Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime Solid-State review

Can this high-end video player and server system make us leave 4K Blu-rays behind? Tested at £17,082 / $13,990

Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime 8TB SSD showing Strato C with remote on wooden bench
(Image: © What Hi-Fi?)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

It's not without limitations, but the Kaleidescape system combines most of the quality of 4K Blu-ray with much of the convenience of streaming, making it seriously worthy of consideration if you've got very deep pockets and an equally deep dedication to home cinema


  • +

    Impressive picture and sound performance

  • +

    Intuitive UI with clever features

  • +

    Great movie selection in the US


  • -

    Expensive hardware and movie purchases

  • -

    Significant content gaps in the UK

  • -

    No Dolby Vision or HDR10+

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

While we review plenty of TVs, projectors, AV receivers and home cinema speakers, something such as this Kaleidescape media server/streamer system rarely comes our way. Destined for high-end home theatre installations or, as the company tells us, the plush bedrooms of luxury yachts, the Kaleidescape is firmly a niche product. 

While it can happily replace a 4K Blu-ray player and movie disc library in a dedicated home cinema room, it is the ability to distribute high-quality video and audio across a range of rooms that sets it apart.


Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime 8TB SSD: rear of Strato C showing connections

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We have a combination of the Strato C 4K Movie Player and the Terra Prime 8TB SSD Movie Server, which cost an eyebrow-raising £17,082 / $13,990 together. Individually, the player costs £5382 / $3995, while the server retails for £11,700 / $9995. Kaleidescape offers a larger-capacity 31TB SSD server for cinephiles with ambitiously-sized film collections, although that will cost you a wallet-busting £29,088 / $24,995. Unfortunately, none of Kaleidescape’s hardware is available to purchase in Australia.

That’s a considerable amount compared to even the most expensive 4K Blu-ray players. The Panasonic DP-UB9000 usually retails for £999 / $1100 / AU$1695, while an enthusiast model such as the Magnetar UDP900 (which we’re yet to review) costs £2599 / $2999 / AU$4899. That should contextualise how much more the Kaleidescape costs, however, the good news is that you only need to shell out for one server. In fact, Kaleidescape guarantees support for 25 concurrent playbacks – ideal for those with mansions or yachts with abundant rooms that require entertainment. 


Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime 8TB SSD: front of Terra Prime unit showing display

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Both Kaleidescape components we have to hand are very well crafted. While both boxes will likely be tucked away in server and projection rooms, we have to give Kaleidescape kudos for the sleek, metal construction nonetheless. There’s even an LED indicator light on the front of both the server and the player that notifies the user when it's powered on and correctly set up. 

You’ll also find the Kaleidescape Remote bundled with the Strato C movie player to control the system. It’s responsive and features satisfyingly clicky buttons for operating the user interface, although we would appreciate backlit buttons for enhanced practicality – especially considering the price. 


Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime 8TB SSD rear shot of Terra Prime unit showing connections

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We find setting up to be brilliantly simple and intuitive. Both systems must be connected to a wired gigabit network to complete the set-up, and from there each component recognises the other and links seamlessly. This is a process that will likely be completed by a dealer, but it’s interesting to get to grips with how the Kaleidescape system works nonetheless.

There is a robust web interface to adjust settings on the Kaleidescape, and while it looks daunting at first (and, again, will never be seen by many users), it quickly proves to be pretty intuitive. There is a useful diagnosis panel within this settings page that can identify whether or not the Strato C is playing content natively, if it’s 'upgrading' the content using Kaleidescape’s processing systems, or if the content is playing at a reduced quality. Thanks to the handy traffic light system that signifies this, it's easy to get to the root of issues regarding playback and address them directly. 

Kaleidescape Strato C / Terra Prime 8TB SSD tech specs

Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime 8TB SSD

(Image credit: Kaleidescape)

Resolution Up to 4K HDR, 60fps

HDR formats HDR10

Sound format support Dolby Atmos, DTS:X

Dimensions Strato C: 3.9 x 20 x 25cm (hwd); Terra Prime 8TB SSD: 3.9  x 20  x 36cm (hwd)

Weight Strato C: 1.9kg; Terra Prime SSD: 3kg

HDMI 2 (1x video and audo, 1x digital audio)

Within this settings page, you can manually adjust the aspect ratio of content depending on the display you’re using, with various projector-orientated options to suit a variety of screens, as well as adjusting video and audio output settings, such as frame rate and sound format. It’s incredibly useful that these settings can be adjusted remotely, so if you come across any issues then once again you can likely rely on your installer to diagnose issues and fix them easily. 

Onto the Kaleidescape’s software experience, and we have to once again praise how intuitive the system is. There are a few ways to view the content including a list view and a collections mode that allows you to create custom playlists; however, our favourite by far is the 'covers' view. This shows your content in a large grid with poster thumbnails. Hovering over a film for a few seconds will shuffle the order to bring the most closely related content into view. For example, hovering over Dune Part 2 on our unit brings Blade Runner 2049 and Dune Part One into view as they are both sci-fi movies directed by Denis Villeneuve and, in the case of Dune, are part of the same franchise. 

As for video formats on the Kaleidescape, here is where we run into our first hurdle. While it supports a range of native resolutions, its HDR format support is where it’s lacking, unfortunately. The Strato C supports HDR10, but not Dolby Vision or HDR10+. It’s a shame as, for the money, we’d expect to see these high dynamic range formats supported, however, Kaleidescape claims that many projectors don’t support these formats and, while that is true, we feel like it’s a feature that's lacking for those planning to use the Kaleidescape with a TV. Considering there are so many optional picture features, this could have been implemented as an option for users to turn on or off. 

Sound format support is, thankfully, a better experience, as the Strato C player supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. We’ll get into further sound testing results later, but when connected to one of our reference amplifiers and our PMC speaker package, the Kaleidescape had no problem recognising our system and playing content in the immersive formats. 

Finally, Kaleidescape supports deep integration with automation for home cinema set-ups. This can include controlling curtains, lighting and screen deployment with customisation to tweak light levels and how your home cinema behaves if you pause or finish a movie. We imagine this will greatly appeal to enthusiasts who want the full home movie theatre experience.


Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime 8TB SSD

(Image credit: Kaleidescape)

The Kaleidescape Stratos C can only play content purchased from the Kaleidescape movie store, which is a small blessing but also quite a major curse. The good news is that the process is about as easy as can be; simply link a payment card and either purchase content from the website store or directly on the movie store which can be accessed on the main menu of the Stratos C player.

It takes roughly 10 minutes to download a film, and you can even pre-purchase films that download as soon as they are widely released. This will be a huge draw for avid cinephiles who want to watch the latest releases as soon as they possibly can, and it’s a good sign that the store is being consistently supported and updated.

However, here is where we come to the Kaleidescape system's biggest drawback. The content library is severely hindered in the UK, as an agreement to feature content from Disney and Universal NBC content has not been reached; this means that there is a gaping hole in the content library that encompasses many of the biggest film franchises around. You won’t find any Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Fast and Furious, Pixar (or any Disney animated films for that matter), Aliens, Planet Of The Apes films, nor any of the Illumination (Despicable Me, Minions, Super Mario Bros) or Dreamworks (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda) animated movies here in the UK – and that’s merely scratching the surface. 

In fact, you cannot watch a single Best Picture Academy Award-winning film from the last decade if you live in the UK, including last year’s Oppenheimer and other big titles such as Nomadland, Moonlight and Parasite. This is because there is also a lack of content from smaller film distributors.

Thankfully, Kaleidescape has struck deals with Warner Bros Discovery, Sony Entertainment and Paramount alongside other studios (seven in total), meaning there is still a lot of content to watch from major franchises like Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Transformers, Top Gun and Dune. And content is very much not an issue in the US, where Kaleidescape has content from nine of the largest film distributors, which puts us in a slightly tricky predicament reviewing this in our native UK. Ultimately, it is a deficiency you’ll have to live with if you're in the UK, though it is one that could be rectified in the future.

The thing that wins us back over is the '4K Blu-ray quality'. Not everything on the Kaleidescape movie store is 4K, but everything listed as 4K Blu-ray quality supposedly has the same picture and sound quality as you’ll find on a 4K Blu-ray disc. 

However, with great resolution comes a great price, and those of the 4K movies on Kaleidescape’s movie store are rather high. Last year's John Wick: Chapter 4 costs £29.99 / $24.99 to purchase in 4K; alternatively, the 4K Blu-ray is £19.99 / $22.96 on Amazon. While the Apple TV movie store isn’t a full like-for-like experience as content isn’t downloaded directly onto the Apple TV’s hard drive, you can purchase the film in 4K for just £9.99 in the UK. 

There’s clearly a premium added to the cost of movies, which is something we can live with if the picture and sound quality live up to the claims. So do they?


Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime 8TB SSD showing Strato C unit on wooden bench

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We’re using 4K Blu-ray reference discs from our collection and 4K films on the Apple TV 4K streamer to compare with the Kaleidescape. These include Dune: Part Two, No Time To Die and Mad Max: Fury Road. We also test the Stratos C using the LG C4 OLED TV and the JVC DLA-NZ800, and compare it to our Panasonic (DP-UB820E) and Oppo (UDP-203) reference 4K Blu-ray players.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: the Kaleidescape is head and shoulders above the quality of the Apple TV 4K. We have Mad Max: Fury Road on disc, on Apple TV (streamed from Apple's own 'iTunes' store) and on Kaleidescape, and while the Apple TV version doesn’t look bad by any means, it is certainly the least visually appealing version of the film out of the three options. 

The Kaleidescape Stratos C delivers a clear, detailed and vibrant picture that is noticeably sharper and more impactful than that of the Apple TV. The exaggerated colours found in George Miller’s action epic are delivered with a richer and bolder flair on the Kaleidescape, while subjects on screen are sharply outlined while not looking unnatural, giving them a solid, three-dimensional effect.

The disc version played via our Oppo edges out the Kaleidescape with a touch more contrast and richness to colours, but it's a fairly close-run thing.

Switching to Dune Part 2 we see a slightly greater difference between the disc and Kaleidescape versions, largely thanks to the inclusion of Dolby Vision, which further enhances the picture of the 4K disc version. The desert of Arrakis feels a touch better realised, with an enhanced sense of depth and slightly richer colours. 

In general, the Kaleidescape handles a lot of the key picture aspects we look out for well, including motion during fast-paced pursuits in No Time To Die. There are no issues regarding latency or buffering at any point during our time with the Kaleidescape system.


Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime 8TB SSD

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We’re using the Marantz Cinema 30 as our reference home cinema amplifier and have paired it with our trusty PMC Twenty 23 surround-sound speaker package with KEF Dolby Atmos toppers.

Once again, the Kaleidescape is a clear step up over the Apple TV 4K in overall sound quality, with a richer and more expressive sonic character. The revving engines, booming drums and sounds of the iconic growling guitar flamethrower in Fury Road are all delivered with much more power and detail on the Kaleidescape, making it an obvious winner.

And when it comes to Blu-ray it's even harder to make a distinction between the Kaleidescape and the Oppo disc player. Dune Part Two in Dolby Atmos sounds practically identical to our ears, with a pleasing spatial effect during the scene in which Paul Atreides and Chani take on a Harkkonen Ornithopter. The Kaleidescape does a fine job of reproducing the height channels while also impressing with strong dynamics and detail. Low-level dynamics are well served, as the dialogue-heavy scene that follows this has a palpable atmospheric change compared to the action scene that precedes it. 

Overall we find very little to detract from the audio experience on the Kaleidescape Stratos C.


Kaleidescape Strato C and Terra Prime 8TB SSD both units on white background

(Image credit: Kaleidescape)

It’s hard to judge the Kaleidescape comparatively, given its multi-room ability. It’s much better than streaming from our favourite media streamer, and the convenience of not having to mess about with discs is sure to please those with high-end home cinema installations. 

That being said, it is considerably more expensive than our favourite 4K Blu-ray players and, while the picture performance is close, the physical discs managed to deliver a touch more subtlety in our testing. There is also the issue of the content library in the UK, which is something that you’ll have to get to grips with if you opt for this system and you're a fan of some of those huge missing film franchises.

However, putting that to one side, there is no denying the slickness of operation, and should you ever be lucky enough to own a large yacht in need of multi-room home cinema, this Kaleidescape pairing is certainly worth considering.


  • Picture 4
  • Sound 5
  • Features 4


Read our review of the Panasonic DP-UB9000

Also consider the Apple TV 4K

Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players: budget to premium disc players

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  • cryanhorner
    This seems like an awful lot of money to spend for, as far as I can tell, the same thing you'd get by sticking a NAS drive full of movies in some corner of your house and setting up a (basically free) Plex account to access it on your tv, and that way you aren't limited to their catalog, you can play any movie you have a digital file of from anywhere.