How quickly can you change channels in live TV?


Almost ready to move into the new house, and I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get live OTA TV to all of my TVs. We need LIVE TV for when we have tornadoes in the area. I really want to be able to quickly switch between channels, and that’s much more important to me than recording shows.

I have a Roku 4 on order, but if necessary I can return it and get a Kindle Fire TV or something else if Tablo supports a different box better.

Unfortunately I was very much of the idea that this wasn’t going to be difficult, so while I put Cat5e Ethernet to each TV, I did not put Coax. So I don’t have the usual option of just splitting the antenna cable.


  1. Can you quickly change channels using the Roku app?
  2. If not, is there another TV streaming box (FireTV, Chromecast, etc?) that does change channels quickly?



Nope. Roku is slow to change channels.

No matter what device you use there is a lag because the Tablo needs to buffer for a short time before displaying live TV. There is one option I can think of without being able to use a splitter - after you tune a channel in and start watching after the buffer, then change to another channel and wait for the buffer, now both of those channels remain buffered until you switch to a 3rd channel (I’m talking about a 2 tuner model), then the 1st one tuned drops out of the buffer. The two most recent channels can now be switched back and forth, although there is still about a 3-5 second lag, but still much faster than the buffer. Maybe that will be fast enough, but I don’t know having never lived in tornado alley. You can tell which channels are current by looking at the guide grid, the current ones are flashing red.

One caveat is that if you have one of the tuners recording then it’s unavailable for this technique to work. If you have a 4 tuner model your chances are better.

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I find Android and Roku to be about the same. It takes 10seconds or so to load the buffer up on Tablo.

Don’t believe any streaming device will improve switching live TV. My setup using wireless Nexus player takes approx 18 seconds. I’m not certain if live buffering speed is related to ISP speed as mine is only 3.5 mpbs. I often use the Tablo guide to review my options then switch channels instantly by switching inputs directly to TV via splitter. For actual viewing I switch back to Tablo streaming to use the pause function as needed. I assume you know that the Tablo system allows access to multiple viewing devices wirelessly through your streaming device. Nexus player uses wireless exclusively and has greatly improved my previous poor experience with Chromecast. Good luck.

Roku does have some weather apps so you could watch them. Is there a TV station whose weather you like best? Watch it…For example I prefer KXAN in Austinand KOKE on radio

Yeah, there are a couple of local channels that do a good job of keeping track of the storms as they come through. I may just have to give up the channel swapping and stick with one channel. The weather apps aren’t good for when there is a tornado bearing down on the neighborhood a mile a way, if you know what I mean.

Maybe I can try a MythTV solution. I just can’t believe, in this day and age of hardware-encoding H.264 devices, that it can take that dang long to start a stream. Hell, when I was in Afghanistan, we could watch live drone coverage over VLC!

@Benjamin_Weiss - Once you’ve tuned to a channel it should come back VERY quickly. So if you have both of your ‘tornado stations’ tuned, you should be able to flip back & forth without the extended start-up time that it takes to begin a stream.

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