Kaleidescape’s new Alto movie player is “the beginning of a new era” for the company, according to company CEO, Cheena Srinivasan. The Alto is Kaleidescape’s first product introduction since the settlement of its decade-long legal dispute with the DVD CCA and is the company’s first movie player to import 100 percent of stored content via downloads from the Kaleidescape Store.
“While there is a lot of movie and television content available on the ’net, it isn’t all free, and you get what you pay for,” Srinivasan stated. “The Kaleidescape Store offers the best selection, best quality, and the experience is second to none compared with the gold standard that is the Blu-ray disc.”
All titles offered at the store are in an audio and video format that “precisely matches that of a Blu-ray disc or DVD.”
With licensing agreements in place with Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, and NBCUniversal, the Kaleidescape Store now features more than 8,500 movies and 1,600 TV seasons. This currently accounts for nearly 60 percent of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films. Srinivasan told Residential Systems that Kaleidescape anticipates announcing additional studio support in Q1 of 2015.
Alto will feature a 4 Terabyte hard drive capable of storing approximately 100 movies downloaded in Blu-ray quality or 600 movies in DVD quality. Further, up to four Altos can be combined, quadrupling available storage and creating four discrete viewing zones. Srinivasan mentioned that Kaleidescape will offer a storage expansion server early next year that will allow Alto owners to add storage when additional viewing zones aren’t needed. The company also plans for Alto players to integrate with a Kaleidescape disc vault within first half of next year, offering easier playback and management of any DVD or Blu-ray titles not currently offered in the store.
In line with the settlement agreement reached with the DVD CCA, Alto will not import any local DVD content. While Blu-ray imports were not impacted under the settlement, the Alto will not import Blu-ray discs. However it will certainly play both of these formats. Also, in keeping with Kaleidescape’s main design philosophy of “making products as simple to use as we possibly can,” Alto is strictly a movie player, and will not import or play CDs. Srinivasan pointed out that it will play any concert DVD or Blu-rays.
Users will still enjoy the “Kaleidescape experience” when viewing a disc played on the system, including the ability to view any bookmarked scenes, skip past trailers and warnings, and jump to songs, extras, or specific TV episodes. Alto also provides full integration support of major automation systems such as Control4, Crestron, URC, Savant, etc.
Alto offers a new feature called “Catalogue” that allows all movies that are owned–whether downloaded or on physical disc–to be displayed on the on-screen user interface. Cataloguing is a fast and simple process that allows users to take advantage of any “digital offers” available from the store, enabling purchase of a digital copy of the movie in either DVD or Blu-ray quality right from the on-screen GUI. The store also uses catalogued titles to make purchasing recommendations based on what an owner has in his or her collection.
“Alto allows users to have their cake and eat it to,” Srinivasan said. “Owners can play back local movies and enjoy the Kaleidescape experience, but also integrate with the store to introduce movie offers on the TV and have a delivery system to enjoy and consume new content.”
Srinivasan also stressed that Alto will be a “100-percent channel-based product. We have always served the custom residential market, and we plan to continue to build our success there. For a while the channel has asked to have a price point that would enable them to bid onto every project and we feel Alto is priced just right to fit into the sweet spot of custom installation jobs and to be part-and-parcel of every project.”
At $2,495 retail, Alto is designed to deliver the Kaleidescape experience to home theater systems in the $10,000 and up range.
“The way I envision Alto is that everything about it is simple,” Srinivasan said. “Simplicity and convenience are timeless benefits.”
Company VP of channel programs and education, John Sykes, echoed, “We believe [the Alto] is the purest expression of what we set out to do when we founded the company in 2001.”
Expect a review of the Kaleidescape Alto in an upcoming issue of Residential Systems.