Riding on the wave of portable media madness is Iomega's ScreenPlay Pro, the successor of the 60GB Iomega ScreenPlay. Targeted at movie buffs that want a no-nonsense library of HD videos, this Iomega multimedia drive boasts up to 300GB of movie goodness as well as a multitude of media capabilities including music playback as well as photo slide shows.
Iomega products have never been a let down aesthetically, and the vertical standing ScreenPlay Pro is no exception; fashioned with sleek brushed-aluminum side panels and a tough black plastic shell, the new multimedia drive should find itself at home even amongst other professional audio and video equipment. For good measure, Iomega has also integrated perforations on its side panels to help cool the toasty hard-drive within and at the same time make the setup look good.
Found along the front bezel of the ScreenPlay Pro is a backlit power button as well as an array of silver navigation buttons that although are aesthetically appealing, aren't practical. Arranged in four rows of two, many a finger fumbled trying to navigate the illogically arranged buttons. From our experience, it was a nightmare trying to work the ScreenPlay Pro without the included full-sized remote. Taking a peek behind the ScreenPlay Pro, we found one USB 2.0 port as well as two FireWire-400 jacks that made hooking up the ScreenPlay Pro a breeze. In fact both Mac and PC platforms were supported and recognized the moment we popped the unit in; file transfer thereafter was straight-forward and rapid.
One gripe that we had with the ScreenPlay Pro was a clumsy navigation system during playback. Despite a generous full sized remote-control included, the movie that is being played has to be stopped for any shortcuts on the remote to function – absolutely defeating the purpose of shortcuts in the first place.
When put to the test, the ScreenPlay Pro handled MPEG, AVI, VOB, ISO and DivX formats as promised. However, we did notice that the WMV format isn't compatible by design and could be a stumbling block for those already with a large collection. Also, although the ScreenPlay Pro boasts the ability to handle 1080i and 720p HD (High Definition) video, the unit is shipped only with analog composite and S-Video output cables. As you well know, Composite and S-Video cannot display high definition media in their full glory.
There is an analog YPbPr video or also known as Component video (progressive or interlaced) output listed in its specifications that should be scalable to the full 1920x1080i or 1280x720p resolutions, but it seems to be an optional item since our unit didn't ship with one. In this aspect, we felt that it was a big pity that Iomega opted not to include true HD support out of the box, and is a big minus point for a media companion of this day and age. Video output support aside, the ScreenPlay Pro otherwise handles movies rather decently and 300GB is in fact large enough to hold around 125 DVD-quality movies, almost qualifying as a movie buff's wet dream.
Make no mistake that the Iomega ScreenPlay Pro isn't just another hi-tech kitsch. Backed with a strong brand name, you can rest assure that the ScreenPlay Pro isn't of shoddy design and construct; in fact, tech-support and product warranty that won't duck and run is probably the ScreenPlay Pro's strongest point. Despite the lack of proper HD output connections, WMV support as well as navigational hurdles, the slick looking Iomega ScreenPlay Pro still remains a solid contender in the multimedia drive segment today by delivering what matters most - solid video playback, simple file transfer as well as slick looks. If you're looking for straightforward multimedia storage with a punch, the Iomega ScreenPlay Pro is a viable choice. The Iomega ScreenPlay Pro comes in capacities of 200GB or 300GB.