systems integration

Explore Apple’s New iOS 8

Apple iOs 8 Preview page


iOs blog header


Apple has created the world’s most advanced mobile operating system with iOS 8. New features such as complete photo editing for all photos on all devices, adding voice messages to texts, iCloud Photo library, updated Notification features, smarter keyboard, Family sharing of iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases, iCloud Drive and Mac Connected to your iOS devices. Click on the link above for all the details.




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What is 4k?

If you haven’t heard the new buzz word “4K” yet then you’re about to hear all about it in this post. If you have heard 4k and have been wondering what all this talk is about then you’ve come to the right place. I will try to explain things as simply as possible without filling this post with too much tech jargon that just confuses most of us even more. Currently, the highest resolution that is widely available for consumer use is 1080p or commonly call Full HD. Most of the media content that we watch right now is a step below that in resolutions of 720p or 1080i and commonly call HD or HDTV. While this looks just fine for most viewers compared to what we all had before, content providers are always striving to get the consumer better, faster content. 1080p or Full HD content can  be found on Bluray discs, Kaleidescape systems, select Directv Pay per View and movies, select Appletv content, select Netflix content, etc. Simply buying a Bluray disc does not ensure you can view it properly. Having the proper hdmi cables and tv to view the 1080p content is necessary. The Kaleidescape systems we sell have been doing 1080 content forever it seems like. All imported Bluray discs are output in 1080p as well as all your old dvd content is upconverted to 1080p so they look almost as good as you remembered. One thing I have noticed since the flood of high definition content is that when you view an non HD channel or try to watch an old dvd disc it seems horrible to watch. Kaleidescape solves this problem for me, in fact I often pick up old dvd discs when I see them on sale because the Kscape players do such a great job of making them look good. Select 1080p content on Appletv and Netflix type services is a little harder to find. Not all shows and movies are at the 1080p resolution and often the ones that are need to be chosen when purchasing and they often cost more than the standard definition and HD versions. Download times for this content along your internet is also greatly increased with 1080p. If you don’t have blazing fast internet don’t even try to view a 1080p movie. All this being said, we are now looking at 4k taking over as the best of the best. 4k resolution is essentially twice the resolution of 1080p.Simply put, the display will have twice as many pixels in the same area as before meaning the picture will be much sharper and more capable of realistic images. All this sounds great doesn’t it? Well, here’s the skinny. The manufacturers rushed to get the 4k tvs out before the content! It’s true that the 4k tvs do “upscale” all the media content you have now so the shiny new 4k tv you just bought will give you a picture BUT not the true picture you should be getting with 4k content. DEG installed one of the first Sony 4k televisions in the country last year. The Sony XBR-84X900… awesome tv. At a retail price of $25,000 Sony got smart and shipped the tv with it’s own Sony 4k content server. This server was basically just a pc loaded with 15-20 Sony movies. While the picture looked good, it was a royal pain to use and the client never touched it. 6 months later, we got a call from Sony saying they had a new 4k server the FMP-X1 and wanted to install it along with a 4k upgrade to the Sony tv. They sent a tech out and we worked with him to get it installed and a few hours later we had it up and running. The new server is an actual unit that is sold to the public now and once again came loaded with a few movies, the rest are purchased through the online Sony store that the server connects to. It’s still limited to Sony movies and the operation is still a bit of a mess. Sony provided one of their tablets to control the server but I’m still not impressed. I don’t think the client has used the new 4k server now either! The manufacturers producing the new 4k tvs are in my opinion banking on the consumer using built in apps on the tv itself to find 4k content. These “smart” tvs often come loaded with apps such as Youtube and Netflix which both offer some 4k content now. Keep in mind all of this content you find with apps on the tv will have to be downloaded and or streamed to the tv for viewing. Remember what I said about blazing fast internet with 1080p? To sum up, I think 4k content looks absolutely stunning on high quality tvs and projectors like the ones Sony makes. I think 4k IS the future of high quality content and is not going to be a fad like 3d. However, getting that wonderful 4k content into your home and on the screen is the big challenge I see moving forward. It will happen though and those of us early adopters who are struggling to get 4k content will one day forget how hard it was and will look to the future for even a better viewing experience one day. .


Paul Beauregard CTO/Designer    Design Engineering Group

Kaleidescape vs. “Other” Media Servers

I am often asked what’s the big deal with Kaleidescape? Why are they so pricey? Can’t I just use a pc or Mac and do the same thing? etc,etc. I saw this article today in Residential Systems by John Sciacca and thought I would share it here because he explains it better than I could.


Last week Kaleidescape introduced a new product, the Cinema One, that I and many others in the trade and consumer press felt was pretty big news. For a company known for making systems for the luxury market costing as much as automobiles, breaking the $4,000 barrier was a major move to capture a much broader segment of the market. That is good for them as a company, and good for Kaleidescape dealers because they finally have a way to overcome the one major hurdle that killed most sales.

But almost as soon as the announcement came out, the typical anti-Kaleidescape comments started flooding in—how someone could build their own system for far less money that works just as good as a Kaleidescape.

I’d like to take a few paragraphs to tell you exactly why these other solutions may be media servers, but will never be the same as a Kaleidescape, even the new, $3,995 Cinema One. And before you accuse me of being a fanboy, I’m going to take impartiality off the table and admit that, yes, I am a Kaleidescape fanboy. Having reviewed, sold, and lived with the product in various incarnations for years, they have earned my fanboy status. It’s also one of the few products that continues to get as much use in my home now as the day it was first installed.

I’ve left the comment text complete, poor grammar and all, in italics below.

Homebrew Solutions
I was talking with a buddy last night about [the Cinema One], and he just started to laugh hysterically. He went on to inform me that he had ‘magic software’ that cost him nothing that rips ‘all’ DVDs and Blurays. He said only a fool would pay such a price, and the more I think about it, he may be right.

The typical “this can be done for way less money!” media server solution is generally built around some kind of Media Center PC running some brand of third-party software that is illegal. (Do your own research on the matter, but I doubt you will find any information saying that breaking the DVD-CCA’s CSS copy protection, which is present on all commercial DVD discs—one of the first steps in making a copy—is legal.) Now you can argue that the Fair Use Act gives you the right to make a backup, and you feel that breaking the disc protection for that purpose is warranted, but technically, it’s illegal. Nonetheless, let’s look past that for a moment. At the end of the day, some kind of PC and third-party software is running the show, and from a reliability standpoint, these don’t hold a candle to a Kaleidescape system. Restarts, reboots, lock-ups, fan noise and lights, and random WTFs?!? are often in play. Kaleidescape, on the other hand, runs on a purpose-built operating system—KOS—that is the closest thing to bulletproof that you will find in the home market. Also, from an integration standpoint, Kaleidescape supports everything from a simple IR-based Harmony remote to the most elaborate automation system from Crestron and all points in-between; no mouse required. Ever.


Breaking the disc’s encryption and importing the movie is only half the task; once the content has been imported you need a way to browse your collection to find what you’re looking for. While there are some automated ways of identifying a movie and adding the appropriate information in a cobbled media server, the reality is that owners often need to manually search for this information or enter it on their own. Kaleidescape employs a full-time Movie Guide team to meticulously update metadata, making sure every disc imported has the correct high-resolution cover art, actor and director information, rating, running time, aspect ratio, and more. If you ever run into a title that isn’t in their database, Kaleidescape will pay the cost for you to send them the disc, and then they will add it to their database and return it to you. Kaleidescape then takes this metadata and uses it to automatically sort your films in a variety of ways, even suggesting movies that are similar to the last title you stopped on, making it simple to always find the perfect movie in your collection.

$4000 to store a 100 Blu-rays or $8000 to store 200 Blu-rays … this can be done with more storage space, the same functionality and home automation integration at a fraction of the cost. This is not a good product, unless you have money to burn.

Assuming you get the disc into the server with the correct metadata, you’ll likely be able to play the movie on your homemade server. Congratulations. But you still don’t have anything close to a Kaleidescape system. In fact, merely “playing the movie” is really a small part of what a Kaleidescape does.

First, you get the option to jump directly to the film, skipping any trailers, warnings or menus.

Second, the disc imports in its entirety, so for the times where you want to watch a special feature, or need a foreign language or subtitle track or some other feature of the disc, it’s there.

Third, Kaleidescape bookmarks the most iconic scenes in thousands of movies, letting you enjoy a “highlight reel” from your favorite films. Of course, you can also easily bookmark your own personal favorite scenes if you like, simply by pressing a “start” and “end” button on the remote or app. Along with scenes, Kaleidescape tags songs in tons of concert videos and musicals. Want to jump straight to “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera because you saw the stage production the night you got engaged? Kaleidescape has your back, you romantic bastard!

Fourth is the ability to set up as many “collections” as you like, sorting your films into categories like “Oscar Winners” or “Dad’s Favorites” or whatever else you can think of. This also enables the “Child’s Collection,” which can place the system into a kid-friendly mode that allows youngsters of virtually any age to browse and select their favorite content. What do you need to do to take advantage of these features? Simply place the disc in the tray and press the “Import” button; the system automatically does the rest. Add to all of that an amazing iPad control app with integrated Rotten Tomatoes and Common Sense Media reviews, repositioning of subtitles in 2.35 aspect movies, full parental controls by zone, episode naming for TV series, auto selection of preferred favorite audio format, keeping track of paused titles for as long as you want, a full music player with album reviews and artist biographies, and you can see why a “home server” comes up woefully short of being a Kaleidescape.

I would rather just use Vudu where you can get Blu-ray quality movies too. You can also rent/purchase them.

While I will agree that Vudu is a terrific service, it comes up way short compared to Kaleidescape in a couple of areas. For one, Vudu offers no way to manage the library of discs that you already own. This is where Kaleidescape started, this is their wheelhouse, and this is where they excel. Admittedly, if your disc collection is next to nothing, then perhaps Kaleidescape isn’t right for you. But beyond just managing your own discs, Kaleidescape now offers the only way to download true Blu-ray quality movies. And as good as Vudu’s HDX is—and it’s the best streaming video quality I’ve experienced—it is not true Blu-ray quality. While the video is quite good, the audio falls noticeably short of Blu-ray’s lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-Master formats. With a Kaleidescape Blu-ray-quality download, you get identical Blu-ray picture and sound quality along with all of the disc’s special features—something no other company offers. However, far from dissing Vudu, I would say that Vudu can serve as the perfect complement to a Kaleidescape system, offering additional titles, and an option to rent instead of purchase movies.

The one thing I have not been able to duplicate is the reliability of a Kscape setup and the user experience for my technophile wife and two very young kids. While I’m quite proud of my HTPC, and I think it’s super easy to use, I cannot count the number of phone calls I have gotten that start with ‘There’s something wrong with the stupid media server!’

While I’m sure the quality varies, many of the media server-based solutions I have experienced often have sketchy video processing. Because they are computers first and video players second, they weren’t designed for first-class video performance, unlike Kaleidescape, which was designed solely to be a movie player and utilizes terrific video processing to deliver excellent Blu-ray and DVD performance. Kaleidescape also has a feature called Cinemascape that enhances performances for users with 2.35:1 screens. Also integral to “the Kaleidescape experience” is the amazing technical support; because the system is registered to an owner and connected to the internet, its “health” is constantly monitored by Kaleidescape who often takes a proactive role in problem solving.

Look, if you’re a hobbyist that likes to tinker and you enjoy updating and configuring and don’t mind occasionally searching forums for fixes and workarounds and want to challenge yourself to see if you can build a movie server, that’s cool and I certainly wish you luck. But, just don’t think that because you saved yourself a few hundred bucks and have migrated your movies onto a hard disc that you have built something that in any way compares to what Kaleidescape owners have. It’s a bit like two people going out to eat; one at Taco Bell and the other spending an evening at The French Laundry. They’re both eating food at a restaurant and at the end of the night they’ll both be full, but the journey and the experience are far different.

Explore Apple’s new IOs7

Apple iOs 7 Preview page




Apple has created an all new simpler,sleeker,faster user interface with iOs7. All the features you have come to know and love are in iOs7 as well as tons of new and exiting ones. The noticeable differences are flat one dimensional icons and transparent layering. A new approach to animation and motion amplify the user experience and makes simple tasks more engaging. We will no doubt be following the Apple lead in developing our own Savant user interface taking cues from what Apple has done and implementing those ideas into our systems. Be sure to click on the link to learn more about the new iOs !


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