Although our initial impressions of the dual tuner Simple.TV was less than stellar, the company has been hard at work not only updating the little cord cutting, place shifting black box, but also launching new features. Recently, I had the chance to talk to Simple.TV CEO Mark Ely to discuss some of these changes.
First, from a software perspective, Simple.TV will be moving away from Silverlight as the default player outside of Safari on Mac. Currently, if you’re using IE, Chrome, or Firefox on a Windows computer, you are required to install Silverlight for video playback of your shows or live TV. Chromebooks are not supported at the moment. A move away from Silverlight and to a more compliant HTML5 video player will allow Simple.TV to expand their device playback on Windows, but also for Chromebooks.
Second, the initial version of the dual tuner had a solid enclosure and a fan inside which seemed to trap an excessive amount of heat and caused a not-so-subtle noise while the device was on. Simple.TV has updated the casing to include holes around the top and sides to allow for ventilation. They have also been updating their firmware the past few months to help with both overheating and reliability.
As for new features, Simple.TV just released a new sharing feature which allows account owners to grant guest access to the device to view recorded shows. This feature does not work for live TV however. Mark says the sharing feature allows for the master account to maintain control of the tuners and scheduling, while providing a way for friends or kids to watch shows and not change things. It’s a welcome feature.
Looking forward, Simple.TV has been working on their cloud DVR service, but aren’t currently prepared to elaborate in detail. The cloud DVR feature would supposedly work similar to the abandoned Boxee DVR and I’ll have an update as soon as anything is announced.
One last question I had for Mark was in regards to the recently announced TiVo Roamio OTA and how Simple.TV is different. He sees TiVo’s OTA device as an impulse buy at $49, but when you add up the TiVo service fees, he feels Simple.TV is a better value. When you pay for a Simple.TV subscription, it covers multiple boxes and locales, whereas TiVo requires a service charge for each box. Additionally, unlike the Roamio OTA, Simple.TV offers “lifetime” service – for only $150. Further, Simple.TV allows you to stream up to 5 devices at once, whether it’s a Roku, iPhone/iPad, Android Tablet, etc. Comparing this to TiVo, Roamio OTA owners would need to purchase a TiVo stream to cover mobile devices… and additional TVs are excluded as Mini extenders are not supported.
That’s all for now. I’ll be taking a second look at the updated dual tuner Simple.TV over the next few weeks and will report our findings!