4K Movie Services Increase

At CEDIA, several companies made announcements that will bring more content – 4K and other enhancements to affluent home owners. This included news from Prima, Bel Air Cinema and Kaleidescape.

Barco Residential, for example, partnered with Bel Air Cinema (BAC) to introduce day and date DCI quality Hollywood content and event cinema programming in Barco Residential Cinema at Home systems. Barco Residential is teaming with Display Development to bring 4K DCI-compliant 6p RGB laser projection solutions to home theaters – starting at $350K!

Content from the partnership was evident in the demos at the Barco booth at CEDIA where a range of new Hollywood content was shown. This included 4K DCP versions of Eric Clapton Live at the Royal Albert Hall, Mad Max and clips from the new Star Wars film. An after-hours special demo showed a lot more content including a Jeff Beck concert, and scenes from Fury and other new Hollywood content.

Set to launch in Q1 2016, BAC will be offering blockbuster films and unique cinema events in a wide range of markets around the globe. This exclusive content will be available only in the DCI professional quality format requiring a true Cinema at Home projector to experience the offering.

Meanwhile, Prima Cinema demonstrated its first 4K version of their Prima Movie Player, which downloads movies while they’re still in theaters. Content was shown exclusively in the Digital projection booth on their new Dual LED 3-chip DLP projector which has a color gamut close to 2020. The content looked awesome with deeply saturated reds and yellows in the Star Trek clip. Prima plans to offer the 4K server and service sometime next year.

Prima’s current service requires the home owner to buy the $35K server, and after a finger print verification, play a movie for $500. These are 1080p movies with 10-bit color, so better than current Blu-ray quality. Movies are downloaded to prevent streaming issues and dozens of movies can be stored on the player with 7.1-channel PCM soundtracks.

Prima’s new 4K player delivers full 4K at 4096 x 2160 pixels at 60fps with DCI-P3 color gamut. It supports 8-, 10- and 12-bit color with 4:2:2 chroma sampling and 8-bit color at 4:4:4. The company also announced a new deal with Dolby to bring Dolby Vision HDR content to home owners in 2016 as well.

Kaleidescape used CEDIA to announce the launch of its Encore line of video players, including its first 4K Ultra HD model, the Strato Movie Player, which is being billed as the “world’s first 4K Ultra HD high-dynamic-range movie player for the home.” The Encore line also includes the Kaleidescape Alto Movie Player, a new movie server named Terra, and a disc server that makes it easy to select and play DVDs and Blu-ray discs on a Strato or Alto movie player.

Like Prima, movies are downloaded to a local hard drive – either the Strato player or the Terra Movie Server. The Strato player can be purchased with no hard drive ($3500) or with an internal 6TB drive ($4500) that can store 100 4K UHD movies. The Terra server comes in 12 TB version for $6,000 or a 24 TB for $8,000.

Strato supports playback of 4K content at 10-bits per color with playback rates of 50 to 100 Mbps. It can also playback HDR content over an HDMI 2.0a connection at 60 fps. This was demonstrated playing back on an LG 55” 4K OLED TV with HDR capability.

HDMI 2.0a allows 4K/60p 4:2:0 with 16 bits per color, 4:2:2 with 8, 10 or 12 bits per color or 4:4:4 with 8 bits per color. It can also show 4K/24p 4:4:4. It is unclear what format content is downloaded in, however. HDR signaling support appears to be the generic version which means readout of static metadata and the ability to apply the PQ gamma curve on HDR-capable displays or projectors. Strato also supports lossless multichannel audio.

In addition, Kaleidescape has entered into a license agreement with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to offer 4K Ultra HD films for download from the Kaleidescape Movie Store to Kaleidescape video players and media servers. Five downloadable 4K movies – the consumer can choose which ones – are included with the purchase of the Kaleidescape Strato Movie Player. Additional Sony Pictures 4K Ultra HD titles will be available in the Kaleidescape Movie Store for customers in the United States, Canada and the U.K. Retail prices will be around $30 per movie. Kaleidescape’s Strato Movie Players are expected to ship in early Q1 2016.

Kaleidescape customers can also upgrade their previously purchased UltraViolet SD and HD Sony Pictures titles to the 4K Ultra HD format, where available.

The company also announced two new models of the Kaleidescape Alto Movie Player. One comes with a 6TB internal hard drive; the other has no internal movie storage and plays back from a movie server.

The playback of 4K content from a hard disc drive will always exceed the capabilities of a streaming service, so these companies offer a valuable option for those who want the best possible quality and experience. But, you can see there is a wide range in the pricing and a more narrow range in the quality of the content delivered. As with most luxury home sales, it is more about the salesmanship than the true value proposition. – CC