Most of the features in media players like the ScreenPlay Director will be included in the next generation of high-end hybrid Freeview and Freesat boxes – but can an IT company do it better than a consumer electronics brand?
Iomega's latest DLNA-compatible multimedia network player is an 'Internet Edition', able to access a few online media sources and suck down torrents as well as play back media files.
It pairs up nicely with a powerline network adapter, although there's an optional 802.11n high-speed Wi-Fi USB adapter for £31. It's the size of a large paperback, although that belies the weight of the 1TB or 2TB hard disc inside.
The front panel features a set of basic controls that won't get much use, plus a single power/control-received light. It looks and feels like a quality product on the attached stand, even if the plasticky remote doesn't.
The back panel has a busy set of three USBs, HD and SD AV outputs, and network socket. The Scart adapter can only deliver composite video to your TV, but you should be using HDMI anyway to enjoy the maximum 1080p resolution. The setup wizard walks you through the process, although we struggled briefly with the text-entry system.
What happens next is up to you; the hard disc is a blank slate for you to create folders and arrange media files as you like, all of which can be done with the remote, although it's easier to do the organising and copying from other places using a PC rather than the remote.
You can administer the Screenplay's disc via USB or as a network drive, so it may function as a main repository if you rely on a laptop with limited storage for daily computing, and some tools to automate this would help. You can build files into playlists, and there's an 'on the go' My List so you can browse and listen simultaneously.
The quick way to get started is to play back directly from other network storage using DLNA, although browsing these can be very laborious compared to local storage.
You could go online and look at a few YouTube clips, listen to internet radio or subscribe to Shoutcast for its video and radio services, but the text-based interface is a dull experience. It needs a basic browser and Flash support to enjoy the real richness of the internet on TV.
The price is attractive compared with simple network hard discs, so it's worth considering this as a network storage with extra zing, but aside from the large hard disc it's no rival for a media PC or hacked Apple TV.
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