December 20, 2013, 6:00 AM —
If you're anything like me, you get a little bit red in the face every time your cable bill comes due. It just seems like an awful lot of money for what you're getting, doesn't it? (Cord cutters, please sit back and feel smug for a moment; you deserve to!) I keep saying I'm going to cut the cord but I balk at the last minute. One of the reasons is that 90% of our TV watching is time-shifted via DVR.
I know I could get a Tivo Roamio but as an apartment dweller I'm not sure how that would work. I'd have to find the best spot in the apartment for an antennae and run a cable from whatever window that is to the Tivo, I think?
Simple.TV is a product I've been watching recently. It's basically an over-the-air DVR. According to TechCrunch, pre-orders have just started shipping and I'm waiting for some reviews to learn if it works as advertised.
What follows is my understanding of how the system works but if you're interested I urge you to do your own research. You connect a TV antennae to Simple.TV (it'll accept an un-encrypted cable feed too), attach an external hard drive to it, and get it on your home network. Simple.TV doesn't connect directly to your TV so you can put it wherever you get the best TV signal in your house, with the caveat that it requires an Ethernet connection rather than WiFi (for performance reasons). That could be a pretty major caveat.
For watching on a TV, you access Simple.TV via a Roku or Apple TV (and starting next year, on the Ouya mini-gaming console of all things). You can also access it from a web browser, or from an iOS device (Android support is still coming) connect to your home WiFi network.
If you pay for Premium Service ($60/year or $150/Lifetime) you can also access your content from outside your house. Up to 5 people can be streaming at once, so you can be sitting at home watching on the TV and a family member can be out and about and watching on their iPhone.
The basic single-tuner Simple.TV 1 is $150, while the dual-tuner Simple.TV by SiliconDust is $250. However, recording two shows at once is listed as "Coming soon."
It still feels like early days for Simple.TV; with no Android support and dual-tuner support not yet available I'm not ready to invest yet, and before I do anything I have to run some tests to see what stations I get OTA. Obviously this is a device for people living in or close to a city. In my case, I already own both a Roku and an Apple TV and I like the idea of using gear I already have, but if I had to purchase one of these in addition to the Simple.TV it might push me towards the Tivo.
I can't wait to hear from early adopters who've tried out Simple.TV; it seems a little too good to be true. Still, any device that can get me out from under the thumb of Time Warner Cable is at least worth investigating.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.