The problem with DVDs is they're just too damn cool. With their pristine pictures, multichannel digital sound, and cheap prices, what's not to love? Storing and managing your collection, however, can be a problem. Though I don't consider myself a huge collector, I have amassed close to 100 DVD movies. My current storage solution is a trunk my wife picked up at a yard sale for $3. When I want to watch a movie, I rummage through the trunk - totally uncool, plus inconvenient and low-tech.
A year ago, I had the guilty pleasure of living with the Kaleidescape Movie Server (click here to read the February/March 2004 review). The Kaleidescape remains a breakthrough product that stores a large library of DVD movies on a hard drive, providing nearly instant access through a well-designed user interface. Having it on loan was what I imagined dating a supermodel would be like: an exhilarating experience, though deep down you know it just ain't gonna last.
Returning the Kaleidescape left a technological hole in my life. Sure, I could fork over the $27,000 asking price, but I'd be setting myself up for a divorce. Fortunately, I've found a viable compromise: the Video-ReQuest digital video controller. Hook this up to one or more Sony 400-disc DVD changers ($700 each), and you'll have a movie jukebox that's both easy and fun to use. (The Sony DVP-CX777ES is the only model currently available that supports an RS-232 serial connection, which is necessary to transfer control data and the table of contents for each disc.)
SETUP The first thing I noticed when unpacking the VideoReQuest was its weight, nearly 16 pounds. It's a very serious piece of electronics, with a thick, brushed-aluminum faceplate.
Installation for a single-changer system is remarkably straightforward. The changer connects to your system as usual, with video and audio running to your A/V receiver or directly to the TV. You then connect one end of the supplied RS-232 cable to the changer and the other to one of the controller's four serial ports.
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