A link for your TV – Review of the Iomega’s ScreenPlay TV Link, Director Edition

It has been a painful, and expensive, journey to get YouTube to work on my television. I have toyed with many a product before discovering the Iomega’s ScreenPlay TV Link, Director Edition. Though not perfect, I seem to have found what I was looking for.
I bought my DVD player a couple of years back and it does not have USB ports. Now, with YouTube, my great collection of online radio stations and brilliant programmes on the TV, my DVD Player has just been collecting dirt. However, I still get DivX files, especially from some independent filmmaker friends, in pen drives. And this is why USB ports have become important.

Thankfully, the TV Link has lots of them – two in front and one at the back. Even if you plug in the Iomega wireless adapter on one, there are two left for pen drives and external hard drives. With the hard disk plugged in, you can share it across your home network through wireless. Though you will not be able to define which folders to share, it will still give you access to your media drive. The best part is that you can straightaway programme torrent files to download to this hard disk using the TV Link, without a PC coming in the way. In case you have a file share server or a home network drive, you can access the media from that drive directly.

The TV Link also has HDMI and RCA connectors, and you have the option of changing the latter from RGP to YUV input, thus enabling versatility. Also at the back of the unit is an SPDIF connector that lets you hook up high quality 5.1 audio to your home theater equipment.
The codecs supported by the TV Link generally plays every movie file that you throw at it. Though clips I shot with my old mobile phone in the 3gp format did not play; avi, divx and other movies formats worked out of the box. The unit supports Dolby Digital Encoding, WAV, WMA, MPEG1/2/4 (AVI/xVID), DivX and JPEG as formats. The output is a full 1080 p, so for old TV sets you will have to programme it to use a 720 p, 4:3 output.
The slim form factor means that you can carry it around while on holiday and hook it up to the television in your hotel room and watch the movies, listen to music, or see pictures that you have stored on your external hard disk.

Problems: I would have loved to see built-in wireless connectivity. Though you can buy a dongle from iomega to make the unit wireless, most of the dealers were not aware of the cost or availability of a replacement device. I would also have loved to have support for a wireless keyboard so that I could easily type what I wanted to search for in YouTube, though the remote that shipped with the unit works perfectly fine. You can login to your YouTube account directly from the unit, but for someone like me who uses a complex password, this can be a tedious task.

The TV Link heats up quite a bit and should be used in a well-ventilated place. The unit is very sleek and slim and one may tend to shove it into a crevice just about the size of the unit. But make sure the ventilation is good, especially when you want it to download torrents when you are not around.

Over all, at Rs 7,300, I think this is a box that is priced right. I would have loved to have a memory card reader slot built into it, but then you can’t get everything. The box includes the unit, a remote control, a power adapter, an HDMI 1.3 cable, a video cable and a quick start guide.

The Above article appeared in the Indian Express, on Sunday 20th June 2010