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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

It's good to be a winner!

Posted on December 16, 2011 at 4:05 PM

I’ve been sitting on this story for like 9 months now, because, well, frankly I just kind of forgot about it. Then when I remembered it last night -- "Oh, yeah! That would make a great post!" -- I came in to work this morning and promptly had about 45 minutes of panic where I thought I had lost my damn notes as I clicked through all of the spots and folders where I generally save stuff on my hard drive. (And thanks for NOTHING little searching puppy dog guy in Windows XP! You were absolutely NO help whatsoever. And apparently clicking “search for keywords inside of documents” doesn’t *really* search inside of documents. I want to spank him with a rolled up newspaper and yell, “BAD DOG! BAD! You search better next time!” swat!)


Anyhow, I found it, so, onward we go...


I’ve written *extensively* about my love of the Kaleidescape hard disk movie server system in the past. I told you how they slashed the price yet retained the awesome on their Cinema One system, expressed my joy of adding Blu-ray movies to my collection, talked about how – as a salesperson – you need to sell luxury items outside of your own wallet or spending comfort zone, made a video of my 4-year old daughter explaining why SHE loves Kaleidescape, and wondered why it's easier to understand luxury items in ALL things but an A/V lifestyle.


And while I’m sure that I’ll continue to talk about Kaleidescape and its awesomeness going forward – like the sweet new iPad control app that I am Beta testing right now and their download service when they get it fully launched next year – Kaleidescape is really one of those experiential type systems that is difficult to *fully* grasp how awesome it is until you have actually lived with it and used it in your own home. (Also EXACTLY like that? Automated lighting. Until you have lived with an automated lighting system, it is very difficult to convey in words and descriptions or cave drawings and aggressive hand gestures just how great and life improving it really can be. Now that I’ve got Lutron’s RadioRA2 in my house, I can’t imagine going back. And if you try and take it away from me, I am going to throw buckets of conductive salt water on you while you try.) And unlike a house full of lighting dimmers and switches – which is incredibly spiteful and trying to little kill you at every turn -- installing a Kaleidescape system is stupid simple, and they facilitated newbies experiencing their system by offering a free in-home “puppy dog” loaner system.


Having spent some time over at the Kaleidescape Owners forum, it is readily apparent that Kaleidescape owners are a passionate bunch. They are quick to share what they love about their systems and how they use them and how to get the most out of them.


So, noticing this passion, I suggested to Kaleidescape back in November of ought-ten that they should get some of these owners to offer testimonials of WHY they love their systems so much. Nothing is a better seal of approval than the words of a satisfied owner right? Right. To sweeten the pot, I suggested that Kaleidescape make a contest out of it, giving the winner a new player to add Blu-ray awesomeness to their system. Kaleidescape liked the idea and ran with it allowing me to launch it on my blog.


So, after the contest ended, Kaleidescape asked the winners if they would let me chat with them via the e-mails and share their stories and get some more info about why they love their systems so much, how they use them, and the improvements they’ve made to their lifestyle. So now you no longer have to take it from me how awesome Kaleidescape is. Here’s what the winners had to say…


Winner #1 - Brandon


Being organized is somewhat of a personal pet peeve of mine, and in an effort to be more organized, I decided to go completely digital. So about two years ago I invested in a Kaleidescape system.


This system is in a word, AWESOME. I was extremely impressed with it. So much so, that I later purchased a larger server to handle all my content. No other product has ever moved me in such a way, and I consider myself to be a "Techie".


Over the years, I have acquired around eleven hundred movies, along with all of their cases. What I most love about the Kaleidescape system is the categorization; they have really done an outstanding job with the metadata for the DVD's, and this allows me to finally store all of my media away and regain living area back in my home. Plus I never have to worry about finding one DVD amongst hundreds. Whenever my family gathers at my home, we feel comfortable leaving the kids alone and not worrying about them watching something inappropriate. We also never have to worry about anyone misplacing or damaging a DVD.


I recently started creating scripts for family/friend movie nights and what was really cool to me was the ability to add one of my favorite movie scenes to the start of the movie.  It really gives a personal touch movie night and everyone there was surprised by the customization. They absolutely loved it and wanted to see more.


The addition of Blu-ray was the next step of Kaleidescape evolution; it was a must have.  It truly completed my system.... for now. I think the company's next step will be adding 3D and making some other updates to the OS.  


Thanks, Kaleidescape, for developing a system that has allowed me to be organized and save time. Time that I can now spend with my family and friends building healthier life-long relationships.


Winner #2 – Neil


I have owned my Kaleidescape system for about 4 years. My system consists of a 3U server, movie player and music player with about 200 movies loaded. I have this set up in a rack and route the audio/video via Crestron to all areas of my house including my dedicated home theater with Sony projector.


There have been two phases in my life: BK (before Kaleidescape) and AK (after Kaleidescape). BK, even watching movies was a chore because we would have to search through everything manually and decide on which movie to watch. (As you can imagine that was not always successful because discs have a way of misplacing themselves.) The same thing happened when trying to find home videos we have created.


I love the accessibility of all the movies AK. Now our movies are available 100% of the time. The software makes sorting and finding movies very fast and easy and the search features are sophisticated enough that you can sort the list by genre, actor, director or even length of movie. It even pulls together suggestions of similar movies for you. I can't tell you how many times I was looking for one movie and the system showed me some other movies I had forgotten about and decided to watch those instead. Home movies can be loaded to the server and will never be lost or accidentally destroyed.


Showing your entire home movie collection is also a great way to rid yourself of unwanted houseguests. People can only tolerate a certain amount of cute puppy or baby video until they develop a headache or remember another engagement they absolutely cannot miss. Finally, with my home automation system I am able to stream the movies to any monitor in my home.


I had not upgraded to Bluray previously for several reasons. First, the Kaleidescape DVD player provides a pretty awesome picture. Not as good as Blu-ray, but for most purposes it’s fine. Second,  I only have about five Blu-ray movies at this time, but it’s a chicken and egg thing. Without a good Blu-ray system, it never made sense to buy more Blu-ray discs. Finally was the cost. The full benefit of the Blu-ray player is not realized without the disc vault making it a fairly costly upgrade. In addition, I will have to add a lot of hard drive space to accommodate future Blu-ray discs.


Now that I have the new Blu-ray player, I love the updated interface, but the main draw is the picture quality. The DVD had very good quality but you can really tell the difference on the Blu-ray discs. It gives you a near reality experience. Although the disc vault is not externally very attractive, it functions quite well. I really like the fact that you can autoload the Blu-ray discs which I did not know you could do. I had 6 discs that I inserted one after another into the vault and then it took care of the rest. I did not have to wait for one disc to finish loading before the next one was placed in the vault.


Life AK is a lot sweeter.


Winner #3 – Tom


We have two Kaleidescape systems containing over 800 movies each, one in our Atlanta home and one in our Florida beach home, so you can easily imagine the value of the Kaleidescape system in managing a collection that size.  Before Kaleidescape, we frequently didn't know where a movie was or if we even had it. The Kaleidescape app that I recently installed on my iPhone really is useful in quickly scanning a DVD to determine if I already have it and in what format.  I cannot tell you the number of times in the past, before I had this system and the I-Phone app, that I ended up with 2 or 3 copies of the same DVD.  


Aside from solving these problems, Kaleidescape provides us with one very special thing: Memories of our 2 and 4 year old grandchildren curling up in our lap watching their favorite movie. Kaleidescape gave us the ability to create a collection just for them. The way Kaleidescape projects the DVD covers grouped together on the screen provides a unique opportunity for our boys to participate in selecting what they want to watch. It's great fun to see them point at a cover and then tell "Poppy" that's the one.


The Kaleidescape system continues to help us build great memories with all of our grandchildren.


You can see more owner’s testimonials here, or jump right to Lauryn’s testimonial – with self portrait – here. If you'd like to make the move from lusting-after-Kaleidescape to owning a Kaleidescape, I'll be happy to make that happen for you.

Categories: December 2011, Electronics, Movies

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