Cable television's talking heads have been predicting the death of cable television for years and one suspects they'll keep doing so until someone turns the lights off. But you can cut the cord and move on now. Fortunately, leaving cable (and cable bills) behind doesn't mean going on an extreme media diet. To the contrary, a new generation of streaming devices are making it easier to watch the shows you want to watch without the hassle.
Best For Appreciating the Classics
Straight up: The new Kaleidescape Cinema One isn't for everyone, or even most people. That includes, in particular, anyone who couldn't dream of dropping nearly four grand on a high-tech movie machine. But for deep-pocketed cinephiles and movie junkies who could or would (or just like to dream), the Cinema One is a prayer answered in the form of a streamlined digital jukebox that elevates a rec room to a true home theater.
The Cinema One is as easy to set up as a cable or DVD player and connects directly to your HDTV and audio system. Unlike streaming boxes though, the hook is that you're able to input and rip up to 100 Blu-ray quality films from your collection (or some 600 DVD-quality movies), including all the DVD extras, commentary, high-quality audio, and so on. To access them, you use an extremely smooth interface dubbed The Kaleidescape Movie Guide, which not only makes browsing and sorting through movies simple but also powerful – you can flip through high-resolution cover art jukebox-style or get recommendations based on genre, director, actors, time period, and more. An especially nice touch, the system automagically starts films right at the beginning when you press play, so you cut through all the garbage like previews, ads, and goofy menus that crowd most films today. There's also shortcuts to memorable scenes and reviews of every movie in the guide, which includes about a quarter million movie titles. And once you've worked your way through your movie collection, Kaleidescape has an online store with high-resolution Blu-ray–quality downloads available for thousands of movies.
Despite the incredible convenience and step-up quality the Cinema One offers, some will understandably question its price-to-value ratio when compared with a $35 Chromecast or sub $100 Roku and Apple TV boxes that bring untold thousands of TV shows and movies at reasonably good quality. The answer is simple: The Cinema One, like a Porsche, is for those who want the very best and are willing to pay for it. [$3,995; kaleidescape.com]