Simple.TV has been available in the US for around a year now, and it’s coming to the UK. The small box connects to your TV aerial and broadband router to make live and recorded TV available on your tablets, smartphones and TVs via a media streamer such as the Roku.
Simple.TV: how it works
It’s very much like a Slingbox, but instead of connecting your existing set-top boxes, Simple.TV has a pair of built-in Freeview HD tuners and offers no video inputs or outputs.
Instead, it takes live TV and makes it available on your home network so you can watch it on an iPad, iPhone, Android tablet, Apple TV or Roku media streamer. There’s also support for the Ouya games console, which runs a version of Android. Support for Google's Chromecast is in the works and will be available when Simple.TV launches in the UK.
See also: Google Chromecast review
Via the app which can be installed on your tablet, smartphone, Roku or Ouya, you can browse TV listings to see what’s on and watch any channel you like. On a home network, you’ll be able to watch in HD, assuming you have compatible devices.
If you’re using an Apple TV, you’ll need an iPad or iPhone in order to send the video from the app via AirPlay.
Simple.TV works like a DVR, so you can set shows to record and it will offer the option to record an entire series rather than a single programme.
Simple.TV: remote streaming
The box encodes the incoming TV signal into four different video streams, varying in quality from HD (around 6Mbps) down to a mobile-friendly version which should work over 3G.
Of course, the limiting factor for most people will be the upload speed of their broadband connection which may be only 0.5Mbps.
As well as watching live TV when out and about, the app also lets you watch any recorded content on the box.
Unfortunately, remote access isn’t free: it costs £3 per month but this ‘Premier Service’ also gets you advanced series recording options which ensure you never miss an episode. It also enables a download option so you can copy recorded shows to your tablet or smartphone to watch offline.
The box itself is a little bigger than an Apple TV, and has just four connections: aerial, network, USB and power.
This means you’ll need to supply your own aerial splitter if you want to pass the signal on to a set-top box or TV. More importantly, it also means you’ll need to supply your own storage since the box has none of its own. There’s no limit to the size of USB disk you can attach, so there’s no problem in hooking up a 4TB hard drive.
There’s no Wi-Fi, so you’ll need a wired connection to your router, which may mean resorting to using powerline networking adapters.
Simple.TV: Price and UK release date
As of yet, there’s no fixed price or release date, but Simple.TV tells us that the aim is for “sub £150” and “summer”.
We’ll keep you posted with more news and, of course, a full review as soon as possible.