Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Iomega Screenplay Pro HD hacks

I was not sure what gift I would get for Father's day. A colleague of mine was very happy with his last gadget, a multimedia hard disk that could reproduce High Definition content from its 1TB disk and it could also record from a video input.

I already own one (older) version of that (Freecom Media Player) so I was not impressed with the idea, but my friend insisted I should try his unit at home.

I brought the system and I hooked it to TV. I tried some HD content I had around and I liked what I saw, so I was sold. I would be replacing my TV computer whose SAT receiver card is no longer in use as I switched to a cable provider years ago. Still that computer was serving me well, still with its original SUSE 8.2.

The Iomega unit does have HDMI, components and composite video outputs, plus an optical audio output. It has a host-mode USB socket that accepts external storage (i.e. another hard disk). It can also be connected to a computer by USB (a B-socket in this case) to be used as external storage. Video and audio inputs are by means of another set of RCA sockets, and an external power supply completes the connections. Not to forget the RJ-45 LAN connection that enables both remote playback of files stored in the disk or playing in the unit the files stored in your computer. A third possibility mention in the docs that I haven't tried yet is to play streamed contents throught the network.

The unit is powered by Linux and there is telnet server running, so you can telnet to your box (root user, no password). Files can be transfered either over the network or by attaching the unit to a computer through the USB port. The latter option is way up faster. In fact, the performance of network transfers is depressing at around 2 megabytes per second only.

Given the system is Linux-based and the telnet access is open you imagine there is something you can to change your system (hopefully to improve it). Native filesystem is NTFS but that may be a problem if you want to connect it to Linux PCs. The problem is not to read or write while the NTFS partition is clean. However, first time I tried my friend's unit it would not work. The reason: an abrupt detachment of the unit left the NTFS partition needed for a filesystem check. Unfortunately nor the Iomega system nor a PC running Linux can do that. Problem was fixed by connecting the drive to a Windows PC. After that everything went fine with Linux too.

There is an interesting blog about this device. There is also a nice wiki. Among the changes I've done I can recomend:
  1. Change partition to ext3 (if you main system is not Windows). Or to FAT32 if you use OS X (though FAT32 will limit the maximum size of files to 4GB).
  2. Install a patch so files over 2GB can be transferred over the network.
  3. Install a web-based BitTorrent download system. If you do that you'll want to have some swap space (I used a swapfile on the hard disk).
  4. Install a toolchain so you can compile your own programs.
There are many more ideas on the wiki mentioned above so if you own this cool system you can experiment with the many changes proposed.

At 199 Euros in PC-city it is a steal! You can use binaries from OpenWRT project too! Can you guess what gift I've got for Father's day?

8 Comments:

  • At 9:58 am, Blogger Samuel Rothenbuehler said…

    Hi Miguel

    It's interesting to read your blog! As I will soon be owner of a Iomega Screenplay Pro HD, I was wondering what architecture I have to choose when downloading packages from OpenWRT? Is it the "ifxmips" folder?

    Thanks for you help!
    Sam

     
  • At 10:36 am, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Hi Sam,

    I'm glad you find something useful in the blog.

    Please note that Iomega SPP HD does not use packages from OpenWRT. I've get some success copying binaries from OpenWRT 7.09 Kamikaze.

    I happen to have an Acer WL-500 router with OpenWRT installed, so it was easy to just copy dropbear binary from it.

    It is mipsel architecture.

    Regards,

    Miguel

     
  • At 1:56 pm, Blogger Sam said…

    Great thanks, that will help me further!

     
  • At 4:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hate the Iomega Screen Play. IT plays standard files but cannot play HD files like the standard Network Media Tanks, Popcornhour and HDX1000 of the world.

    About 6 months after i purchased mine it will no longer play on tv.. Now its just an overpriced External 1TB hard drive. AND IOMEGA WANTS TO CHARGE ME $25 for me to call them because they claim the serial number is out of warranty. I have to submit proof of purchase just to talk to someone. What a nightmare.. Avoid this product at all cost.

    The Iomega Screen Play PRO HD is garbage.. Grab a nice NMT instead and u will mostlikely get better service than with IOMEGA and their $25 phone support scam!

     
  • At 10:39 pm, Blogger Brian said…

    I feel the same as above, mine broke last night and I tried to contact support. If your Iomega is out of warranty you have to pay to chat or talk to someone. All I want to know is can I change the harddrive out with one of my own.

     
  • At 11:07 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    @Brian: If what is broken is the hard drive I reckon you can just replace it to get your system repaired. I guess the firmware update will copy the required data to the new harddisk. I have not done this myself but I think it makes sense.

     
  • At 4:47 am, Anonymous M.Thulin said…

    Hi I just bought an iomega. downloaded and updated but im still having problem, you mentioned openwrt.. so if the device boots a system.. do you think it could be replaced with XBMC with some help of linux? my research tell me realtek 1073 inside,, i dont know yet if this is right or even useful.. what do you think? doable?

     
  • At 9:04 am, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    My iomega died on me just yesterday :-(

    I mentioned openwrt because the linux distribution of iomega uses the same libraries. XBMC needs a more powerful processor and an better graphics card. Please note the screenplayer HD is very limited on both fronts.

    In http://screenplayprohd.wikia.com/wiki/ScreenPlay_Pro_HD I have found some useful tricks.

     

Post a Comment

<< Home