About ready for a test drive

greetings all. I’m preparing to try tablo out before moving to a permanent residence, as I really like the concept. but before I do, I’d like to know from the experienced base – what is working real solid for you and what isn’t so solid. I have gathered that alot of issues are solved with a good wired network, a good OTA signal and a good hard drive. all understandable Given those conditions tell me what works well and what is marginal or less than optimum?

It’s a great DVR. Not so great as a (channel surfing) tuner. However, when you need Live TV remotely (e.g. on your phone), it’s very handy. If I’m working late, I often times will watch the news or something else at the office on my tablet or on my phone.

DVR wise I now have 2 x 2-tuner Tablos. Why? Well, certain things occupy “tuners”… essentially, if the device is recording two shows, there’s not much else you can do with the device (e.g. can’t watch Live TV remotely). We use Roku 3’s as our frontends to the house TVs.

Should I have bought the 4-tuner? Maybe. I kind of like having the two devices… one of our is wired, the other goes WiFi. Haven’t really had any issues. Both use a 1TB 5400rpm Hitachi Touro USB drive.

Work well: Remote Live TV, DVR

No so well: Channel surfing, TV guide presentation doesn’t go out very far. Remote use requires “pairing” of the remote device 1st on the Tablo LAN. Certain speeds of remote viewing cause corruption on Android (you just avoid those speeds).

Other: Buy the subscription. Encourage buying the lifetime sub. Don’t skimp on antenna and distribution amplifiers (assumes Tablo is one of many devices hooked to your antenna. For channel surfing we just use the TV’s tuner). Also, I use SurLaTablo to extract recordings from the Tablo and put them into our Plex server.

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Great info thanks! So it’s true that streaming to android phones really does work? I have a galaxy note 3 running 5.0 lollipop. Even have the app installed already. Both control and content streaming work. Not just dvr control?

About live tv: if you are watching a game while it is recording and you want to view the guide what is the user experience? Directv has a very nice pip thing… Assume tablo is pretty simple ux compared to directv? In a long time cord subscriber preparing to adjust expectations :grin:

No pip. You’d leave the show and come back (and re-find your place in the show). Possibly another “ding” against Tablo.

Tablo tries to remember where you left off, but I don’t think it works when watching something that is being recorded, and in my opinion, it’s sporadic otherwise.

Deletion via app or web UI is painful (but fast and easy through SurLaTablo). There is no “keep N number of recordings”… so there are some nice to have features missing.

Also, Tablo doesn’t handle surround sound, it’s strictly 2 channel sound.

I use the Tablo 95% of the time as just a DVR. I have a separate indoor antenna for on my biggest tv for watching live tv (usually for NFL football). There is around a 60 second delay between watching live from an antenna and watching from the Tablo (due to all the Tablo processing). (Note, this is an issue when watching any streamed sport, like the WatchESPN app).

Things I love about the Tablo:

  1. It works on all my devices. I have 3 Rokus, several computers, an old iPad, and multiple phones in my family. I have watched TV on all of them.
  2. Reliable. I do have an interesting setup, where my Roku is hooked up to an 8-port switch (along with one of my TVs) and that switch is connected to my router on another floor via MOCA adapters using my coax ports in my home. Most of my other devices use WiFi. My recordings and playbacks have been working great.

Things that need improvement:

  1. While it has most of the features of standard DVRs, the two biggest omissions that I notice are “keep X episodes” and “extend recordings by X minutes”. I don’t record any daily shows, but there are plenty here that do, so it can be a pain to manage the recordings without the first feature. The Tablo will auto-extend live events (sports, award shows) and season finales by 50%, but it would be great to fine tune it.
  2. Using live tv to tune to new channel takes about 20 seconds, so channel surfing is a slow process. Switching between 2 tuned channels is fast (1 sec), but there still isn’t a button to do it automatically (you have to go back to the live tv guide and select the other channel).
  3. Each streaming device has it’s own Tablo software and features. So you get a different experience using a Roku vs a FireTv vs a PC. The Roku and AppleTv apps do not have all the setup features of the other apps, so you can’t use those exclusively (though almost everyone has a PC or cell phone to make up for it).
  4. No surround sound (also a limitation to live tv streaming apps like SlingTv and WatchESPN).

As cjcox said, Tablo is a good OTA DVR but really bad for channel surfing. This, however, is no big deal to me for I have not been a channel surfer for more than a decade.

Again as cjcox stated, surround sound is lost with Tablo due to transcoding the files for ease of streaming over wifi. This, however, is what enables Tablo to be really good for remote viewing because the files require less bandwidth. Once a device is paired with your Tablo on your home network, it can access Tablo from anywhere you have internet access.

The UI may be some what limited compared to traditional Cable & Satellite DVR’s but I have no real complaints. It is easy to set up series recordings & it automatically extends live programs such as sporting events. There maybe some what of a learning curve if you are use to traditional DVR’s &/or are very attached to using a grid-guide, but I believe the UI is quit functional once you get accustomed.

You are able to watch recordings before they are complete but with some limited function. Completed recordings have thumbnails that allow you to see when the commercials are over. These thumbnails are not present when watching a recording that is still in progress. And I have found that if you stop a recording that is still in progress you do not get the option of resuming from where you left off. You need to be observant of where you are in the recording when stopping so you can quickly fast-forward to that point when resuming. And as cjcox mentioned, the resume function seems to be some what sporadic, it works most of the time but not always. So I have learned to always check where I am time wise before exiting just in case I need to be able to manually return to where I left off.

Again as cjcox pointed out, you cannot check the guide while watching a recording or a live channel for that matter. You are forced to exit whatever you are watching to view the guide or any other interface.

IMO, Tablo is a very nice whole home DVR system. It requires a solid wifi network & third party devices but many, if not most of us, already have these.

I access the Tablo DVR via 3 Rokus that I already owned, 2 - Roku 2s and an old Roku 3. The Roku 3 is wired to the router and has the latest firmware. Roku 2s are remote via wifi, they can get slow at times and can not run the latest firmware. If I were to get a new Roku, I would look at one of the new models. I would expect the newer models to be faster and have a longer usable life span because they have improved technology and they will be eligible for Firmware upgrades for a longer period of time. My Roku 2s no longer receive upgrades in firmware because they are out dated.

I have had few problems with the Rokus, l think the model 2s may be 5 years old and the model 3 is 3 - 4 years old. I certainly have fewer problems with them than I had with my old TW Cable DVR.

thanks all. I’m planing a very robust network, incidentally, with a gb switch supplying cat5e to all rooms, and ubiquity waps. I’m also planing a Winegard HD7698P in the attic (its a stucco house… wish me luck esp in winter lol) . Will start with the Tablo app on Amazon Stick and also the app that is native to my Samsung TV , so i can evaluate this puppy without a large investment. All TVs will have direct OTA connection as well, for live TV channel surfing.

The only design detail I’m not able to sort out is the tablo tuner sensitivity – I can’t find out what input power signal levels the device actually wants – in particular what is too strong. this is important because I need to select an antenna preamp that will overcome all the downstream losses from splitters and long coax runs without overloading the tuner. I’ve been through the design exercise and to my astonishment, if I believe the official Tablo support document (which calls for -80 to -50dBm) I find that most every urban installation within 30 miles of a strong broadcast station is going to overload the tuner, without attenuation from walls or passive devices of course. is this for real? Can the tuner not deal with -20dBm, for example, when the standard calls for -8 I think it is? Is there no AGC or other mechanisms to account for more than a 30 dB variation in signal strength? This may explain some of the odd Tablo recording behavior – I may have to install a switchable attenuator or variable gain amplifier to deal with weather variations, for example.

A Tablo specific question: Am I correct that one can connect streaming devices (such as roku and smart TVs themselves) directly to the cat5 side of the network, and tablo will stream to both hardwired devices and wireless devices?

BTW, the two big Tablo “cons” (5.1 audio and live TV surfing) are “don’t care” for me. I don’t watch OTA for 5.1 but I suppose if it were that important one can always go direct and watch it live (not streamed or time shifted), for example, the super bowl. most any HT receiver will synthesize or fake 5.1 anyway, so thats no big deal.

Incidentally, yes I have looked at Tivo. those guys make me nervous – recently bought out, and there’s no demonstrated stability there from a pricing perspective. They appear to be experimenting with what the market will bear, and the idea of licensing the hardware is just not good for consumers – if it breaks in 2 years you have to re-license. I may be wrong about this, but to me that puts any long term investment (as in lifetime guide subscription) in serious jeopardy. Tablo has it right – license the user, not the hardware. also – A short amount of time spent on the tivo forums reveals some very weird stuff that (to me) comes from of control complexity. I don’t want to self support a complex device. My view is that today’s OTA DVR solutions are designed to be “lightly” supported – you are largely on your own, save forums like this, because you’re not paying a large call center $100/month for 24x7 technical support. So the solution has to be simple and Tablo appears to deliver on that.

I do have one observation regarding the disk drive requirements. when you compare with the likes of DirecTV and Tivo, the Tablo HDD requirements are pretty relaxed. It doesn’t require an AV type drive – that has to be because of the buffering and transcoding that is implemented. If you are Tivo or DirecTV or dish, then the disk drive requirements are alot more strict.

appreciate the comments keep em coming.


You are getting too technical for me here. But what I can tell you is that I live within 15 miles of my local towers. I have an attic mounted Clearstream 2V antenna with approximately 15’ of cat6 coax to my Tablo with no pre- or distribution amps. I have had very few to no picture issues since getting my antenna properly positioned.

This so true, antenna alignment and a good antenna and of course good signals with no barriers.

All are key to positive experience with ota.

I’m seeing conflicting data. Common sense and experiences with Ota antennas, not to mention my fcc and amateur radio licenses, all suggest good strong signals are best. NTSC says tuners should behave well up to - 8dBm so far as I can tell, But tablo support says otherwise. My own residence has signals levels from some stations well above the - 50dBm maximum specified by tablo. There’s a serious problem with either the tablo tuner, tablos description of it, the NTSC specification itself, or my interpretation of it all. How can I get someone from tablo to weigh in here? How does tablo behave with signals above -50dBm?

I am pretty much a novice with the technical issues and new at OTA but I have several suggestions. I went through several antennas until I got the antenna selection and its location correct. I had some location issues because of the mesh in my stucco. Then I added the Tablo. I wired the Tablo to my router via cat5. It is my understanding that if you buy the Tablo from their website, there is a 30 day money back guarantee. This will help out if you have any issues and need to return the Tablo. See - https://www.tablotv.com/warranty-returns/

I also wired my old Roku 3 to the router via cat5 cable. Not all Roku products have the same wiring option or wifi options, you have to check the specs for each model.

I set up my Tablo using my Ipad and downloaded my Roku app. I have the best results from the stations with the strongest signals but there are options reducing or increasing the signal using splitters and preamps. Unamplified, most of my stations show 40 to 60 on my tv setup option. I use a channel master 4 port preamp because ABC is my weakest station.

My final step was to connect 2 additional Rokus via wifi.

I went one step at a time because I did not know what I was doing and this allowed me make adjustments to my plan depending on the results of the last step. I returned anything that did not work and was prepared to abandon the whole project if it got out of hand. If I had an issue, I stopped, came back to the forum and dug deeper. When I had done my homework and got bogged down in the fine tuning, several users helped me out.

I am limited because I am in an apartment instead of a house but I am satisfied with the final setup. Even my wife is happy.

Pay particular attention to the selection of your antenna, hard drive and your router. Also watch your coax length and location of your wifi router.

Check the users stats by clicking on their username and rely on the users that are the most active and give the best advice.

Your best answers will come when you start doing it and get your hands dirty. Ultimately you will be the best judge of what will or will not work. The users and Tablo support will help you get there.

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Yea all good stuff. If only tablo would be straight about their tuner sensitivity and confirm the overload point for input power this would be a lot easier. But no one will touch it.

If you buy your Tablo from Amazon, you get thirty days to return it, no questions asked. I have Amazon Prime, so they usually even pay my return shipping.

Northland tablo is there someone that can answer the tuner input requirements question? Is it true that tablo does not like input signals over - 50dBm?

I talk a good song, but I am not the best technical resource on this forum (by a long shot). I just know what works for me.

20 miles from my towers, I use this antenna:

this preamp:

50 feet of shielded RG6 running from the antenna to this distribution amp:

This feeds four TV’s, plus the 4 tuner Tablo box (all with shielded RG6 cable). Some of the runs from the distribution amp to the TV’s and Tablo are from 30 to 60 feet long.

I am probably lucky, but my reception is flawless and none of my devices are over-driven (that I can tell anyway). I started with just the antenna and distribution amp and had a few early issues. Added the preamp and everything was perfect from then on.

So I don’t know too much about the technical side of all this, but, I just kept at it until I got the desired result!

Much later, I added an LTE filter (just because I kept reading about them on this forum):

I didn’t have any issues to address, but I thought I would try one of these. I haven’t noticed any improvement or harm, so YMMV.

thats good stuff northand. my setup will be similar, although I’m leaning towards a separate 8-way splitter and a variable gain distribution amp, just to allow me to handle the uncertainty that Tablo support hasn’t addressed yet, and I think i need more gain and trying to reduce noise figure. I’m also really interested in the denny’s antenna HD stack. that dude appears to have the answer especially for an attic mount. this stack will outperform the longest winegard yaggi you can find, and it’s must easier to deal with because it isn’t 12 feet long.

So I think if I use a Winegard HDA-200 (variable gain from 6 to 24dB) I’ve got a lot of room to dial this in to meet what appears to be a very troublesome weak spot in the tablo design (it can’t tolerate as strong of a signal as a TV can). If anyone can raise Tablo’s interest to answer this question I would be most grateful.

The HDA-200 has an FM trap, but no LTE trap so I’m quite interested in the channel master product. if one points a high gain antenna right at an LTE tower that is is between you and the broadcast tower, that’s bound to be trouble, without such a device. .

Have you tried opening a ticket with them?


When you bring up this question in your posts, put “@TabloTV” at the top of the post, that way they are notified of the post and will be sure to read it.