Szimple Wants to Be the Media Player Anyone Can Use

Szimple Wants to Be the Media Player Anyone Can Use

Szimple is a new crowdfunding project on Kickstarter that wants to make watching video content that's saved on your computer as simple as switching on your TV. It's a great idea in theory, but with a plethora of alternatives already available, does backing Szimple make sense?

UPDATE: Since the writing of this article, the Szimple Kickstarter has been suspended. There is no explanation given on the page about why the Kickstarter was suspended, but if you funded the project, then you can expect your money back.

There are now any number of ways to get content from your PC or phone to your TV screen. Dongles like Google's Chromecast, and Mango Man's Teewe 2 make it extremely simple to stream content to your television.

Many new televisions also come with built-in DLNA streaming support, and there are plenty of apps for iOS and Android that allow you to push content over DLNA if you phone doesn't have a built in DLNA sharing option.

The problem with both of those methods is that you're reliant on a Wi-Fi connection being available to stream the content over.

Today, many TVs also have support for playback of media from USB pen-drives, or from an external hard drive. That's pretty much as simple as it can get, but there are some limitations with this method as well - for one thing, it's a solution that works only with specific TVs; for another, the interface that most TV makers use is still slow, hard to use, and frequently limited in terms of the information it presents.

Szimple wants to plug both these gaps, and the Kickstarter promises a simple device that you can just plug into your television, and then you jump into your content. To watch something, just plug in a USB pen-drive with the videos you'd like to see, and Szimple will display it on the TV in an XBMC-like interface, with posters, wallpapers, genres, and ratings all displayed.


The little set top box also includes an SD card slot, an Ethernet port for wired Internet connectivity (to download show information), an optical audio out, and Wi-Fi. It natively supports most of the popular video formats, and works offline. You get all this for EUR 100 (approximately Rs. 7,000), which is a fairly high price considering that streaming dongles are available for less than half that, and other smart set top boxes in India are also typically close to Rs. 5,000 in price.

And although the word Android is not mentioned anywhere on the page, looking at the specifications and the hardware, it's a safe bet to assume that the device is essentially an Android set-top-box with a highly customised OS that has only three options on the home screen - "Movies", "TV Shows", and "Settings".

That's a lot simpler than the Amkette Evo TV home screen which was a little confusing at first glance, but it also highlights the biggest problem with Szimple - this project comes across as a little too simple. The Evo TV had its share of problems, but it was easy to get to the Android layer underneath and tinker away to your heart's content.

If you wanted to install a music jukebox, or a news reader on your Evo TV, you could do that, and it also allowed you to set up the various Web streaming services. And the Evo TV is around the same price as well, except you can get it right away, without having to wait for a Kickstarter.

Despite these shortcomings, it's possible to see the appeal of Szimple as a very streamlined media watching experience; switch on, and start watching, without worrying about navigation, or settings, or anything else. Whether that's something you want is the question.

The project, which is accepting funds until January 8, has a target of EUR 150,000 (approximately Rs. 1 crore), and has - in a week - raised EUR 1,050 (approximately Rs. 75,000). If you pledge EUR 100 (approximately Rs. 7,000), (a relatively high price for a product of this type) you can get the Szimple, delivered anywhere in the world by June 2016, though as is always the case with crowdfunded projects, there is a chance this won't meet the goals, and even if it does, there is no guarantee that it will actually ship.


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