Best device and couple other pre-purchase questions


I am very interested in purchasing a 4 tuner device. I’m looking to drop my Tivo service, but I’m not willing to sacrifice too much.
I’ve been reading through reviews and lots of comments on this forum.
Couple things I’m hesitant on, that I’m hoping to get some help with:

1. I’ve read users say that you cannot see the video while forwarding through commercials. Is this really true? It’s the biggest issue I’ve read about so far. Maybe this feature has been added by now (I hope!)?

2. I already have Roku, Apple TV, large screen Plasma and LCD/LED TVs, and iPad. But out of all supported TV streaming devices, which is THE best? Video quality is my main concern and the interface should be usable for recording and playback of shows. Should I use a particular Roku? It seems like it works best with Tablo? I like AppleTV, but I don’t want to use Airplay.

3. What is an iPad or computer needed for? Initial setup, or something else? Would I always need to use my iPad for something?

4. I wish the Tablo had a 2.5" sata hard drive slot, or even just an internal sata connector if you want to open up the box to install a drive. USB isn’t the greatest.

Is there anything major I am going to miss by replacing Tivo? My wife will kill me if she doesn’t like the Tablo experience. On the flip side, I see the huge advantage with Tablo is streaming to all my TVs with Roku devices!! That is the huge selling point.

I would probably purchase the lifetime subscription if it works out in my first month.

Thanks for your help!!

  1. When you use the web app or tablet app, doing a fast forward or rewind just jumps you to that spot (and you can see where you are).  When doing it on a Roku, you see a time bar and where you are on it.  So if commercial breaks are typically 2 minutes long, then fast forward enough times to get 2 minutes ahead.  It acts like the WatchESPN app and not like the Netflix app (which has screen captures after every ff click).

    2. To watch with a TV set, the Roku 3 is the best device (in my opinion).  I also love watching on my iPad for the portability (like in the kitchen or an office).  I don’t have an AppleTv, so I can’t comment on it.

    3. The iPad is not mandatory by any means.  I use it as a viewing device, and it is also an easy way to get the Tablo intially setup as well as to set up recordings.  I do almost all my setup either on the iPad or my computers.  As long as you have a computer, tablet, or smartphone that runs chrome or safari, you can set up a Tablo.

    4. The Tablo is a very small device as it.  Attaching a USB hard drive works great, and both use very little power.  It wouldn’t make any sense to remove the plug and play feature of the Tablo by including an internal SATA connector.

    5.  I see two things that take getting used to.  One, if you use mainly a Roku 3 to watch shows on a TV set, you only see the current shows for live TV.  You don’t get the nice 24 hour guide like you have on the web and tablet interfaces.  However, Tablo has hired a Roku programmer and the interface is actively being worked on to be better.

    The other is that channel surfing is not quick.  You have to wait 15-20 seconds to switch to a channel isn’t been tuned.  After a channel is tuned, it takes only a second to switch channels.  I typically know that I want to watch and just watch that channel or watch a recording.

Thanks so much for your great feedback. I think to play it on the safe side, if I want to give Tablo a go, I should buy the lower priced two-tuner device with monthly subscription and keep my Tivo as well for now. We should be able to easily use both just by switching our large screen TV input source between Tivo and Roku/Tablo. Then if Tablo gets ugly and my wife gets mad at me, I can always flip back to Tivo. I won’t dump Tivo until I’m happy (I mean my wife) with Roku/Tablo. It will be very cool to be able to watch on our many home ipads/minis.

@ckpaulino that is what I do currently. My wife has actually been scheduling recordings and watching shows via her laptop on Tablo. So, I must say if my wife can do it, anybody can use Tablo. My wife is very technologically challenged :wink:

If I had to do it again I would have gotten the 4 tuner. But I bought before the 4 tuner was available and still plan on buying one.

Thanks. I may get the 4-tuner after all. Glad it worked out with your wife! My wife is actually a firmware engineer, but refuses to use things that are not super easy and convenient. She’ll want to do all the recording and controlling in front of the TV, which means via Roku. So if the user experience is much lower than Tivo, she probably won’t use it.

I have a two tuner and an old iPad 2, but I wish I had the 4 tuner - gives more flexibility for recording shows when there are conflicts.  Also, remote streaming (which has always worked flawlessly for me even on this old ipad2) needs to use a tuner.  I kinda wish I had a Roku so I don’t have to hunt down the ipad to watch via the apple tv.

I’m sold in the 4 tuner now. Where is the best place to buy? Are they $299 everywhere? I see them offered t Bestbuy and Walmart as well as directly for $299. They list as out of stock on amazon (lower price).


Tablo has been busy apparently.  In the beginning, you could just get it directly from Tablo.  Then they added  Next was  Until you posted this @ckpaulino, I didn’t even know they had it at Best Buy or Amazon.

$299 is the list price for the 4 tuner.  I would just try to compare shipping and sales tax costs at each place to get the best deal. 

Wish you could have posted this question 1 day earlier… :frowning:
Newegg had a sale on the 4 tuner that ended on the 9th. 15% off ($254.99) with free shipping. That’s why I pulled the trigger and got one.

I odered from Tablo directly and got it (4-tuner) on the third day.

I’ve had TiVo for many years (since Series 2) and here’s what I miss (and sounds like mostly will be added per the roadmap):

1) No live view of the content when FFWD’ing. On the Roku I have accepted clicking forward 3 minutes to get through commercials (one click == 10 seconds / 18 clicks == 3 minutes).
2) Actually records ALL EPISODES when you tell it to record all episodes. Lots of duplicates for those shows that broadcast lots of repeats. Tablo support has told us all that this will change “soon”.
3) Cannot prioritize recordings
4) Tablo does not auto-delete (again… coming “soon”)

What I don’t miss about TiVo:

1) No longer tied to the display connected to the TiVo
2) No longer paying for guide data on each TiVo device
3) No longer forced to view ads
4) Generally, can put a much larger capacity drive on a Tablo (my TiVo’s had a limit to the size of drive you could drop in)

One feature of note is show discovery. The Tablo interfaces make a good experience to discover shows. TiVo (IMO) does not do a very good job of discovery. Maybe it is the big colorful cover art thumbnails, or the categorization… but we took to it real easy.

For a single-display setup you’ll be hard-pressed to beat an OTA TiVo (they have been doing this a long time). But, consider the flexibility the whole-house Tablo DVR brings to the table. And, browse this community. I am very optimistic about the features coming in future firmware releases for the Tablo.

And to add to the cliche… my wife has been using Tablo via the Roku since we got it. No complaints. On the contrary… a little excitement when the Tablo helped her discover all the programming available to us.

Your comparison is very helpful. #1 and #2 seem like no-brainers for Tablo to focus their highest priority on. These two shortcomings may cause me to wait on showing to my wife, as I test the rest of the system on my own. For a lot of people, the first impression is a big deal. Many people don’t give a product a second look if it fails their expectations. Probably why Apple is so successful. As for me, I can tolerate a product’s shortcomings as long as the company aggressively addresses the issues with frequent updates. I’m not so sure I see Tablo addressing the biggest complaints in a timely fashion. Seems their top complaints have gone unanswered for quite some time in my opinion.

People assume that all Roku apps have a ff and rewind preview, when it just isn’t true.  It’s one thing for Netflix and Amazon to do it, because they aren’t showing live tv.   WatchESPN is live TV in most cases, and it doesn’t show any screen shots when rewinding or fast forwarding.

Sure it would be nice to have, but I could also see it as something never happening as well.  Does anyone know how SimpleTV handles it?  

As for timeliness, producing code isn’t easy or quick.  The Tablo folks have multiple platforms that they are working on, and they have to make sure that fixing one thing doesn’t break another.  Testing is very important (which is what I do for a living), and the code needs to be tested well before being released to the public.

One type of development and testing process that can help here is “Agile”. I also work in a dev/test engineering group (for the last 15 years). With Agile, you focus on a small number of features (maybe even just one or two) and provide more frequent releases. This allows a dev and test team to get new features out quickly without compromising quality.

About the fast forward thing. People who are moving from Tivo and Cable companies expect to be able to easily get past commercials. They will compare Tablo to these other services. With Tivo and cable company DVRs, you can forward as fast as you want while seeing the video. So, you know exactly when to stop forwarding.
Tablo will need to make people happy in this respect. I’ve already read several Tablo users complain about this. It is a real issue. Now, I have not yet used Tablo myself, so I can’t speak to the Tablo experience yet. I’m just going by actual user comments. When I asked my wife if she could deal with having to press a forward or skip button like 15 times on the Roku remote to get past the commercials, she said there is no way she is going to let me replace the Tivo for her usage. However, I very much want to be able to stream to any TVand any device, unlike Tivo. So, I’m trying hard to be onboard and patient with Tablo.
I have also read that switching channels can take several seconds. My wife will probably beat me up for that too  =/

I use Agile too at work, and I think the Tablo folks do too (at least a form of it).  They releases a functional product back in March, and they have added features and bug fixes every few weeks since then.

As for fast forwarding on the Roku, you do see the timeline.  So if you are at the 15m mark and hit a commercial, you will want to fast forward till you hit the 17m or 18m marks.  And don’t forget that you can hit the fast forward button on the remote to go even faster.  It cycles between slow, medium, and fast fast forwarding, and you don’t have to keep hitting it, unlike the right arrow button.

If you fast forward on the web or tablet clients, you do see the spot that you are at.  The Roku is just more difficult to program for.  I haven’t heard what it does on AppleTv.
Thanks, that's good to know. I have no idea whether or not updates have been rolling out. I just saw the FF complaints dating back to April.
Ah, so maybe it isn't as difficult to skip commercials as I've been reading.
It "seems" to me based on my limited Tablo research so far, that Roku is probably the key ingredient and most used platform with Tablo. So, my hope would be that Tablo will focus their energy making the Roku experience awesome. I'm sure people like to stream to iPads, but I suspect the most important feature is watching TV on a big screen. 
If Tivo decided today to change its subscription model to be more like Tablo, where the subscription is tied to account as opposed to device, Tablo would probably be done for. Tivo can also stream to iPads. Their biggest issue is that you have to pay a ridiculous subscription price and you only get to use it on one large screen TV.  But I don't think Tivo is going to do that, so I would really like to see Tablo succeed here.
I would really like to see Tablo offer the same device with an hdmi connection to one TV for a better live TV experience if they cannot get around some live tv issues via streaming.

@ckpaulino  Actually I think most people cut the cord realizing there might be some “loss” but also understand that in 10 years they’ll be able to buy a new car (just an example).

With time I imagine Tablo will get some of the features you feel it is missing.  Tablo is still “young”… but still worth it.  At least to me.

After checking the latest promotions on the Tivo website, it turns out they are running a limited time special now where they give you free lifetime subscription with purchase of a Tivo mini for my second TV (primary Tivo needs to be a Roamio). So now I can finally have Tivo on my second large screen TV without paying any extra service fee. With Tivo, I can already stream to iPads, so now I have everything I wanted, which is main TV with direct hdmi connection to primary tivo device, tivo mini on second large screen via streaming, and stream to my iPads, all for the same 14.99/month price (lifetime subscription is $400 and tied to same device, ouch). 

Yes, with Tablo, you can buy a lifetime subscription for only 149, which is not tied to a device, but I feel that Tivo’s interface and overall functionality is just too good compared to the competition still. I don’t have to make any sacrifice.  If Tivo did not have this current promotion of free lifetime on the tivo mini, I would have given Tablo a try.
I will be keeping my eye on Tablo as its product matures. Seems like they may end up with a real winner.