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Simple.TV: A Simple DVR

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Along with wanting to watch what they want where they want, many people are also looking to forego a cable or satellite subscription these days. While streaming content hasn't killed the MSO industry as we were told it would, the shift is happening albeit slowly. Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services are already available for various mobile devices including phones and tablets. If you'd like to add even more content, specifically your local networks, Simple.TV has a solution for you and it looks as though it's ready for primetime.

CES 2012

Almost a year gone now but Simple.TV was introduced at CES 2012. At the time it seemed like an ideal project if one that maybe wouldn't go very far. Though honored at the show, there wasn't a coherency about it that made it the most interesting product to come out of the Consumer Electronics Show. Fast forward nine months however and the company is just about ready to start shipping. Those people who contributed to the Kickstarter project will be first though.

So what is Simple.TV and how can this little box become a DVR without a cable or satellite subscription? While you'll still have to wait awhile to get your hands on one, you can at least know what you're getting into should you decide to drop the $149 for the hardware.

OTA and Basic Cable DVR

While not an overly complicated device, Simple.TV is hard to describe as a DVR. There is no hard drive included and you can't tune into encrypted cable programming. You're limited to either ATSC over-the-air signals or any digital cable channels that your cable company leaves in the clear. Depending on your provider, this can be a very limited number of channels. Many times only the locals. Either way though, if your goal is to "cut the cord" with cable anyway, Simple.TV may be a device you want to add to your home. The device itself doesn't connect to your TV. You hook up an antenna (or cable if you have digital locals), your own hard drive, your network and power.

With everything connected, you can then use the Simple.TV web interface to program the device for your local area as well as setting up recordings. While there's only a single tuner included, Simple.TV doesn't appear to be something that you would run your home TV entertainment with. Once set up however, Simple.TV interacts not directly with your TV but with mobile devices and home use devices such as Roku. This allows you to use types of systems to stream live and recorded TV no matter where you are as long as you have an internet connection. Again, this will only work with OTA content and digital cable channels that are provided in the clear but that's true with every mobile TV solution.

While I don't doubt that Simple.TV is going to be a success for the company creating it, I have to wonder whether or not they're going to face legal troubles soon. Cable MSOs and local broadcast stations have been relatively strict when it comes to protecting their content from companies that want to provide streams outside of the home and Simple.TV may be stepping on some toes with their solution. I can't say that I know or understand all of the legal wrangling that's going on but you can bet that someone is watching. Not even companies such as Time Warner Cable and Cablevision have been able to provide outside the home streaming yet due to conflicts with content providers. A small company such as Simple.TV might be able to fly under the radar for some time but eventually, they'll have to have their day in court.

Until then however, if you need a mobile TV solution, $149 isn't a bad price for a device that'll allow you to watch recordings and live TV while traveling. As stated above, you'll have to add your own hard drive for storage but USB drives are cheap and plentiful. You could probably pick up at least 500 GB for around $50 and be ready to watch all of your favorite programming on the go!

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