Hands on: Simple.TV might be the next big cord-cutting device

Simple.TV's DVR without a hard drive or video output may sound crazy, but it could end up being a killer product for cable cutters.

The Simple.TV over-the-air DVR could be an excellent choice for those looking to embrace the future.
(Credit: Matthew Moskovciak/CNET)

That's the impression I got after spending some hands-on time with the over-the-air-friendly DVR, which was already working on an iPad and a Roku 2 XS box in the booth.

Simple.TV lets you stream live TV to all of your devices

Simple.TV allows you to access over-the-air TV programs, either live or stored on a connected hard drive (that you supply), from a number of devices on your home network — at launch, there are apps for Roku, Google TV, Boxee and iPad. So fire up your iPad and you can watch live-broadcast TV or any of the recordings on the connected hard drive.

(Credit: Matthew Moskovciak/CNET)

Simple.TV's iPad app is nicely designed, and lets you set recordings, watch live TV or previously recorded shows.
(Credit: Matthew Moskovciak/CNET)

The iPad app is seriously slick. There's a nicely laid out interface for browsing what's currently on TV, and you can set the DVR to record right in the app or watch live. Even with dodgy connectivity issues on the CES showroom floor, the app was surprisingly responsive at pausing live TV and fast-forwarding through recorded content. Even more impressive was that the live content we were accessing was from an off-site Simple.TV box, a la Slingbox.

The EPG interface on the Roku app could use some work.
(Credit: Matthew Moskovciak/CNET)

The Roku app was having some connectivity issues, but we got to see the design of the interface. It's much more basic than what's on the iPad app, but you can still watch live TV and access recordings. The EPG interface could certainly use more screen real estate, and we'd prefer network names like CBS vs. "KPIXDT", but the app isn't finished yet.

An iPhone full of over-the-air TV recordings.
(Credit: Matthew Moskovciak/CNET)

Simple.TV will also have a web interface, with an HTML 5 video player for accessing content on your Simple.TV. We were also surprised to hear that you can import your recorded programs right into iTunes, allowing you to offload shows onto an iPhone or iPad. It's a great solution if you're planning on taking a long flight without Wi-Fi, but we can already foresee legal threats from TV networks (Disclosure: CNET is a CBS property).

The biggest limitation as it stands now remains the single tuner, which means that you can't record two programs at once. The Simple.TV does have an antenna-out connection, which you can run to your TV's tuner if you want to watch a different live program while the DVR records, although you won't be able to pause live TV.

Of course, it's unlikely that we'll see something like the Simple.TV in the Australian market for quite a long time — but it's always interesting to see how media consumption is changing in the US.


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