Okay, I'm ready to bite

I designed my antenna coaxial network in 2020 and designed it with a Tablo in mind.

Things didn’t progress as quickly as I had hoped, we’ve had the antenna up and working since 2020 (saving a bundle as we previously had three Comcast/Xfinity set-top boxes) but lots of other things got in the way, including running Cat6 cables and a burst pipe in the attic.

We actually were planning to buy a 4 tuner before football season but then they were sold out, then the new models made me a little gun-shy, wondering if I should try to find a 3rd gen on eBay or something.

Well, after much thinking, we are going to buy one of the new 2 tuner models at the beginning of October and then when they come out with the new 4 tuner version, replace it and keep the two-tuner as a spare in case of hardware failure.

From the antenna amplifier, I have a 3-way balanced splitter. One of those outputs is wired to the jack for the Tablo. The other two each go to separate 4-way splitters and then on to televisions (seven total, with the eight going to a MoCA adapter that I can turn on if someone ever makes an ATSC tuner with built-in MoCA client)

The signal out of those four-way splitters is strong enough that the two-tuner OTA TiVO in the master bedroom doesn’t have a problem, so at roughly four times the signal strength, the signal at the jack intended for the Tablo may be a little hot. I do not know yet.

If the signal is too hot, I’ll first try a -3db attenuator and if still too hot, a -6db attenuator. In any case, it should work.

We don’t need the Tablo for live television, all televisions have antenna connection. We just need the DVR.

On Sundays though we may use the streaming feature to keep track of what is happening during one football game while watching the other, to know when to jump the live broadcast. I suspect we probably won’t do that though.

I’ve got a Sabrent USB 3.0 SATA docking station ready to attach to the Tablo, and a second one attached to my GNU/Linux PC. Assuming the filesystem Tablo uses is one I can mount in GNU/Linux, that will make it easy to get the recordings off. Obviously powering down the Tablo before undocking the drive to dock on my PC.

No, we aren’t pirates and have no interest in piracy. However, with television broadcast in standard definition that we enjoy, we actually don’t like it fully upscaled. What we prefer to do is use FFmpeg to partially upscale it to HD but place it on a black frame, so that when we add subtitles, the subtitles are below the frame.

The show is still very viewable and doesn’t have as many artifacts as it would with a full upscale, and when watching with subtitles, the subtitles do not block the content.

I did that with some ripped DVDs years ago and it worked really well, I’m dying to try it with broadcast television. Obviously those remastered files will have to be served from a media server other than the Tablo.

So…in beginning of October we order it.

I imagine it will have somewhat of a learning curve, but everything is ready.

This might sound boring, but most of what we plan to DVR for long-term keeping is classic sitcoms from the 60s and 70s when (in our opinion) television writing was better.

Short term storage (time shifting), whatever someone wants to watch but can’t be home at the right time. Six adults sharing a house, two tuners may not be enough, hopefully the four-tuner model comes out before too long.

Sounds like you have a really good setup going for you. The only issue I can see is pulling content off your Tablo. There are plenty of tools out there, such as Tablo Ripper and others, that will pull content off the original Tablos, but my understanding is that none of them work on the new Gen 4 model.

If Linux can mount it read only, I can get it off.

Unless it uses an encrypted filesystem, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Disclaimer: I don’t own the new style device.

If even you can pull the drive and mount, you might find that you actually have to play the media in order to figure out what the recording is. Again, what I just said is a guess.

Yes, Linux can. On an external drive, it’s an ext4 filesystem. Not encrypted.

The *.ts video files are 4MB segments and are readable by VLC Player.

I didn’t dig any deeper yet. Everything below is idle speculation on my part:

  • I only checked some recordings from a FAST channel. The broadcast recording segments may be longer.
  • Why only 4MB? That’s only ~6sec of video. My guess is that each file corresponds to a FF/RW thumbnail.
  • I suspect you could concatenate all the segments together and the video would still play, just as you can with Tablo Classic.

you might find that you actually have to play the media in order to figure out what the recording is

Possibly. I didn’t dig around for metadata.