For those weighing Tablo vs TiVo, costs and thoughts

I’m waiting for the Quad as our first Tablo and will run it side by side with the TiVos for a few months before making the decision final, but… here goes…

Currently we have TiVo. 2 Bolt 500GB and 2 TiVo minis. Previously on cable they were not that great due to needing a “tuner adapter” for each Bolt to manage the switched digital cable. Tuner adapters and TiVo units frequently stopped talking to each other and required rebooting.
Dropped cable TV, switched the TiVos over to OTA and it’s been much better.

Before we dropped cable we picked up a Roku Streaming Stick+ to see if OTA plus Roku would be able to fill in the channels we actually WATCHED from cable but that weren’t available OTA. Philo TV to the rescue and we cut off cable TV.

Then the bill came in to renew TiVo service… and the search for something less expensive.

The numbers:
2 Tivo Bolts @ $173 each = $346
2 Tivo Minis @ $162 each = $324
Total equipment = $670

2 TiVo annual service @ $162 per year = $324 (Each Bolt requires service. The Minis do not since they run off the Bolts)

We’ve now paid for annual service for 3 years.
($162 each bolt service x 3 years) = $486 each bolt
($486 x 2 bolts) = $972

Equipment + Service after 3 years = $972 (service) + $670 (equipment) = $1642

And every year going forward will require: service renewal @ $324 per year

Projected Costs to switch to Tablo:

Equipment: $200 for the Quad + $75 for an internal hard drive (estimated for budget) + $149 lifetime (may as well just jump right into the pool at that price, right?) = $419
And every year going forward will require: $0

If we do not renew TiVo service and switch to Tablo:
The Tablo setup is paid for in not quite 16 months, offset by the funds that would have gone into the TiVo service renewals.

If switching from TiVo on cable to Tablo OTA, you may also need to buy an antenna if you don’t have one.
We already have Rokus on the living room TV (Roku Ultra, hard wired) and bedroom TV (Streaming Stick+ on 5GHz wireless)
Our TVs are all less than 3 years old and smart TVs.
If and when ATSC 3.0 comes around, we would only need to replace one Tablo instead of 2 Bolts ,which would then require service for each unit. The Tablo service would already be lifetime so no additional cost for service.
I have wired ethernet and antenna runs to all TVs and existing Bolts. If you don’t have this, your experience will almost surely be different from mine in actual use.
Concern over channel switching lag from Tablo if channel surfing live TV…
– If channel surfing live TV, we’ll switch to antenna if the lag bothers us. Streaming is streaming. Startup lag is not uncommon on any of the streaming services. Why stream live TV if surfing? Just watch it live. If we want pause and replay, then we stream live and live with startup lag. Again… streaming is streaming.

So that’s what I’ve come up with so far. Yeah, I probably have way too much time on my hands.

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Don’t forget that Tivo hardware has resale value. Would cut your breakeven time down to almost nothing.

Why do you have 2 TiVo Bolt units? Just curious if 1 Tablo QUAD will suffice.

But damn, you’ve spent a lot of money on TiVo subscription, they should just give you lifetime service for free by now. Can you do a one-time lifetime subscription purchase from TiVo?

I didn’t factor in resale of the Tivo units because frankly I’m just not sure what they’re worth, especially without lifetime service on them. A matter for further research I suppose :slight_smile:

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Our recording habits have changed a little. We used to bump into the 4-tuner limit of a single Bolt about once every 2 months or so. So the second Bolt was used for “overflow”. If the Bolt has 4 tuners occupied, you can’t watch live TV (same as Tablo). Which prompted me to run antenna to all TVs. Now with the Rokus, she can catch up on anything on the major networks pretty easily AND much of what we were recording that was NOT local, came from HGTV, DIY, Discovery, etc which we now get on Roku through PhiloTV which has its own cloud DVR service.

TiVo may or may not “do a deal” on lifetime service for the existing Bolts. It can be very hit-or-miss but most people have not been lucky enough to get them to do a heavily discounted, after sale service change. And free? Forget it. That they won’t do. My best leverage will be just prior to renewal at the end of November. I will already have Tablo by then. So any deal from TiVo would have to be pretty amazing in order for me to keep them active and I really just don’t have high hopes for that happening.

That’s the reality of TiVo. They’re not bad units on OTA. But the cost is a bits nuts especially given the changing landscape in the TV watching arena. They’re not keeping up with reality (ok except maybe for THEIR reality).

I always loved Tivo. The performance was rock solid, never so much as a hiccup, everything was clockwork. The interface was great and I loved having Hulu, Vudu, Amazon and all the other streaming services baked into the box. Not one single trouble ticket or call to technical service in six years.

What I didn’t like, was the fact I had to fork out more money for more hardware, for service to any room / TV other than my one primary set. That, and the fact I was paying sixteen bucks per month in subscription fees.

When I called to cancel, they made it hard to quit, it was almost like the bad old days of AOL, where you get transferred from one department to another “service tier”, offered a discount, asked questions and asked again (and again).

My Tablo experience has been fine overall. Though not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, I’d (personally) stick with Tablo rather than getting another Tivo. They are both excellent at what they do, there’s plenty to like, regardless of which camp you reside in.

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They really aren’t worth much at all w/o lifetime. Not to kick a guy when he’s down (and paid a bunch), but why didn’t you do lifetime rather than annual? Not trying to talk you out of Tablo, but if you call Tivo and tell them you are going to drop them, they might give you a decent discount on lifetime, especially since you’ve paid them 3 years worth of fees. Then down the road, if you want to switch, you could sell them for a decent amount. Just a thought.
I’m a former Tivo user (well, my wife still has one… does that count?). Tablo has its own quirks, but I got fed up with Tivo getting flaky at times, but you might not be experiencing that. That, and the Tablo tuner on the Dual seems a bit stronger (it wasn’t always this way though, and you are looking at a Quad anyway).

Tivo GIVE you something? HA! They probably will give him a decent discount on lifetime though.

I didn’t get lifetime when we first bought into the TiVos because the cost was through the roof! At the time, we were ditching satellite and going to cable. The DishNetwork DVRs were multi-tuner, whole home DVRs. (Start recording in living room, pause, resume in the bedroom or kitchen or wherever). The cable DVRs are crap AND don’t do whole home. Whole home capability is something we literally use every day so it had a high priority. So I jumped into TiVo with both feet, but the lifetime service would have just plain made it too expensive to do. Now… years down the road… I am, admittedly, second guessing that decision.

By the time TiVo offers me a discount on lifetime, IF they ever do, I’ll already have the Tablo so whatever cost they offer has to be recoverable if I sell the TiVo setup.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

The Misconception: You make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments and experiences.

The Truth : Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.

In economics, a sunk cost is any past cost that has already been paid and cannot be recovered. For example, a business may have invested a million dollars into new hardware. This money is now gone and cannot be recovered, so it shouldn’t figure into the business’s decision making process.

Sunk cost fallacy

How the Sunk Cost Fallacy Makes You Act Stupid


Yep. Exactly.

I switched from TiVo to Tablo in December and have no regrets. The benefits far outweigh the cons. I had a TiVo Roamio OTA and two Minis. I also had Rokus connected to each of those TVs in order to access Playstation Vue to satisfy my sports fix. Having to switch tv inputs and juggle two remotes was just too aggravating and led me to switch to Tablo. Tablo does not have as great of an interface as TiVo but gives me access to my local channels and DVR functionality to all of my devices. I now use a single Roku remote to control my TVs and do not have to worry about switching tv inputs. I get a better app experience for Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu through the Roku than I did on the TiVo. And best of all I sold my TiVo Roamio and Minis on eBay and made enough to pay for my Tablo Dual Lite and pocket $100. Just my take.


Very similar to what I did. You kind of get ‘stuck’ in the Tivo ecosystem and it can be hard to bail. Tivo PO’ed me with some of their moves (when Rovi took over), so that is what pushed me to change. I do miss a couple Tivo features, but overall the switch has worked out well for us.

The Tivo ecosystem can also be a reason to stay with Tivo because after you spend that much money, you sort of hate to toss it all. Best not go the path. But if you do go down the Tivo hole, just realize as you go deeper and deeper, it will become harder to justify climbing out. For those that didn’t go all that deep, the climb won’t be so bad. Tivo can really really really cost you a lot of money if you want it to though.

See Sunk Cost Falacy above :smiley:

But yes. I can relate.

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This is an excellent example of the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Please understand none of this rationalization makes economic sense. The money is gone… Once you accept that, you can make a rational decision going forward about what best serves your needs.

I’m kinda in the same boat. I have a TiVo Roamio OTA and 1 mini. The difference with mine is I bought mine 3 years ago when they had the Roamio OTA with Lifetime for $300. It has been rock solid since…my wife loves the interface (as do I) and it just works.

However we are on the same issue that we hate changing inputs. We want 1 remote, etc…

I too am waiting on the quad to give it a try. If channel changing is fast enough and if the commercial skips works as I think it will…then the Tablo might finally be a full time use device in our household.

TiVo records the native MPEG2 video (as in it does not convert it to h.264 video) so the channel changing is immediate. However, the Tablo transcodes the video and thus there is a small delay when changing channels (about 10 seconds or so). So if you’re looking to do a lot of channel surfing, maybe just get a splitter and connect the OTA antenna directly to you HDTV?

Just in case you didn’t know…
If your TV has ARC AND if you’re using Roku as streaming device, you can set both the TiVo remote AND the Roku remote such that pressing the TiVo button button on the TiVo remote will turn on the TV (if it’s off) and switch to the TiVo’s input on the TV. And on the Roku remote it can be set such that pressing the Home button will turn on the TV and switch to the input the Roku is on.
Now, this alone, won’t get you to the “one remote” you’re after, but it makes things a lot more convenient as simply picking up the remote and pressing one button takes care of it. On mine I even have an AV receiver in the mix, with an HDMI cable from the TV’s ARC port to the receiver and the receiver set to auto-sense active input. Pretty slick.
For the Roku there’s also an add-on device called SideClick that the Roku remote snaps into and it adds a row of buttons, I think 7 or 8 of them, and each button can learn a command from any IR remote.

The main TV is the only place that this works. All of my other TVs aren’t as smart.

We don’t flip channels, but we would like the tuning to not be painful. I’ve tried Tablo a couple times. Usually around the same time every year. I’ll try the Quad out…Luke’s video of him changing channels was 3-5 seconds…if I can get that type of speed, I’m all in.