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Really Simple Software Simple.TV

Really Simple Software Simple.TV

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60 Engadget Score
A forgettable product. It isn't bad, exactly, but also doesn't do anything particularly well.
60

A forgettable product. It isn't bad, exactly, but also doesn't do anything particularly well.

How we score

The Engadget Score is a unique ranking of products based on extensive independent research and analysis by our expert editorial and research teams. The Global Score is arrived at only after curating hundreds, sometimes thousands of weighted data points (such as critic and user reviews).

Engadget Review

A nice solution if you've always wanted broadcast TV on your mobile devices, but that's about it.

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60 Engadget Score
A forgettable product. It isn't bad, exactly, but also doesn't do anything particularly well.
60

A forgettable product. It isn't bad, exactly, but also doesn't do anything particularly well.

How we score

The Engadget Score is a unique ranking of products based on extensive independent research and analysis by our expert editorial and research teams. The Global Score is arrived at only after curating hundreds, sometimes thousands of weighted data points (such as critic and user reviews).

Scores

Engadget

60
 

User Reviews

30
tripfly
We have been eager to cut the cord for over a year. signed up with Simple TV...read more
10
randyv
I have everything setup correctly and it just doesnt work. No support to call...read more
70
Zero101
I have had a few days to play with my Simple.TV... so I thought some of the...read more
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Score Breakdown

 
37
Average user Score
 
30
tripfly
01.06.13
We have been eager to cut the cord for over a year. signed up with Simple TV on the Kickstarter funding and waited for this. Unfortunately, reliability is awful. Recording is hit or miss. Conflicts are never resolved correctly when you want to edit recordings. "Live" tuning mysteriously became a Beta project AFTER I already had a unit. Tuning through Roku app is a lesson in patience. Quality of picture varies widely on the Roku implementation. Airplay from the iPad is much better and the picture is generally impressive. There is a ton of potential here. I found out about this product on reports from last year's CES. As this year's CES kicks off, this ambitious team's product risks entry into the dustbin of good ideas that almost made it. If the company could make good on the original expectations, I would buy 4 more but, the lack of communication and being so wide of the mark on release forces the impression that this will not happen. When it works as advertised, I would rate it a solid 8. Unfortunately this Jekyll and Hyde box is more Mr Hyde than Doctor Jeckyll
 
10
randyv
12.01.12
I have everything setup correctly and it just doesnt work. No support to call for help, and Ive emailed support 3 times and no reply after 2 weeks. I'm sending it back and getting my refund, its junk.
 
70
Zero101
11.14.12
I have had a few days to play with my Simple.TV... so I thought some of the other "cord cutters" on here might want to hear how well it actually works.The package I received included pretty much everything you would need to ditch cable service (with the exception of internet connectivity, of course). The box included the Simple.TV unit, a Roku 2 XD and a Mohu Leaf Antenna. The only piece missing is the external USB HD that the Simple.TV requires for saving DVR content to (thankfully, I have a bunch of spare HD's sitting around, so I didn't need to purchase one).The physical setup of the device couldn't have been easier... plug in a USB HDD (I used a 320GB USB 3.0 HDD), connect a network cable (no wireless connection on this box) and attach the coaxial cable that either leads to a basic cable connection or an antenna (I used my basic cable that is included in my monthly rent). After that, plug in the power cable and it is good to go.The software setup was not quite as easy though. After the device boots up, you need to create an account on the Simple.TV website and then go through a wizard to configure your local settings. I ran into two snags during the wizard... it wouldn't format my HDD (it says the HDD wasn't detected) and the channel scan wasn't able to identify the channels from my basic cable. It could see that there were channels there (it found about 50 of them), but it couldn't identify what those channels were and instead only listed them as things like "21.6" or "29.1"... and without the actual channel identification, guide data wouldn't work.Thankfully, there is a website that can help identify the actual channels based on the code numbers (http://www.silicondust.com/support/channels/), and I used that to manually identify what the channels actually were. As for the HDD, I connected it to my Mac and manually formatted it with the MS-DOS FAT 16 file system and then it worked fine on the Simple.TV. All-in, it took me a little over an hour of fiddling with the software to get everything up and running properly.So, after getting everything set up, how does the device actually work? Well, right now, it is kind of a mixed bag, unfortunately. When it does work, it is kind of amazing... but when it doesn't, it is extremely frustrating.The Simple.TV itself doesn't output anything to a TV. Almost all of your interaction with it will happen through a web browser on your PC or tablet (an iPad app is coming, apparently, but the browser interface works fine already). If you want to watch your shows on an actual TV, you have to subscribe to a custom private channel on a Roku, which will give you access to live TV and DVR'ed shows, but little else. I watched a football game on the TV with the Roku last night and it worked fine, but you really can't do much other than play and pause shows right now. Picture and audio quality is good though (it starts off a little fuzzy but then sharpens after a few seconds) , with HD channels looking about as good as if you watched them through your cable box.For the most part, the guide data through a web browser works great. Once I mapped the channels, everything shows up like you would expect it to and clicking on any show will give you information about that particular episode and it will also give you listings for other upcoming episodes, along with the option to record any of them with a single click.I haven't found any of the listings to be incorrect yet and the interface is actually nicer than any of the set-top-box guides provided by Comcast or FIOS. Clean, simple and it works well.There is also a Live tab that shows only what is on TV right now. Clicking on any of the shows in the Live tab will give you more information about that show and allow you to watch it. Oddly though, when you start playing a show it takes almost 10 seconds for the video to start streaming... I don't know if it is buffering or what, but it is fairly annoying. Once the video stream starts, you can go full screen if you want, as well.Being able to watch live TV on almost any device is very liberating. My wife was watching a DVD on our main TV, so I used my iPad to watch some shows while walking around the house and doing chores. Picture quality on my 3rd-gen iPad was amazing... picture quality on my Macbook is also good, but it seemed to stutter once in a while. I am not sure if it is because the PC streaming requires Microsoft Silverlight (and thus doesn't work as well?) or if it is just because the video feed is too taxing for my 3 year old Macbook.You don't have to be on your local network to access your Simple.TV stuff either, I have logged into the Simple.TV site from work and was able to watch live TV just like I was able to from home. Pretty cool.So what doesn't work well? Well, sometimes when you are tuning into a show through the browser or Roku, it just times out and doesn't work. Usually, trying again will connect... but waiting half a minute or so to watch TV is hardly optimal. Looking through the support forum, this issue seems to be effecting a lot of people, to varying degrees. Not a huge issue, but certainly annoying. Support has said that it is an issue that should be fixed in a software update.The last issue, which isn't really Simple.TV's fault, is the lack of channels. Because Simple.TV doesn't work with encrypted digital cable channels, you are limited to broadcast over-the-air content (which aint much, usually) or you can use basic cable (if it is available from your provider). My basic cable yielded quite a few channels (including a lot of HD channels, surprisingly), but it is still lacking when compared to most cable packages. Personally, I don't mind this much as I mostly want live TV for sports, news and some live events... but for many, I realize that the channel selection is a deal-breaker right away.Overall though, I think this is a pretty cool product with a lot of potential. If Simple.TV can iron out some of these early bugs, it will be a really nice device. If you don't mind a limited channel selection, but want more content than Hulu or Netflix provide, and/or need to be able to see live TV like sports... this might be the right box for you.