Poor picture quality ... Fixed!

I received my new Tablo that I bought as a replacement for a non-functional one that I sent back to Amazon, and although this one sees the same channels that my TV’s do, the image quality is significantly lacking.

The OTA signal to my TV’s is on par, and even a bit better than my DTV satellite images of the same channels, but the Tablo looks very soft in both color saturation and image sharpness, and does not have the same “pop” at all.
Even streaming video from Netflix and etc. is a tad better than this Tablo.

I’m using a 1TB drive and have it set to 1080P, but that didn’t really help.

I’m also using a NetGear 15-5G router with an Ethernet cable to the Tablo and to the main Roku that feeds my main TV (which is an Aquos 90" LED/LCD T) and have verified no difference in the picture quality with 1 or 3 Roku 3s on all at the same time with 1 hardwired, and two wifi … all while streaming audio music through my network, so I do not think that my router is an issue.

Is there anything else I can do to get the same direct OTA image quality with the Tablo?

This is just not going to cut it … especially on the main 90" TV … where the very significant lack of OTA image quality with the Tablo is ‘extremely’ and most disappointingly noticeable. :frowning:

Unfortunately no, if you have it set to the highest 1080p recording quality and you are not happy with the quality when converting from MPEG2 to h.264 then you’ll have to get a PVR that retains the native MPEG2 video.

Bummer, but I sincerely appreciate the informative answer.
I’ll start the return on this one and keep looking.

Any suggestions on a PVR that does retain MPEG2?

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I am happy with my Tablo picture quality.

You may want to check out the HDHomeRun PVR or the Plex PVR which also uses a HDHomeRun device. You will need a standalone computer for such a setup, or a NAS that could run the PVR software or Plex would work too. Last I checked, both were still in the beta phases.

Like theuser86 said, this loss in quality is caused by the mpeg2->h.264 conversion. I don’t know if there’s anything that Tablo’s engineers can do to fix this in software.

The problem with just passing the mpeg2 signal without transcoding is that a lot of devices (like everything Roku has ever released, for example) don’t decode mpeg2. The mpeg2 decoder carries with it a licensing fee, so while many devices are hardware-equipped to handle it (Roku, Raspberry Pi, etc) it’s often not enabled.

Jagged channel bugs are probably the most obvious and irritating example of Tablo’s transcoding implementation, but fine print that appears in car commercials takes a pretty hard quality hit too.

Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a whole lot that can be done until the next version of ATSC rolls around.

For a screen this size and best picture quality, like for my projector, one really needs a dedicated (i.e. HDMI -> MPG2) connection from DVR\tuner to display device. Especially for sports - watched the Super Bowl last year in glorious MPG2 (HDMI from my DVR to projector\120" screen) and it was fantastic. Will not use any MP4 oriented device for viewing sports on a large screen nor do I want any networking involved. Pure OTA all the way directly to screen!

You might want to try the new Mi box to watch with instead of Roku. As a bonus you get 2 months free Sling TV, 3 movies, $5 vudu credit

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I have found wireless 802.11AC is FASTER than a wired connection if device doesn’t have 1000 network interface.

I sent my Tablo 4 back.

On a 90" LED/LCD screen it’s image quality is horrible.
My Roku image on the 90" is fine, but the Tablo 4 through a Roku just sucks for some reason.
The Tablo needs an HDMI output and MPEG2.
It would be worth the additional price, but as it is … it’s just not ready for ‘my’ home theater system.

I’m happier with the $27 Mediasonic HW180STBs with a remote HDMI switch.

Although the Tablo’s recording is ‘slightly’ more dependable, and the on-screen guide is better (the 180’s is only 7 days, kind of funky …but it’s free) the H.264 limit of the Tablo is significantly surpassed by the HDMI output of the cheap 180, and the 180 can be used to pre-set up an evening’s live viewing … switching the channels at the proper times.

So for about ~$125 for 4 HW180STBs and a Fosmon HD1832 Intelligent 5x1 5-Port HDMI Switch/Switcher with IR Remote ($15) both from Amazon, as well as a 4 way antenna splitter, I’ll have the same 4 tuner PVR, more flexibility, failure redundancy, and more importantly … a ‘much’ better picture.
All are also Harmony remote compatible (the 180 by name and the HDMI splitter by manualy mapping it into unused Harmony screen buttons).

For my other 2 bedroom TV’s I might just spend another ~$150 to get 4 more 180s, and two more HDMI switchers … and have the equivalent of the Tablo 2 for each bedroom, by putting two HW180STBs in each of the 2 bedrooms.

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Out of curiosity, what is your plan for being able to individually control four separate Homeworx PVRs? Won’t they all be responding to the remote commands?

Good question!!
Yup … they will all be controlled at the same time … maybe. :wink:

As it turns out the HW180STB’s stock remote is barley strong enough to operate at 15ft, and you have to point the remote directly at the 180.
So depending on how far away the multiple 180’s are you might need to get a Harmony universal remote (as indicated … the Harmony remotes are 180 ready) … or fortunately you might find that by simply separating the 180s by a couple of feet from each other, that the stock remote is only strong enough to have each one operate ‘only’ when pointing directly at one particular 180.

IOW: The weak stock IR remote control system and somewhat spaced placement might be all you need to control them independently. :slight_smile:

At ~15 feet I need to point the stock remote ‘right’ at my 180.
If I point it a foot or two to the right/left/up/down it does nothing.

But … I’m using my Harmony universal remote which performs a tad better, so … if needed … I’ll use deep bottle caps, or 35mm film canisters, or etc. … with a hole drilled in the bottom each, and glue them to the face of HW180STBs so the 180’s eye will be lined up with the hole in the cap, making the reception of the IR control signal very directional … like putting blinders on a horse.
And/or if needed I’ll place the 180’s at 4 corners in my system … upper right, lower right, upper left, lower left, and I’m sure that will work just fine.

IMHO: The HDMI picture quality (especially at the the very inexpensive price for the 180) is well worth getting used to pointing like this, especially on large screen, or even more importantly … on even larger projection systems.
The 180 is cheap and it looks it, but it works to provide an awesome OTA signal into a home theater system, with it’s HDMI and digital 5.1.

On edit: If you have a system that’s even farther away from your seating area, then using IR repeaters (also strategically placed) might be needed to both extend the remote range, while still keeping the “directional independent” control scheme intact.

This seems like a lot of work. Why not just get the HDHomeRun Connect or Extend which allows you to keep the MPEG2 video, and use their HDHomeRun DVR software or the next Plex DVR software?

Both which work with that hardware. You’ll get playback on multiple devices such as Roku, iPhone, iPad, computer, FireTV, etc.

Not just a lot of work, but a lot of claptrap and potential for things to go wrong. (e.g. even though the Homeworx boxes don’t pick up an IR signal intended for a different unit most of the time, they might occasionally do so.) Also no whole home functionality.

I get that the Table isn’t a good fit for @Truth’s needs. It’s meant to serve as a whole home system for mobile devices and to a lesser extent TVs, often only having a WiFi connection where bandwidth can be limited. An uncompressed ATSC transport stream is just under 20 Mb/s and the network needs to be able to support that consistently per stream. I can say from experience with Windows Media Center and extenders that streaming uncompressed ATSC over real-world WiFi can be problematic. And the Table has to do the conversion to h.264 in real time with relatively constrained hardware meaning it’s not the best possible transcode.

Silicon Dust also recognizes this as they have two versions of their OTA tuners: the connect outputs the uncompressed ATSC stream, but the Extend transcodes to h.264 on the fly for reduced network bandwidth. It would be interesting to compare the Extend’s picture quality to the Tablo. Also, even if the Plex or HDHomerun gets an uncompressed stream inn, depending on the device that’s displaying the content, it may have to transcodes to h.264 also. Again though, different hardware and perhaps algorithms, so the transcodes quality could be better.

Other options to consider would be one Homeworx and maybe something like a Channel Master two tuner DVR to supplement it. And there’s always TiVo which although pricier, “just works”.


The HDHomeRun Extend can also output uncompressed MPEG2 video if you want it to, but yes it has the ability to transcode on the fly to h.264 video.

I didn’t know that. I’ve got an original HDHomerun but I’ve thought about picking up one of the newer models to play around with either the Plex or HDHomerun DVR setups. Does the Extend have any other features that would make it worth the extra cost over a Connect if not using the transcoding feature?

Costs, and what you actually get from the 180 is a main reason for me.
No subscription fees like the others (TiVo, Channel Master, Tablo, HDHomeRun, etc) and at $27 a tuner, for only OTA service (I’m not building a library of OTA commercial filled HiDef movies with these things) I can put up with occasional point and shoot errors ‘IF’ there even are any, by simply adding the blinders and placing them apart, or if needed … using cheap IR extension kits.
If I do that I am very confident that the stock weak IR system will not cross fire at all. :wink:

BUT, make no mistake … although the 180s have:
HDTV 1080p Digital Converter Box with Media Player Function, Dolby Digital and HDMI Out:
Converts ATSC broadcasts for TV, projector or monitor
USB falshdrive or HHD to 2TB
Supports MPEG-2/4, H.264/AVC, 1080p HD, MPEG-1
Analog pass-through
Channel 3/4 function
Favorite channel list
Parental control function
Auto tuning
Aspect ratios include auto, 16:9 pillar box, 16:9 pan G scan, 4:3 letter box, 4:3 pan G scan, 4:3 full, 16:9 widescreen
Closed caption support
Outputs: HDMI, composite, coaxial

They have their own set of funkiness.
The recording and other features are significantly more … “less than perfect” … in use than the Tablo.
For example …
The Fav list is by elimination of channels you don’t want.
The 7 day on screen guide is only for the channel you have selected, not a cable like guide, so I back it up with a TV guide (TitanTV) app on my mobile device/PC.
The recordings need to be renamed after you record them because they have a file name instead of the program name, and other funky things, as well as similar recording miss-fires as the Tablo, but IMHO more so than the Tablo.
But … Mediasonics/HomeWorks is very active with firmware updates, and has a very good/active forum for discussion of work-arounds and etc.

But I basically use it to record the national news and local news, as well as a few shows that I watch before I retire, or a game I might miss for whatever reasons, and to set up a night’s viewing schedule (you can select view or record, for once, daily or weekly) .
Having more than one will allow me to do all that while watching another program.

Also as far as whole house, @ $27 ea. I can have whole house ‘and’ have back up redundancy.
If one goes down I’m still up and running until I get a $27 replacement. :wink:

Yes, it is not near as slick as the much higher priced competition, but it works to provide a much better picture than the ones that use a Roku (or similar video constrained devices) because you can get an image that looks like a BluRay quality picture at each TV in your home that has an antenna lead (or just it’s own antenna) for $27 for each tuner you want at that TV up to as many tuners as your OTA signal strength will allow, and the 180 does that with digital audio to my TV’s and surround sound receivers, and I’ll not be out a lot of $ when I go to 4K viddy systems.

For my length of recordings I use a SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive and I can add up to a 2TB HD if I need that capacity … for some reason that I haven’t found yet.

BTW: Amazon has a very liberal return policy and at the price of a few trips to McDonalds, you can try it to see if it works for you before you dismiss it without ever having tried it.
If you do return it you will be out shipping, so about the price of a Big Mac. :wink:

All that said … if Tablo had an HDMI MPEG 2 output with 5.1 (or better) digital audio, I’d definitely prefer that … even if it added … say … “$27” more to the current Tablo 4 … but also with a path to 4k … please! :wink:
Yeah … that would be ‘totally’ ideal! :slight_smile:

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There’s a group of us using the Homeworx (or clones) here at the Tablo forum - mostly as a secondary supplement to the Tablo. I bought the Homeworx for one reason - to record and watch sports. The picture quality for sports cannot be better. However a $30 backup for the Tablo is great. I seldom need to have more than two tuners functioning on my Tablo but occasionally that third (Homeworx) tuner comes in handy (especially for long running programs like a football game which would tie up my Tablo for 3 hours).


I have a home theater setup and I wouldn’t use anything else but a Homeworx. It makes a superb, cost effective driver for my projector. At that cost don’t have to worry if it breaks - just get me a new one. Every other box is a worry

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A hybrid system as suggested is another path I’ll look into.

The H.264 from the Rokus is actually not too bad on my smaller screen TVs (60" and under) so maybe I ‘should have’ kept the Tablo 4, and use the 180 with the 90".

Thanks for pointing that out guys! :slight_smile:

The picture quality is definitely better with the Roku 4 compared to the Roku 3, or 2 (2015).
Even I noticed the improvement on my 42" 1080p TV.

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