enhancements to its existing software and MovieGuide service. Most significantly, Kaleidescape is introducing the capability to import and play back Blu-ray discs (with limitations, detailed below).

New Hardware: Kaleidescape "M-Class" devices.
Today's hardware announcements center around the introduction of a new family of devices, called the "M-Class" hardware series, featuring audio and video codecs for Blu-ray playback and based on an entirely new architecture, with greater processing power that will enable new UI features. Kaleidescape describes the M-Class family as delivering "the world's first multi-room movie server for Blu-ray". Indeed, when combined with any of the recent Kaleidescape servers, and when running the new KEAOS 4.0 system software that will be available immediately, Kaleidescape does indeed now import as well as play back Blu-ray Discs, along with DVDs and CDs. More on the restrictions concerning the importation and playback below.

The first two products in the "M-Class" family are the M300 Player and the M500, both available for order immediately and shipping within a week.




M500:
The M500 has a chassis and bezel that look nearly identical to the KPLAYER-6000 (1080p Player). (Only a very shap eye will notice the visual difference between the M500 and the KPLAYER-6000. hint - check the Kaleidescape logo on the front of the unit)



Bucking industry trends (but perfectly typical for Kaleidescape), you'll see no parade of industry standards logos... not even a tasteful Blu-Ray logo, much less the array of audio and video standards, codecs, and protocols that the system supports.

The M500, like the earlier 1080p player, features a tray for disc import and direct-disc playback. It features the same two buttons as before too - a simple "Close tray" button, and a "Import the disc" button.

The back panel is also nearly identical to its predecssor. BUT you'll notice that there are now RCA jacks replacing the BNC connectors that were used for the video connections. There's one other mystery - an addition of a USB port. Kaleidescape representatives stated that it is currently unused and may be used for some future functionality.




But... what matters most to consumers is, of course, that the M500 functions as a high-end Blu-ray player, and that it can also import Blu-ray content for storage on the server, where the content can be played on any room in the house (equipped with an M-class player). Again, see the restrictions detailed below.

The M500 (and all M-class players) also features the upgraded processors to enable the new user-interface functions detailed below.

The M500 is shipping beginning May 18, 2010. MSRP is $3995 in the U.S.
M300:
The M300 is the M-Class equivalent (and visual twin) to the existing 1080p Mini-player, or KPLAYER-300. Like the M500, the back is the same except for RCA jacks replacing BNC connectors, and the addition of the as-yet unused USB port.




as you've by now surmised, it is capable of playing back any of your stored Blu-ray, DVD, or CD content from another room in the house... just as its predecessor "1080p Miniplayer" could do for DVD and CD content.

The M300 is shipping beginning May 18, 2010. MSRP is $2495 in the U.S.

 
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josh

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Blu-ray Implementation Details (& Limitations)
So yes, Kaleidescape now will support the importation of Blu-ray discs from an M500 player to any of the Kaleidescape servers. Older players will not see this content, but M-Class players will see the content and display the cover-art and movie details in the Kaleidescape UI, as you'd expect.

One of the first things you notice when your system upgrades to KEAOS 4.0 is that your web interface now tells you how many Blu-ray discs can fit on your available space, in addition to the usual space calculations for DVDs and CDs.

Here's a shot of my web interface after I installed my test M500 player and my system was upgraded to system 4.0. (I've been beta-testing the M500 and the new OS for just a few weeks as of this writing).



So... do we have everything we had hoped for? A full Kaleidescape system that handles Blu-ray the same way as it's long handled DVDs and CDs?

... in a word... no.

The Blu-ray disc insertion requirement:
To appease the studios, especially at a time when the full details of "Managed Copy" are not yet available or even finalized, Kaleidescape has deployed an interesting compromise solution.

You can freely import any Blu-ray disc you like to the server, but the original blu-ray disc must be physically present somewhere in your network when a user requests that title be played, and for the entire time the movie is being played back.

And therein lies the rub. Your (M-class) players will happily show you all your pretty Blu-ray covers mixed in with your DVDs. But upon pressing "Play", the system searches all of your devices to see if it can locate the physical disc inserted. If not, it asks you to put the disc in the tray of one of your M500s. Upon doing so, the system takes a few seconds to validate the disc, and then complies with your original request to play the movie. Playback can now take place in any room, on any M-class player, so long as that disc remains in one of your players. It is of course playing back from your server, not the disc. But you cannot remove the disc. Doing so halts playback on any player until the disc is located again somewhere in one of your players.

It should be noted, that if the disc is located, that title is enabled just like any other title... it can be playing back in multiple rooms at the same time, on any M300 or M500 players. But it must remain in the tray.

It's another technically smart accomplishment for Kaleidescape. Even without Managed Copy details, even on legacy discs we all own now that may NEVER work with true Managed Copy solutions, we can now store the disc and play it back anywhere. An executive at Kaleidescape explains that this was accomplished when they recognized that ALL blu-ray players actually are playing back content from a buffer, not from the disc itself, and that the spec never states a required minimum or maximum size of the buffer, nor what form it takes. Technically, Kaleidscape is using its hard-disk array as a massive buffer for the content, and complying with the requirement that the disc be physically located in a tray. Apparently the spec does NOT preclude playing form the buffer in more than one location, sending the bits over a network, or playing it back in the same room as the physical disk. Therefore, according to Kaleidescape, as long as the original disc is verified as currently being in a player, they are able to play back from the hard drive "buffered" content.

Real-World implications:
So this is, for now, a different type of Kaleidescape experience. You can no longer arbitrarily pick a movie and hit play. If it's blu-ray, you must get up, find your original disc and insert it.

After using it for a few days, you realize quickly that this means that you've chewed up a very large amount of storage space for quite marginal incremental capability. Remember, that each M500 is a perfectly fine blu-ray player that can play directly from the disc to the display connected to that player.

So why import Blu-ray discs?
After you get over the novelty of seeing blu-ray titles on your Kaleidescape screen, you will ask yourself, "If I will still have to get up, locate my original disc, and insert it into a player, why would I even bother to import the title? Couldn't I get the same functionality by just inserting the disc when i wish to watch a movie, and playing it, like I would with any blu-ray player?" The answer is, in my view, yes. You get VERY little for having used the cool new "import blu-ray" function. You've lost a lot of server space, and you still need to get up and insert the disc when you hit "play". Playing from the original disc in the tray, rather than from the server, still does all of the neat Kaleidescape tricks like displaying the metadata and cover, skipping all the forced trailers and warnings, remembering your last spot on the disc, etc. Importing the disc does gives a FEW small advantages over tray-based disc playback.

Here are those advantages:

  1. the movie will show in your UI all the time, and in all the typical views: Cover view, Collections view, and List view. As you settle in to select a movie for the evening, you'll see the cover there and will remember that it's a choice you have.
  2. You get slightly faster startup performance if it's stored on the server.
  3. You'll get Favorite Scene capability for that title.
  4. and maybe the biggest advantage - the movie can be played in any room. You'll still get that "start it in the living room, finish it in the bedroom" capability.
But unless I'm mistaken after a few weeks of using it, that's it. You give up 35-50gb of storage space for those slight advantages. Those advantages may be worth it to you, or they may not. They become slightly more compelling as you add more rooms of M-class playback due to item #4 above. (and with each M500 at least, you have another available "tray" to keep a desired blu-ray in for instant playback anywhere).

So that's it? Is that the extent of the Blu-ray experience we can expect from our expensive investment and after this very long delay??

Ah... no!

Kaleidescape has another trick up their sleeve...
read on.
 
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josh

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The New Kaleidescape Blu-ray Disk Loader
If you read the details above carefully, you'll notice that, according to Kaleidescape, the original blu-ray disc must remain safely ensconced in an appropriate piece of hardware that can verify it's authenticity and signal that playback from "buffer" is now authorized. There's no requirement that the thing safely holding the disc be the same physical device as the playback device.

Theoretically, if there were a small "vault" that can ingest Blu-ray discs (load them to the server if they're not already there), and keep them safely inside, then playback from a server can be initiated.

And this is exactly what Kaleidescape intends to launch in "1st Half of 2011". Called the "Blu-ray Disc Loader", this is a dedicated blu-ray importing machine. It's a reader, and an unattended bulk-loader, but with a difference... after loading your blu-ray discs, it doesn't eject your disc, it keeps it inside. I haven't seen the device, and have no idea what it looks like, but I can imagine it like a giant in-dash car CD player where you slot-feed multiple CDs in, but in this case it will store "at least 100" discs inside. They don't come out until you specifically request the ejection of a particular disc.

As mentioned, it functions as a bulk-loader too... feed in your discs, they will get queued up for the (long) import process, and the discs remain inside. Any disc that stays inside signals all M-class players that the title is playable as the disc is safely validated as being "present" in the device.

Now THAT changes the system back to a mode much closer to what we've come to expect from our Kaleidescape systems!

You can always eject a single disc that you'd like to take with you somewhere, or to make room for another high-demand title, but an ejected disc will work just like it does today with only an M500 present: the movie won't play back until that disc is inserted into an M500 or a Disc Loader.

No word yet on price, capacity, physical shape/size, or its other capabilities. We'll have to wait and see.

 
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josh

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New User Interface
Kaleidescape has taken advantage of the new processing capabilities of the M-Class players to refresh the onscreen user interface.

Most notably, the entire UI is now in 1080p, with fonts and cover-art displayed in much higher resolution. Anyone who previously had to deal with video equipment that had to re-sync when leaving a movie and returning to the UI screens will breathe a sigh of relief that this issue has finally been addressed.

Experienced Kaleidescape viewers will instantly see a difference in the razor sharp text and graphics. Miniaturized covers in the "Covers View" are truly readable, the fonts look so much nicer.

The experience has NOT been radically redesigned... it will be instantly recognizable and comfortable to any Kaleidescape owner, yet it feels more "fresh" and light, faster in many areas, and a little more modern.

One very welcome change is that during movie playback, the "info" panel that can be brought onscreen to show location, audio tracks, episode list, and other screens is now partially transparent rather than the opaque blue box of the current UI. It's much nicer.

The Collections view is more refined, with new fonts, and a different look to the "highlight" bar that shows you what movie you're on. It now magnifies the text as you scroll up/down movies... somewhat like Apple's dock does for icons in the Mac UI.



The new List view is changed as well... the highlighed movie shows a small view of the cover art now for the first time. Annoyingly, the movie's MPAA rating has been shifted off-screen to the right... still accessible by scrolling right, but not in the default set of columns shown, something my family will really miss. I think if choosing a movie by rating is important to your family, you'll be quite frustrated by the new layout, even if you do appreciate the new mini-covers in this view.



The screens now have a more pronounced "fade" effect at the edges of the screen, and the tabs along the bottom of the onscreen UI in several places (collections view, for example) have been freshed and no longer look like file-folder tabs.

Unfortunately, all this new UI goodness is ONLY available on the M-class players. Older players will have the existing UI. I have not noticed any real changes to the UI on my older players at all.

however... I immediately noticed ALL my players, not just the new M500, had much faster FF and REW functions when KEAOS 4.0 downloaded to my server. There seems to be almost a doubling of the performance for scanning through movies... (subjective opinion). More frames show and flip by faster when it shifts into its stuttered "occasional" frames as you scan forward or back.

I confirmed with Kaleidescape that they did implement some big performance improvements in the new KEAOS that benefit all players in this specific area. It's a welcome improvement! So that's something everyone will see with the new KEAOS.

 
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josh

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MovieGuide Changes
The biggest change you'll notice for the MovieGuide metadata service is that it includes most blu-ray covers and info. Kaleidescape claims 95% of shipped blu-ray titles are in the system. During my pre-release testing though, I found a major title that was not in the system during testing... my particular pressing of "Planet Earth" wasn't recognized. I loaned them the disc, as usual, and they quickly added it. It should be noted that the decision to loan Kaleidescape your Blu-ray movie takes a lot more thought than loaning them the DVD did in the past. If you send away your Blu-Ray disc, your title is of course disabled until the disc returns to you. Loaning them your DVD in the past was no big deal because you could happily watch it while they borrowed your copy.

Another change to MovieGuide is that the cover art of the movies is all now in HD. I believe they've ALWAYS been scanning the covers into HD, but now you can see them in all their glory.





Last, Kaleidescape has started a new set of metadata for concert DVDs and Blu-rays, where each song title is marked for you in the concert and you can skip to it instantly, even if the DVD or Blu-Ray didn't use the chapter feature for each song. If MovieGuide has the concert movie in its database, you'll see new a new "Play Song -->" menu item on the info screen, followed by a submenu with each song title. This is a very nice improvement.


 
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josh

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Networking Issues:
Given the higher bandwidth of blu-ray titles, the new players may require more thoughtful network design and higher-performing switches and cables.

Finally, all components of the Kaleidescape system now are gigabit ethernet enabled. Kaleidescape says that streaming a Blu-ray movie consumes 54 megabits per second of bandwidth. I had no trouble with one player on our home gigabit network, even though the player was in the master bedroom and going through TWO switches to reach the server.

The Kaleidescape Servers that have always had a Gigabit ethernet NIC (1U servers, 3U servers, and the 5U servers that are KSERVER-2500 model number), can stream up to 5 blu-ray movies simultaneously over a well-designed Gigabit ethernet network.

The 10/100-based servers (pre-Kserver-2500 5U servers), or ANY server without a gigabit switch will mean that just a single blu-ray can be viewed at any one time on the network.

Kaleidescape also points out that importing a Blu-ray is signficantly faster when you have a gigabit network. In my gigabit network, a Blu-ray typically took from 50 minutes to 70 minutes to import.


 

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Minor things:
For now, two features are available for DVDs that do not (yet) work on Blu-ray discs: Scripts, and Subtitle relocation.

I believe this has to do with dfferences in the way that blu-ray discs enable things like subtitles, chapter skips and time-based access to a spot on the disc. Whereas these were standard features that were implemented primarily in hardware for DVD players, Blu-ray puts much more flexibility and control into the hands of the disc designers themselves... so they can use subtitles in a variety of ways, and even change what chapter-up and chapter-down actually do for their particular movie. This must make it much tougher on Kaleidescape.

NOT announced:
Despite widespread speculation (hopes?), sorry, Kaleidescape is NOT (yet?) announcing any type of download service. I'd like to think that these new players were designed with an eventual download service in mind, but I can't confirm that... nothing's been said about it to my knowledge. No news here, sorry folks. :(

No major changes to the core music system were announced today either, save for the inclusion of song bookmarks that now come in the metadata for DVD and Blu-Ray concerts.
 
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josh

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The Official Press Release


Here's the official Press Release from Kaleidescape:


________________________________________

And with that, I'll ask my co-moderator Jim G. ("Cinelife"), to post a more technical discussion of the capabilities of the new equipment and his own perceptions, having been a beta tester as well. I don't feel at all qualified to speak in more depth on the specs and real-world high-end performance, so direct your techie questions to Jim and others who will surface here as having been beta-testers.

--josh
 
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cinelife

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I'll now post a few Player observations to follow on to Josh's excellent posts detailing the new Players and their interaction with the K system. For the record, both Josh and I are/were Beta tester's for the new M500. Neither of us has seen the M300, but the video and audio capabilities are expected to be the same.

Like all of you, I had some expectations, and hopes, of what would be presented in these new Players. Some of what I expected is present, some things are not. I suspect some of you will be disappointed by the limited BR functionality currently available, and that is understandable. What is important to remember here is that this is NOT K's "fault." They did what they could given the current circumstance regarding BR. K cannot be expected to, as some have, circumvent the current legal restrictions just to sell more components. From the beginning, K has taken a position that it would honor the IP of the content creators, while enhancing the experience of using that content. That said, these new components strike a balance between meeting the legal requirements that currently exist, and providing K owners with some degree of BR functionality. The following is my impression of the M500.
 

cinelife

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On to the M500!

Equipment used to evaluate this new Player:

FRONT PROJECTION:
Sim2 HT5000E 3 Chip 1080p DLP Projector
Screen: Stewart Firehawk 2.35 AR, 12' feet image width (approx. 110" 16:9)
A-Lens: ISCO III (in place only for 2.35 content)
Sony S5000ES Blu-ray Player
Denon A1HDCI Blu-ray Player
KPLAYER-6000 (1080p Player)
Audio:
Halcro SSP-80
Denon AVR 5308 (for 7.1 HDMI)
Speakers:
Aerial Acoustics 20T's, CC5, SR3's, Axiom QS8 (rears in 7.1)
PLASMA:
Pioneer Elite 151 (60" Plasma)
Pioneer Supplied Speakers & Audio/Speakers noted above
This is NOT intended to be a formal detailed review. Some of the info I would have discussed has already been noted by Josh in the preceding posts. It is intended only to convey MY experiences with the M500 I received in Beta.

First, K's "Beta" is a bit misleading. Those guys are SO good, you typically get a first class, nearly ready for release, component. This release was no exception, the unit arrived fully functional and as noted below, without flaws on the video/audio side of things. There were some minor "bugs"/issues that presented to both myself, and Josh, that K was either quick to correct, or is currently correcting. These were VERY minor and did not affect the Player's operation in any measureable way.

Second, I acknowledge my bias in favor of K products. I think what they do, and how they do it, presents us owners with a wonderful experience when using our movie and music collections. That said, I wouldn't hesitate to make a negative comment when appropriate. It is with that in mind that I start my comments by pointing out that I'm disappointed the M-Class Player's do not internally decode the available HD Codecs (Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio). They also do not have 7.1 analog out (which really doesn't matter considering the Players do not decode internally). This is not an oversight, if I understood the reasoning correctly, it is a direct result of trying to best utilize the space available in a 1U configuration, while insuring that the video chips and boards necessary to deliver BR and other video capabilities have proper space in the case. So be it, no use arguing, just be sure your audio components support decoding of these HD codecs if you want the best audio BR can deliver. Otherwise, be happy with slightly compromised 5.1 (which frankly satisfies most end users, so I'm "whining" here.:D)

Okay, enough of the negatives! What, if anything, does this Player do well? That's easy to answer, it presents us with an excellent video image in the OSD and Coverart at a full 1080p, deinterlaces and upscales as good as any of the BR players I used in comparison, surpasses the KPLAYER-6000 in standard DVD playback, and it's BR Playback from either the Server or the tray was as good as it gets (certainly as good as the BR Players noted above). Frankly, I would upgrade to this Player just for the excellent new OSD!!
 
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cinelife

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Upon receiving the Player the first thing I did was add it to my system and playback a BR movie (the first Lord of the Rings). I was interested in seeing the "out-of-box" performance. I was surprised by the image presented, in a good way. I often find the initial image on new player's disappointing. Not so with this player. Although I can't help but "tinker" with video images, I probably could have lived with this image, it was easily as good as the Sony S5000ES that has been tweaked. You really can "plug and play" this Player and be satisfied with the performance.

I then subjected the Player to the usual Setup and Evaluation Patterns found on the "Spears & Munsil" High Definition Benchmark disc (Blu-ray Edition).

I initially had a problem with the Player clipping peaks in the Luma channel and the RGB display channels (clipped all levels above reference). Dynamic Range Low and Dynamic Range High also presented some minor issues, and I had trouble setting Contrast and Brightness levels as well. As soon as I reported this to K their engineers were quick to respond and share with me a setting that I had missed in the "Advanced Video Settings" of the Player that allows the end user to either engage or disengage "Blacker-than Black" and "Whiter-than-White." Once engaged (default is disengaged), the Player passed the above tests, and I was able to better set the Contrast and Brightness to my preferences.

The Player also performed very well in the Racecar Clip when looking at Source Adaptive Deinterlacing clips. (Passed test).

Using the Edge Adaptive Deinterlacing Clips I evaluated "jaggies" "Bridge" "Hockey" "ropes" "ship" and the "Mixed Film & Video", and the Player passed all of these tests without any issues. The deinterlacing of video was excellent. The was no "combing" of the text in the Mixed Film & Video clips, indicating proper deinterlacing of a composite image containing two separate cadences.

Overall, I was more than satisfied and objectively, the Player performed very well. More Player info in the next post.
 

cinelife

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PLAYER ATTRIBUTES:

Of course it imports BR/DVD/and CD's.
Instant movie start from the Server (not quite "instant" because of the couple second delay while checking that the disc is in the tray, but instant vis-a-vis other BR players that can take 15-45 seconds to load. LOVE this feature!!

As Josh mentioned, the Player currently cannot accommodate scripts, but this is obviously a limitation based on the requirement for content to be present in the tray before playback. Once the "disc loader" becomes available, the ability to create scripts should be available as well. We'll see. Also, at this time you cannot relocate subtitles, not sure why, or if it will ever be offered again. (That's troublesome for those of us with CIH setups and Anamorphic lenses that watch a lot of subtitled films.)

Takes about an hour to import a BR movie (I averaged about 1 hour 5 minutes per movie).

VIDEO:
The Player supports 1080p24 for BR content containing this as native rez.
The video output resolutions are determined by your selection of the Primary Output. When HDMI is selected as primary, it outputs 1080p60 (or 1080p24 as mentioned) and Component/SVideo/Composite will output at 480i/576i.
When Component is selected as primary, both Component and HDMI will output at 1080i. SVideo/Composite at 480i/576i.

AUDIO: There are Two Modes:

1. Player decodes: You get:

  • HDMI--48khz (up to 5.1 channels)
  • S/PDIF--DTS or PCM Stereo
  • Analog Stereo--PCM Stereo
(Secondary Audio is available)
2. Pass-Through (Bitstream): You get:

  • Up to 192 Khz
  • Up to 7.1 Channels
(No secondary audio)
As mentioned above, those that have Receivers/PrePro's/etc. that are capable of internal decoding of the HD Codecs will want to select the Bitstream option.

In listening to the audio in 5.1 (M500 decoded) and HD decoded 5.1 and 7.1 (Denon decoded), it is not difficult to hear the improvement the HD encodes bring to the total viewing experience. That said, the M500's 5.1 decoding is also excellent and will likely be acceptable to many owners. You'll have to judge for yourself.

Part of my evaluation involved direct comparisons to the BR players I mentioned above. These were "subjective" viewing only. I used A/B comparisons using the same scenes, and same inputs on the Projector, and the Plasma. Because these were not simultaneous "side-by-side" comparisons, I acknowledge my impressions are in no way scientific. After comparing each player separately against the M500, I came away believing the M500 was at least as good as the Sony and Denon players in video performance, including upscaling standard DVD.

My comparison of the upscaling capability of the M500 versus the KPLAYER-6000 (1080p Player) resulted in a similar conclusion. Using HDMI outputs from the Players to different inputs on the projector, I staggered the start times (30 seconds apart) playing back a standard DVD movie on both players. I viewed each scene several times back to back on each player, then changed the HDMI cables and projector inputs and repeated the process. Initially, I wasn't certain as to which was better at upscaling. I first thought the 1080p Player did a better job, then I thought the M500 was better. I gave up on the DVD content (thinking the M500 might be producing a slightly better image). I decided to use the tray playback on each with an AVIA test disk, and this is where I decided that although both were excellent, I favored the M500. (I know the 6000 uses the latest version of Gennum's VXP chip, not sure about the M500, but it isn't the VXP). Overall, very close in performance, but I've decided to upgrade all of my players to the M-Class Players.

I'll likely discuss all of this in more detail in the coming days, and frankly, ran out of time this evening, but it will be fun to hear comments from other beta testers and owners in the coming weeks.

In closing this post, I'd like to thank Josh for the excellent, and time consuming work putting this thread together. So, thank you my friend!:)


Jim
 
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cinelife

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Regarding Player upgrades. Please ignore all historical posts/discussions on this subject. Current information is that K will be offering a generous upgrade incentive to dealers. ALL KPLAYERS are eligible for the upgrade incentive. Please contact your dealer for additional information on how to upgrade, and the costs involved.


Jim
 

josh

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Overall Thoughts:

I'll be very eager to hear what the community thinks of the announcement. The new player and the new version of KEAOS are very impressive technical achievements.

Having lived with an M500 player for about 2 weeks now, my view is that, at least until the BR-disc loader is released, the addition of Blu-Ray is amazing, and I'll certainly use tray-based playback. I also love some of the new UI features that are only available on the new class of players. However, I do not believe I will have any meaningful number of B-R titles stored on my server. The convenience factor isn't there for me given the current restrictions, and I'm sensitive to filling up so much server space for a title that sill needs to be inserted into a drive. This has not created the situation where I'm going to buy everything only on Blu-Ray and load everything on my server, nor will I be in a rush to upgrade my DVD titles to Blu-Ray except for some of the big blockbuster movies. (Real smart move, Studios... your restrictions mean I'll NOT be buying your new more expensive products nor will I continue to replace my DVD collection!). I'll stick to DVD for most of my purchases, but buy Blu-Ray (or maybe combo-packs) in the case of a big blockbuster with great special-effects, audio, or a more cinematic experience. And when I do buy those Blu-Rays, I probably will NOT load them onto my server, despite the cool ability to do so that's now here. The few features it enabled aren't enough to trade off that huge amount of server storage space.

Others will feel differently, and I have to admit that when the disc-loader is available, then I finally may begin storing meaningful numbers of Blu-ray discs on my server.


A final thought: for me, it's also very nice to see the company come back from what seems like a rather extended "hibernation" period. While we now know they've been hard at work on the new products and software, it seems like it's been forever since they've been out in the press talking about their products.

I hope that this means the company is no longer afraid to show the industry that it is still innovating and is determined to continue to deliver the absolute best movie and music playback experience that you can buy. It needs to continue to emphasize that it's determined to protect IP rights and support the business of the studios selling and renting their content to willing consumers who will pay for it.

Please share your own thoughts, I'm eager to hear...

--josh
 
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brodricj

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I'm smiling, big time, particularly when I read the word "import"

Thanks K!

With only the most minor gripes:

1. why the RCA connector, what was wrong with BNC?

2. can it internally decode an DTS-MA soundtrack and output it as LPCM? No mention in the spec sheet about that.

3. Bummer. Can't change region code for BR discs. You need to buy two M-500's if you wish to play back Region A & Region B.
 
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Joe

Well-known member
So many questions... For one, the loader they plan to release first half of 2011 sounds like a functional replacement of the SpeedReader. I just bought one of those this past December. I wonder if they will feature upgrade pricing for customers who purchased the SpeedReader and want to upgrade to the loader.

That said, the loader seems somewhat different, functionally. It almost sounds like a hybrid loader and maybe carousel-like system that will hold the disks, like one of those Sony disk carousel systems? If that's the case, I definitely wonder what impact that will have on the k-scape experience. Carousel disk locate and access times are very slow compared to data access on RAID-configured hard drives. If the system has to negotiate the locate-and-find just to get the "OK" to access the hard drives that would slow things down noticeably. There will also be size considerations. I had one of those Sony carousels. It was big - like 4U or so in height - and could only hold 400 disks. How will this loader concept play out for large Blu-Ray libraries - say over 1000. That's a lot of rack space, along with the additional 3U server(s) that may be needed to store the increased content.
 

Panamar

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I have to say Im not completely impressed. Extremely disappointed that the disc is required in the tray (for the next year and a bit atleast)! Pointless! If this is the case I see no reason to upgrade untill the loader/stacker is available.

Maybe the USB port may bring some welcome help to this.

Q. Does the cover art show for all imported content of BD's at all times (inc. information... director, actor, etc..) but once a movie is selected a pop-up message appears to instruct you to put the original BD-dvd into the M500 tray (which is mounted in a rack in another room)? Don't fancy walking between rooms several/tens of times in an evening. Not very conducive to my K experience!!

Q. Can BD home made movies be placed on the server?

Q. Will my BD home made discs be required in the M500 tray?

Rgds

Panamar
 
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brodricj

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...If the system has to negotiate the locate-and-find just to get the "OK" to access the hard drives that would slow things down noticeably.

It would have to be a carousel system like the Sony mega-changers. But it needn't change the Kaleidescape experience at all, hopefully. The mega changers can detect which slots have discs in them...presumably once a disc is loaded in a slot and read/verified, that it wouldn't need to be read again prior to server playback if that slot was sensed as still occupied.

As for the physical space issue, that is a good point. I don't have space in my 45RU rack for a mega changer. But the mega-changer could be out of the way, say on the floor of my pantry cupboard, as long as I could get power and a network cable to it.

The big downer for me is this Region A & B thing. I'm just not going to buy separate players so I can play back content from both regions. I hope the mega-changer/loader can load both Region A & B to the server, and once the content is on the server (and the appropriate disc slot sensed as occupied), the M500-A can playback all BR media, both Region A and B.

Finally, if it turns out the M500 can't internally decode DTS-MA and output it as LPCM then I won't be buying any new K hardware. I'll be sticking with what I have, i.e. DVD content playback only.
 

AnOutsider

Well-known member
I must have missed in the post where the UI upgrades and limitations were listed (though they were referenced several times)

*edit* read it on k's site. Major fail all around, but by not getting my hopes up, I was prepared.
 
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