Iomega Screenplay Pro HD
Using the Iomega Screenplay Pro HD you can stream high-definition video over your network, as well as record to its integrated hard drive.
- Plug-and-play hard drive, format support, large storage capacity, recording capability
- No H.264 support, no 1080p support, unattractive menu interface, poor picture quality when playing low resolution files
Boasting a lot of storage and the ability to record from external sources, the Screenplay Pro HD has some merit. However, the lack of 1080p support makes it easy to pass by.
Price$ 429.00 (AUD)
The Iomega Screenplay Pro HD multimedia player can stream media over a network and record and play video and audio files directly from its internal 500GB hard drive. It offers support for popular and more niche video and audio formats. Unfortunately, it won't output video at a Full HD 1080p resolution and has a clunky interface, making this an ultimately disappointing media streamer.
The Iomega Screenplay Pro HD is roughly the same size as a desktop external hard drive, and boasts a black gloss fascia that should blend in well with home theatres. Unlike the Iomega Screenplay HD, which possessed a nearly useless SCART connection and 3.5mm connections instead of conventional composite jacks, the Screenplay Pro HD offers HDMI, component and composite output connections. It also has a composite input option and coaxial digital audio input. Two USB 2.0 ports allow connection to a PC and for other forms of external storage to be attached. An Ethernet port can connect the Screenplay Pro HD to a network, though this is restricted to 100Mbps. Wi-Fi support is not built-in to the unit but Iomega provides a compatibility list of USB wireless dongles that will work with the multimedia player.
In Australia, Iomega offers the Screenplay Pro HD with a 1TB hard drive. This will fit a reasonable amount of high-definition video content and leave extra space for recording. Loading files onto the unit can be achieved either through its USB port or over a network, provided it is configured correctly.
Most striking when first turning on the Iomega Screeplay Pro HD is its Spartan menu interface. Given the attractive and easy-to-use interfaces employed by the likes of the AppleTV and Sony's LCD television range, the extremely basic menu and file navigation system on the Screenplay Pro HD seems unfinished and unpolished, making for an annoying experience.
Streaming media over a network is easy and requires only that the desired files are shared on the networked computers. Network navigation, like the rest of the interface, is unattractive, but it is easy to do. The only complaint we have is that the Screenplay Pro HD continually performs a network speed test, which slows navigation.
Audio format support includes MP3 and WAV files, as well as less popular codecs like OGG Vorbis and DTS. Video format support includes DivX/XviD, MPEG4, AVI and MKV. Iomega provides partial support for H.264-encoded MP4 and MKV videos, but they must be transcoded on-the-fly from a networked computer running the Screenplay Pro HD's Media Server software. Even when testing with a H.264-encoded MP4 file at 240x320, we were unable to achieve acceptable results; we would prefer support for H.264 built into the Screenplay Pro HD itself.
The Iomega Screenplay Pro HD supports a range of NTSC and PAL resolutions ranging from 480p to 1080i, though as mentioned it doesn't offer 1080p. Connected to the Sony Bravia KDL40ZX1, the Screenplay Pro HD played back high-definition content with crystal-clear quality, though some interlacing was noticeable when using the 1080i resolution. Low resolution videos weren't so clear, often becoming blurred and pixellated. While native high-definition content will work well, the Iomega Screenplay Pro HD does no favours for low resolution media.
One redeeming feature of the Iomega Screenplay Pro HD is its ability to record an input source to its hard drive. Using the composite input connections, the Screenplay Pro HD allows you to connect a digital video camera or VCR to the device and record directly off the source device to the internal hard drive. This is beneficial for those after an easy way to digitise old video tapes, as the recorded file can be retrieved either through the network or by connecting the Screenplay Pro HD to a PC via USB.
Though there are some good features available on the Iomega Screenplay Pro HD, the inability to output at a true high-definition resolution (1080p) and the unattractive interface make for a poor experience. If you're after simplicity and the ability to record your aging VHS tapes though, it may be of some use.
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