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Review: Simple.TV 2 knows some great DVR tricks but also has flaws

Lincoln Spector | Nov. 10, 2014
This network DVR costs less to run than a TiVo Roamio OTA, but we had a few issues with its lack of Wi-Fi and its excessive fan noise.

There are multiple solutions to this problem, all of which have their own time-and-money costs. You can run cable through or under the house. You can buy a new TV antenna and keep it in the same room as the router. Or you could buy a Wi-Fi-to-Ethernet or Powerline-to-Ethernet adapter.

The Simple.TV 2 is small enough to fit almost anywhere. It measures less than 6 inches wide and 5 inches deep, and stands a little over an inch tall. The only connectors on the back are power, Ethernet, USB, and coaxial. The small but noisy fan, visible if you look down into the box, spins annoyingly loud most of the time.

Once everything is plugged in, you set the Simple.TV up through a webpage wizard. For the most part, it's simple and obvious, but I ran across a confusing problem when trying to set up channels. For the provider, the Simple.TV 2 gave me two options: "Local Over the Air Broadcast" and "Local Over the Air Broadcast." I figured I could pick either one. But the first option found only stations I didn't get. The second one, on the other hand, was perfect.

Recording and watching what you record
Whether you use an app or your browser, it's easy to set up recordings. The Guide offers the usual channels/time grid, with a title search. The mobile apps also offer ways to browse through genres for something you might want to watch. When you select a show, you get options to record that episode, or all future episodes.

When you want to watch a show, you go to the My Shows section of the app or website. There's a bit of name inconsistency here--in the iOS app, you have to tap the word Library .

In either app, the program comes up without fail. But I ran into a brick wall when I tried to watch a show on a computer. Using both Chrome in Windows 7 and Firefox on a Mac, all I got was a black video frame with a circling wait icon and the word "Loading." This continued until I gave up, from 6 to 8 minutes after clicking Watch. I was successful on another PC, also running Windows 7 and Chrome.

A Simple.TV product manager could not explain the cause of the problem, saying, "This isn't something that is common." He was not able to reconstruct the problem in the lab. At this time, the Simple.TV 2 uses Silverlight for browser streaming, although the rep says the company is "looking at moving away from" that technology. I had no problem running Microsoft's Silverlight demo on one of the problem machines.

 

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