The Living Room continues to evolve.
I likely have a very common living room which consists of a 55" Sony HD TV, XBOX 360, LG BluRay DVD, Apple TV and a DirecTV HR21 DVR. My DirecTV cost $121.99 per month, a whopping $1,463.88 per year. When it comes to programming, we have DirecTV's Choice Xtra package which includes 195 channels, HD and DVR features. In reality, my wife and I watch primarily 13 channels. We've tried to cut the cord and live off of Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and AirPlay from our iPad to Apple TV, but it has it's drawbacks. One drawback I would like to address in this blog is content from the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and PBS).
Introducing Simple TV (known as Simple.TV as in http://www.Simple.TV)
Assuming you can receive HD signals from the major networks at your home or office, Simple.TV is a small device that captures these signals, converts them to digial and stores them on a network storage device. Simple.TV does not plug into your TV, it connects to your home network via an Ethernet port, an HD antenna or basic cable connection, a USB 2.0 Port for an external drive and power. As I understand it, once connected it will appear as another media device on XBOX, Roku or iPad. It records full 1080p HD Video and allows you to watch live TV from any of these devices. You can also purchase their programming guide service for $4.99/month and schedule programs to be recorded just like any standard DVR.
(photo from http://www.Simple.TV)
A Kickstarter backed product.
Simple.TV was launched with the help of the Kickstarter community. 1,046 backers pre-purchased $226,415 in product to help them get launched back on June 29th. The product is scheduled to ship this year. The company was also a recipient of CNET's Best of CES 2012.
DVR software development is not easy and other concerns.
I purchased one of the first TiVo units in March 1999 and stayed with DirecTV when they lunched their first DVR in 2008. What I learned as a customer from these experiences is managing broadcast content is not easy. I have not seen or used Simple.TV's program guide, so I can't comment on how stable it is. What I can tell you is DirecTV DVR software still has it's challenges. Simple.TV only has one tuner, where TiVo now sports 4 tuners and DirecTV HR24 has 5 tuners. Still, the trend is to having a central playlist available to every TV, Tablet and Smart phone in your home. If Simple.TV can pull off the programming challenges, since they're not relying on cable or satellite companies to resell their device, they may gain traction. Also, there is no reason your Simple.TV can't live outside your home network, something that DirecTV doesn't allow. Simple.TV has possibilities and has the ability to disrupt on-air content.
Television is going to get disrupted, it's just a matter of time.
We're seeing the walls starting to crack. Video consumption is moving rapidly to tablets and smart phones. I know this is crazy to consider, but the TV of the future may be a monitor, yes a simple display like the flat screen on your desk. The industry is digesting new technologies like OLED and 4K resolutions. It may make more sense for Microsoft, Apple, LG, and Samsung to focus on building devices to connect to your TV (or Monitor) through your AV receiver instead of building the firmware in the actual TV. I don't think people are going to purchase TVs like they do smart phones today, on a two-year cycle. Therefore devices like DVD, DVRs, Game Consoles as well as devices like Roku, iTV and Simple.TV may find their way in more living rooms as consumers want the latest features of a smart, Internet connected TV, without purchasing a new TV.
I'll keep an eye on Simple.TV and will forward any reviews on the programming guide and DVR functions. If you come across any other startups like Simple.TV, please drop me comment below.