The Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD is a network-enabled media streamer that builds upon the strong points of earlier ScreenPlay units such as the HD and Pro HD.
It has an intuitive and well-designed menu system and support for a reasonably large range of video file formats. The Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD struggles with navigating through extensive music or video collections, but otherwise it's a competent media player.
See also: Iomega ScreenPlay Pro HD review
See also: Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link review
The Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD is similar in many ways to the earlier ScreenPlay Pro HD, including its design. Apart from a different graphic on the side panel, the Director is identical to the earlier model with a slim black design and a number of buttons on the fascia.
The back panel houses the usual range of outputs - HDMI makes a welcome appearance, though older devices can connect via composite or component video. Three USB 2.0 ports allow connection of multiple storage devices such as flash drives or external hard drives. A USB-B port allows direct connection to a computer; you'll most likely use this a few times to transfer media onto the Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD's internal 3.5in hard drive (there are 1TB and 2TB models available).
After you use the 10/100 Ethernet port to connect to a network the Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD is able to stream media from any device on your home network, in addition to accessing Internet streaming video. The Ethernet port sits on the rear of the device near the exhaust fan, which, thankfully, is only audible when no music or movies are playing.
We connected the Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD to a Panasonic TH-P54Z1A plasma television via HDMI for our testing. After an annoyingly long start-up of over a minute, we were presented with the main menu.
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The Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD happily outputs in 1080p Full HD resolution, with a menu system that's slick, stylish and richly coloured. With a simple vertical layout for choosing between music, video, photos and online media, the ScreenPlay Director HD should be easy for novice users to pick up quickly. You can set simple video options, such as choosing between widescreen and standard 4:3 aspect ratios for displaying video.
The Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD is visible as a network drive on your home network, so it's easy to copy media files on to its drive. Loading the media streamer's hard drive up with movies may take some time, however, because it doesn't have a Gigabit Ethernet connection.
The on-screen interface makes searching through your media relatively straightforward. Anyone with particularly large music or movie collections - though we're talking tens of thousands of titles - might find the navigation through the folder structure a tedious process, but this also depends on how you have your music sorted. You can only scroll through files alphabetically (there are no artist or album tags, for example).
If you sign up for an account on Iomega's website, you get access to an online portal on the Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD that offers YouTube and other video streaming sites. This is a convenient if you want to view Internet videos on your TV.
We were very pleased to find that the ScreenPlay Director HD is far more competent than its predecessors when it came to playing different video and audio files. H.264 support means most high-definition video files are supported, along with the usual gamut of Xvid, DivX and various AVI codecs. OGG and FLAC audio formats are supported as well as MP3, WMA and AAC.
The ScreenPlay Director HD is a significant improvement over earlier Iomega media streamers. It can play high-definition files thanks to its HDMI connection and video codec support, and it adds online video streaming video for easy access to YouTube.
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