Simple.TV, which attracted a lot of attention at this year’s International CES show in January, is finally announcing the ship date for its DVR solution for live and recorded TV: September 27 for U.S. customers, who can pick one up via the Simple.TV website for $149. The device automatically converts HD content via an integrated TV tuner from HD over-the-air signals or ClearQAM digital basic cable, delivering them in MPEG-4 formats that mobile devices like the iPad, iPhone and Roku streaming boxes can easily play back.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign during which Simple.TV raised almost double its $125,000 goal, the project is ready to come to market. In addition to streaming to iPad, iPhone and Roku devices, it can also deliver content to a web browser on any other device via an HTML 5 player. The service is essentially a blend of TiVo and Slingbox, bringing time-delayed and live viewing of free content to any device, rather than working with existing cable or satellite providers.
The device also has no video out or pass-through capabilities, as it’s designed specifically to deliver content to non-traditional viewing platforms beyond the TV (though Roku can deliver it to that, too). It can connect to a router via Ethernet (Wi-Fi isn’t an option, which likely makes for better quality assurance, but could pose a problem depending on where the antenna or cable outlet in your house is located), and can also connect to a USB 2.0 hard drive that provides the storage space for DVR functions.
Basic service is free, offering simple in-home streaming of live content and the ability to pause live TV record shows. Simple.TV will also be making a premium plan available at $4.99 per month, with out-of-home remote streaming, scheduled recordings for series programming, and an electronic program guide with images and metadata automatically added to content from your over-the-air or ClearQAM source.
A freemium model for Simple.TV is an interesting approach, and likely one that can help it continue to sell hardware at a very affordable price while also growing long-term revenue. The split also seems quite fair, with a good number of features on both sides of the paid/free divide. The only questions I have about Simple.TV’s long-term success revolve around the requirement that it be plugged directly into a router. Also, similar offerings like those from EyeTV have been around for quite a while now, though those require a dedicated media PC to be useful, so Simple.TV’s standalone nature could help it achieve more widespread adoption.