When we spoke with Kaleidescape representatives at CEDIA last year, they had absolutely no idea when HD DVD or Blu-ray would be supported in their systems. Fast forward a few months, and we may have an answer. An anonymous tipster from Kscapeowners has informed us that Kaleidescape will be announcing to dealers in the not-too-distant future that Blu-ray support will be added. Of course, it's also noted that some studios may charge more for the right to copy Blu-ray Discs to a Kaleidescape system, but it's not like that was unexpected. Who knows, maybe this is what managed copy is all about, after all.

[Thanks, anonymous tipster]

Update: Sure looks official from this.

Update 2: Head on past the break to see the official note sent out to dealers. Thanks, Michael!

Dear Kaleidescape™ Dealer:

In recent months we have received a number of questions from our dealers concerning Kaleidescape's plans to support the new Blu-ray Disc™. While Kaleidescape rarely discloses product plans, we feel it is important to do so in this case.

Kaleidescape has invested significant engineering resources toward extending the Kaleidescape System to support Blu-ray Disc HD content. We are in the process of developing a Blue-Laser Player that is designed to play all Blu-ray Discs in addition to DVDs, CDs, and content from other sources. Kaleidescape's new Blue-Laser Player will be compatible with all existing Kaleidescape Servers; it will be easy to add Blue-Laser Players to any existing Kaleidescape System.

The most significant technology that we will incorporate into our Blue-Laser Player will be support for the H.264 and VC-1 video codecs, in addition to MPEG-2, which is currently supported by all Kaleidescape Movie Players. In addition to making it possible to play Blu-ray Discs, these new codecs will make it possible for the Kaleidescape System to play H.264 and VC-1 content (both HD and SD) from other sources in the future, including the Internet. We currently have no plans to support HD DVD optical disc, but we will re-evaluate this decision if HD DVD becomes a more successful format.

We plan to introduce the Blue-Laser Player in 2009. We are optimistic that it will be possible to import Blu-ray Discs at that time.

The development time for this product may seem long, but we are committed to implementing this exciting new technology so that it will have excellent performance and be seamlessly integrated with the Kaleidescape System.

We are also working on improving the Kaleidescape Experience for DVD content, including improved video quality, a simpler user interface, and more foolproof video configuration. Some simple statistics explain why DVDs will continue to be the major source for home movies for years to come: Worldwide today there are between 500,000 and a million distinct commercial DVD titles. Amazon.com lists a total 638 Blu-ray titles, 564 HD DVD titles, and 176,879 Region 1 DVD titles. New titles introduced during the past six months include 170 Blu-ray Discs, 130 HD DVDs, and 16,000 Region 1 DVDs (not including adult titles). Roughly 20% of all the DVD titles ever released were released in the year 2007.

Some additional questions and answers concerning Blu-ray support are provided below.

Sincerely,

Michael Malcolm, CEO
Kaleidescape, Inc.


Q: Why will the Blue-Laser Player take so long to produce?
A: The hardware required to properly run the Kaleidescape user interface and also play Blu-ray Discs is not yet available. We have been unwilling to degrade the Kaleidescape Experience in order to play Blu-ray Discs. It will also take some time to get the software right once the hardware becomes available.

Q: Will the Blue-Laser Player be able to import and play ordinary DVDs and CDs?
A: Yes.

Q: Will my current Kaleidescape Players be able to play content imported with a Blue-Laser Player?
A: They will be able to play DVDs and CDs imported by a Blue-Laser Player, but not Blu-ray Disc content.

Q: Will the Blue-Laser Player work with my current Kaleidescape Server?
A: Yes.

Q: Will a trade-in be offered? If not, why not? If yes, what will it be?
A: It is premature for us to make such decisions. Kaleidescape generally offers reasonable trade-in terms during product transitions.

Q: What about downloaded movies? Will I be able to download HD movies before Blu-ray support is available? Will this player support Internet delivery formats?
A: We will not be pre-announcing downloaded movies. We are designing this player to support all currently known downloadable video formats; however, some DRM methods may not be supported.

Q: What other new components will I need, if any?
A: No additional Kaleidescape components will be required.

Q: Will the software on my existing Kaleidescape System be updated to support this new Player? Are there any additional license fees?
A: The software will be included in a normal KEAOS update. There will be no additional software license fees.

Q: Will it be possible to simply remove the DVD-ROM drive in my Movie Player 2 and replace it with a Blu-ray ROM drive?
A: No.

Q: Will the new Player support 1080p/24 playback? DTS-HD 7.1? Etc.
A: We plan to develop a very attractive Blue-Laser Player that is highly competitive with other types of Blu-ray Disc players. Specific details like this will be announced when the product becomes available.

Q: Will there be a new Speed Reader for Blu-ray Discs? Will I be able to replace the DVD-ROM drives on my existing Speed Reader?
A: It is too early to answer these questions. Also, few people own enough Blu-ray Discs to fill even one spindle on a Speed Reader.

Q: How many Blu-ray Discs will I be able to store on my Kaleidescape Server?
A: This is difficult to predict since there are so few Blu-ray discs in the marketplace. Early indications suggest that the average Blu-ray Disc contains approximately 22 GB of data, which means around 33 Blu-ray titles would fit on a 750 GB Disk Cartridge. However, some titles have used over 27 GB of data, and up to 50 GB of space is available on some Blu-ray Discs. So, the hard disk space required to import the average Blu-ray Disc may increase in the future.

Q: How much will this new Player cost? I am quoting a marine project and I would rather quote this than change the order later.
A: We anticipate that it will cost about the same as our current Movie Player 2, but it is too early to provide any certainty about pricing.

Q: What video outputs will the Blue-Laser Player have? Will it provide component video outputs that can be distributed using a matrix switch?
A: The Advanced Access Content System ("AACS") Agreements contain sunset provisions for all analog outputs, including component outputs. It may be possible for us to provide analog outputs for a limited period of time. Kaleidescape intends to provide component video outputs if and for as long as they are permitted under the AACS Agreements. Eventually, the only permitted video outputs will likely be protected digital outputs, such as HDCP-protected uncompressed digital video over HDMI.

Q: Will the studios charge me a fee for making a copy of a Blu-ray Disc using this Player?
A: Maybe.

Q: How many simultaneous Blu-ray playback zones will a Kaleidescape Server support?
A: This is very difficult to predict. We are confident that we will be able to deliver 5 simultaneous Blu-ray playbacks with the initial product. After some performance tuning it may be possible to deliver 10 or even 20 simultaneous Blu-ray playbacks over a GigE network.

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Kaleidescape to gain Blu-ray support