Simple.TV: The Whole Planet DVR

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Simple.TV: The Whole Planet DVR
Price: $99.99
Shipping Options:: $5 Standard OR $10 Two-Day OR $20 One-Day
Shipping Estimates: Ships in 1-2 business days (Friday, Jan 30 to Monday, Feb 02) + transit
Condition: New

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Previous Similar Sales (May not be exact model)
1/21/2015 - $99.99 (Woot-off) - Click To See Discussion (5 comments)
1/6/2015 - $99.99 - Click To See Discussion (11 comments)
12/29/2014 - $99.99 - Click To See Discussion (49 comments)

Amazon customers are not fans

If you are tech savvy this is a pretty good DVR. The internal fan is noisy as hell. Place it in the basement or garage where you can’t hear it. Tech support is non existent. There is no phone number or human to reach. There are quite a few cooling modifications that can be done to keep this unit quiet. The ability to watch local channels anywhere on the planet is about the only reason to have one. There are apps for iPad, Android and Roku. Amazon fire TV is rumored but not yet available.

Comments from a previous sale

Woot is selling for $99.99 + $5 shipping (and tax depending on your state).
Amazon is selling for $99.99 with FREE shipping (and tax depending on your state).

Woot claims list price is $349.99. Amazon shows list price as $159.99.

I haven’t even bothered to check around for other prices. With what I’ve found so far, it’s just not worth it. This obviously isn’t a good price, and the reviews for the product are horrendous.

I remember when Woot had amazing deals… sigh

(here’s the product on Amazon for reference)
http://www.amazon.com/SiliconDust-Simple-TV-Streaming-Player-STV2-2ATSC/dp/B00KDLYWW8

And the tech had better than two star ratings at Amazon. This is 24 hours of sigh.

Amazon offer DOES NOT include Woot’s $150 Lifetime Premier Service:
https://us.simple.tv/woot

(Amazon offer only has 1 Month Trial)

I know that the product is can be recorded two channels at the same time.
And I know that the recorded video can be viewed on PC.
In this case what is the format of the video being recorded?
H264? MPEG2 TS?

see the reviews here…
http://www.amazon.com/SiliconDust-Simple-TV-Streaming-Player-STV2-2ATSC/dp/B00KDLYWW8

H264, has a trancoder built in to convert from MPEG2 TS so it can be played back on Roku, mobile, etc.

I’m really surprised to see these things being actively marketed RIGHT NOW. On 1/20/2015, RSS suffered a catastrophic failure during a ‘routine’ maintenance activity that rendered their DVRs, for the most part, useless. They were forced to restore meta data (program information, account information, and other things) from a backup from June of 2014. This resulted in account password changes, lost accounts, and a complete mismatch between what is stored on the local disk and what is represented to the user via their various software platforms. RSS has been working to restore the meta data…we think they have, anyway, based on observations, but communication and support from RSS has been nonexistent.

That said, assuming RSS eventually rights the ship, this is a very cool toy for $100. As for price, $99.99 represents a 33% discount off the price of their lifetime subscription. So, you get that plus a pair of tuners for free.

Hopefully, one of the woot mods will hop on and assure buyers that woot will accept returns if these cannot be registered or installed due to problems at RSS.

Still, $100 for remote access to your antenna is kind of dreamy. Imagine sitting by the pool sipping a pina colada watching Bonanza…what could be better than that?

Let’s pretend everything is good at RSS and talk about this DVR on its own merits.

I own seven Simple TV DVRs – two of these and five of the single tuner models. I was very reluctant to bite on this model due to its reliance on fans for cooling, but, having owned one since last July, and two since October, I have found the hardware to be very reliable.

Note the perforated cover on the offered DVR. That distinguishes it as the second generation of the two tuner model. The first release of this model had no vents on top which caused it to retain heat which caused the fan to spin continuously which consumed the lubricant which made the fans noisy and led to premature failure of the fan then the DVR. That is a big reason for negative reviews. The fans are audible in a quiet room, but not if there is a television running at a reasonable volume. I keep mine in the basement.

Let’s talk about DVRs for a minute. There are two distinct categories of DVRs. There is an interactive DVR – one you use to pause, rewind, fast forward, slow mo, and otherwise manipulate a program which is currently playing. I have one of these on every television and recommend the Channel Master DVR+ for OTA’ers. They are great for ad hoc recording, but are generally useful only at the television they are plugged into. These set top DVRs are also kind of expensive. Neither Simple nor Tablo are particularly good for this purpose. Their tuners are slower to change channels and they require a set top device (roku, etc.) to get the information to the television. Their user interface relies on that device. If you use a Roku, you get to navigate a sea of tiles rather than a nice grid guide.

The Simple and Tablo DVRs are whole house DVRs. You stick them in the basement, program their recordings with a nice guide, and watch the recordings on up to six devices concurrently. That’s what they do best.

Besides streaming to a Roku, these devices can stream to a phone, tablet, or PC. These devices can be on your WLAN or at a remote location. For instance, I have watched live television on a laptop using free airport wifi and I have watched my live and recorded shows via a Roku at my mother’s house. This works very well and I think it’s worth having a Simple.TV DVR even if you only use it for this purpose.

If your situation is such that you have television channels in two directions, these are an alternative to an AB switch or a rotor. You might put one on one antenna and call it Boston and another on a second antenna and call it Portland then choose the DVR via the application.

You can also download recordings as MP4 files for playback on just about anything.

This DVR requires some kind of subscription service. Supposedly, the basic/free service gives you access to the tuner, but all the fun (Whole-planet Remote Access, Automatic Series Recordings, Pause & Resume) begins with their premier service. That service, which costs $150 purchased separately, is included with this purchase.

You have to provide your own storage in the form of a usb disk. This seems to be less of a problem with the current DVRs than the single tuner model. People have used 5t disks. I mostly use 2-4t Western Digital MyBook type powered disks. I have some information on disks that are known to work [uel=https://freetvforme.wordpress.com/simple-dvr-tips]here.

Most people’s major complaint with this DVR is customer support. I have been very disappointed with Simple support. The documentation is sparse, the support site is inaccurate, and email support is sporadic. Worse, they don’t seem to know any more about the product than I do. The best help has come from the user community. I hope this changes. It’s easy to see how nontechnical users could become frustrated.

If you get one of these, join us on their user forums. All the experts are there…

http://community.simple.tv

Installation is a breeze, but when there are problems, troubleshooting is a challenge due to sparse documentation and lack of support. Most problems are security or network related as the use of this device is a collaboration between your local hardware and their remote servers. If your router or PC is configured for unusual security, you may be blocking communication between your stuff and theirs. Everything works best with Chrome. If you have problems, visit that community for help.

You Will Love the Simple DVR If…

  • Your home is situated such that television signals come from multiple directions. Instead of using a rotor or combiner, you can install one or more DVRs for each market and access the antennas via a Roku.
  • Your home is not pre-wired with coax. Run coax from the antenna to your router and install the Simple DVR(s) next to the router.
  • You have to have a television where no one thought to install coax. A Roku brings live tv to your remote television.
  • You want to watch tv by the pool or on the deck. Simple can stream to a laptop, a tablet, or a wireless Roku by the pool.
  • Your remote vacation home does not have television but does have internet access.
  • You travel a lot and hate infomercials.
  • All your favorite shows air when you are at work.
  • You want to share antennas with a friend in a different market

You May Not Love the Simple DVR If…

  • You have poor broadcast reception
  • You need visual cues when fast forwarding or rewinding a program
  • You have a poor network in your home

My biggest concern with recommending this woot is that the blowout prices and lack of support leave me a little concerned about the future of a product that relies on servers supported by a company which may be on the verge of liquidation. I feel like that risk is worth taking considering how much you get for $105 – exactly what I paid for my first, single tuner Simple.tv DVR. A two tuner tablo with lifetime will set you back $350.

Who’s life, yours or the companies.

I personally bought one of these when it was first advertised from the company. The first unit I received was refurbished. What? These are brand new and just started advertising. I went through 4 of them in about 6 months, because they would freeze. Since the company was so busy they took weeks to answer my issues. I finally returned the unit and went back to my single tuner which runs well.

I did lose a lot of information when they tried to do their upgrade. I had to register my unit three different times after that upgrade. Now things are stable for me, but the boards show a lot of people are still having issues.

This is a bad decision.
I have had some hardware or software failure reliably every 3 months.
The real question is:
how much time can you afford with the hassle & troubleshooting.
After the 1/20 snafu, I’m dumping it & looking at other solutions.
Beware.

i bought one two turner too with lifetime support subscription, but it is LOUD and FREEZE also, even in my basement where router is, it is still piece of crap. i now have it sit there unplugged. And I eventually went back to my provider get the basic cable which is about 10bux more than my Internet bill.

Forget over the air TV. I have basic cable. Can it record that. I want to record my basic cable. If it can, then I am in. If not, I am waiting till I can get one that does.

I looked at these and decided to pick up a Tablo instead because of the lack of functionality on the Simple.TV. I didn’t choose the Channel Master because the programming is bound to the TV it’s attached to (you can’t broadcast over your internal network). With the Tablo, you can watch from any PC, tablet or Apple or Roku TV. Of course an OTA DVR is going to rely on the signal at your location. With a router setting change, you can even watch anything you could watch on your local intranet anywhere remotely.

With the Tablo, I can tell you they are constantly pumping out firmware updates to make it better and you can always get online or phone support as necessary. They have quite an active support community. I’ve been impressed with it so far. I’m still not entirely satisfied as I’m waiting for the full-blown guide to show up in the Roku app as it does on the PC, iPads and other tablets. There are also some things clunky about the interface like not being able to visually see a preview of where you are in a recording when using the ff or rew controls.

There are a few reasons I didn’t choose the Simple.TV one of which was feedback I’ve read all over about the lack of support, but for this price, it seems well worth the gamble if you’re thinking of “cutting the cord”; especially at this price and with the lifetime guide thrown in.

The specs say that it has an ATSC (U.S.) Tuner (over the air) in order to tune basic cable it would need to have a QAM tuner to support clear QAM signal. Therein you would need to make sure your cable company broadcasts clear QAM and doesn’t encypt the basic channels otherwise you would need a device that supports a cable card.

I looked for that too, I was hoping it would.