Earlier this year I reviewed Kaleidescape’s M500 Blu-ray movie player, and while I loved the high-res cover art GUI , the stellar video performance, and the ability to play Blu-ray titles, I didn’t love the “disc-in-tray” requirement. This restriction felt like a big step backwards from the traditional, awesome Kaleidescape movie experience. My conclusion was, “Although certainly a bummer, this limitation will largely be eliminated when the Disc Loader arrives next year.”
Kaleidescape’s Blu-ray Disc Loader is known as the Modular Disc Vault (MDV) or KVAULT-10 in K-speak.
That next year is now, and that Disc Loader, known as the Modular Disc Vault (MDV), or KVAULT-10 ($1,499) in K-speak, is now shipping. So, armed with a fully loaded (6 Terabyte RAID) 1U server, an M500 Blu-ray movie player and M300 Blu-ray mini player, I was ready to give the MDV a whirl.
My first thought about the Vault was that it was incredibly lightweight… like a fake, furniture store display. As installations go, the MDV is the easiest component that I have ever racked in. It connects to an M-class player with a USB cable, then to power, and you’re done. The Vault is immediately recognized by the system and a new “Disc Vaults” tab is added to the system menu. After a quick diagnostic, the Vault is ready to start accepting discs. Insert a disc, wait a second for the vault to spin to a new slot, insert another, and repeat. Once you’ve stopped loading discs, the vault identifies each disc and then automatically starts the importing process. All told, it took me about 30 minutes to unbox, install, and load 40 Blu-ray discs, making it an easy add-on install to any existing system.
While a system could have numerous Vaults, each Vault must be connected directly to an M-class player. So for a library of 300 Blu-rays, you would need three vaults, at least three M-class players, and about 12 Terabytes worth of storage.
The MDV only accepts Blu-ray discs; any CDs or DVDs are recognized as non-Blu titles and then ejected. The Vault is very quiet while importing, only making typical changer carousel noises when rotating to import a new disc. Once it has completed the import process, it never moves and is utterly silent. Most Blu-ray titles took between 60 and 90 minutes to import, and weren’t available for viewing until they had finished importing. You can watch movies while importing and can also import discs from other movie players or Vaults on the network. At one point I concurrently had the Vault and the M500 importing while watching two separate movies on both the M500 and M300. That’s a ton of data shuttling around! The nice thing is that the import process is totally automatic; install the Vault, load up all of your client’s discs, and just let it do its thing.
I was surprised at how many Blu-ray titles I still had in their cellophane wrappers. Because my previous Blu-ray storage solution was a haphazard stack under our pool table, I found multiple titles I had never even opened. Also, the lifestyle improvement of having all your movies in one managed collection is significant. Many times my four-year old daughter would want to watch something that we only had on Blu-ray (Wall-E, Bolt, Up, Toy Story 3, etc.) but that meant digging through the Blu-rays stack and walking my wife through the process of loading a discs into the PlayStation3, using the joystick and…which meant she usually ended up watching something else. Now, the system gets more use because it is so easy. A quick note on my daughter– and kids in general–using the system. Kaleidescape’s new children’s remote and “Child Collection” feature is an amazingly simple yet brilliant thing that will open up a whole new demographic to technology ownership.
Once discs were imported, Blu-ray titles appeared in the different views–List, Cover Art, Collection–and were available for near-instant playback. My Blu-ray start times averaged about 10 seconds, though others report times in the five- to six-second range (likely due to optimized network settings). The awesomeness of being able to rapidly jump from disc to disc is especially useful when viewing concerts, can’t be underestimated. Being able to demo all the best scenes from an entire collection without having to get off the couch or break the mood with long load times is impressive, indeed.
The Disc Vault is the final piece needed to complete the Kaleidescape Blu-ray puzzle and it works brilliantly. And once you’ve lived with the Kaleidescape system and the Disc Vault, it is difficult to imagine being without it. What does the Vault mean for Kaleidescape owners? An additional $1,500 and finding room for a 5U component. Honestly, for someone looking to invest in a Kaleidescape system, this is a nominal “in for a penny, in for a pound” proposition akin to selecting the high-performance, wheels-upgrade option on your Ferrari. For dealers, a Disc Vault should be considered mandatory as part of any M-class Kaleidescape install.
Incredibly simple install and disc loading, totally silent in operation, completes Kaleidescape Blu-ray experience for instant playback of library of Blu-ray titles
Fairly large (5U) chassis, each MDV must connect directly to an M-series player
■ Holds 100 Blu-ray discs
■ Connects to M500 or M300 Movie Player via USB cable
■ Automatically imports Blu-ray discs to Kaleidescape server
■ Instantly and seamlessly integrates into Kaleidescape system
■ Dimensions: 14.6 x 7.4 x 16.9 (WxHxD); 6.3 pounds (empty), 10 pounds (fully loaded)