Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Connect directly to TV, small and light, Remote Control
- Expensive, no Component/DVI output, no support for WMV
The Iomega Screenplay offers a convenient interim solution for viewing photos, music and movies on a television. Be prepared to pay a premium for the extra functionality though.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
Given the prevalence of digital cameras, MP3 players and fast broadband speeds, it is no suprise that many of us now have a significant amount of photos, music and movies stored on our PCs. The problem has been getting this content from the computer into the lounge-room - and making good use of those widescreen televisions and surround sound home theatres.
The Iomega Screenplay goes some of the way to solving this problem, offering multimedia functionality on a 60GB external hard drive by allowing content on the drive to be directly outputted to a TV.
The Screenplay is a compact, lightweight silver and black box that is perhaps nicely sized for carrying around in a small bag, although a tad too large for a pocket. On the top of the unit are several controls for navigating and playing content, while all the connections are situated at the back. To further reinforce its multimedia abilities, a grey remote control is also included in the package.
The benefit the Screenplay offers is convenience. Users can copy their photos, music or movies from their PCs directly onto the drive, eliminating the need to carry around multiple CDs, DVDs or even the need for DVD players. As a hard drive, the Screenplay functions much like any other. You can plug it directly into a PC using the USB2.0 cable and it is immediately recognised by Windows as a drive. Files can then be dragged and dropped onto the drive as required.
Once the content is on the drive, the Screenplay can be hooked up to a television either with S-Video or Composite cables. (Note that standard composite/S-Video cables won't work on this unit, as it uses a special adapter to connect to the Screenplay). While we appreciate the flexibility of having two output options, unfortunately Iomega haven't included support for DVI or higher quality component connections, meaning the picture quality won't exactly be awe inspiring. Buyers should also be aware that while the Screenplay does not require the use of a power adapter to function as an external hard drive, it does need to be plugged in to a power source when hooked up to the TV, so you'll need one handy in close proximity.
Once as we connected the Screenplay to the television using the supplied composite cables, a menu was immediately displayed on the screen, which had four options for accessing Photos, Music, Movies or Files stored on the unit.
The music player functionality is rather basic and allows you to play MP3 or AC3 tracks through the television speakers. A seven mode graphic equaliser is available but no playlist options (apart from Repeat) are provided.
The Photos option was a little more advanced, allowing the display of JPEG files (up to 8 megapixels). Clicking on the photo displays a larger image and you can also view the resolution and date details if you so choose. Users can also setup a slideshow which simply plays tracks and scrolls through the photos. Photo transitions, interval times and other options can all be accessed on the Setup menu. A zoom and rotate function round out the photo options.
Movie playback on the Screenplay is hamstrung by one significant factor and that is the absence of support for WMV files. While it can play AVI, MPG, DAT, VOB and XviD files, the omission of WMV will cause some headaches as it is a very common format. Other than this, movie playback as expected on a composite connection.
The addition of a remote control to the package was something we thought we would like, but its operation soon became frustrating. Firstly, the control itself is rather wide and cannot be comfortably held in one hand. We also found the buttons required a hard press and ended up pressing several times in order to perform basic operations. Thankfully, controls are also provided on the top of the unit which perform many of the same functions.
The key selling point of the Screenplay is the convenience it offers in doing away with the need to copy data onto DVDs or other media in order to view it on a TV. However, with the growth of products like the Claritas Media Centre and HDD recorders such as the KISS DP-558, the Screenplay is at best, a short term solution. The exorbitant price for such a small storage space also does it no favours.
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