Simple.TV may shift more to the cloud

Simple.TV box in front of a cloudIn January, when we last looked in on Simple.TV, it had just suffered a devastating data loss. Because of a server crash and failed backups, Simple.TV users couldn’t access their recordings, even though those users’ local hard drives still contained all of those shows. Without the central server’s cloud-based indexing and metadata, all of those files were unviewable dead weight.

“I got the call at 2 am from our developers in the UK,” recalled Mark Ely, Simple.TV’s CEO. “It was the worst-case scenario you could think of.”

Things got better. In about a week, Simple.TV developed and released a stopgap method for users to recover those files. Its service kept plugging along with no further catastrophes; according to Ely, it now has “tons of redundancy.” In fact, the next generation of Simple.TV devices will use the cloud for file storage as well as metadata.

Coming in the second half of 2016 2015 (sorry, typo) “in time for the holidays,” the new devices from an unannounced partner are expected to include four tuners (see update below), an internet connection, an HDMI output and little else. The unit will feature a new guide and new program discovery tools, possibly including internet-based TV options. Legacy one- and two-tuners may be included in this “whole new front end,” although Ely said Simple.TV developers were still working on how to transition those existing customers to the fully cloud-based system once it’s ready. Update: I noticed that another blog quotes an email from Ely backing away from four tuners on the new devices. That’s what was in my notes from our conversation, but if he doesn’t want to commit to four, I understand.

They’re coming from slightly different directions, but Tablo, DVR+, TiVo’s Roamio OTA, and Simple.TV are all converging on a unified discovery system for over-the-air and internet TV in one box. We’ll see who wins this battle for cord-cutters.

Two more Simple.TV notes:

  • Simple.TV fixed an annoyance that I pointed out last October; now when scanning for channels, there is only one version of the Local Over the Air Broadcast option available rather than several. For me, anyway. Now I don’t have to wonder whether I’ve selected the most recent local channel lineup.
  • A tip from the CEO: If a local channel has the wrong guide listings or none at all, just remap that channel to a close match from a different market. When the Movies! network popped up on one of my local station, I found a Movies! affiliate in a different Zip Code and remapped to that one.