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Showing 1-10 of 65 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 110 reviews
on June 29, 2014
Aereo is (was) an online service available in various cities that allowed customers to connect to an antenna and then watch, record and play over-the-air broadcasts through a Roku box, tablet, smartphone or computer. On June 25, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Aereo was enough like a cable TV service that they would have to pay the broadcasters for the programs they were delivering, and on June 28, they ceased providing their service.

Immediately I began looking for an Aereo replacement and decided to try the Simple.TV 1 tuner model. Fortunately, it arrived the same day that Aereo was switched off, so I began using it immediately. There have been numerous reviews of the Simple.TV, so I'll stick to comparing it with Aereo in hopes that it will help other Aereo customers make up their mind. Simple.TV does basically the same thing that Aereo did, except that with Simple.TV, the hardware is in your home, not in the cloud.

I have been getting my TV programs over-the-air (OTA) with a roof-top antenna and was using the Aereo as a DVR. If you do not currently have an OTA antenna (or clear QAM cable) then you will not be able to use the Simple.TV. Your antenna plugs into the Simple.TV box. Your router also plugs into the Simple.TV box. It is NOT wireless. It's helpful if your antenna cable and your router are located close together. You also need to provide a hard disk drive. I used a WD 500 GB portable drive that's powered through the USB connection. The Simple.TV will not work without the hard drive, even if you don't plan to do any recording. By comparison, Aereo was entirely in the "cloud" and there was no hardware to hook up. Just establish an account, and then start streaming TV to your devices. Even though set-up is really simple, if you don't like working with hardware or setting up things, you might find Simple.TV frustrating.

I tested the Simple.TV with both my antenna and a clear QAM cable signal. Most people don't even know what a QAM cable signal is, and I won't bore you with the details. Basically, the cable company transmits its channels using this method and scrambles most of its channels. The FCC used to require that they provide the free OTA stations "in the clear" so that they could be decoded and watched on a digital TV set without using a set-top box. Some cable companies are removing them. Most cable companies that have them provide little or no support for them. Cablevision does not publish a program guide for its clear QAM stations, so it's not reasonable to expect that Simple.TV is able to fully support those channels. When I scanned the Cablevision signal, it resulted in hundreds of "numbered" channels--most of which it could not identify--and only a handful of actual network stations. My set-up with the roof top antenna provided a MUCH more complete listing of available channels in the NYC area and program guide.

Once the Simple.TV is set-up, and the channels are scanned and in the program guide, the user interface for a Roku user is very similar to the Aereo system. The on screen menu navigation and prompts on the Simple.TV made me think that I was still using Aereo. However, Aereo had some great features that I have not found on the Simple.TV. First, when playing back a show on Aereo, the FF and REW buttons on the Roku remote control would skip in 30 second increments. The arrow keys would jump in 5 min. increments. On the Simple.TV with the Roku, the FF and REW buttons invoke a stepped FF function (true fast forward) but make it more difficult to accurately skip over commercial breaks. You can still do it, but not as precisely. Another really nice Aereo feature was the ability to begin watching a program from the beginning as it was being recorded. You didn't have to wait for the recording to finish to begin watching it. The Simple.TV doesn't have that feature (that I can find.) The program doesn't show up in your recorded programs list until it has finished recording. You can watch the program live, but you are then watching what's being recorded, and then must wait until the end before you can go back and watch the beginning.

The web based program guide is where you set up most of your recordings on both systems. It is also possible to flag specific programs and series for recording on the Roku screen. Both Aereo and Simple.TV are the same in this respect. The online program guides are also very similar. I actually like navigating the Simple.TV guide better. It just seems faster and easier to jump around in. Remember, this isn't cable with hundreds of channels--just the popular over the air stations that we all know and love. Unlike Aereo, the Simple.TV gives you more control over the channels in the guide. Aereo never offered all of the local stations in a market--just the most popular ones. Simple-TV scans them all, so there are more sub-channels, more foreign language and public access atations. With Simple.TV, you can also remove stations you don't watch from your list. Simple actually says that you can improve performance by limiting the number of stations in your guide. I'm still getting used to this, but I think that I'll like it a lot.

With my 500GB drive, I can record hundreds of hours of programs. My Aereo account limited me to 20 hours of recorded content. In this respect, Simple.TV wins hands down.

One important capability that Simple.TV offers, not found on Aereo, is the ability to watch your live TV and recordings away from home--anywhere in the world. Aereo, by design, limited your viewing to the geographical area served by the local stations you were watching. With Simple.TV, I can be in London and watch the local news in NYC. I haven't tested this capability yet, but I will surely do this the next time I'm on a trip. This feature would be invaluable for someone with a summer cottage. Only an internet connection would be necessary to get TV from your hometown. I guess that it would also be technically possible to locate your Simple.TV at a friend or relative's house if you prefer to watch the local stations in their market.

Watching live TV on the Simple.TV and Aereo is approximately the same. Channel flipping is nearly impossible, as both systems take their time connecting to the antenna and locking in to a channel. I could understand this with Aereo, since they were assigning you an antenna in the cloud, but why does it take so long to open a channel on Simple.TV? With both systems, you can pause live TV.

The quality of the picture on my 46" TV is about the same with Aereo and Simple.TV. It's not as good as watching the signal directly from the antenna to the TV's own tuner, but the quality is acceptable for my needs. There's a lot going on inside the Simple.TV box--really unbelievable technology for the price--and then it's tied together with a credible program guide service.

When connecting your external hard drive, it's formatted for use ONLY with the Simple.TV. When setting up Simple.TV, everything on the drive will be erased, and you cannot use it for any other purpose, unless you reformat it. The Simple.TV 1 tuner model uses the JFS disk format, which is not supported by Windows or Mac. I was able read it and look at the files on a Linux system. The recordings are stored in a 'content" subdirectory with various indexing and metadata files. Each recording is saved in three different formats: Full HD for high speed connections, 960 x 540 for medium speed, and 480 x 270 for speed challenged connections. The files are fairly standard AVC/H.264 files and are playable with VLC or FFMPEG.

I haven't had the time to try the Simple.TV with the iPad or Android apps but I suspect that it will work just fine.

In summary, the Simple.TV does many of the same things that Aereo did so well: receive free-over-the-air television and deliver it to a Roku box, iPad or computer screen. Pause live TV. Record and watch at your convenience, all with a nice easy to use web based program guide. While I'm going to miss my Aereo, I'm eager to try some of the new capabilities of the Simple.TV like out-of-town viewing, and recording hundreds more hours of content. It's not really a contest anymore. Aereo is gone and probably won't be back. If Simple.TV can keep improving and building its audience, there's no reason that it can't become a dominant force in free television viewing. Then the networks will try to shut it down like they did Aereo.
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on May 12, 2014
Update: 05/14/2014. This device appears to be very selective with hard drives. Does not appear to work well with thumb drives. Use the Toshiba Canvio 500 GB USB 3.0. You will know if your USB drive does not work if the format function is very slow (e.g., overnight to format). With the new indoor antenna I am using, this unit appears to have somewhat less sensitivity than my Sony W900a TV. But I am still getting 58 channels, but some I have turned off since they are repeats from different cities. Slow to do channel scans. You need some patience to setup. Also slow to tune-in stations. But once setup properly, works great. This device is as easy to use for recordings as was my now defunct Direct-TV receiver. I use the antenna pass-through to connect this device to a Viewtv DVR (sold here also) which functions as a second tuner and sends HDMI out to my A/V receiver. The Simple.tv channel guide allows me to set the Viewtv recordings to record additional shows when there are potential conflicts. Hope this company stays in business, because I am very happy with this solution.

Original Review: The reason I say that is that you can hook this up and get it working without problems if you use the suggested Toshiba Canvio 500 GB USB 3.0 Basics Portable Hard drive. The big deal here is the TV Guide is valuable and forever free with this device - an invaluable service in itself without the hardware.

First and most important, you do NOT need to connect this device directly to your router. I connected mine to an access point in my bedroom where my OTA antenna was located and which allows 4 devices to be connected via Wi-Fi to my router. I used the D-Link Wireless N300 MediaBridge/Access Point. Works great since my whole house uses the D-Link Smart Beam technology.

This hardware, although a bit slow, works perfectly on all my android and Apple devices and I can watch live or recorded TV via a Roku (suggest a Roku 3) on all my TVs (each one needs a Roku). I am having no problem with this device and until a much improved version (by this company or another) comes out, I like the ability to record all "New" shows or otherwise and I certainly like being free of direct TV.
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on January 7, 2014
Its's buggy, support is only thru email, made only for cord cutters, it only records one show at a time, but it does come with the lifetime membership that gives you the ability to stream your live or recorded shows to a Roku, iPad or limited browsers. And its half the price of similar DVRs. So it might be a good options for some.

-This is the first Simple.TV, so its a work in progress. It recently had an update so at least they are working on it still.
-Unfortunately if you have a problem, you only get Email or Facebook. So if you get a error during the browser-only setup on a Friday. no help till Monday. So I recommend asking the Facebook page at least someone might help you that had the same problem, which will be way faster than support.
-This is for Antenna channels only. So unless your provider has unencrypted channels or you have a good antenna installed, don't buy this if you have Cable or Satellite.
-This DVR is made to be wireless, played thru a Roku, a Tablet or a very limited web browser support (Safri only if your Mac). And if your recording the one show at a time it can do, and you won't be able to watch anything thur it if its recording a show if your using it to watch your live television thru it on your devices.
-One of the good things about the Simple.TV is the ability to stream your live channels to your devices, which requires the subscription.
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on November 11, 2014
While the DVR does record live TV, it is dependent on the Guide service - which sucks! There is no way to schedule a manual recording, so you can only schedule a show listed on the Guide. I have found a few times the Guide is wrong on the listing. So a person has to record multiple shows and try to remember which ones the Guide had listed - since the listing of recorded shows is sorted only by name.

There have also been a couple of shows which I set to record and it never will record them. The right show is listed in the Guide, both the website and the TV software say it's set to record, but it won't record. And not just once, but every week. After resetting the box, deleting and re-adding the show to be recorded - nothing.

The biggest error in the Guide is the tracking of new episodes. Most new episodes of shows are not recognized as new by the Guide. So there is no way to set it up to record all new episodes of a show. Every two weeks, you have to remember to set them up for the next two weeks again. Or have it record all episodes, new and reruns, which might be 20 recordings for every 1 new one, depending on how often it is replayed.

The biggest thing I use it for is to watch live TV on a Roku 2 connected to an old TV. While the interface is very basic, and it takes 10 seconds to change channels, it does work for that purpose.

So if you want a DVR that you might be able to record an occasional show, then this might work. But it is not a truly functional DVR.
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on April 10, 2014
4.5 stars, would be 5 if it had additional tuners. The newest version has two tuners but also cost double. Lifetime premier membership is nice, saves $5/month. Kept track of viewing and turns out over 90% was over the air broadcast. ABC, CBS, NBC & FOX. Bought an amplified roof antenna for about $30, hooked this magic box up to my network, the ant. a power source and a 1 tig hard drive and although it's not as fast as their DVR it records and plays back just fine. The box does have an ant. go through so I hooked the ant. to the tuner of my HD tv so now I can watch something I am not recording. Has a lot of extra features that work through the network and internet. Nice, Hooked a Roku 1 to my old tube tv and get over the air viewing without an analog converter through the Wi-Fi and the simple tv ap. No ANT, wires or cables. Well worth the money, I will recoup the entire investment in two months of savings by not paying Directv. Would recommend
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on November 27, 2014
Horrible box. Comcast should give these out to their customers. Its guaranteed to make you want to switch back to cable...its a single tuner so you cant watch something else when recording...They dont even make this unit anymore and the new one is even worse with their signal and the amount of channels you can pull in on your tv..I returned it and was so happy I did..Tech support is clueless and seems to send pre populated troubleshooting steps like turn off and on again etc..Since they only respond to you once a day or later it could take a week to even get an issue fixed but most of the time they stop responding when they dont know how to fix it.
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on February 13, 2014
What a killer idea. We love our simple.tv box!

This is a really unique box that solves a particular problem. In our main house we have a big antenna in the attic that picks up all of our local HDTV channels perfectly, and with a powered splitter we are able to run coax to every room in the house and all the TV's get a nice signal ... no problem.

So what's the deal with the simple tv tuner? Well, we have a beach house in a small town where you literally cannot get a signal with even a large antenna. There's ocean in one direction and mountains in the other blocking the signal from the big city.

With this box, I was able to install it at home, plugging it into my local free to air TV antenna, capture the signal, and then the box provides streaming via my broadband connection anywhere I want, including my Roku 3 box at my beach house. It's perfect. You can also watch remotely via a Chrome or Firefox web browser. We use it for the Roku 3.

The box even handles the remote connection, so you don't need to mess with port forwarding, remote access through your router, DDNS, or any other complicated set up. It does everything for you.

Some of the other comments below note problems with the set up. I will say that when using Firefox, I couldn't see the device, but when I switched over to Chrome, it immediately recognized the device and I was able to sail through the set up and registration and I was up and running in no time flat. Maybe 10 minutes at the computer after I had the physical cables/wires set up.

Keep in mind that you will need to have, all in the same place: 1-Ethernet, 2-Coax cable signal (Antenna or QAM), 3-power, and a 4-USB HDD. It will work without the hard drive but it will keep complaining about it missing and constantly tell you that it cannot record shows.

Anyway, its perfect for us, although I will note that we've only had it running for a week. I'll update with further comments if it crashes and burns.
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on June 24, 2014
Pretty much works well, occasiona l glitches. I use with Mohu Leave antenna and Roku Stick (these both set up with ease). Beastly cussed to set up for my solution, for these reasons: 1) Had probs recognizing my network at first, finally got that right. 2) Very fussy about the browser, does not like Firefox very well in setup, Chrome okay. After setup, both worked. 3) In spite of what says, does *not* like all USP 2.0 external hard disks. Finally went out and got very current 3.0 and liked that. Without attached hard disk, it almost does not work at all, consider the hard disk a requirement. I had to scrounge the forums to resolve my setup problems, was useful. Sent e-mail to the so-called "support," absolutely no value in that. Would be nice if were more info in the setup manual on the meaning of the indicator lights. At first, no clue what to expect, what they really mean. Need to be online (good internet access) to set up, including hard disk, and if it does not "like" the hard disk, it just churns and churns and churns, no indication it is not setting up. The clue is, if it does not set up in a few moments, then it is not going to like your hard disk, try a different one. Now using for maybe five days, seems okay, i like it, seems to be the only thing that would work for my needs, and it does. Watched a couple DVR'ed items and was good. Then watched another last eve and TWICE that particular recording just stopped, for unknown reasons, had to fuss to reload from the DVR and find place, but turned out okay. Does have fast-forward and fast-backward, but not very smooth and is slow, but useable. Bottom line, it works, and I will keep it and use it. BTW, the Roku Stick Simple.TV "channel" works fine, linking to the stick, very good. For Simple.TV single-tuner DVR, I rate 3 stars, maybe 3.5. For some, setup may be easier and worth 4. Likely some will be harder and I would not say it is for a person to try who has a hard time with setting up basic techie stuff.
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on March 6, 2014
This is a very early review of this Simple.tv. Like many others, I was attracted to this product due to its included Lifetime Premier Subscription. I am a cord-cutter and have been searching for a replacement for our DVR as my wife likes to record many network shows. Living in Denver, I get a very good OTA signal. We subscribe to Aereo for the cloud DVR service but the quality of the service was hit and miss. Sometimes we would get a good picture, other times the show we recorded would pause. Now it looks like Aereo will likely get litigated out of existence. Simple.tv seemed like a good alternative. Along with Simple.tv, I ordered a Seagate 500GB external hard drive (USB 3.0). The instructions for setting up Simple.tv were easy to follow as was setting up an account online. Like many had said in earlier comments, you should use Google Chrome or Firefox to set it up (I used Chrome). Setup took about 1 hour, including the time that the unit took to scan for broadcast signals. The only problem I experienced in setting up the unit was that one of the channels did not show up. There were instructions on the website's Support section for mapping a missing channel. It turns out that the channel was picked up but Simple.tv's software categorized it incorrectly. That problem took about 10 minutes to solve.

Operating the unit, through my Roku, was very easy. The picture was very good. Pausing and fast forwarding/rewinding worked well. The interface on Roku could use some improvement. There is a guide for what is currently airing. The section on upcoming show is not laid out by time. Clicking on a show will display its next couple of showings. There is also a search function which worked very well and found most shows I was looking for. On Simple.tv's website, there is a time grid layout program guide from which you can select shows to record. Shows can be recorded al a carte or by series. Though I have had this product for only a few hours. I am very happy with the results so far.
UPDATE: I have had Simple.TV for several months. It continues
to work well. I had one incident where it did not work due to a technical issue at Simple.TV. It was fixed and has worked flawless since.
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on January 23, 2014
I ordered this product to see how it works and to get the lifetime premier subscription at a discounted rate. Just the subscription is 150. I have had the product for the last 3 weeks. I will say the start was rocky I have Time Warner Cable and have only a Cable Modem with them at basic level. A one mbps upload is not a great way to view the simple tv it has to buffer quite a bit to get the recording to play. I upgraded to the two mbps upload rate and now the product works perfectly it buffers quick and the quality is very good I am recording in 720p not 1080i while watching on a roku 3 unit. I am using the cheapest external 2tb drive I could find and it recognized it and formatted it right away with no problems at all. Set up was a breeze over all but I am on the tech savvy side so someone who does not know much might have a tougher time with it, I could see that easily. Getting the channels set up was easy the tuner on the simple tv is very sensitive I was getting channels that my TV would not pull in but the quality was sketchy at best on those channels so I unchecked them and don't even see them on my menu now. If I ever get a stronger antenna or play with the position I am sure they will come in better and I could have even more channels but I get all my local channels now the others that I was talking about is from the next city over some 65 miles away. I have not seen any missed recordings as I have seen some people complain about in fact I have not seen any of the problems that some people have complained about. There are some features I would like to see in version 3 as I know version 2 will be released any day now and that will have a dual tuner very excited about that and thinking of getting that and transferring my subscription to that unit. HDMI pass threw would be great in future releases so it is not completely stand alone but hey it could happen in the future I am sure. All in all I do really like the unit I think it is great and is a good DVR for the OTA TV watcher.
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