Phantom icons can't be deleted

I have begun experiencing, just recently, icons for shows which have zero episodes/instances, which are impossible to delete.

Having already played and then deleted the episode, I still have a remaining icon which will not delete.

I have tried to use all four player apps with my Roku, Apple TV, Amazon fire cube, and iOS devices, all with the same result.

I have tried power cycling and also rebooting the Tablo box with no improvement.

Sadly, this is the very same issue I reported in 2016, six years ago.

The thread I started then has been closed for a long time, and the problem was previously solved with firmware from Tablo with corrected programming.

Looks like the bug is back.

Any suggestions?

Thank you very much,


I discovered a workaround which fixes the phantom icon problem, after some further experimentation.

The solution is to open the options and choose the “do not record any episodes” selection.

It is neither intuitive nor obvious why this should correct the desktop appearance of recordings. Presumably, the choice of options is intended to only affect future recordings, and should not logically create a “cleanup” to occur for previous recordings…

Since all the obvious choices of deletion, rebooting, etc. were unable to fix this problem, as one would logically expect, I am pleased to discover that a method does exist to fix it, even if it is not even slightly intuitive.

I am posting here for the benefit of others who may encounter this problem as I did, and not know how to fix it.

Might I also suggest that Tablo add some code to the reboot initiation in which a generalized cleanup of such orphaned/phantom desktop items would be eliminated. These would be easily discovered by looking for recordings with zero episodes/instances.


Maybe you could help others understand how you believe these are created. Or what you were doing prior to their apperance.

Best option would be to stop the “problem” instead of routine fixes.

Creating these phantom icons is very simple:

Record a show

Regardless of whether you watch it or not, delete the show.

Even though the individual episode is now deleted, the icon remains on the Tablo desktop, and cannot be deleted.

For those of us who use Tablo, this sequence of steps of recording, then deleting, happens over and over again every time we watch Tablo.

Once in a very great while, when deleting the last recording, Tablo software fails to delete the icon, leaving it in a condition where it cannot be deleted using normal techniques . The workaround I published appears to solve the problem, but is neither obvious nor logical, and therefore may never be recognized as a solution.

The proper way to fix the problem is to prevent it from happening in the normal deletion code written by Tablo . This resides in firmware in the Tablo box. As I said previously, it does not make any difference which of the several player apps are being used for the various Roku, Amazon, Apple, or other devices.

If the original code is not fixed , the next best thing would be to add new code to the reboot initialization sequence, quickly checking each desktop icon to be sure it has at least one yet to be deleted episode. This would allow fixing the mistake made by the deletion software whenever a reboot was accomplished.

Since neither fixing the deletion software nor adding the reboot software is likely to take place, IMHO, the workaround I suggested is a quick and dirty fix.


I’ve been doing that for over 4 years now - Record / Delete (watch or not). “For those of us who use Tablo” how is this defined? as I’ve never encountered this, with multiple tablo devices. Suppose I just need more time, as you and the gang had it multiple times.

Good luck with getting them to fixing the “deletion software”.

Thankfully, this phantom issue occurs very seldom. My wife and I use our two Tablo recorders a lot, and this is the first time I have seen this problem in six years. For reasons unknown, this was never a bug in the earliest 2014 vintage Tablo I purchased, but showed up after a firmware upgrade in 2016, suddenly creating many phantom icons which could not be deleted. This problem was eventually solved in a subsequent firmware update, and has not resurfaced until my recent experience this weekend. I personally find it very annoying to have cluttered and erroneous desktop icons which cannot be deleted, so I immediately asked this forum for any suggestions. Thankfully I discovered a workaround as I just recently described above.

It does not surprise me that most people, myself included, do not experience and report this problem, as it is very rare.

I have a generalized theory of why the Roku is so flaky when using Tablo (but is otherwise very stable with all the other channels and apps I use and try. I believe there are fundamental synchronization issues between the Roku box processor and the Tablo box processor which cause incomplete operations, software race conditions, and ultimately corrupt data, interfere with proper playback, or both. It is unclear to me whether the root cause is inadequate CPU throughput in the Tablo box, programming mistakes, or poorly understood and poorly implemented use of synchronization techniques required for real time reliable software. over the eight years that I have been involved with using every release of Tablo software from the very first commercial product in 2014, I am quite convinced that timing issues prevent icons from being reliably removed and frames from being reliably scrubbed in fast forward/reverse. It is frequently my observation that the heaviest work loads for Tablo, such as updating and optimizing the EPG, recording on all four tuners and playing back content simultaneously, etc. all at the very same time creates overload periods when Tablo fails most often.

I certainly hope that these types of problems do not get swept totally under the rug by Tablo. With the Amazon cube or Apple TV, and even iOS devices, the Tablo box is quite wonderful. Roku has always been a weak and poorly tested alternative, despite the huge market share and popularity it enjoys.


You probably have already checked, but have you waited until the next day to see if the nightly maintenance clears it up?

I turned on the Tablo this morning shortly after waking up. The phantom was still there. The phantom may have been created AFTER the nightly maintenance, since I was using it in the wee hours. Thus, it may have never had a chance to find and then correct the problem.

Should I run into this problem again, I will allow one night of maintenance to occur first before manually fixing it with the option selection described above. It would be nice to think that automatic repair does take place.

Thanks for the suggestion!


I wonder if any of those other apps (or maybe all of them do if they all need to adhere to a specific standard set by Roku?) to which you refer stream the content to the Roku in the same way the Tablo does. If not, that may explain why you’ve only seen the behavior in the Tablo app.

Roku, as a platform, has a unique operating system, development tool set, community of developers, and strict protocols defining the programming and media content structures and formats.

As you will see from comparing different Roku apps, there is no single standardized player embedded throughout Roku channels/apps. Each app developer, such as tablo, has control and discretion over how their player looks and behaves. Some work extremely well and some don’t, based on the choices made by the developer and the correctness of programming to implement the design.

Compared to many (if not most) Roku apps which stream pre-recorded content on demand from a remote server (such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.), the Tablo app has much more work to do. Comparatively speaking, it is a very complex app, with its Ability to record, schedule, and also play in the midst of recording.

Developers for the Roku, Amazon fire, Nexus, Apple TV, iOS, and web browsers (all seven of which are offered by Tablo as apps) must develop platform specific code which meets strict programming guidelines and standards, and each platform has unique strengths and weaknesses as well as programming methods and tools. Google ‘Roku dev tools’

All of the above merely confirms that building a successful application for the Roku, especially for Tablo, is not a job for code kiddies.

After dozens of firmware and app updates, and eight years of elapsed time, I am still experiencing a very mediocre Roku app from Tablo. On the bright side, apps for Apple TV, Amazon, and iOS do not freeze, do not crash, and are a pleasure to use.


Just for clarity, I assume when you say “Nexus”, you mean Android TV. Assuming so, the FireTV app and Android TV app are the same app but missing from your list is the Android (phone) app, which is different from the Android TV app.

Yes, you are correct.

I based my previous message on all of the apps I have personally used, and, in the case of “Nexus” player, included the Google Nexus box which indeed does use the Android operating system and app. I did indeed overlook the Android phone version of the Tablo app, and missed it mostly because I have never owned or used Android-based phones, only iPhones and iPads.

I unplugged and stopped using the Nexus players which I have here when the Amazon fire cube came out in around 2019, and have been enjoying Android features including Tablo support on an Amazon cube. facing the last/current freezing and crashing situation, combined with the Stonewall attitude of Tablo who has been essentially silent on what steps are being taken to fix the Roku code, I have recently bought more Amazon fire cubes for other locations in my home. Of all the Tablo playback devices, it has become my favorite, and thankfully has avoided the outrageous unreliability of the Roku version of Tablo. If I had it to do over again, knowing in 2014 what continuing, unending issues would persist or recur, I would have never bought the seven Roku boxes which have been scattered around my home for eight years. My use is almost entirely Tablo, since I do not subscribe to any services, and merely want a reliable Tablo client.

If the Tablo app for android phones is very similar to the Amazon fire, both in its codebase and functions, I imagine it is a very good product also, but have never used it personally.


So it’s possible, this bug may be fixed?

Many services stream live programming. Tablo steams both recorded and live, which technically it records by transcoding and saving to disk prior to streaming.

The app is only a front end, as the tablo is a headless device. It’s really just a UI and has no impact if tablo is recording while streaming to multiple apps - they have no interaction.

One distinction, Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Amazon etc are giant corporation providing streaming services. Your tablo is a streaming device you own. Using apps one the same product to access them… doesn’t make them equal.

If discovering undeleted items in the next day, and then deleting them is considered “fixing the bug”, I suppose you could call that a corrected problem. In my book, this would be a sloppy way to repair a problem if preventing the original mistake a day earlier were an option.

My point with regard to comparative complexity of the workloads of Tablo versus many if not most Roku channel apps was that Tablo has a more demanding and higher throughput workload. Given a situation where 4 simultaneous ATSC streams are being transcoded, recorded, combined with one or more playback client demands on top of program guide EPG updates and optimizations, the CPU in the Tablo has a great deal of work to do, particularly if synchronization of client and server traffic must be accurate and meet deadlines.

I am not aware of any other Roku app which needs to achieve comparable activities in real time, but they may exist.

The Roku app may not be doing the heavy lifting, but the consequences of CPU overload in the Tablo, or of software races provoked by delayed or missing data from the excess Tablo latency, may prevent the Roku app from getting what it needs when it is needed. I am talking about buffer underflows, faulty presentation timestamps in transport streams, dropped packets, and other timing/synchronization defects which lead to freezing and crashing outcomes.

It is my belief that the Tablo box does the real time management correctly, and shows no evidence of overload when using other player apps such as Amazon or Apple. I therefore conclude that the Roku app is likely to be at fault, rather than the Tablo firmware, although both may be implicated, given the different player hardware and operating system constraints.


I don’t know about the coding for the apps - but I can say this. I utilize FireTV, Roku, Apple (iPad Pro), Computers, tablets, phones and XBox for streaming. All of them work pretty well with streaming apps (internet based streaming). The Roku devices in my experience don’t perform as well as the other devices when connecting to my Tablo DVRs or my HDHomerun devices. You would think it would be better, being on a local connection (most are connected via ethernet).

I don’t have the same issues on the other devices. That isn’t making out Roku as a bad device, it just doesn’t perform as well as the others on “local streaming”.

My wife prefers the Roku devices, so that is all she will use to watch TV. I prefer the FireTV devices which work with all streaming options. It also integrates well with the Amazon Echo devices.

I utilize Tablo for all my recording because it works the best for DVR services compared to the other products out there for what I do.

My long winded point is this - we have choices now. 15 years ago, the biggest choice we had was TiVo or Cable Boxes. Both were expensive. Technology has gotten better, there are many options for us to “cut the cord” with. I believe it will continue to get better… The original cable boxes and TiVo units weren’t great when they first came out either…(I never owned a cable box that worked right all the time).


My experiences are essentially the same as yours. Everything you have described closely matches what I experience.

With Tablo and the Amazon cube, I am totally satisfied. Much the same with the Apple TV, and recently, with iOS devices.

Like you, I prefer Amazon, but my wife prefers, and really only wishes to use/learn Roku. I have been trying to keep the Roku/Tablo usage for her in the laundry, kitchen, office, and Treadmill (four of my seven locations in the house ) equipped with working Roku. Unfortunately, my personal experience with Tablo and Roku has been, at best some periods of stability over the last eight years, but totally crappy performance for many months when new releases of software occur until bugs are fixed.

The fast forward and rewind on Roku work like absolute crap . Even with the latest improvement, which came within the last week or two from Tablo, I still get nearly constant freezing. My wife just turns off the TV and says “there must be a better solution”.

I have never been a cable or satellite subscriber , and began doing OTA television recording in 1970 with a half inch Sony EI AJ video recorder. Before Tablo, I used SageTV for many years, ceveloped, owned and operated by two brothers in Chicago who took pride in their code and reliability.

In the 52 years I have been doing OTA television recording and playback, I have never owned any equipment that has been such a continuing source of aggravation and reliability issues. Thankfully Amazon and others have apps which are well written and very reliable, and the Tablo firmware Along with the player apps excluding the Roku have reached a mature level.

Next step for me is likely to bite the bullet and buy three more cubes, insist that my wife learn and use the Amazon remote, and donate the Roku boxes.

Believe it or not, I get no joy from posting all these complaints and comments, and the many hundreds of messages I have typed and submitted are mostly a waste of time.

I am keenly aware of alternative technologies and spent my prior 60 years in electronics and engineering as well as commercial broadcasting and ham radio. I am thrilled to see Tablo survive and thrive, but dearly wish that they could fix this basic navigation problem on the Roku,or at least acknowledge that they are working on the problem with the intention to ultimately fix it.


So I have to ask. Why am I not having any of the issues you describe with my Roku Ultra’s or Sticks and Tablo? I don’t think my Roku’s have ever crashed and/or restarted on their own while using Tablo. At least not in recent history. Other than a rare power outage I cannot remember the last time I’ve had to restart my Roku’s or Tablo. Well the Tablo is on a UPS so it’s always on.

On the other hand we have constant issues with Roku’s and YouTube.

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The issue isn’t unique to Roku & Tablo. I have similar issues with HDHomerun & Roku. It has to be something within the Roku API that creates the issue in communicating with the local streaming boxes. When watching on my Roku Ultra, and ethernet connections both on the Roku and Tablo units, there is almost zero issues (nothing is absolutely without issues). When watching on the Streaming Stick Plus devices (via wifi), I find there are more issues.

Maybe it has to do with a “time-out” problem between the Roku and the local streaming device?

My wife doesn’t view a lot of programming on Tablo (I use it most of the time), and I am connected via ethernet when watching.

For my friends that ask me how to cut the cable, if they are going to utilize wifi for viewing, I always recommend the FireTV 4K, FireTV 4K Max or FireTV Cube, which tend to have fewer issues.

It is unfortunate that some folks have so much trouble with their Roku, while others don’t. I have multiple Roku units (streambars, ultras, sticks, etc) used with my Tablo(s) and multiple streaming services. Some units are wifi and some are ethernet connected. While there is an occasional Roku freeze and reboot (I estimate no more often than once per month) the vast majority of the time my Roku units work flawlessly with my Tablo(s) and with my streaming services. There may be some strange combination of events that cause some folks problems, and that may be difficult to diagnose, but that does not necessarily mean that Roku units in general are inherently defective or deficient, or that Tablo units are somehow defective or deficient. It just seems that there is some combination of events that causes problems. I also have fire tv devices (sticks, cubes, recast, and TVs) and have far more freezes and reboots with them.

I completely agree. In fact, I probably have less trouble with my Rokus than you describe. I too have several Roku’s, sticks, Ultras, TVs, some WIFI and some ethernet and the experience with Tablo is great. I will say that having a robust home network is key to success from this perspective.