There's little doubt that TV is moving more toward an on-demand model powered by content that's pulled from the Internet rather than traditional broadcast sources. But products that pull in video from networked PCs and various online sources--everything from the Roku Netflix Player and Apple TV to the Xbox 360--still require some degree of networking expertise to get up and running. For those that prefer more of a plug-and-play experience, there's the Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link. The little box allows the video files on most USB storage devices (hard drives, flash drives) to be played on your TV.
The TV Link is a tiny black enclosure, about the size of a Post-it pad, that hooks up to any open composite, component, or HDMI input on your TV. If you don't have an HDMI cable handy, you can use the included composite or component breakout cables. Iomega also includes a SCART adapter for use overseas, along with the appropriate power adapters as well.
The ScreenPlay TV Link is a breeze to set up. Simply use one of the breakout cables to connect the device to your TV and switch to the appropriate input. ScreenPlay TV Link's built-in interface will let you change your resolution settings and audio options. If you're connecting via component or HDMI, you'll have the option to upscale all of your video content to 720p or 1080i.
When connected, the TV Link box can become a bit cluttered with its various wires protruding from the rear. Since you'll need access to the rear USB port on the box, the device must be placed somewhat out in the open. Also, you'll need to establish line-of-sight with the front of the TV Link to use the included IR remote control. Perhaps USB access would have been more practical had it been relocated to the front of the unit--possibly next to the IR port.
The included remote controls every aspect of the device. It's quite slim, but laid out practically. It fit comfortably in our hand and is extremely responsive. As a bonus, we were able to successfully program our Logitech Harmony One with the device.
The ScreenPlay TV Link supports almost any USB hard drive or flash drive you can throw at it granted that the device is formatted in either FAT32 or NTFS file systems. We had absolutely no problem using several thumbdrives in addition to our hefty 320GB Seagate FreeAgent Go drive. The TV Link's USB port also seemed to provide power for most of the bus-powered drives we tried, eliminating the need for another power supply.
Switching between USB sources was not an issue either. There's no "undocking" process that must take place, you can simply yank out a drive when you'd like to swap it for another. We should note that we recommend you stop playing any media before actually pulling the plug.