One of the many innovative products we checked out tonight was this ViXS XCode 4210 powered Simple.TV box, which tunes into free, unencrypted channels (even in HD) via cable or antenna. Where it starts to differ from other boxes like Sling and Monsoon however, is that it eschews any direct video out or even passthrough, working solely to transcode those feeds to variable bitrate MPEG-4 streams for playback on internet-connected mobile devices and TV boxes. Besides the missing TV out, this headless unit also only supports DVRs courtesy of whatever storage you may add yourself, since it doesn't contain any. The Simple.TV box is set to launch this spring and initially should have viewing apps available for Roku and iPad, with Boxee Box and Google TV viewers eventually planned as well (there is also a $29 Windows Media Center app). Currently the pricing is set at $149, and while streaming to another device in the home and simple DVR function are free to use, adding a guide and allowing streaming to up to 5 devices over the internet will require another $4.99 per month. If you're interested, check out the video after the break and keep a spot near your coax line open.

simple.tv DVR hands-on

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Simple.tv DVR / placeshifter frees free TV from the constraints of location, time