Serving up Blu-ray

With complex processing, Tera-sized storage and slick user interfaces to pull all your movies and music together, movie servers are among the rarest and coolest breed of A/V gear.

While you've likely heard of Kaleidescape (latest review here), you might not know about another player in the field: Fusion Research. While a full review of their new 1080p Genesis system will run in the October issue of Sound & Vision, Fusion just released some additional news that we'll break here.

Two words. Well, uh, one word, but hyphenated: Blu-ray.

Once you've had a taste of the sweet-sweet eye candy that is viewing movies in high-def, it's really hard to go back. Enhanced def 480p just looks so yesterday when compared to the full, 2-million pixel experience which is 1080p. And while high prices have kept movie servers from going mainstream, many consumers are already asking, "Sure handling DVDs is nice, but what about my Blu-ray discs?"

While Kaleidescape remains dodgy on the subject, merely saying Blu-ray will happen "sometime in 2009," Fusion Research says, "I got your Blu-ray right here!" While their latest line-up of media servers won't rip and stream Blu-ray movies, introducing a compatible player into the line-up is certainly the first step toward that goal. It will mean that owners can use one player to manage all their digital media: music, movies, and photos.

Fusion_server Fusion partnered with ArcSoft to overcome the challenges of Blu-ray playback, and the interface will handle Blu-rays in the same manner as regular movies, showing cover art, synopsis, cast info, etc.

Even cooler is that Fusion won't be leaving existing owners in the dust. Company president, Joseph Storm, said, "We wanted to make sure that every Fusion customer is given an upgrade path so no one is left out of the new technology." This means that existing customers will be able to upgrade non-Blu capable players to take advantage of this new feature. Pricing will be available at CEDIA, with systems to begin shipping following the show. – John Sciacca

John Sciacca is The Custom Installer columnist for Sound & Vision. His company is Custom Theater and Audio.