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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Sooloos walks up to Kaleidescape in a bar...

Posted on November 19, 2010 at 2:57 PM

A Meridian Sooloos music server walks into a bar. He’s wearing an exquisitely constructed, bespoke Savile Row suit and John Lobb oxfords. He strolls up to the bar with a jaunty gait and plops down next to a Kaleidescape wearing Roberto Cavalli jeans and a Ralph Lauren Purple Label sweater sipping an elit Stoli martini served viciously dry with a trio of skewered bleu-cheese stuffed olives.


“Hello, K. Good to see you again.”

“Nice to see you as well. Buy you a drink? Micro brew if I remember correctly…”

“Guiness if I'm drinking beer now. They actually have me drinking single malts now. You know, stiff upper lip and all that.”

“Bar man a...”

“Macallan 25...”

“Your tastes have changed. OK, a Mac 25 for my friend, Sooloos.”

“Yes, well. And, actually, it’s Meridian Sooloos now.”

“Ahh, yes. The acquisition. How’s that going for you?”

“Smashingly, old bean. Smashingly. Other than the weather, which is grey and rainy all the time. And, of course, I miss Manhattan, but... They’ve actually made me better. Improved my audio section, put funds into R&D, some great new features, stronger dealer base, get to play with $20,000 speakers all day. So, all in all, well worth the hassle of having to wear a mac and drive on the wrong side. And look at you! Finally got that whole Blu-ray thing sorted out! That’s a big deal, right?”

“Absolutely. Of course, I couldn’t do it exactly the way I wanted – those damn Hollywood anti-piracy Nazis – but our Disc Vault ultimately gets us back to working the way we wanted. And now that we can start a Blu movie in under 5 seconds... Cool stuff.“

“You know, I really respect you and what you do.”


“No. I mean it. Look, a few CEDIAs ago I had some pretty grandiose plans and talked about being a movie server and doing photos and…”

"Yeah. I remember. I think that guy Sciacca wrote something titled ‘Sooloos nips at Kaleidescape’s heels.’”

“Yeah. He’s a great guy by the way.”

“Absolutely. One of the best.”

“One of?” (This actually goes on for several more minutes, where they ultimately agree that I am indeed great. And certainly better than Darryl.)

“Anyhow, K, what I wanted to say is, I really respect you and everything that you do, but I think there are a couple of ways that you could be even better. Wanna see...?”


Currently, I am fortunate enough to be living the media serving dream as I have both of  these media serving products sitting in my equipment rack, making my home home to the finest serving technology currently available to man. To the left, all silvery and big-screen shiny, sits the Meridian Sooloos music server; to the right, all gloss white and sleek and glowing bluey, is the Kaleidescape.


They are both quite awesome in their own right, and if I were to quickly sum up Battle: Servers! then it would be thusly:

Music Only Server-ing: Winner – Meridian Sooloos. Reason: Awesome touchscreen interface, far deeper and richer metadata browsing, easily import (and export) files of different types, terrific Rhapsody interface, superior audio quality via Meridian ancient British family secret recipe.


Everything else + Music Server-ing : Kaleidescape.


While I love the Kaleidescape experience, there is a time and place and scenario when I would recommend Sooloos over it: that is if I were ONLY interested in music listening and management. But, once you stick that FIRST DVD (or Blu-ray) into the equation, the balance shifts entirely to Kaleidescape. And from my experience, even those people who start off staunchly proclaiming, “Movies? Harumpf! I only listen to music! I don’t care for watching these vi-dee-ohs or the ci-nee-mahs. Leave that hullabaloo to the youngsters what with their MTVs and their Lady Goo-Goos and thier pocket candies!" But after a while, the siren song of movie streaming becomes too much to bear, and they ultimately drop a movie disc in just to tell everyone how awful movies really are and to shame those oh-they-think-they’re-so-young-and-cool! K-kids into silence. And once that first movie is loaded, then it quickly becomes a crack-level addiction adding more and more titles until you wondered where your 6 Terabytes of storage went and if you should just buy another 1U server or go all the way to 3U town...


Now, I’m sure there are people out there that fortunate enough to rock both of these systems, enjoying the best movie AND music experience possible. And those are the people I call rich, lucky, other reviewers who didn’t return their stuff (oh yeah, Darryl, that was about you! And, PS, thanks for showing me "the Way." )  or – for the time being – me.


But, what the Sooloos was going to show Kaleidescape was its Rhapsody integration. And what this could mean to Kaleidescape. With Rhapsody. But more importantly, with… Well, read on.


You see, lots of things have Rhapsody now, so that’s not really a big deal. The Big Deal is the way that Sooloos integrates Rhapsody in such an organic and awesome way. You add in albums – tens, hundreds, *thousands* -- of albums from Rhapsody and then they just show up in your regular music collection. Like Miles Davis? Great. Have ALL of Miles. Too embarrassed to admit that you like to listen to The Bieber’s “U Smile” with your 4 year old enough to actually go out and buy it? Just Rhap it. Album art, album reviews, metatagging, everything appears in your collection just as if it were an album you owned and uploaded. Your collection can go from thin and weak to big and meaty in no time. And as long as you pay the Rhapsody subscription, you have access to everything.


So, if Kaleidescape took a cue from this, they could add an equally awesome Rhapsody integration that would totally flesh out your music collection.


But, as we all know, the K-magic sauce is *really* about movies. And Kaleidescape has killed it with the interface, but the system's big limitation is that it only handles the content you own (or rent). And once you’ve tired of your collection the answer is “buy more movies!” But instead of stopping (or even starting) the imagination train with Rhapsody, what if you thought bigger. What if you thought...Netflix!

Imagine if you had access to the *entire* Netflix movie library as well? (Well, at least the titles that they enable for “Watch Now.” ) That would appear in your movie cover art list. That would magically shuffle and dance around. That would act every bit like your own content.  (Obviously the quality would be limited by Netflix and your Internet connection, but still...) This would be a new KILLER APP for Kaleidescape and such an amazing tool and resource to movie lovers. Own Season One of Lost? Why not toss in Seasons Two – Six? Like a Twilight Zone episode? Hey, try them ALL! (Oh, and when sorted by Kaleida's episode list... Happy dance begins!) On a Clint Eastwood or Kurasawa kick? Add in EVERY film they’ve been associated with.


With Netflix available in sub $150 devices, it can’t be too tough to implement. I’m sure that there is some processing giblets that are unique to it, but if Kaleiedescape could find a way to make this work, it would be legen (wait for it...) dary! Cheena, to hear your thoughts...

Categories: November 2010, Electronics

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