Next week at CES Samsung will debut its second Ultra HD Blu-ray player, along with new "Ultra High Quality" (UHQ) audio hardware. The M9500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player looks like any other deck, however, Samsung says it will be able to automatically set…
In what'll undoubtedly become a rarer event in the future, a brand new physical media format has arrived in the UK today: 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray. Understandably, the selection is relatively slim on day one. There are a total of 12 official launch titles…
Kaleidescape arrived at this year’s CEDIA event with a couple of fresh news items to accompany its mainstream-adjacent $3,995 Cinema One player. Its online Kaleidescape Store is getting a boost by adding the ability for customers to add digital copies for their existing Blu-ray discs. At launch it only supported DVDs, but now customers can get high quality, discless access to movies they already own HD editions of, just by putting a disc in the player. The price for Ultraviolet access across devices and an excuse to stop getting up from the couch to put the disc in (although, if you’d like to buy an expensive disc changer instead we’re sure Kaleidescape won’t argue) is $1.99, so choose wisely. Finally, the company is expanding access to the store, which has opened its virtual doors in Canada for the first time, in addition to the US and the UK, where it launched back in May.
Sony has just announced the VPL-VW500ES 4K projector at IFA 2013 in Berlin, and though it didn’t name a price, said it’ll be much cheaper than its first 4K projector. Before you start re-arranging your theater room, though, the original VPL-VW1000ES cost a cool $25,000, so “cheaper” might be a relative term. If you’re undeterred, though, you’ll get full 4,096 x 2,160 4K resolution thanks to native 4K SXRD panels — technology that Sony lifted from its commercial cinema projectors. Other perks include 1,700 ANSI-lumen brightness (compared to 2,000 for the VW1000ES), a 200,000:1 contrast ratio, “Super Resolution” Blu-ray to 4K upscaling, Motionflow tech for less blur, and support for HDMI 2.0 — which permits 60fps 4K. Again, Sony hasn’t mentioned a price yet, but we did see it at a French retailer for 10,000 euros, meaning a $10,000 price seems feasible.
Sony also dropped a Full HD 3D model, the VPL-HW55ES projector, which replaces the VPL-HW50ES as its top 1080p dog while using the same SXRD tech. It boasts 1,700 ANSI-lumens, a 120,000:1 contrast ratio, a 5,000 hour lamp, an optical engine upgrade and Reality Creation technology. Both projectors offer wireless HDMI compatibility, and will arrive at some point next month. For more minutiae, check the PR after the break.
Kaleidescape’s Cinema One player has been many things to movie buffs, but “accessible” isn’t one of them — limited distribution and an emphasis on custom installs has kept it out of reach. The company is widening that scope with a redesigned Cinema One that’s almost as easy to install as an off-the-shelf Blu-ray player. It’s a tad more advanced than that, of course. The Cinema One integrates with most home automation systems, and it stores up to 100 Blu-ray quality movies (including Kaleidescape Store downloads). Viewers who need more storage can attach a second player or the older DV700 Disc Vault. The revamped Cinema One is still expensive at $3,995, but it’s at least easier to buy than its predecessor — Kaleidescape is selling the new media server as a walk-in purchase at Magnolia and other retail stores.
The announcement is wrapped in an aura of déjà vu: Universal Music Group is marketing an uncompressed, high-end digital audio format for Blu-ray called High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA). Where standard CD audio is 44.1KHz at 16 bits, HFPA’s A2D sampling rate clocks in at a sky-high 96KHz at 24 bits.
Analog elitists will maintain that even extremely refined sampling is inherently inferior to capturing unchopped waveforms, and while that argument is fun to test, it is academic in the context of wide consumer adoption. Can a new audiophile format gain traction in a technomusical world governed by convenience and mobility?
Hulu Plus has been on a roll in the mobile world this month, dishing out a brand-new Windows Phone app and updates to its Android UI. Fortunately, the service is pushing out similar efforts to the home entertainment side as well: a new refresh is rolling out to Samsung Smart TVs, select Blu-ray players and newer Roku hardware, with the Wii getting the update treatment in the near future. Enhancements in the new “experience” include a new tray-style user interface with a “shows you watch” feature, simplified controls, better search and Hulu Kids. Sounds like a pretty solid effort by the company, but if you’re not convinced, head to the source link for the full list of changes.
Update: A post on the Roku blog indicates the new UI is coming to the Roku HD (2500) and later models including the Roku 2, 3 and Streaming Stick. Earlier devices will still get the old UI.
Kaleidescape launched its online offering in beta late last year, and now it’s officially open, becoming what it claims is the first store to provide “internet delivery of Blu-ray quality movies.” The Kaleidescape Store goes beyond other 1080p services (Vudu, iTunes, Xbox and PSN come to mind) by promising the disc-equaling higher bitrates, extras and lossless audio options they don’t have. There’s no streaming to be had here, only downloads, with file sizes we saw ranging from 23GB (Austin Powers) to as much as 55.4GB (Inception) and everywhere in between.
While the store is only built to work with Kaleidescape’s high-end disc-playback systems — these usually start in the thousands of dollars, and you’ll need M-Class hardware for HD — it currently offers movies from Warner Bros. with an Ultraviolet copy attached, so buyers can play them back on mobile devices through apps such as Flixster and Vudu. Ultraviolet support also means $6.99 upgrades of DVD purchases to Blu-ray-quality HD, and potentially disc-to-digital type features later. Naturally, anyone interested will need an internet connection with a generous / non-existent bandwidth cap, but we imagine that’s not out of the price range for these niche owners. Still, it does provide an idea of the difficulty others like Sony and Netflix will face when trying to digitally distribute feature films in 4K to a wider audience. Check out a few screens of the store in the gallery, and the Random Thoughts blog link below for firsthand impressions from a beta tester.
Gallery: Kaleidescape Store
Filed under: HD