What is Simple.TV?
Simple.TV is a new (“shipping summer 2012”) DVR/ATS Tuner/Video Server clearly aimed at the emerging cord cutter market. The main focus of Simple.TV is to bring the convenience of the Cable DVR to the user who gets most of his content off the air. Additional benefits include the ability to stream this content through the home on multiple screens, and even remotely over the net if you take the premier package.
The Simple.TV website does a good job of pointing out some basic cord cutter facts. For one the top 10 prime time TV shows are all free to air and 90% of US homes have access to these. The site also includes advice on how much you can save, and even tips on selecting an antenna.
Simple.TV doesn’t plug into your TV because it has its own tuner. You plug in an antenna , an internet router, and an external USB storage device. This allows you to record live TV for playback later. Storage capacity is as big as the hard drive you choose to supply. Simple.TV also includes apps that let you stream to your laptops, iPads, and Roku.
What does it cost?
Simple.TV is a Kickstarter project, looking to raise capital, and at the time of this post has about $100,000 of the $125,000 goal. The projected retail price is $149, but if you want to make a pledge you’ll get the early bird special price of $125.00. Note that competitors in this space, Magnavox and ChannelMaster charge over $400 making Simple.TV a bargain.
Free vs Premier
As a cord cutter I try hard to avoid new subscription fees. But like many others in the video market Simple.TV has a subscription package at $5/month. With the paid subscription you get the ability to “record programs automatically” and access to a channel guide.
What I’m wondering is how useful the free version is. Do I have to wait for the program to come on? Or can I set a specific day and time to start recording like an old fashioned DVR? If I have to wait around for the show to air and hit the record button that’s not too useful.
One good strategy might be to test out the premium package for a month or two then pay the $199 for lifetime service to “pay and be done with it”. Lifetime offers sometimes go away after products mature, and if Simple.TV takes off the monthly fee may increase.
If it works and is easy to use Simple.TV could make a huge difference in cord cutting. Cable packages often include DVR’s (for a monthly fee) that are probably filled with content from the major networks. If you can get this content for free, and the convenience of on-demand watching, cord cutting becomes much more appealing. The Kickstarter funding project ends June 29th. We’ll be watching eagerly for the first shipments and reviews of this new product.