“I have seen the future and it works.” –Lincoln Steffens
PRIMA Cinema is bringing the possibility of day-and-date viewing of theatrical film releases at home to anyone that can afford the price of membership.There is an ultra-exclusive group of A-list celebrities and moguls known as “The Bel Air Circuit” that receives first-run Hollywood films for viewing in their homes/mansions. Beyond getting studio permission (nearly impossible), these individuals also own equipment capable of playing these films; commercial D-Cine projectors and movie servers equipped with the proper decryption software (very expensive).
For the vast majority of our clients, the Bel Air Circuit will never be a possibility. However, one company is bringing the possibility of day-anddate viewing at home to anyone that can afford the price of membership: PRIMA Cinema. In many ways, PRIMA is similar to other high-end systems you install. In fact, much of PRIMA’s design, functionality and mentality reminded me of Kaleidescape. But in other ways, PRIMA is unlike anything else.
Prior to installation, a PRIMA dealer performs a site visit to ensure that it will be installed into a private residence with less than 25 seats. The residence also needs a static public IP address that is added to PRIMA’s firewalls. Should the IP address change, the system stops working; one of many security and anti-piracy systems employed. After signing a membership agreement, taking a scan of my driver’s license, and enrolling my fingerprints onto the movie player, I was ready to experience PRIMA in my home.
The system is two parts: movie player and remote fingerprint reader. The player is a 3U chassis housing the hard drive and AV connections. It is also much heavier than you would expect, weighing 46 pounds. (I’m told a significant portion of that weight is internal security measures.) The system has a very striking, purple anodized aluminum rear panel with multiple redundancies– dual power supplies, RJ45 and USB connections, and two HDMI outputs, one primary and one audio only–ensuring that it works all the time, every time. The player also has a biometric fingerprint reader should the remote unit fail. The remote fingerprint reader is a striking die-cast aluminum component about the size of a small hardback book with angled facets with one RJ45 Power Over Ethernet (PoE) connection.
As complex as the system is, installation took only minutes. After making the cabling connections, PRIMA’s Shawn Yeager used his Personal Security Key (PSK) and fingerprint to unlock and authenticate my system and register it with PRIMA’s servers. Each PRIMA dealer is issued a unique PSK that is required any time one of their clients’ systems needs work.
With a, “That’s it,” I was ready to begin watching first-run Hollywood films in my home.
The PRIMA Cinema remote fingerprint reader is one of multiple security measures designed to ensure security of movie content on the player.PRIMA’s GUI is beautiful and amazingly simple to use, with high-res poster art and still frames. In fact the entire control scheme is up, down, left, right, and enter, done via IP-only and supported by major automation systems.
There are no settings to configure or adjust and just two on-screen options: “Coming Soon” and “Now Showing.” Coming Soon displays upcoming movies with their release dates, synopsis, and trailer (if available), while Now Showing displays movies available for instant viewing. All films download in the background, meaning there is no streaming, buffering, or possibility that the movie will stop should the internet crash. Occasionally, you’ll turn the system on and a new film will have been added automatically to the collection.
Each viewing costs $500 ($600 for 3D titles) and is good for one showing within 24 hours. Once you begin a movie, you can pause it, but must resume/ finish the viewing within 24 hours. There is no rewinding or fast forwarding. Trailers are free, and you can watch as many as you like.
Selecting a film displays the synopsis, rating, running time, and cast, and gives the option of viewing the trailer. Selecting “Begin Show” prompts the member to scan in their fingerprint to authenticate the viewing. The reader is very accurate and only once did I need to re-scan my thumb a second time. An anti-piracy warning screen briefly appears, and then the film starts.
During my demonstration period we watched five films, including Identity Thief, Les Miserables, and This Is 40, and for each viewing, the video quality was nothing short of stunning. In fact, PRIMA delivered the cleanest, most pristine, gorgeous video I’ve ever experienced in my home. Period. Movies are 1080/24, encoded at better-than-Blu-ray, 4:2:2, 10-bit resolution, and the extra information clearly translates up on screen. Sharpness and detail are stunning, with fine details like whiskers and individual strands of hair or fabric in clothing displayed in razor clarity. Blacks are deep and rich and black and completely noise-free. Audio was multi-channel LPCM and sounded equally terrific.
The biggest hurdle that PRIMA has to clear is content availability. As I write this, there are only 10 titles available for viewing. A common expectation will be, “You can watch (insert title)? That’s awesome!” But the reality is that PRIMA currently only has deals in place with Universal (a major investor), Lionsgate, Focus Features, Cinedigm, and Magnolia. PRIMA assures they have “negotiations ongoing with virtually everyone in Hollywood.”
It’s not often that a product is truly gamechanging, but PRIMA is that product. Many have speculated that digital delivery will be the future of media delivery, and PRIMA is definitely at the vanguard. To paraphrase Lincoln Steffens, “I have seen the future, and it is awesome!”
Allows anyone to view firstrun movies, day-and-date, at home; terrific picture and sound quality; outstanding build quality
Premium pricing; limited content
• 2 Terabyte hard drive stores up to 50 films in RAID-5 array
• 1080p24 full HD video in 4:2:2 sampling and 10-bit resolution, including 3D
• Dolby TrueHD or LPCM multi-channel audio
• Separate biometric fingerprint reader powered via Cat-5 PoE
• Multiple security measures ensure content security
• IP controllable via a number of automation systems or iOS
• Connections: (2) independent power supplies, (2) RJ45 Ethernet connections, (2) USB ports, (2) HDMI outputs (1 full audio/video, 1 audio only)
• 5.5 x 19 x 16.5 inches (HxWxD); Weight 46 pounds