Kaleidescape’s Interface Gets Even Better
Going back through previous posts I’ve written, I discovered it’s been more than five years since Kaleidescape launched its industry-leading online download store at store.kaleidescape.com.
In that post on the Movie Store’s beta launch, I reminisced about a conversation I’d had with company founder and now CEO, Cheena Srinivasan, back when I was sent the first Kaleidescape server to review. The concept of a movie server was completely new at the time, and generic descriptions like, “It’s like a giant iPod for movies” didn’t nearly do the product or experience justice. And they didn’t begin to do justice to Cheena’s vision for the company. “We want to be more than just a media-management company,” he told me. “We want to eventually get into content delivery.”
I’m sure Cheena had no idea back in 2002 exactly what would be involved with accomplishing that, as we’ve had numerous conversations since where he’s discussed the challenges of negotiating and building relationships with the Hollywood studios as the company secures digital rights for films in the highest audio and video quality.
Over the past five years, Kaleidescape has continued to grow and develop its online Movie Store from standard-definition (DVD-quality) titles at launch to adding a slate of Blu-ray-quality titles to now featuring films, concerts, and TV content from more than 25 studios—including 400 Ultra HD titles, many of which feature HDR and next-generation audio formats like Dolby Atmos. The company has also increased its bandwidth, and can now deliver content at speeds up to 300 Mbps.
One fundamental thing that hasn’t changed since the Movie Store was launched is the way you browse and buy movies, which requires using a Web browser. While this approach has served the company’s user base for years—and, in fact, is a great way to buy movies when you’re not at home, so they’re ready for viewing later that day—it lacks the elegance of the rest of the Kaleidescape user experience.
When I visited the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA last November, I was given a sneak peak at the team’s latest development for the Movie Store—integrating the Store into the onscreen interface. Finally, this past week, Kaleidescape unlocked the onscreen Movie Store for dealers in a beta test prior to releasing the feature to customers.
I’ve had a chance to play with the new Store interface for a bit, and it is really terrific, retaining the slickness and user-friendliness the Kaleidescape experience and interface is known for.
You access the Store by pressing the Menu button on the remote, which brings up browsing options that include List—where you can browse your movie library sorted by title, actors, director, release date, running time, genre, or rating—Covers, Collections, and Movie Store. The Parental Controls tab has been moved to a tab of its own.
Once inside the Store, it’s easy to browse films sorted into a variety of collections, including Featured, New Releases, and 4K HDR, as well as popular genres like Action, Drama, and Comedy. The Store also has some dynamic collections that will regularly change, such as 2018 Oscar Nominees and Superheroes.
Pressing Enter on a film brings up the familiar movie-details screen, which includes information like running time, rating, aspect ratio, Rotten Tomatoes scores, a brief synopsis, genre, cast, director, and studio. It also displays the versions the film is available in—HDR, UHD, HD, and SD—as well as the price of each. You can also see the audio tracks available for each version.
The onscreen Store has some terrific options for browsing and exploring collections as well, letting you dive into a specific genre or actor, or view similar films. There’s a simple three-icon screen for navigating as well, with one icon for exploring similar films, another to go back a level, and a third that takes you home to the top screen.
An intuitive yet powerful search function also lets you hunt for films, actors, directors, or collections, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
Clicking Purchase prompts for a 4-digit passcode to confirm, keeping guests or young ones from racking up a massive download bill.
Check out the video above, where I provide a thorough look at browsing the new Store. This feature is currently available to dealers, and will go into a wide release to all owners shortly.
Probably the most experienced writer on custom installation in the industry, John Sciacca is
co-owner of Custom Theater & Audio in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, & is known for his writing
for such publications as Residential Systems and Sound & Vision. Follow him on Twitter at
@SciaccaTweets and at johnsciacca.com.