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Kaleidescape Video Server Streams Movies From Hard Drives

Startup Kaleidescape of Mountain View, Calif., has developed what could be the first-ever on-demand hard-disc video server that distributes DVD movies around the house.

The company’s Kaleidescape system rips DVD-Video discs for storage on the hard drives, then streams the movies on-demand in protected form to multiple local clients via CAT5 Ethernet wiring. Shipments were slated for the end of last month at pricing that was unavailable.

The system will be displayed as part of a seven-zone system in the Dolby and Runco booths.

The system’s 17.1-inch by 8.7-inch by 20.6-inch multizone server can be expanded to hold up to 12 300GB hard drives that will store more than 400 DVDs in their native digital format, the company said. Redundant disk technology protects data in the event of a hard-disk failure.

The system lets users instantly access server-based movies through on-screen interfaces presented by local component-size clients, called Movie Players. They spit out 480i and 480p video through component, S-Video and composite outputs to a local TV. The system is also HD-ready, capable of storing 720p and 1,080i in uncompressed form.

The system includes a DVD Reader, which “imports an exact digital copy of the DVD into the Kaleidescape server with absolutely no loss,” said Ray DePaul, product management VP. “The DVD Reader communicates with the Server over CAT-5 Ethernet, so there is no digital-to-analog back-to-digital conversion. The movie that resides on the server is an exact copy of the DVD so when played back with one or more Kaleidescape MoviePlayers, you experience DVD quality audio and video.”

The clients feature built-in DVD decoders, leaving DVD copy protection intact in the server and on the Ethernet, “so the content is secure,” he said. The MoviePlayer performs the decryption much like a DVD Player does, he explained, pointing out that the company is a DVD Copy Control Association licensee.

Via Kaleidescape’s proprietary movie-guide service, the system downloads movie-title information and cover art to simplify movie selection.

The server distributes Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks over coax/optical digital cable.

The server and clients also integrate into whole-house control systems via RS-232 and IR.