Gaming laptops are traditionally full of compromises.
Iomega Screenplay Pro
- Connect directly to TV, Digital Audio, Firewire connection
- Expensive, no Component/DVI output, no support for WMV
The Iomega Screenplay Pro shares many of the limitations of its predecessor, but the extra storage space, addition of Firewire and digital audio output are all significant improvements
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
The Iomega Screenplay Pro, while incorporating some worthwhile improvements over its predecessor, also retains many of the same flaws.
One of our criticisms of the previously released Screenplay was the size of the drive - a paltry 60GB. The Screenplay Pro is much larger, giving users a much more practical 200GB of storage. As a standalone external drive, we had no problems using the Screenplay Pro. It was recognised immediately by Windows XP as a drive and we could drag and drop files with ease.
In our performance tests, the Screenplay Pro performed faster than the LaCie Brick and the Maxtor One Touch II, but not as fast as the Seagate 100GB. The biggest difference with using this unit compared to the Screenplay is that the Pro is permanently anchored to a power source at all times, whereas the Screenplay doesn't need mains power as it draws its power from the USB port of the PC it's attached to.
In the looks department, the Screenplay Pro is much larger than the Screenplay, with the oddly shaped case punctured by holes on either side to help with cooling. It is also much heavier and not nearly as portable. All the connections are situated at the rear of the unit, with multimedia functions on the front. A power indicator light has been placed on top which changes colour whenever the remote is pressed.
Unfortunately, our complaint with the regular screenplay unit is once again a problem with the Pro. Both use a composite connection to connect to a TV or give you the option of using S-Video. Composite doesn't offer particularly notable performance, nor does it make use of the superior display qualities of flat panel displays, so the picture quality is average at best. On the up side, Iomega has included a Firewire connection on this unit, making it easier to transfer content from digital video cameras.
One aspect of the player we found frustrating is the rigidity of the folder structure. When you establish a connection between the Pro and your PC, three folders are displayed for music, movies and pictures respectively. In order for content to be displayed on a TV, it must be placed in the correct folder or it will not show up. You cannot create your own folders to store content as they won't show up either. You can however, create subfolders under the three main folders to store files in. The restrictions were not present in the Screenplay and we much prefer the flexibility of that model.
When we connected the unit to a Sharp Aquos LCD TV, we were a little disappointed at the sharpness of the displayed image - a product of the composite connection. The S-Video output proved to be far superior. After we selected the correct TV input, three menu items were displayed on startup and you can select each of them using the supplied remote to view pictures, movies or music.
The remote control provided with the Pro is infinitely superior to that provided with the Screenplay. It has a more ergonomic feel to it and also includes many more options. The problem with the remote, - and one that proved increasingly frustrating, - is that it must be pointing exactly at the front of the unit in order to work. This means you will have to align the unit precisely and stand directly in front of it to operate the remote each time you use it.
We also found that while the remote contained shortcut buttons for Movies, Music or Pictures, you cannot press these when media is playing. You actually have to stop the currently playing track first and then select the shortcut to jump back to the menu. Ideally, users should be able to jump between content with a minimum of fuss.
The Pro has undergone significant improvement in the music stakes, supporting a much larger number of file formats such as MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, AC3 and OGG Vorbis. The unit also has a SPDIF output at the rear, allowing you to experience digital audio output if you have a compatible home theatre system. The Pro supports the same video and picture formats as the earlier Screenplay, with the addition of ISO.
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