Newbie neeeds info

HI every body, I am an Electrical/Electronic Engineer, 90 years old but slow to this cord cutting. Will someone please spend a little time letting me know what I need to go with a Tablo unit. Please show/discuss how everything is to be connected. I live in an assisted living community. Their contract with the cable company prohibits DVR’s hooked to the cable signal so I am looking for a way to record OTA signals. We have about 200 channels provided, but sometimes 2 or more programs are on at the same time, thus the need for the Tablo unit. The Cable Co router sends signal for the TV by cable, but the internet signal is sent by a WIFI signal over the facility. Any help or suggestions will be most appreciated. Thanks

Tablo devices are for OTA broadcast TV only (that is, not a cable company’s rebroadcast).

How would you access the Over The Air signal? A personal antenna?

yes. So if the coax does indeed have antenna signal, then Tablo can be used. In theory, it doesn’t have to come from an antenna, but that’s the norm.

Just to be clear, Tablo cannot record cable programming.

You must install & connect an over-the-air (OTA) antenna to Tablo, then you have to connect Tablo to a wifi network router (either by ethernet cable or wireless). Then if you want to watch Tablo’s programming on a TV you must have a smart TV &/or a streaming device (Fire TV, Roku, etc.) connected to the TV. Also, in order to record any programs you also must purchase a USB Hard Drive & connect it to Tablo as well.

I question whether this is a good choice for you. You need a good antenna properly installed & positioned for good reception (outdoor or attic mounted are best & often pre-amplifiers &/or distribution amplifiers are needed as well). It is unlikely you would be able to properly install the needed antenna & get it wired to your Tablo in your assisted living community. A robust wifi network with a strong signal is also a must for Tablo to work properly, and again it is likely that this would be insufficient in your community.

Hope this is helpful, but I am doubtful that Tablo is right for you.

Hey noru22 - I helped my parents with this a couple years ago.

The first thing I would do is plug your zip code into : This will tell you how good of an Antenna you will require. You probably can’t put the Antenna on the porch or anywhere outside, so you might need a better one than you think. If you get a Noise Margin above about -10db or so, you can get a signal. For inside, with a smaller Antenna, you might need to have positive NM(db) of +10 or so. Others here might have a better feel for these numbers.

Beyond that, you need a Portable Hard-Drive, and a “box” to receive the programs. This “box” is commonly a “Roku”, but there are others that work. You can use your Community’s Wi-Fi, but wired is better.

It looks like TableTV still has refurbs on sale for $99 for a Twin-Tuner / $149 for a Quad-Tuner.
A small Drive will cost you $50-$75.
Roku is ~$40 or so.
A decent Antenna is maybe another $50

Good Luck, Kurt

TVfool is having issues with their database recently. You are probably better off using Antennaweb &/or Tablo now has a station locator tool now that can help.


If you are able to get an antenna setup that picks up stations well, a better option for you might be the Channel Master DVR+. It has 2 tuners & is a simpler setup.

With the Channel Master DVR+ you would setup & connect an antenna to the DVR+ but then it would connect directly to your TV via an HDMI cable just like a traditional Cable/Satellite DVR. So unless you want/need to view your programs on multiple TV’s, the DVR+ is a good/simple choice. They have two models, one that has the hard drive built in & another that would require a separate USB HD for recording. The latter is a cheaper option but the convenience of the built in HD might be what you want.

I just did a quick search & it appears Channel Master discontinued the model with the built in HD. They have the DVR+ on sale for $289.00 right now.

Let’s just be clear here. This is not always the case. Granted, I live in a wide-open community (1-acre minimum lots), but I’m about 35 miles from the majority of TV masts and I get great reception with a flat leaf-type antenna

(which, annoyingly, was $25 when I bought it and now sells for $21).

The way to test whether this will work is to get this (or a similar antenna), connect it to the antenna input on your TV and see if the TV will tune to some stations. If not, return it, and you’re not much out of pocket.

@noru22 Based on the regulations from the on-site cable company, I would suggest you investigate alternatives - they’re mostly in the $35/month category. These would be streaming services with local channel content. What jumps to the front of my mind is YouTubeTV (which I have), DirectTV Now (They keep promising to have a DVR option anytime soon), Sling, and a plethora of other alternatives. I recall reading some articles fairly recently from The Wirecutter that lead on to other insightful articles on ways to receive local programming over the Internet.

That’s interesting. I tried a leaf antenna & got horrible reception & I am within 15 miles of my local broadcast towers. Maybe I purchased a bad brand (couldn’t tell you which it was). But I have heavy foliage in my yard between my home & the towers, that could have been the problem.

It is possible he will have little issues with a leaf antenna, but he would still be dependent on the community wifi network which might or might not be an issue. Thus my recommendation of the Channel Master DVR+, but of coarse this is contingent on not needing/wanting the ability to view on multiple devices.

This is the exact view from the window I tested the above-mentioned antenna from. :slight_smile: There were more leaves earlier in the year. Granted, that window points more or less in the direction of the broadcasting towers. I also tested the antenna by placing it on the wall behind the television (same orientation) and I lost only a few of the weaker signals)

When I installed the Tablo, I moved the antenna to an upstairs window with a better line-of-sight.

I’ve never read much good about Channelmaster DVRs, but if memory serve, they play in the same space as Tivo - both of those would suffice for a single-TV solution, taking signals from an over-the-air antenna.

My buddy has had one for 2-3 years. He loves it & claims he has never had an issue. And yes, it is a single TV dedicated DVR.

See my general response below at rccolts

See my general response below at rccolts. I will be using an antenna.

To all who responded to me, thank you very much. I reaize that it was poorly written, but at my age, it was the best I could do last night. I have already purchased a TIVO ROAMIO OTA WITH NO FEE FOR SERVICE. It crashed and burned shortly after the warranty ran out. I spent a lot of money on something that did not last (but worked beautifully while it was working ) and I am looking for something less expensive. I wrote my request as I was getting tired and needed to go to bed, As a result I left out a bunch of information. Yes, I know that we are talking about Over The Air OTA signals. I have a poor antenna in my room with an amplifier. Yes I get poor reception, but it is all that I can do here. I get enough of the local stations to want to record them sometimes while watching another channel. I just didn’t know how to use a streaming device and where to connect it. I really wanted to hear any options I might have other than go back to TIVO.

Also I can’t find the proper way listed to respond (whether to the individual or the group.

Again thanks to everyone who responded.


That is the part I am asking about. Can I do that with a Roku stick or something similar.

Roku does not give you DVR capability.

I think you were just unlucky with your Tivo Roamio. I honestly think you should either go back to that (maybe buy a surge protector and an extended warranty :wink: ) or look into one of the services that provides local channels over the Internet.

Eg YouTube TV YouTube TV - Watch & DVR Live Sports, Shows & News

Sling TV :

DirectTV Now keeps promising DVR service “real soon now”

Also, review this:

Live TV streaming services such as Sling, PSVue & DirectTVNow only offer local channels in select markets, you would have to check them for your area. You would only need to purchase a streaming device but these Live TV services are not free - they all have monthly fees associated with them.

If your Tivo Roamio was working to your satisfaction, then I would either go with another one or the Channel Master DVR+. Both have the upfront purchase cost with no monthly fees after that.