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$35,000 Prima Cinema Player brings movies home as soon as they hit theaters (eyes-on)

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Ready to escape the usual crowd at the movie theater and host your own premieres at home? Prima Cinema has an answer, with the minor requirement of $35,000 (and a few other details) to get your home theater ready for first-run movies. Just as we'd heard when it first popped up a couple of years ago, that large setup fee buys the Cinema Player, a rack-mountable box loaded with a 2TB hard drive and enough DRM to keep the studios happy, plus a wired fingerprint reader used to ensure the owner's identity. Movies download automatically to its hard drive in the background so they're already there when the owner chooses to unlock them for viewing. That privilege costs $500 ($600 for 3D), good for one showing within 24 hours. Check after the break for more of our impressions after a quick preview at Prima's CEDIA 2013 booth, then prep your black card for the pricey purchase.

Prima Cinema

We saw a bit of Ron Howard's new flick, Rush, a movie that popped up on Prima's systems last week even before it was available at most theaters nationwide. The movies play in 1080p/24 and are encoded in "higher than Blu-ray quality" with lossless PCM or Dolby TrueHD audio. In our brief viewing it certainly seemed on-par with a theater experience, although at this price we'd hope a 4K option arrives sooner rather than later. Of course, other than the steep entry fee there are a few other hurdles to jump before you can obtain one of these. It's only for home use in theaters that seat fewer than 25 people, with a check of the purchaser's background to weed out pirates, and the box requires a public static IP to make sure it stays where it's registered.

Prima Cinema

Past that process, once it's all set up owners enjoy the kind of access usually restricted to the well-connected studio elite, screening the newest flicks at their leisure. Or, almost at their leisure, because while there's a pause button and a five minute skip, the usual playback controls aren't present here. The other fly in the ointment is a relatively short list of available titles. Universal is an investor and its movies are among those listed, with selections also popping up from others like Millennium Films. Currently viewable options include movies like Rush, Riddick, Kick-Ass 2, The World's End, Despicable Me 2 and 2 Guns. It's an experience that comes with a lot of strings for such a high price, but there are probably a few folks willing to pay to watch Dumb and Dumber To in private.

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