I’m trying to select media players for my three televisions, and I’m interested in the opinions of people who have more than one type of streaming player being used with their Tablo. I personally have used the generation-1 Fire TV, a Chrome browser, and a 2015 generation of the Roku-2 (4210R). Since any platform will behave differently as its respective application evolves, I thought this might be a good way to compare apples-to-apples performance, as seen by users who can do a first-hand comparison of hardware/firmware on a single network. So, without changing the Tablo, or the antenna, or the network transport, how do the various media players compare?
I’m also going to kick-off the thread…
My network is wired 100 Mbit Ethernet, and I have two switches between the Tablo and my television. (I also have Wi-Fi, but I prefer not to use it for media transfers.) My Tablo is a 4-tuner box, located upstairs directly beneath my attic antenna(s). I receive about 45 total stations from Philadelphia, but currently I only view 24 of them based on language, and./or content, and/or interest.
Gen-1 Fire-TV (V1.0.25) : While this provides a great experience when looking at Amazon Prime content, it’s slow when retrieving the Tablo media. My playback experience on the Fire-TV has been very good, and I have no difficulties streaming at all. But viewing the Guide for Live-TV is very slow, and it looks like the player is waiting for the entire guide to be updated before it draws anything on the screen, sometimes delaying 15 or 20 seconds. So overall, the playback experience is very-good to excellent, but the navigation experience is mediocre. I’ve also noticed that the more channels I have in the guide, the less predictable the guide performance becomes. So with a lot of channels scrolling down, the guide might stop for 20 or 30 seconds while it’s updating something. But when I cut the number of channels down to 20 to 25, I rarely see any pauses. It also looks like there are times when it is delaying an interface update so it can update a thumbnail or background image.
Chrome browser (on a 4-core Windows 10 PC) (V1.0.24-625) - Performance is generally very snappy, and navigation is significantly easier than on my Fire-TV. It seems to do the same thing, where it waits for full Guide updates before displaying anything, and pauses for thumbnail downloads. But in the case of the Chrome browser the delays are much shorter, on the order of 2 or 3 seconds, and aren’t nearly as annoying as they are on the Fire-TV. Viewing experience is also good on the Chrome browser. Difficult to compare the picture quality since I’m on a different and much smaller screen though.
Roku-2 (4210R) (V2.0 build 19) - This combination is by far the best in terms of navigation responsiveness… It’s a little unfair to be comparing the Roku 2.0 firmware to the 1.0 firmware for other devices, but if this is any indication where things are going, then the Tablo was a good choice. The guide is quick, and has obviously placed a high priority on the interface redraw time, since it will now redraw the partial guide if the data is still downloading. Overall this gives it a very quick feel. Thumbnails also appear to be downloaded in the background, which makes everything very quick responding. The viewing experience seems a little bit fuzzier on the Roku than it appears on my Fire-TV box… But it’s not distractingly different, and it might be that I’m being more critical of the Roku because I’m less distracted by the slow navigation responses.
Overall, I was still on the fence about using the Tablo as a whole-house cable replacement based on the Fire-TV performance… The Roku 2 performance has convinced me completely that this is a good and viable solution for my family to use.
Great job on the Roku 2.0 firmware, by the way… I didn’t use the previous Roku firmware, so I can’t comment on how much it might have improved.
I think it also depends on your recording quality and whether your streamers connected to your Tablo with a wire or with wifi.
I have a Roku3 (4200X) conencted via wifi (Tablo4 is wired) and it is working very well since Roku fixed their software late last fall. I am using the 3 mpbs setting, because I am running out of disk space.
From reading this forum, it seems other streamers have bigger processors and can handle the bigger memory requirements for the higher level recording qualities and probably are also better with handling poor network situations.
Nexus Player hands down - see below:
Something I found that is interesting and confusing that I wanted to share. I have had my Tablo 4 tuner since 6/14 and for the most part been happy with it. A few problems have occurred, but David from support has come to my rescue several times and yes I have had more LPWs and Roku reboots that I would like. Although the other half did get irritated at times, since the 2.8.8 update and then the marvelous 9044 update of the Roku things have been very good with almost NO problems. A Nexus Player was on my Christmas list and sure enough Santa delivered one – and how I wish that I had bought 3 NPs instead of 2 Roku 3s. The NP is like instant everything – it is the GREAT compliment to TABLO.
Now for the interesting: Last week I decided to move the NP from my office to the bedroom since it is far superior to the Roku. (and the BR is the farthest from router Aps) The NP setup fine and still worked instantly, no problems. Then I hooked the Roku up in my office and over a period of 2 or 3 days the program load time went from 5-10 secs to 30-60 seconds for both Rokus. And load after FFW went from 1-3 secs to 15-30 secs and they both had a few LPW. Meanwhile the NP just worked fine. I have over 20 devices on the router and all have reserved IPs and they did maintain their IP addresses.
So the first thing I tried was the sequential reboot – modem, Tablo, Rokus. Didn’t work with Rokus, NP still fine – Rokus unacceptable times. So the next day I shut everything down, modem, both routers, both Rokus and left the NP on. Then I powered up the modem, wait 5 mins, powered up wired router, wait 5, then the remote wireless router wait 5, the Tablo wait 5, then the 2 Rokus. Everything back to normal – Rokus 5-10 secs on load and 1-3 secs after FFW and everything is still instant on NP. Don’t really understand exactly why but Rokus don’t play well with routers - Life is good again.
MY SETUP: Tablo 4 tuner since 6/14 with a 2TB Seagate usb portable drive both setting on a DEEPCOOL WIND PAL MINI Laptop Cooling Pad 15.6" Slim Design 140mm Silent Fan Blue LED, Zyxel PK5001Z modem from CenturyLink on DSL at 6.144Mbps with the radio OFF wired to a 6th Gen Airport Express in bridge mode (in front BR) with a 5th Gen Express on the other side of the house (wireless in the rear family RM) set as extended network. Using 3 Vizo 1080 tvs using 2 Roku 3s (wireless) and 1 ATV and new NP from Santa. I record on the recommended HD 720 and have ~1TB recorded on a 2TB drive. We watch 4-5 hours of recorded shows most days (2-3 hrs minus commercials). We also use the Rokus for Netflix, Amazon and Hulu and see 2 or 3 reboots a YEAR. We do not use it for live tv (split at tv) and do not use Tablo Connect. (two 20-30 yr old Radio Shack antennas – one split between tv & Tablo the other split between office and BR) I get 73 stations on Tablo – all 5 green dots and use 25 in the epg. The broadcast antenna are about 10 miles away.
When Tablo works like it can we are very happy and really enjoy spending the $100 a month we are NOT giving to Dish or Direct on other things we like to do!!!
I believe you’ll find a great deal of conflicting experiences with Tablo and different media players. as how they are connected, and how good a LAN you have, seems to play some role in how good an experience you have.
I’ve used Tablo with Roku 3 (4200), Roku 4, Fire TV (1st gen box), Fire TV (1st gen stick), Nexus Player, and Chrome Web app can tell you that the answer as to which is “best” is always complicated.
All the Android based devices have been less problematic than Roku regarding Tablo app performance over time, but the current Roku firmware / Tablo app combination are working very well for me.
As far as individual devices go:
- Tablo works generally very well on Fire TV, but I find I don’t prefer Fire TV’s overall UI very much, and the Fire TV stick is just too under-powered to be bothered with except for using it as a portable device.
- Roku 3 (4200) and Roku 4 are both working great with the Tablo app for me currently (and for the past couple of months) but both had a spate of hardly working at all with Tablo before the latest Roku firmware update…so your mileage may vary. Overall, I really like using the Roku and find it perhaps the most family friendly UI of all my devices. Missing currently from Roku’s Tablo app is the ability to sort recordings by “Most Recent”…which Tablo has stated is coming, but it can’t get here too soon for my taste. However, overall Tablo’s Roku app is working very well currently, although the interface is slower than the Android player variants, particularly Android TV.
- Nexus Player has the smoothest and by far fastest Tablo App in my stable. I quite like the overall UI as well, although between it and the Fire TV, I’m sure opinions vary.
Nexus Player has the very “flat” Material Design UI, where Fire TV has a bit flashier UI look, but I find it less user friendly.
The only knock I have against Nexus Player (and Android TV overall with some minor exceptions) is the complete absence of Amazon Instant Video…which I do enjoy using on both my Rokus and Fire TVs (although I use it mostly on my Roku - which brings me to this conclusion)…
- Roku wins for overall use based on the simple UI being very faimly/guest friendly and the app agnostic nature of it - Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Google Play in on device - and I believe the only device to have them all plus many others. There was a terrible period for Tablo/Roku owners 4Q2015 where the Tablo app was not working nearly well enough on Roku, but that seems to have been almost entirely on Roku’s dime, as their last firmware fixed all my issues.
@JohnLuther You’ve brought up something I haven’t thought about… If I have my recording quality set to “720p default”, does this resolution limit also apply to Live-TV images? I didn’t assume that the Tablo would attempt to change the video resolution when it streams video live… But since it has to convert to record the video this could be made to work either way. Does anyone know if it streams live-video at full (1080) resolution?
The “max recording quality” setting also applies to live TV:
As far as media players go, I’m using 2 Chromecasts (both 1st gen), a Roku 3, and 2 PCs (running Chrome). All work pretty much flawlessly. My Tablo is wired to a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 router. All but one streaming device is on the same floor as the router. (And the one that’s on the other floor is directly beneath the router.) All the receiving devices are wireless.
I’ve only used Chromecast and NP. NP hands down.
Try stepping up your recordings to 1080/8 with NP. Works fine for me.
I have owned/used the Chromecast, Roku 3 2014, Roku 3 2015, Nexus Player and Shield TV. My order, from favorite to least favorite:
- Shield TV
- Nexus Player
- Roku 3
I haven’t used a Roku in a few months, and I have heard that Tablo has improved for Tablo since then. However, I’m still a fan of the full feature set for Tablo over on Android TV.
Edit: I have all devices wireless with my TP-Link Archer C7 router on 5GHz. The Tablo is on a floor above the rest of the devices, including the router. I record at the highest recording quality, and recordings typically start within 2 seconds of pressing play, and fast forwarding is <1 second resume.
@Warunicorn - Thanks for the technical link, that was exactly the information I needed.
Chris hit the nail right on the head, each device has it’s positives and negatives. I’ve used the Roku 3 (2014), Chrome and Android app since 2014. I most recently have been experimenting with the Fire TV (2nd Gen) and Nvidia Shield. All but Chrome and Android are hardwired with 1080/10Mbps setting.
Roku 3 - With the most recent updates the Roku is much improved. Loading times still have a short delay with resuming after FF or starting a new show. The UI for Tablo has improve greatly since initial release but still is lacking compared to the other options. The number of apps available for the Roku is its greatest strength.
Fire TV - Tablo works well with fast load times and has a very mature UI. My main issues with the device is the Amazon-centric UI. It’s not too bad and has some good features for tying in with their content it just wasn’t very easy to navigate for my family. I’d rather have an individual app based selection at this time. There are a decent number of apps such as WatchESPN, Disney Channels, etc… available as an add-on.
Nvidia Shield - Man is this thing fast. Tablo screams on this device with near instantaneous load times (except for Live TV which none load quick) and it has a full featured UI. If it wasn’t for Android TV missing so many basic native apps like Amazon Prime, WatchESPN and Disney this or the Nexus Player would be the perfect device. Maybe with more TV manufacturers starting to utilize it as their interface of choice it will help speed up adoption.
Points taken BUT performance with Tablo should be first priority since that’s what we’re about here.
In addition to2 the streaming box, which NP is the best, your wifi makes a difference if you are using it. Wireless AC is the newest and best. 5 GHz instead of 2.4 GHz . Microwaves, garage door openers, baby monitors, etc all might cause interference as well as if you are also surfing the net while watching Tablo.
Has anyone tried a MINIX player? I’ve seen a few posts about android players…but curious about thoughts here.
If a nexus player would work I’d assume MINIX would since (the one I’d get) would be running android.
I wouldn’t get an Android powered box. You won’t get nearly the level of software or hardware support that you do with the legitimate Android TV boxes like the Nexus Player and the Shield TV, and the interface is not as optimized for the TV screen. Additionally, many people have complained on here that Tablo does not run well on these generic Chinese boxes. They are not supported by Tablo supposedly.
That is indeed correct. It would be impossible to try to support all of them so we’ve decided to stick with name brand devices.
And Nexus means you get Android the way it was developed instead of Samsung or any one else’s “enhancements”