Newbie here - Questions about which Tablo is right for me

Hi. I am a newbie. New to cutting the cable cord. I have been doing a lot of research. So this is where I am now. I have 3 tvs, all with Amazon FireTVSticks. I will be installing an outside OTA HDTV antenna, that will be connected to all tv’s via existing RG6 cables. My question is, which OTA DVR would be right for me? I have noticed a lot of reviews for the Tablos and Channel Masters. I want something that will mimic dvr that I have now with my cable service. Which is, record more than one program at one time, list of programs to be able to schedule series, etc so I can set it and forget it.
Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Lots of choices out there. There are even many Tablo products. The “original” products are what most people are familiar with which is a standalone network device (doesn’t connect to your TV, just to your antenna). That device comes in several models, the original 2-tuner (deprecated), 4-tuner models, the newer Tablo Dual and the recently announced (replacement for the original 2-tuner) Tablo Dual Lite. There hasn’t been an announcement of an update to the 4-tuner Tablo.

The advantage of those lines is that they are network devices. They transcode the recorded ATSC mpeg2-ts into mpeg4-ts (h264/AAC). With that said, that means the audio does become 2-channel at that point. However, the end result is something that can be easily streamed. ATSC mpeg2-ts is NOT easily streamed across a network (which is usually why such device must directly connect to your TV). Given that the Tablo uses a more readily streaming version, it means it also streams nicely to remote device away from the local network if configured to do so. However, it currently has the limitation that any such remote device has to contact your Tablo 1st on the local network, before it can be used remotely. But still, it’s nice to be able to watch recordings and Live TV from my phone or iPad.

So… advantage to those units, is “network”, that is, one device many clients across a network, even remote.

Another advantage with Tablo is one EPG subscription for multiple devices. So, let’s say you get the new Tablo Dual Lite… and you like it, but want to be able to record more shows simultaneously. So you want to purchase another one. Your single subscription can be used by both, no extra EPG subscription. A limitation among with some competitors (in case that’s interesting).

I actually create OTA/DVR recording devices (homemade) and Tablo is my “go to” device right now. But I also dabble with the Plex DVR as well. Both have some problems, but I have less problems with Tablo (I own 2 x original 2-tuner Tablos).

“mimic dvr that I have now with my cable”? No. The interface is different. Takes some getting used to, but it’s not horrible.


  1. Sync. Many of the functions of the Tablo will require you to use the Web Browser client which pretty much requires Chrome (though they may have something that works ok on other browsers). Essentially the “application” inside the Tablo box downloads and maintains a database on your local browser cache of all the EPG and recordings on your Tablo. It’s the EPG update that takes so long. Sync time can take several minutes and is one of the most painful things about the Tablo. Hope is that someday the Web Browser client will not have to sync anymore. But you know, it might have to (there are reasons).

  2. It transcodes. While this is an advantage, it’s also a disadvantage in that it takes time to take a newly tuned channel to a transcoded file (in flight) and stream, so channel changes can take upwards to 20 seconds or so … IF the channel isn’t already tuned by a tuner. There’s no easy answer to this… just the way it is.

  3. No surround sound. Audio is arguably more important than video. So people who have invested in multi-thousand dollar setups for supreme multi-channel surround will be disappointed. There have been hints that this is fixable, but I say this is going to be very very difficult to do (as I’ve always said).

  4. Only local (one) drive storage support. Currently, apart from the limited space on the Tablo Dual (not the Lite), you must supply a USB drive for storage. If you’re going to use the Tablo as a long term archive device for hundreds of recordings, you might find this to be limiting. The largest bus powered drive made today I believe is 4TB. That holds a lot, but it’s not going to be enough for some.

  5. Pairing. In order to use a device away from the Tablo network it must support Tablo Connect and must be paired with the Tablo on the local network. Not everything supports Tablo Connect and of course, the fact that it must be paired is somewhat of a pain. Supposedly there is some work going on at Nuvyyo to address this. I’ve seen end devices “lose” their pairing. There are many ways this can happen. It’s just a pain.

  6. Support across frontend devices varies. I use Roku, and would say that so far, Tablo’s support has been the best on that device. Not without problems from time to time as Roku does change their firmware. But right now, it’s probably at its best vs. the others. FireTV works well, but there are known problems with the new “pendant” FireTV device. However, I believe a fix will happen in the coming months (as is often the case, the problem might not be on Nuvyyo’s side and require Amazon to patch). Feature functionality varies, however Nuvyyo has really worked hard to try to bring them all to equity… just not there yet.

  7. Switching between Tablos requires disconnect. If you have multiple Tablos, the UI requires you to “disconnect” from one Tablo and connect to the other. They aren’t “joined” together automatically (though, this is actually doable I believe, hint to the devs…, but there would be a sync db change required).

With all that said, there is also Tablo DVR Engine for Nvidia Shield. That’s a setup that is very much like Plex DVR. It means you have a tuner device attached to your Shield (Nuvyyo sells one). The device is a 2-tuner device OEM’d from a major tuner manufacturer. The advantage of this device is that it does record the raw ATSC data, like many of the competitors. Since the Shield is directly connect to your TV, no problems with streaming, to playback of the raw data, including surround sound is possible. If you have one TV, this might be a great answer as the Shield can act as a very smart streaming box as well for many apps and games (instead of FireTV). Anyway, it’s a very different device from the others, but could be closer to what you want. Tablo still tries to give a similar interface look and feel though.

I like the Tablo + Roku platform. Like I said, it’s my “go to” for DVR recording. But we use direct antenna connects to our TVs for channel surfing. I only watch Live TV via my Tablos when remote.

I’m also a huge Plex user and author of SurLaTablo, which I use to keep my Tablo drive usage down as it can take your recordings off the Tablo and into a format ideal for Plex (there are at least 3 other 3rd party products that do this as well).


Thank you so much for your response.

A lot of information above but straight forward and open. If you have the time, start with the OTA antenna. The quality of your signal could help you make the best choices on the rest of your system. Having a good antenna system and router network can be the key to everything else. Get your basic antenna system working before you start spliting your coax to multiple devices. I rushed things and later made several changes to my system to get what I wanted. Get your antenna and Wifi network working well while you are considering which DVR to buy.

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Ask questions. The Tablo is a good whole house DVR system that has a lot of options but you need need to determine what your priorities are to make the best choices. Users here have a lot of experience, even with non-Tablo options and are good about answering questions. My main reason for choosing the Tablo was the list that my wife made; multi-room access, multi recordings and easy selection of recorded shows. She is happy.

I only cut the cord last November but Tablo has been a good choice for me. The interface is different than with cable but I have adjusted. The scheduling is very simular to cable, season scheduling, episodes to keep, etc. The series scheduling carries over from season to season. The big difference is that the program grid only shows 2 days worth of shows. You also have a programming guide, simular to Netflix that shows 30 days of all the upcoming shows for your extended scheduling. You can schedule shows to record from both the grid and the guide.

If you buy from Tablo, you have 30 days to return it if doesn’t meet your needs.

I have a 4 tuner model because we often record 3 shows at a time. I would consider a Duo Lite since I could add a second Duo Lite later if needed but then You would need a second harddrive also. You can switch between multiple Tablos on a network.

Thank you for the info. The more I read, I understand a little bit better. I have a nice outside OTA antenna on the way. I agree, get everything else setup before purchasing DVR equipment.

You have been given a lot of good info here already, but I will add my 2 cents.

It mostly depends on your individual needs/preferences. Tablo, IMO, is the best choice for a whole home DVR system. It’s ability to stream live TV & recordings to multiple TV’s/devices throughout your home is pretty much without competition. But as has been mentioned already, Tablo only connects to your router & streams to compatible devices thus TV viewing requires a streaming device except for a few smart TV’s that have a Tablo app available. As long as your Fire Sticks aren’t the new pendents then you should have no problem using them with Tablo. However, if they are the new Fire TV pendents then they currently do not work with Tablo.

Channel Master’s DVR’s are good products but they are one TV dedicated DVR’s. Even their new Stream+, which doubles as a streaming device, connects to your TV & doesn’t have the capability of being utilized on multiple TV’s/devices.

Tivo Roamio is probably going to give you the closest thing that mimics your old cable DVR. And it can be utilized as a whole home DVR system, but it then requires you to purchase a Tivo Mini unit for each additional TV & it requires a hard wired network.

There are a few other choices, such as Plex & HDHomerun, but these are not a simple DVR that you can purchase, hookup, & use. They require some sort of NAS for storage & require a little technical skill/knowledge to setup & get running.

Good luck!

One of Tablo’s greatest strengths is being able to watch any recording on any TV. My wifes #1 requirement, along with being able to to record multiple shows at the same time. For her, everything is transparent. OTA is a difference experience for me because we are in an obstructive reception area. For the most part, it works well and I am glad we made the change. If your signal & wifi are good then almost everything else will be good.

Agreed, the trade off vs a TiVo is what some would considered a bit less “polish” for much more flexibility for the price. And being a cord cutter, price is definitely a factor. For us, long-term the best option at the time (and currently in my opinion) was Tablo and I don’t regret the decision because I went in knowing the pros and cons and for our situation the pro list was simply larger for Tablo. Quite honestly, I re-assess anytime someone announces something new but keep coming back to Tablo.

I think we’ve all seen Tablo go through their growing pains. What is nice is that they keep striving to make the experience better and they have a good community. Is that what “we want” as consumers? No. We want perfection. But compared to many companies (including Microsoft which is really making me mad right now), they do a pretty good job.

Agreed. I’d much rather give my money to a company that actively interacts with their customer base and make it a community effort. That’s what really separates a company from the pack and makes me much more inclined to “take a risk” on them because what they are providing actually meets the needs I have, not the ones someone else has decided I have.

Both @TabloSupport and I do our best to advocate for you guys anytime decisions are being made that will impact the current user base.

And unlike what likely happens in mega huge companies like Microsoft, the C-level folks actually seek out our counsel before those decisions are finalized.

The decision isn’t always what we hope for (because there are many other factors at play beyond what you/we want) but you can rest assured that the feedback and requests you guys share here are relayed and considered.

It’s that honesty and communication that I desire. Sadly it seems not very common so I gravitate to products where I do see it.

I’m willing to forgive a lot if someone is open and honest with me. We all have to prioritize and look at the big picture, it’s just finding a balance that works.

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Perioically I had the same problems with my cable services. I just had to live with them an wait for them to be resolved. At least now, II have an idea about what is happening and sometimes I can even do something about it.