Review: Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link DX HD media player

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Media players have sort of become the nerve center for home entertainment especially since movies, music and pictures can now be digitally downloaded from the Internet. WD, Iomega, Amkette and many more have launched their media players in the market. These devices not only support a large array of audio and video formats but provide additional features such as wireless streaming, Internet connectivity, apps and internal storage as well. Today we have with us the Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link DX HD media player that boasts of Wi-Fi capabilities and a QWERTY keypad on the remote control. Does it have any distinguishing factors to set it apart from the rest or is just another media player in the crowd?
 
Contents and Build

 
The box the device comes in packs in quite some stuff. You have the media player, the power adapter and four variants of wall adapters depending on the global region you belong to. Apart from the standard AV cable, it also comes with an HDMI cable straight out of the box, which is a nice addition. A Wi-Fi dongle, QWERTY keypad remote and two AAA batteries complete the package.
 
The build of the device isn't the best in the business but the device is well designed and appealing to the eye. It has attractive curves but the black matte finish makes it a fingerprint and dust magnet. An advantage to the build is that the device is really slim and sleek.
 
In terms of connectivity options the device houses two USB 2.0 ports in the front. The rear has one USB 2.0 port, Ethernet port, optical audio port, HDMI out, component video out and the DC in port. All in all the layout of the ports are neat and add to the elegant look of the device.
 
Features:
 
The Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link DX HD media player has some pretty interesting features. For starters, it comes with a Wi-Fi adapter straight out of the box. Although a lot of media players available in the market do support Wi-Fi, the adapter needs to be purchased separately. It is nice to see it in the box with this product.Another convenient addition is the HDMI cable. Sure, its quality isn't the best but its inclusion is a nice touch.
 
The plethora of socket plugs that comes in the box is a welcome addition. No matter where you are in the world, you'll be able to plug in your Iomega. The addition of a QWERTY keypad to the IR remote is nice as the device supports Internet capabilities.
 
Speaking of this, the device houses a full Internet browser letting you surf the web, a YouTube app and the ability to stream movies wirelessly over a network. If you are a US resident you get access to Netflix and Pandora.
 
Allinall, the device packs in quite a few features, but if you are looking for an internal HDD in the device, you may want to take a look at the other media player offerings from the Iomega stable as the ScreenPlay TV Link DX HD media player lacks internal storage.
 
Performance
 

As a media player, the device performs extremely well. We would, however, recommend that you perform an update as soon as you unbox the device so that it supports all the latest codecs. The load time of the device is definitely better than older products from Iomega's portfolio. After plugging the device we were active on the home screen in just a few seconds. We connected two 1TB HDD's to the device. Both were filled with content up to the brim and both were recognized with ease.
 
We played a lot of 1080p videos in .mkv, .m2ts, m4v, mp4 and some SD videos in .avi. All of them ran very well and the output was great. There is no doubt that the player handled every file we threw at it with absolute ease. There was negligible amount of jitter and absolutely no lag on the device. It supported all the subtitles with ease too.
 
So, what is the distinguisher in performance from the other players out there? For starters, the QWERTY keypad. The top of the remote has the media and navigation controls whereas the bottom has the keypad. Two AAA batteries power the remote. Holding the remote gives you the feeling of holding a classic NES controller with a QWERTY keypad attached to it. The performance of the media controls on the remote is good and you have a lot of options such as home, back, volume and mute, information, settings, search, next and previous video, etc.
 
The QWERTY keypad on the other hand felt a bit disappointing. The keys were very rubbery and difficult to type on. Plus you have to point the remote directly at the device for it to function smoothly. We wish Iomega had improved upon the quality of the keypad as after some time it gets tedious to type on. Another disadvantage -- and this will especially affect those of you who have a lot of content - is that the QWERTY keypad cannot be used to navigate to a particular alphabet in your media list. You have to use the navigation keys only to navigate through your library.
 
The on-board web browser is nice but the frustrating experience of the keyboard hampers the experience. The browser lacks flash support, so don't expect all the websites to open properly. The Wi-Fi dongle works very well and setting it up and connecting it to our Wi-Fi took only a few seconds. We do however wish that in the next iteration of the product, the Wi-Fi support is in-built as it consumes one USB port leaving you with just two to connect your storage devices. The menu and interface of the device is fairly simple to navigate. It isn't as jazzed up as the WD TV Live Media Hub but it is simple to understand and gets the job done pretty effectively.
 
Verdict:
 
Considering the past offerings from Iomega, this device is pretty good. It supports all media formats, includes wireless media streaming and DLNA support. The lack of internal storage is definitely felt. Even though it is flawed, the addition of the QWERTY keypad is nice. The Wi-Fi dongle is a boon but we wish it were inbuilt. All in all, the Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link DX HD media player is a great addition to the available competition.
 
We would however recommend that you take a look at the software/firmware history of a product before you purchase it. This will not only give you an idea as to how well a company updates its products but the frequency as well which is key since audio video codecs are updated quite often.
 
Price: Rs. 8,999
 
Pros
Sleek design
HDMI Cable and Wi-Fi dongle in the box
QWERTY keypad on the remote control
Four wall connectors in the box for the power cable
Supports all media formats with ease
 
Cons
Device is a fingerprint and dust magnet
Wi-Fi could have been in-built
Using the QWERTY remote is frustrating
Cannot navigate through your library with the QWERTY keypad
 
Specifications
Connections: HDMI, Ethernet, Composite Video, Optical Audio, USB 2.0
Playback Resolution: Up to 1080p High-Definition (60fps)
I/O Connectivity: Ethernet 10/100
External HDD Formats: NTFS, HFS+, FAT32, Ext2, Ext3
 
Media Formats
Video CODECs: H.264; WMV; RMVB (SD), MPEG-1/2/4 (part 2, ASP), VC1, DivX Plus HD (NKV), Xvid
Video File types: .avi, .asf, .iso, .vob, .mp4, .flv, .mov, WMV, FLV, .mkv, AVCHD, M2TS
Photos: JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG
Wireless Ready: Supports Iomega USB Wi-Fi adapters for wireless access up to 802.11b/g/n
Audio: MP3, WAV, WMA, OGG, AAC, AC3, PCM, M4A, DTS
Playlists: PLS, M3U, WPL
Subtitle: SRT, SSA, SUB, SMI

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