Sorry, but I’ve got two reasons to add another interruption to my rundown of great over-the-air TV solutions that I saw at the International CES. First, despite getting the flu shot in October, I came down with the flu Friday. The worst is over, though I’m miffed that I won’t get a refund on the flu shot. I’ve been using my downtime to enjoy the hours of OTA shows and movies that I had recorded on my Simple.TV receiver. Monday, that was great. Tuesday, Simple.TV caught its own version of the flu. That’s my second reason.
Based on posts at Simple.TV’s community forum, on Monday the company sent out an email to some subscribers (not me) noting that it would perform “essential maintenance to Simple.TV’s online systems” in the wee hours Tuesday morning from 4-8 am Eastern. “During this period your Simple.TV will not be available.” Not so bad. Then came another email early Tuesday morning that said in part: “While carrying out a scheduled upgrade of our online systems we have encountered an issue and the Simple.TV service will be offline while we fix the fault.” I first noticed this later in the morning after Simple.TV had updated its home page to say that the service was temporarily down.
That outage lasted all day and into the early evening, but when service was restored, we users learned that wasn’t the worst of it. Apparently, Simple.TV has resorted to a backup that was about a half-year old, so everything that had been recorded since then remained unavailable for viewing even though the recordings remained on each user’s local hard drive. There were lots of other fun changes with reactivating receivers (carefully, so as not to wipe the hard drive), rescanning some channel lists, making fresh account passwords, and about anything else caused by having the Simple.TV cloud six months out of sync with its receivers.
When I wrote my comparative review between Tablo and Simple.TV, I failed to highlight one difference between the two because it didn’t seem very important at the time. Tablo keeps a lot (all?) of its data on the local receiver while Simple.TV is cloud-based. That’s not an issue unless, somehow, the cloud comes crashing down.
This afternoon, Simple.TV sent out another email, again not to me, noting that all those unviewable recordings “still physically exist on your connected hard drive (make sure not to format it) and we are actively doing our best to restore as many of them as we can, as quickly as possible.” I’ve verified that post-crash shows are easy to record and play back. If Simple.TV can restore everyone’s access to their recordings in a couple of days, maybe they can find a way to bounce back. But if they’re getting out of the hardware business and users can’t trust their cloud, what does Simple.TV have left?
Update: After a week, Simple.TV updated its cloud to show that there were “recovered recordings” on those local hard drives. The only information available was the time and date for each recording (making them a lot like the recordings on a HomeWorX DVR), but at least they were viewable again. Thanks to an Android program that can download those recordings, I pulled my 100+ shows to my PC, where I could identify and label them. Thanks to Simple.TV for doing what it could to set things right.