With the frailties of wireless networks when it comes to intensive media file usage, the advent of Iomega’s Screenplay drive seemed like something to celebrate. A compact external hard drive, albeit with outputs to allow it to connect to a TV and sound system, it’s a device with a simple purpose in life: you stuff it with video files and then use it to play them back on a telly.
It was a little more troublesome than promised to get going, however. The quick start guide stated that we could connect it to a PC via the supplied USB 2.0 cable and simply drag and drop our files to it, but our Windows XP-powered test machine was having none of that. Instead, it insisted that the Iomega-supplied software was installed first before it would allow the drive to be recognised. That’s more luck than Mac users are likely to have, given that the Screenplay is NTFS formatted.
Once attached to a PC it was as easy as you’d expect to drag files over, set up folder systems and suchlike, and the device was suitably efficient and fuss-free. Then the idea is that you take it to your television set and hook it up.
The styling of the chassis itself means it wouldn’t look out of place in a modern day home cinema system, and it’s small enough to fit in easily too. Furthermore, hooking it up to a display is made easier by the plethora of connectivity options: HDMI, co-ax, component and RCA. Some cables are provided in the box, but not HDMI. Nonetheless, it was quickly connected to our test 52-inch, 1080p, LCD display to find out how it’d measure up.
One of the key boasts of the unit is its HD ability, and the Screenplay HD can support up to 1080i. The output isn’t too bad, although the scaling work is competent at best. Most formats of video were supported in our tests, although MKV wasn’t, and through the simple on-screen file navigation interface, zipping around the menu was easy enough. The biggest challenge was the cheap and unpleasant remote control, which suffers from both a slightly illogical layout and being of a size and depth that makes it a cert to be lost in the average living room.
The unit itself is relatively quiet in operation, although not without a bit of residual noise, and we noticed that it was hot to the touch once we’d got to the end of a two-hour movie. Not a major complaint, but we’d be concerned about relying on it for a prolonged movie marathon.
The Screenplay HD isn’t a perfect solution to a problem, but it is, nonetheless, a solution of sorts. An unpleasant remote, file support limitations and long term concerns over its operating temperature are the biggest marks against it for us, but it’s nonetheless a useful way to view digital content, without relying on the quirks of a wireless network or a never-ending array of flash drives.
Contact: 020 7216 0003