Can I accomplish what I want with a network connected system?

Hi All,

I am new to Tablo devices and I am probably out of touch with the current technology concerning DVR’s in general. I would like to describe my current home setup and get input on whether or not a network connected DVR would be a viable option for me.

The reason for this post is that I recently purchased a DUAL HDMI TV Connected DVR, and I’m having less than optimal results with it (you can read my posts in that forum for more background). I’ve resisted getting a network connected DVR, but maybe I don’t understand the technology well enough.

Over the years I created a home setup that I’m very pleased with. High quality sound is an important part of my viewing experience, so the main part of my home setup is a A/V receiver with 7 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs.

On the Sonic side, I have 2 satellite speakers, a center channel speaker, 2 rear surround sound speakers and a powered sub-woofer attached to the A/V receiver.

My video sources are an OTA DVR (formerly a Channel Master DVR+ Now the Tablo DUALHDMI), a DVD player, a Chrome Cast, and an XBox.

With this setup I can select between any input device and get video on my TV and full range Dolby 5.1 surround sound through the A/V receiver.

We have 2 TVs in our house, one in the TV room and one in the bedroom. Years ago I purchased a 50 ft HDMI cable and ran it down the wall, under the crawl space, across the house and into the bedroom. That allows us to watch from any input source on either or both TVs (we can only watch one program source at a time). The TV in the bedroom is not a smart TV, and I don’t remember if it has an Ethernet connection or not, but I don’t have any Ethernet cable run to that room in any event.

I live in a rural area and my internet connection is sub par, 3 to 5 MB down and 1 up.

I don’t believe that a network connected DVR will work for me, but I’d like to know if I’m missing some obvious option.

Thanks !!

If/when you want to “upgrade” this, well of course the best would be a networked device, but search for HDMI over ethernet with IR. You can use CAT5/6 with these devices to run HDMI long distances without signal loss. Some even carry the IR remote so you don’t loose that function.

Your internet speed has little to no impact on a network’d tablo. I too have rural “high-speed” internet. (thought 2Mbps512kbps was really nice, now almost a year with 8Mbps/2Mpbs) All the real traffic is via your home network. At the time there was no HDMI, at one the time I’d likely gotten one. I had a similar setup as you. Then I networked media HTPCs, which is still dated.

If you’re otherwise happy with the HDMI, consider a device for the second TV, with an ethernet connection. If it’s not meeting your needs, you don’t need true high speed internet to enjoy a netowrk’d tablo on your home network, just a decent home network Many agree, if it has a port, plug it in, while others have no issue wifi connection.

Ok, thanks for that info, it helps.

How can I get the Dolby 5.1 sound from a networked device ?

Search results for: 5.1

Search results for: surround sound

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SteveB I have three TVs in my house, all running Roku streaming clients, and I get fantastic results. The DVR sits in my phone closet with my gigE switch, and all of my Rokus are hard-wired at each TV. I never get buffering or pixelization…ever. And I get “whole home” experience with my DVR. I can stop watching a recording in my home theater, then head up to the master bedroom, and the Roku/Tablo remembers where I was and I can resume. It works like a champ. I can also watch my TV or recordings when I travel, which is a bonus, but this requires decent ISP up-link speed. I have 11mpbs up-link, and my Tablo is set for 1mbps remote streaming, and it works great for watching my Tablo from my phone when I am away from home.

It does require an investment in a smartTV or streaming clients (Roku, Apple TV, etc.), but it works flawlessly. I attached a diagram which shows a simple headless DVR setup, as well as what I installed in my home. I do get full surround sound in my home theater for programming that includes it. My TV setup works even if I power off my ISP modem/router for short periods of time (for reboots etc, which do not interrupt TV viewing thanks to the separate Ethernet switch). But you can skip the network switch and just wire everything into your ISP router. I only ran OTA signal to each TV because my house was already wired for it. I don’t really use the OTA signal directly from the TVs, but I can if I need to. If you have a good WiFi router, you can do all of this without running cables, but I recommend hard-wiring the Tablo. Again, my house was wired for it, so I have everything hard-wired and I never, ever have buffering or pixelization.


Thanks so much for taking the time to create this documentation !! I’m not a hardware guy, but I can follow this without any problem.

One of my lingering questions was “How do I get Dolby 5.1 surround sound from a networked device”

You write:

After looking at your diagram closely, I’m assuming that the Roku has HDMI out, which I could plug into my A/V receiver, then feed the HDMI back out of the A/V receiver and connect it to my TV.

I’ll have to do some reading to understand what a Roku is and how it works.

All in all, I still have no desire to throw away everything I’ve built to change technologies, and I don’t have an Internet connection to support it anyway. But I am glad that I now have a better understanding of how it works.

Thanks again for your diagram !!

You have it right. In my home theater, my Roku connects into my surround sound receiver via HDMI, which then connects onto my 4K projector (both are HDMI connections). You don’t need much of an internet connection to use the Roku client with a Tablo, but you do need minimal internet access for the Tablo guide and for the Tablo discovery capabilities (clients finding the Tablo…especially remotely). The Roku/Tablo connection itself does not traverse the public internet. You do need an ethernet router (which comes bundled with most ISP modems these days) and you will want good WiFi if you don’t plan to pull cat 5 cables.

I don’t think you’d throw anything away…except maybe your long HDMI cables. But the convenience of having a headless DVR is worth considering. You can get a decent Roku at Walmart for about $25.

Good luck!

If you want to use the second TV via LAN or WiFi it will cost you $5 a month forever with the Tablo Dual/Quad HDMI. It is free with the non-HDMI versions. I did not know this. It is brick I do not use now. It might as well not come with a LAN port since after setup it is blocked from being used. Get the networked one not the HDMI and you will save a tons of money that you can use to buy all the additional equipment you will need to make it functional. Additionally, if you do want the subscription you can get a lifetime (equivalent to 2 or 3 years the last I checked and be done, yo can even add a second or third machine. This is NOT available for the HDMI version. There is not technical reason for this. They just want to disable it to get more money. The is sign their company model is failing and then want to force user to pay a fee like TiVo.

Nope! No HDMI and the versiom with it has it’s ALN port disabled so you can not use a Roku or other device with it, even with subscription you are block from accessing it from any more than two TVs not the unlimited number like the older less restricted machines.

Yes, many Roku models have HDMI outputs but the stick one do not. Something like Roku Premiere of you are using WiFi. I use the Ultra on a LAN connection. If you use any long cables they should be Ethernet ones. HDMI is not designed for such long runs and will degrade. So he should no longer use it.

For wireless you can get a cheap Roku but make uses 801ac, (like the Roku Express 4K $35 retail, which is essentially replacing the Premiere with the upgrades from the old Express) is a lot more reliable then 801n like the older Express uses or if your have MIMO then the Roku® Streaming Stick®+ seems the best choice (retail $50). . For LAN, go on eBay and get last years Roku Ultra (retail $99), I paid $50 shipped. Do not pay more than $60 (bidding with shipping - $70 (buy it now), get the 2019. The 2020 version has lot of problems with both the Dolby Vision and Bluetooth implementations. I use shielded CAT6A cables so I am set for the next few decades.

PS - I like fish tank screen saver built i to the Ultra. it is much nicer then the dumb clock on the Tablos. Tablo better hope Roku does not make a DVR or Tablo will go out of business fast. They know how design equipment unlike Tablo which has countless flaws. I wonder if I can use Acronis to clone my HD so I can do and upgrade without losing everything since Tablo does not care.