Help -- Tablo Affecting My Happy Wife and Happy Life


#1

My wife and I were married and bought our house last spring. I went the first 41 years of my life without having paid for any TV service. I’ve always been happy with OTA channels. Conversely, my wife has never lived without cable TV. When we bought our house, I talked her into giving OTA channels plus Sling a shot. When she found out she was losing her DVR, I researched and bought the 4-tuner Tablo to make her experience as close as possible to what she was used to. For 6 months or so, we were both thrilled with the functionality. But starting a couple months ago, we’ve been having more and more problems with freezing of live TV and recordings. It started as an annoyance that we’d have to close and reopen the app a couple times per hour, and occasionally have to cycle the power on the Tablo. For the past few weeks it’s been virtually unusable with reopening the app and rebooting the unit more and more frequently not helping. The harmony in the house reached its low point when she wasn’t able to watch the majority of the Golden Globes, and the recording freezes after a few minutes. This was a big deal for her. I don’t pretend to understand.

All of our TVs are equipped with Amazon Fire 4k sticks (as of the last month). They previously used various previous versions of Amazon boxes/sticks. I assume this isn’t a problem with the new 4k sticks being less compatible with Tablo, but it’s worth mentioning. Our antenna is roof-mounted, professionally-installed/aimed, and we’re not more than about 20-25 miles from the towers. We have one TV that is directly connected to the antenna and it gets 40-50 channels at the strongest signal strength, and there’s never a problem with reception. In short, I really don’t think this has anything to do with the signal strength. But I’m willing to investigate that if anybody sees a way this could still be a problem. We’re in Medina, Ohio, picking up Cleveland and Akron area stations, and the antenna is mounted atop the second story of the house without any significant tree coverage in the area.

I know that the quality settings have a lot to do with the experience, and, admittedly, I set them to the highest quality from the start (1080, 10 Mbps). I knew it might be pushing things, but it was worth a shot. And it worked. For months. So I assumed my network could handle it. As part of my troubleshooting, I reduced the Live TV quality to 720/5 (recording still at 1080/10) a couple weeks ago and it hasn’t made any perceivable difference.

The Tablo is hardwired to the router (Linksys EA8300 Max-Stream AC2200), and the Wifi signal is extremely strong at all three TVs. Moreover, we have absolutely no problems streaming Sling on any of the TVs, and we also have a Plex server that we’re able to stream HD content from without any problems. For these reasons, I want to rule out our network as being the problem, but I’m admittedly not as knowledgeable on networking as I am with computer hardware/software. Feel free to point out what potential problems I could be overlooking.

For all of these reasons, I’m inclined to blame either the Tablo or the hard drive (WD 2TB Elements). Not having an extra hard drive handy to try, what can I do to try to narrow down the problem short of ordering a new (potentially unnecessary) drive?

One other thing to mention – we’re using the Tablo app, not the Tablo Preview app. When originally setting this all up, I noticed the two versions and assumed the Preview was some sort of trial version. I dismissed it immediately and have never downloaded it. Now, it seems that it’s something more than what I originally thought it was, but I have no idea if it’s what I need for a better experience. I hope not, as I like the Tablo app, but let me know if this factors into things.

Between the Tablo, lifetime subscription, and hard drive, I have just under $500 invested in this, so I really hope this is fixable and not lost money. I’m not sure how much longer my wife will allow the “experiment” to continue.


#2

I commend you for the detailed description, and upbeat attitude. :slight_smile:

I believe 1 of 2 things is occuring:

  1. OTA signal strength, and quality can be different at different times of the year.
  2. The Amazon Fire TV 4K sticks may have compatibility issues with the Tablo.

To verify if it’s the time of year issue, you need to wait, and see if it all works great during the part of the year it has in the past.
This is what I ended up doing, and found that summer season returns the worst OTA reception for my environment.

To verify if it’s the Fire TV sticks, you need a different media player, like:
PC web browser
Android Tablet using Tablo app
Android smartphone using Tablo app
iPad using Tablo app
iPhone using Tablo app
Roku

I’m sure I missed some Tablo media players, but you get the point.

Another issue I ran into is a network switch, and hardwired network device causing issues.
All my hardwired network devices are connected to a network switch.
The network switch is the only network device connected to the router’s LAN ports.
Of course, my ISP’s modem is connected to the router’s WAN port.
The network switch multicast broadcast, and STP default settings caused network slowdowns, drops, and hangs.
Took weeks to figure out the settings that work in my environment consistently.

This is the list of hardwired network equipment connected to the network switch:
Roku Ultra
Ooma Telo2 VoIP
2 - Tablo 4 tuner
Sonos Connect (Google Chromecast Audio daisy chained to 2nd Sonos Connect port)
WD My Book Live 2TB

The Sonos Connect, Google Chromecast Audio, and WD My Book Live all issue either unicast, or multicast packets periodically, which can flood the LAN with packets that cause network devices to hang, crash, or just behave irradically.

STP, spanning tree protocol, which was enabled on my network switch by default, was also causing a problem once the Sonos Connect was hardwired to the network switch.

Lots of info, but I hope some of it helps you narrow down the root causes of your issue.


#3

You can have a happy life - depending on whether you live in a community property state.


#4

I feel your pain! I purchased a 4k Fire TV stick before Christmas. I had great success with all the apps that were loaded on the stick except for the Tablo apps. The video would stutter, stopping and starting and eventually freezing. We would have to get out of the app and back in to correct this problem, but only temporarily. I tried getting help from support but they didn’t give me a fix for this problem. So I gave the Fire stick back and purchased a Roku Ultra streaming box. This box worked great with the Tablo app for the first five days and then on the morning of Jan. 8th a message came across the screen saying that suddenly my tv and sound bar were not compatible with the surround sound.


#5

BlueCalcite,

You wrote: “My wife and I were married and bought our house last spring. “

You wrote: “For 6 months or so, we were both thrilled with the functionality. But starting a couple months ago, we’ve been having more and more problems with freezing of live TV and recordings.”

You wrote: “Our antenna is roof-mounted, professionally-installed/aimed, and we’re not more than about 20-25 miles from the towers. We have one TV that is directly connected to the antenna and it gets 40-50 channels at the strongest signal strength , and there’s never a problem with reception.”

This is exactly what would happen if your antenna was installed in July and there were tall trees in your yard or neighborhood.

By the 1st of November the last of the leaves would have fallen off the trees and your reception on your TV set would improve.

But if the Tablo is more prone to overloading then you would have a problem there.

As a test, you should insert a 20db attenuator in the antenna line to the Tablo.


#6

For what it’s worth we use 4K Fire Sticks on multiple TVs (and a projector) in multiple (and on-the-road travel) locations without any issue. We have Tablo set at 3 mb recording and 5 mb live due to bandwidth issues and have no stuttering, freezing, rebooting, etc. So it might be that something other than your newly deployed 4K Fire sticks is responsible for your recent experience.

I have found over the years that hard drives or hard drive cables when they get dodgy (perhaps due to a lot of write/read) can cause problems with the Tablo - rebooting, segmented recordings, and the like.

Nevertheless, it’s possible, I suppose, that the 4K Fire Stick is more sensitive or requires higher bandwidth or speed in some fashion, but if so it is marginal enough that it hasn’t caused us problems. I have found that - despite my expectation to the contrary - in circumstances where the 4K stick is further from the wifi source it has greater difficulty acquiring/maintaining a solid connection (in general - not to do with Tablo per se), so that just might be an issue too.

Good luck!


#7

That’s interesting, my new Roku Ultra did exactly the same thing two days ago after running fine for about 2 weeks. My two older Rokus (4200X I think) are still working fine and when I hooked my MiBox to the same setup, it works fine with surround sound.

Maybe @TabloTV has the answer??? Need help here pls.


#8

Call Support and open a ticket. They’ve been very responsive in the past. Don’t call again though, apparently resets your place in the queue.

https://www.tablotv.com/ask-tablo/


#9

The very first thing I’d recommend, is to install the Tablo Preview app. I’ve been using the 4K Fire Stick with that, everything is clockwork, just like the 4K Dongle it replaced. Adding, that there is no difference in compatibility (with Tablo) between the 4K stick and conventional First Stick.

In fact, all the latest / newest features are working well with the 4K Fire Stick (channel scroll, etc.). From hands on experience, I can state the same for the (new) Roku Premiere and Premiere +.


#10

When watching live TV make certain you click on the far left channel number and not the program listing in the Guide. If you do that I believe your live streaming will work better. You will not have “pause live TV “ option when doing so, but the processing load on the Tablo will be reduced.


#11

On my Roku Premiere+ 4630, either myself or someone in the house, “accidentally” turned on Night Listening mode. Even though the Roku detects your HDTV supports “DD” under the Audio settings, the Tablo app will tell you surround sound is not supported on the Roku.

I turned off Night Listening mode and it fixed it issue. My best guess is the Roku does not decode 5.1 DD audio (it can’t due to no DD chip in it), so to be able to modulate the audio volume levels for their night listening mode the Roku must only accept AAC audio which it can decode.


#12

Thanks for all of the responses so far. I had limited opportunity to investigate last night, but here’s what I can say in response to some of the comments.

  1. Regarding the OTA signal, I re-verified that the Tablo is recognizing every channel as full 5-bar, green signal strength, and the single TV that receives the other split from the antenna shows the same signal strength for all the channels and its reception has never failed us. So if it would somehow be a problem with the signal strength for the Tablo, then that would leave me extremely discouraged about the quality of the tuners in the Tablo and would probably force me out of the Tablo world. I think this would be the worst possible outcome for me.

  2. Regarding the Wifi signal to the 4k Fire Sticks, a couple of different apps that I routinely use measures the signal strength at every Fire Stick location in the range of -50s, which I understand to be considered a very strong signal. Also, the Fire Sticks have no problem streaming HD content from Sling and our Plex server. (We VERY occasionally get a connection error from Plex and have to reconnect or restart the app, but it’s not very often, and I blame it on the under-powered, repurposed PC that I use for Plex. It can’t even play the vast majority of the content that’s sitting on it, but serves it up just fine 99% of the time via Plex. Accordingly, I don’t think this is a sign of any network problem that would be causing the nightmare we’re experiencing with Tablo, but, again, I’m not a network guy).

  3. I installed the Tablo Preview app on one Fire Stick last night, but didn’t get enough time to watch live TV with it enough to judge whether it’s any different. I did, however, try to watch a couple of recorded episodes of a show and it failed. The only difference was that the Tablo app freezes constantly, whereas the Tablo Preview app, when encountering a problem, throws up a “cannot load video” error message (or something like that).

  4. Regarding the difference between clicking on the channel number vs. the program listing – that’s very interesting. I didn’t know there was a difference, and I believe I almost exclusively click on the program listing (not knowing any better). I didn’t know that pausing live TV was even possible (have never done it), and I don’t know which method my wife uses. We work different shifts, so don’t consume our TV together very often. That said, if she DOES rely on the live TV pausing (like I’m sure she’s used to with her previous DVRs), then I’m sure it would be a bummer to her if she had to give that up. I couldn’t care less, but hope this isn’t the answer for her sake. However, this doesn’t seem like it should impact the recordings or their playback, so I don’t think this can be my entire problem.

One other thing I noticed while poking around the message board is that there are references to people cooling their Tablo units. I think I remember that discussion from when I first researched Tablo, but had long forgot about it. Out of curiosity, I picked up the device last night and noticed that it does seem to be much warmer than I would expect it to be. It probably doesn’t help matters that it’s sitting atop a small (printerless) printer stand right next to the modem and router. Is there any chance that its overheating, or any expectation that this is the behavior I could expect if it were overheating? Should I direct a fan onto it for a couple days and observe?


#13

Also, I forgot to mention that I/we have the ability to test devices other than the Fire Sticks, but haven’t yet. My wife has an iPad and iPhone, but doesn’t have the app on them. I’ll instruct her to test that out. I’m not an Apple person, so she’ll have to report back to me. I have the app on my Android phone, and the first thing I did when I received her urgent text message (in bed) about the Tablo not working during the Golden Globes was to check it out with my phone. However, I hadn’t opened the app in quite some time, and it was taking forever to sync, so I just gave up and went downstairs to try to troubleshoot with her. I reminded her that she could watch directly via the antenna with that TV, then went back to bed. I’ll have to do more testing with my phone and report back.


#14

BlueCalcite,

Wow! Your reception problem is not from trees in your neighborhood.

This is the first time that I have seen a chart like this at tvfool. It is charting WEWS-TV reception from Medina Ohio.

Notice that the only green area is one that is shaded by a ridge. If that ridge has trees on it than that green area would change with the seasons.

And my guess is that your installer had to put in an amplifier. So it could be overloading too.

I believe that you are getting too much signal. Install a 20db pad and see if your problem goes away.


#15

Thanks for this. I’ve played around on the TV Fool website and, after initially being confused by the image you provided, I think I’ve figured it out. I’m used to green being “good” and red being “bad”, but it’s reversed here, correct? I understand that too strong a signal is a problem, but I can’t begin to understand the theory behind it. Indeed, the installer amplified the signal. Is this potentially a case where the signal was somewhat attenuated by foliage during the spring/summer/early fall, and it’s now too strong simply because of the leaves having fallen? Would you expect that I would need to remove the attenuator in the spring?

I’ll research and order one later today, as it seems a worthwhile (and presumably economical) potential solution to try. In the meantime, if there are good ones and bad ones, or you otherwise have a recommendation for one to order, feel free to pass that along.

Edit to add: how does this account for the fact that we have no problems with reception on the TV that receives its own split from the antenna? And is this what you’re referring to?

Or would I be better off getting a few smaller ones to find just the right combination that is needed?


#16

Sorry, I should have explained the image.

What you are used to is Red being a weak signal. TVfool uses red to indicate a reception problem. Normally that would be a weak signal. Green represents a signal within the normal input signal level range.

In the image that I sent, the left side is the TV station antenna. The right side of the image is Medina Ohio.The outline at the bottom of the image is showing terrain features. (Hills, ridges, and relative altitudes)

From the TV station antenna, as you move right you see intense white, then bright red, and then orange as the signal gets weaker. The problem is that even orange is an indication of a reception problem. In this case it indicates a excessively strong signal. The ridge or hill to the left of the green area is actually shading that strong signal.

Your antenna was installed during the summer when the foliage would have been as thick as it was going to get. That made the green shaded area larger. By the first of November the foliage was gone, and the shaded area was smaller. Thus increasing the chance that you would have an excessive signal level. (The timing of your problem was the biggest clue to me.)

I believe that you would have to take the 20db pad out in the late spring and put it in in the late fall. Or you might remove the amplifier in the fall and re install it in the late spring.

Look in your email junk folder for an email titled “Your Tablo operation changing after 1 November - TabloTV Community”, I sent it via the messaging system on Tablotv. If you can not find it, I will resend it.

I bought my attenuators for $1.10 each from a local company and I sent the name of the company in that email. (Most of their business is mail order anyway.) I recommended buying a 20db pad and a 10db pad in hopes that you might be able to leave one of those in the RF line year round. You could also order a 3db and 6db if you are paying $1.10 each.

Sorry for my multiple edits. Your television set must have a better automatic gain control (AGC) system. So it can internally compensate for very strong input signals.


#17

Thanks. Got the e-mail. I’m waiting on a call back from the guy who installed my antenna. I’m curious if he has seen this problem in the area. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who first mentioned the Tablo to me, so I’d be interested to know if he has seen strong signals in my area yield the behavior I’m observing. Also, I’m hopeful he can point me to a local place to pick up a couple attenuators immediately; otherwise, your source looks good for mail-order.

Can you address my other question, regarding the difference between the Tablo’s behavior and the TV that is directly connected to the antenna (and has no reception problems)? I assume (but am not 100% sure) that the amplifier was placed before the split, so both devices receive the amplified signal minus any differences in the cable run. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember the exact routing to speculate on whether the TV is a significantly longer run (to potentially be attenuating the signal to an appropriate level). But, in general, does the different behavior between the Tablo and the TV with the antenna connection not affect your thoughts on the signal strength being the problem?

Edit: OK, just saw your edit above about the TV’s potential ability to compensate for the signal.


#18

Actually your setup must be more complex than most.

You are receiving Cleveland stations from about 32degrees and Akron stations from about 110 degrees. (Degrees from north) So you probably have 2 separate antennas which are combined into one RF cable.

That RF cable signal is then split inside your home to provide signals for all of your receivers.

It is possible that when you install that 20 db pad in the input to your Tablo, your reception from Akron may be weakened excessively. This would affect any recordings that you try to do from those Akron stations.

But in any case, you should continue with the test and then remove the 20db pad. (Test for at least a few days.)

First do the test, then deal with the possible solutions. There are at least 2 possible solutions.


#19

I’m certain I have just one antenna, which I assume is oriented to get the big networks out of Cleveland, and I likewise assumed the Akron stations (PBS, among others, I think) are just close enough to pick up at the same time. Up until a year ago, I lived another 20 miles further south, which is the full 20 miles further from the Cleveland towers and probably 5 or 10 miles further from Akron, and I got all the stations with one (larger) antenna. I recall a couple of the Cleveland stations giving me problems only in bad weather.

I just spoke to the guy who installed the antenna. He doesn’t have a Tablo himself, but pointed out that the signal is split another 4 times because of the 4 tuners, and thus he’s inclined to not want to attribute it to the signal being too strong. I hadn’t considered that. Is he right to factor that into it? But he encouraged me to simply bypass the 15dB amp to give it a test. FWIW, his suspicion is that it’s the device itself or the hard drive, so I’m also going to cobble together an external drive from an old laptop hard drive and external enclosure and see if that makes a difference.


#20

Not sure if my exact location in Medina matters, but here’s the data I get when I input my address.