My path to cutting the cord

I did a little write up for my friends that I have talking to about cutting the cord and going with a Tablo.

I tried to frame it as best I could to explain what I am doing to cut the cord, so if I missed anything or if things could be placed better, please feel free to let me know. 

The way I’m learning to cutting the cord:

I’ve been doing research for the past year or so about cutting the cord to reduce my monthly cable bill.

I stumbled across the Channelmaster DVR+ and started reading up on it on website.

I read the the first 116 pages and determined that it wasn’t quite ready for prime time due to it only having 2 tuners and the cost per product was kind of high.

I stopped researching for about a year until I realized that my Verizon contract was up and that in May 2015 my bill will jump to $170.

Verizon was trying to get me to resign with a more expensive package, but that was going to run me $170-180 before taxes for what I wanted, which was a 6 tuner dvr, quantum router and better tv package.

Since I couldn’t get what I wanted, I then decided to start my research again and I stumbled across the Tablo over the air dvr recorder.

I went on to start my research and was impressed by what it was capable of doing.

It records over the air broadcasts like a regular dvr, can stream live tv to a chromecast, roku or firetv box or firetv stick. I can also stream whatever is on the dvr to my tablet or phone anywhere I am at outside of the house.

If you’re going to start doing your own research, one thing to remember is after about the first 10-12 pages on most forums, things go off the rails and get really technical and over most peoples heads of technical knowledge, so don’t get freaked out if things get to complicated.

I usually go to the last few pages as they usually contain updated information the product they are discussing.

I then decided this is what I was going to use for my over the air (ota) recording and to use the Amazon firetv box for 2 of my tv’s and a firetv stick for my kids bedroom.

So I decided to make a list of what I was going to need to make this happen:

1 Tablo
2 Amazon Fire tv boxes
1 Amazon Fire streaming stick
1 Western Digital 2 TB external hard drive(can’t go higher than 2 TB according to Tablo)
1 Winegard FL6500A outdoor antenna
50ft Coax cable (to run from outdoor antenna to splitter)
1 3 way splitter to split the incoming signal from the antenna to two of the tv’s and the Tablo. Get whatever size splitter you need to supply a signal to your tvs and tablo.
1 modem/router that your internet provider uses(save yourself the monthly rental cost by buying the modem/router) I got the Verizon quantum router.
50ft Cat5 cable to hard wire Amazon Fire tv to router
6ft coax cable to run from the splitter to the tv thats closest to the splitter.

Optional Items:

2 Toslink cables to run the sound from my tv to my receiver for surround sound.
6ft Cat5 cable to hard wire the Amazon Fire tv to the router. (The Amazon Fire tv box does wireless streaming but hard wiring can be faster than wireless streaming)
Tablo channel guide can be purchased 3 ways: monthly, yearly or lifetime.

My Setup:

Everyone’s setup will vary by need and what they can do in the building you’re living in or what your preferences to set up every tv as.

Living Room: Coax cable, Amazon Fire Tv, Toslink out to my sound bar.
Bedroom: Coax cable, Amazon Fire Tv, Toslink to my receiver.
Kids Room: Amazon Fire Tv Streaming stick.
Tablo is setup in the living room tv cabinet.

Antenna setup:

First thing you need to do is figure out what antenna you need.

I first tried the Winegard 35 mile razor thin non-amplified indoor antenna, but I really wasn’t able to pick up any main channels but ABC since the towers are 34-35 miles from my house in Ruskin/Apollo Beach.

I returned that and purchased the Winegard FL500A amplified outdoor antenna and picked up all the local channels plus ones further south.

Winegard offers an indoor amplified antenna, but I chose to do the outdoor route so I know I wont have signal interference problems with the signal traveling through walls.

There are websites and apps that will tell you which way to point the antenna to pick the local channels.

I mounted my antenna to the peak of my house and ran the coax cable to the main cutout area in my wall of my existing cable and ran it to my tv to run a test to make sure my antenna is pointed in the right direction.

I ran a channel scan and found out I am receiving the signals for my area and further south from Ft. Meyers and Sarasota in crystal clear HD.

Multi-tv setup:

By running coax to my existing tv in my living room and bedroom, I can still get live tv whenever I want and by running the Toslink cable from my tv to my reciever and I can still do 5.1 Surround sound.

My setup will consist of a coax run from the antenna to my living room and bedroom tv’s and Tablo, a Cat5 run to the 2 Amazon Fire tv’s and wireless hookup to the Fire tv streaming stick in my sons room.

With the Tablo, you can stream live and recorded tv to your tvs so you really don’t have to run coax to all your tv’s, I just chose to do that since I’m capable of doing it.

If you choose to run a signal from the antenna to your tv’s, one way to run the signal from the antenna is hooking up to the existing coax splitter, that way you don’t have to make multiple runs of coax or putting holes into walls to run the coax or cat5 cables.

If you can’t connect to the existing coax splitter, find a flexible person with the knowledge that knows how run coax and drill holes to run wires and have them wire up the house for you.

With the Amazon fire tv’s, it has a hdmi connection, so I have that hooked up to my soundbar in my living room and home theater receiver so I get surround sound with netflix, hulu and amazon prime and other movies and streaming services.

I am using the Amazon Fire Tv’s but you can use whatever you prefer, like the Roku or Chromecast of Apple tv. Do your own research on what you think will work for you.

From what I have read, the Roku and Amazon Fire Tv are the best way to go for the Tablo interface usage. They all have an hdmi connection, so you can hook them up to the hdmi ports on your receiver or soundbar.

The Tablo has it’s own Amazon and Roku channel, plus it’s own Android and IOS app for you to access it.

Internet provider:

Depending on your location, you might only get 2 internet providers, sometimes 3.

In Pinellas county, certain areas get Verizon, Brighthouse and WOW Cable.

There is Vivint, they offer 50 mb/s wireless internet

The best thing to is find out who provides service to your area and see what deals they have for internet only.

I know Verizon is offering 50/50 internet speeds, local channels and HBO for $60/month to new subscribers only.

I don’t know what Brighthouse offers, but call and see what they can offer you if you’re a new subscriber or if you threaten to cancel.

Things to think about:

Depending on the setup you want, your upfront costs will vary.

Mine will run about $800-900, but will have paid for itself in about 8 months.

You don’t need to wire up each tv with coax cable since the Tablo will stream live tv to each tv that has a streaming device. I just chose to do that since I can.

You don’t need to hard wire the Amazon Fire Tv boxes as they do wireless streaming. I chose to do that because I can and wired is usually faster than wireless.

You can buy your own modem/router for your internet provider so you don’t have to pay a rental fee each month. Make sure the one you buy has 2.4 and 5 ghz dual band technology, as the 2.4 band is congested with a lot of devices and slows down your streaming speeds.

There are other antenna manufactures like Mohu,antennas direct, and Amazon. I chose the Winegard based on the reviews and price.

There are other ota dvr recorders like the Tivo roamio or simpletv, but based on the research I’ve done, this seems close to the dvr that you get from the cable company.

I hope this provides you with some insight on what you can do to reduce your monthly cable bill and save yourself hundreds of dollars a year.

You don’t have to follow what I did as I chose to things a certain way, just chose the path that best works for you.

We chose to take the upfront cost hit instead of adding to the monthly cost because our goal is to reduce or monthly to as little as possible.



Antenna:    Stay away from the 4000. go with either 5000/5000A/6500A antenna’s.

Message boards for research:

Tower locator:

Sites to buy materials:

Additional websites:

Another site to buy materials and is where I got my Tablo.  At the time they had a promo - buy the 4 tuner Tablo and get a FREE 1 TB disk. I learned of the deal from the Tablo Facebook page.

Thanks for the links

I got mine off of newegg the other week when it came with a free 1.5 tb hard drive will let you create a custom schedule and if there is a station the same as the EzpG is missing you can grab it. Also I set up two fake channels for two different Catholic TV stations. They are not really OTA but I have both apps on my Roku. They show movies sometimes and around holidays have special programming. There is a for mobile use.

I setup 2 custom Titantv schedules, one for Tablo programming and one for SlingTV programming. I saved the to my phone as a icon. It works pretty well. There is a drop down menu to select which TV schedule I want to view.

After cutting the cord and using the tablo for 2 months, I feel like I’m less stressed out to make sure I watch tv.

What I mean is with only having a 2 tuner cable dvr, if I recorded 2 things at once,I was forced to watch something off the dvr or go lay in my bed and watch tv.

With having the 4 tuner tablo and the ability to watch broadcast tv separately and having hulu, Netflix and Amazon prime to watch movies and tv, I’m not trapped by the technological limitations of the cable company dvr and since I paid for everything outright, I won’t be paying rental fees for years to come

it’s like I’m not being forced to get home and watch something because I’m recording two things at once or I’m about to run out of storage space.

I’m not going to lie, but I do miss some of the cable shows like house hunters and some discovery and history channel stuff, but I usually watched those things weeks after they aired so now I go on one of the 3 streaming sites or popcorntime and watch what I missed.

But after these first two months of no cable, I’m happy with my decision.

Paying $49/month for 75/75 fios speeds helps ease the pain of some of the shows I’m missing.

Now if we can 5.1 and MLB to do away with local blackouts, then it’ll be perfect

@g00d4me Same here after we shut off the satellite we don’t watch nearly as much TV as we did, and like you I missed some shows, Deadliest Catch and Gold Rush I buy these on iTunes the whole series for like 20 bucks. There are a few other shows and channels that I watched the History Channel and Discovery only because we had satellite, but I don’t miss them enough to pay for them.