A DVR for people who don’t pay for cable? I’m listening.

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

CES. The Consumer Electronics Show. Do you know what it is?

Yeah, I wasn’t quite sure, either. But as it turns out, the “world’s largest consumer technology trade show” (their words, not mine) has been churning out new television technology every day this week (and my God — to think it’s only Tuesday!).

All reports point to it being a bit of a letdown so far for us TV Without A TV types. Sure, it’s neat to see all these tricky devices aimed at making your television watching experience that much neater, but does it really make life any easier for those of us who continue to refuse to pay for cable television? In a word, no.

That said, I present to you Simple.TV. From the wonderful lads at cnet who have been shoving CES coverage down our throats all week …

“It’s hard to imagine a DVR without a hard drive or a video output, but that’s exactly what the new Simple.TV box is,” Matthew Moskovciak wrote Tuesday. “Designed with cable-cutters in mind, the Simple.TV ($150, available in the spring) is capable of recording over-the-air HDTV and Clear QAM cable, along with traditional DVR functionality like pausing live TV.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up. A DVR for people who still won’t fork over the 30 bucks a month to keep up with the Kardashians on a consistent basis? Tell me more, disembodied voice.

As the article explains, Simple.TV shockingly (shockingly!) doesn’t offer an HDMI output. Actually, the device doesn’t offer any type of video output at all. Instead, Simple.TV is going to try and utilize all of those other neat little devices you might own (an iPad or Google TV, just to name a few) to stream video content. More shocking (shocking!) is that there is also no hard drive for this thing. Saving content is reliant upon a measly USB drive. That’s right, friends — now you can be sure to have that one episode of “Once Upon A Time” you’ve been meaning to watch right next to all those midterm papers from your sophomore year of college!

How thrifty.

Now to the things you don’t want to hear. Naturally, there is a five dollar monthly fee to take advantage of this new product, and as cnet pointed out, there are a few problems that many of us could be forced to accept …

“As cool as the Simple.TV box sounds, there are some significant limitations. It’s a single-tuner device, so you’ll need to stack two boxes to do a basic DVR task like recording two programs at once,” Moskovciak said. “There’s also no mention of built-in Wi-Fi on the device, which means you’ll need an Ethernet connection in your living room.”

Ahhh, Ethernet, Schmeternet. This really is a big development for those of us who don’t watch television in a conventional manner. As Moskovciak wrote later in the story, those of us with no cable television package have been anticipating a device that promises a consistent solution to the problem that is live television. Live sports? Awards shows? The local news? All of those things can be hard to watch at times, and there is never any promise that we will be able to watch those things as they happen, even if we spend all day looking for links that might — just might — lead us to a watchable bootlegged stream.

So, yes. We welcome you with open arms, Simple.TV. If you will allow me to view the train wreck that has become MTV’s Video Music Awards or the final few games of the NBA’s playoff season in real time, I will forever be indebted to you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must now try and find that jump drive I used for my communication law final paper and see how much free space is left on it. Hopefully, it’s enough for at least one episode of “Sportscenter.”


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