Kaleidescape Compact Terra 12TB Movie Server Review Page 2

Me being me, I decided to transition just about my full disc collection—the reason why I needed not just one, but two 24TB Terra servers for my setup. And so far, I have been thrilled with the system updates and performance. I am still enamored with the Kaleidescape interface and little touches like pre-created demo scenes plus the ability to instantly access any movie, scene, or even songs within a movie or concert. I've also built scripts that I use for testing projectors and for conducting home theater demos for friends and clients.

Early on I had nitpicks with some Kaleidescape setup option limitations. Video colorspace was locked at 4:4:4, and if you wanted to use a "scope" aspect ratio for the main OSD, it would force output to be scaled to 4K regardless of the movie's actual resolution. But the company is very responsive to user feedback and over the last year issued firmware updates with new options to customize those features. Yet another recent update lets you adjust the frame rate of the main OSD, which can eliminate long synch times with some displays.

Still, I'd like to see Kaleidescape further refine its interface. For one, I wish the cover art menu provided the option to turn off horizontal scrolling and use a more standard interface with vertical scrolling only. This would make larger movie libraries easier to navigate without having to move in multiple directions to find a title. I'd also like to see better control over the data that sorts movies so that titles that are part of a movie collection don't get separated simply because of alphabetical differences. A good example of this is the Fast and Furious collection. The second film is called 2 Fast 2 Furious, and in the interface it is completely separated from the rest of the series. Also, as I mentioned in my review of the Strato S, I think Kaleidescape should offer an option to show all your movies and not just ones you have downloaded. This would be a big benefit for those with large libraries but limited storage. Of course, most of this is tweaky stuff that a reviewer like me notices. Most users may never be bothered by them if their system was professionally installed.


Theater design by KYD, photo by Jeff Freeman

Another big recent Kaleidescape update is the addition of movie rentals. I think this is a game changer for the service, one that opens the market to a lot of people who may not be hardcore movie collectors but just want to view once and be done or give the movie a test drive before purchase. Rentals are downloaded to the system in the exact same quality as a purchased movie. The viewing window is 30 days from time of purchase, but you only get 48 hours from the moment you push play (as many viewings as you want are permitted during that time period). Not every movie in Kaleidescape's online store is available for rental, but there certainly is a large number, including many of the same premium rentals you now see on streaming services that are available on the same day, or perhaps a week following, as a new movie's theatrical release. For example, during my review of the new 12TB Terra I used Kaleidescape's rental service to watch the recent release of The Green Knight in 4K/ HDR with Dolby Atmos sound while it was still playing in my local theater. Standard rentals (but not premium ones) also give you the option to buy the movie at a discounted price that prorates the rental cost by half if you decide to buy within a month—a feature I don't see on any of the streaming movie rental services like iTunes or Vudu.

Just a few final gripes before I sign off. Although Kaleidescape has improved avail- ability of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for both new releases and catalog titles, there are still plenty of movies in the Kaleidescape store that lack the immersive soundtracks you'll find on their disc counterparts. This is especially true with titles from Universal. And while the library of 4K titles has increased exponentially compared with the disc market, I've seen more than a few movies make it to disc in 4K though not to the Kaleidescape store for some reason. Thankfully, these instances are few and far between and I love that Kaleidescape's library of highest-quality titles continues to grow. (I believe they are approaching almost 500 movies available in 4K that are not on disc in that format.)


Still The One
Well, here I am one year later, and I continue to love and highly recommend the Kaleidescape experience. The A/V quality with a Kaleidescape system is second to none, and I appreciate the recent addition of a rental option for movies I want to watch but perhaps not buy without a test run. As for Kaleidescape's new Compact Terra 12TB server, it provides another entry point to this fantastic ecosystem, and also offers an option for those looking to improve the performance and increase the capacity of an existing Kaleidescape setup. This system continues to earn a Top Pick from me, and
I'm very much looking forward to what the company will create in the future.

(650) 625-6100

jeff-henning's picture

I certainly do understand having a video collection. The majority of mine is concert films. To each his own.

What I can't understand is anything like this. The price is astronomical and it doesn't do anything that a Shield Pro and a big NAS do for less than 1/10 the price.

I will give you that the integrated browser is certainly better than the menagerie of cheesy Android TV apps out there, but $11K?

Given the proliferation of streaming services, I'm at a loss as to why anyone would need this box. Is firing up Netflix or Amazon or playing a disc too arduous?

pw's picture

Why pay over $10,000 for movies that will now be hitting streaming 30 days after premiere due to Covid..
No Time to Die was available just 22 days after I caught it at the Drive-In..

trynberg's picture

I get that this is a great system if money is no object, but as Jeff mentioned above, an Nvidia Shield with Plex and a HD or NAS provides much of the experience for so little money in comparison.

I think the only real benefit is the availability of 4K titles not available on disc (yet).

djodars's picture

Could you please stop promoting this trash company? A $200 Nvidia Shield with Plex literally does a better job.

mikethemusician's picture

I have owned a Kaleidescape system since 2008. My 3U Server is now paired with a 22 TB Terra Server. Video via a SONY VPL-VW915ES Projector is excellent & the 4K picture is my best source -- though I love 4K via my Roku & other sources. I too wondered whether the system was outdated. But I opted to update it during a system overhaul last summer. My single complaint is my CD collection. The Strato players cannot be used to playback CD audio, and I have a huge CD collection. However, this still works through the old system & Kaleidescape announced they'll continue to support it. The movie store is fast & easy. The 4K HDR quality is superior to others (and the files are correspondingly larger). I don't believe that more expensive components are inherently better (which Is why I was a David Hafler fan), but, at least for the moment, our updated Kaleidescape system has proved to be an excellent product.