I really liked the fast load times as in reviewing this piece I jumped all over the place. I watched Spiderman 3 (Columbia). My Onkyo receiver immediately recognized the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack and the movie began. I used the scenes feature and let the Kaleidescape system jump me through the key scenes so I got caught up on the film without actually watching the entire film. This is a really neat feature for demoing your system as you can totally customize the scenes from your web browser. The M Series players gave excellent color and sound. The dynamics were very good on the large explosions of the film while subtle details stayed clear.
I saw The Italian Job (Paramount) on the server so thought I'd run through it. The scenes mode passed me through a joyride of the movie from the first Mini test ride to the final chase scene with the Russian villains. The roar of the cars and subsequent crashes were lively and immediate and sounded no different than if being played back via the disc itself. Whether the scene called for explosive dynamics or subtly, the Kaleidescape system presented it faithfully and fully. This held true for video as I could detect no loss in quality when comparing the server's video to the actual discs.
I loaded the new Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Disney) into the system and watched it from the server. The DTS HD-MA soundtrack locked on and the film began almost instantly. The dynamics were excellent and color and contrast were impressive. I liked that by playing just the movie, the output starts out as DTS HD-MA so your receiver or AV preamp doesn't have to switch signals from whatever the menu is in, usually Dolby Digital or stereo, to DTS HD-MA. The film had great black levels and was open and dynamic. Subtle details like the creaking of the ships were well placed and the depth of attacks controlled. Never once did I experience even a subtle hiccup or glitch in my system's replaying of films, neither on the audio or video side.
I wanted to use the playlist feature so went to the music section of the server. I was able to quickly add tracks as well as entire albums to my music selection and if I liked I could go back to my playlists and modify them as well, to a point. This feature is simple but not as flexible as, say, Meridian's Sooloos system. You can skip songs and remove them but that is about it. Sound from the Kaleidescape was open and fairly neutral. On my playlist I had things like Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison (Sony) and the twang of Johnny's voice was superb as was the raw guitar he plays on the title track. The tempo of "25 Minutes To Go" was lively and tight, making the song exciting to listen to.
This is a toughest piece of gear to find fault with. They even got the remote right and have a parent-controllable child remote as well. I don't like that I have to keep my Blu-rays in the vault to watch them on the network but that is the best the lawyers could come up with. This could be slightly cumbersome for those who travel with Blu-rays a lot but thanks to the M700's randomly accessible disc tray you can easily eject any disc you like whenever you want to take it on the road with you. The disc will again be available to the system once in a vault or player in the network. I would like the Kaleidescape system to have a third, faster speed for scrolling through the list menu as with large collections the scroll rate is a little slow and can be cumbersome.
The only real shortcoming of the Kaleidescape M Series movie server is its current lack of support for 3D content. I don't like 3D but for some this is an issue. Kaleidescape is working on this but it may require new players at the sites you want 3D content.
Competition and Comparison
The Kaleidescape M series system delivers something no one else does. Native, unadulterated, Blu-ray content throughout multiple sights in a network. Sure, you can use an AppleTV (720p for HD) but that won't get you close to the 1080p resolution the Kaleidescape system does. Meridian Sooloos is another system I recently had in for review. The Kaleidescape interface is simpler to use while the Sooloos gives more control over sorting and searching and is more attuned to the audiophile music server market - that and the Meridian Sooloos system only does audio. The Kaleidescape M series movie server system is the only system that gives you true Blu-ray quality video and bit-stream audio distributed throughout your home across a network.
The Kaleidescape M Series Blu-ray, movie and media server does what nothing else on the planet does, in that it has created a way to distribute Blu-ray quality audio and video as well as DVDs and CDs to any number of sites within a home network. The convenience of this simply cannot be beaten. Kaleidescape's interface is so simple they don't even have a manual, and you won't need one. Load times for Blu-rays are mere seconds and faster than all the best stand-alone Blu-ray players currently available. Literally, movies load and begin playback in three seconds, bypassing the menus and previews forced upon us by many studios.
The Kaleidescape M Series players are so simple even a toddler could use the system, and they make a special remote for them that you control. I remember not feeling so positive about the Mini System I reviewed awhile back but the M Series has floored me. I love this system. The Kaleidescape Blu-ray media server system isn't cheap, but the person putting such a system into their home likely isn't going to notice, for the enjoyment they will reap from their movie collection on the Kaleidescape server is priceless. The Kaleidescape M Series Blu-ray server is the absolute top dog among media servers.
• Read more media server reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
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