Short version: Although happy with my TiVo’s (2 of them) for the past 6 years, the current issues with the Rovi guide change are forcing me to consider other options. Although I would happily keep the TiVo’s, I don’t have a great deal of faith that the guide issues for my area will be resolved … and I’m also not willing to invest months of waiting for a solution in the hopes that resolution might happen ‘someday’. Guide data is the core of the functionality - and if I have to set manual recordings for a percentage of my needs then I may as well be using a basic Iview or its clones.
A couple of the things I’ve grown to love with the TiVo’s that I now consider highly desirable in another solution are:
(1) Unified interface between home media library and recorded TV. Currently this is accomplished using pyTivo so that library items can be placed in the NPL side-by-side with the recorded shows. With metadata transferred, library items are indistinguishable from recordings.
(2) Ability to pull or transfer previous recordings over my network – regardless of whether current programs are being recorded or not. i.e. No pulling of hard drive necessary.
The desire for (2) automatically disqualifies options like the ChannelMaster product - where archiving or whole-home options mean waiting for nothing to be recording (or soon to be recorded) and physically removing the hard drive.
The desire for (1) would likely be a greater inclusion of Plex. We have been using it more lately for library media and really like it. Even better - it is wife-approved so a solution that leaves TiVo for a Plex-like solution would be an easy transition. Initially - I assumed we would just go with the Plex DVR as it seemed to tick both boxes. However, since live TV is not supported with Plex DVR and you can’t access a recording until it is finished, I don’t think I can consider it as a solution Although it ticks both boxes above - I’m not big on moving to a system based on what it might do ‘someday’ - but rather what it can do out-of-the-box right now.
So - the questions regarding a Tablo setup are:
(1) When subscribed to guide data - what is the source? Previous Gracenote data was fine for my area - but the Rovi data has serious issues with how they group by DMA. If Tablo’s source is Rovi - I haven’t eliminated my problem and there would be no reason to proceed.
(2) I understand that there is no official Plex app (and the 3rd party app seems abandoned from what I’ve read here). So a direct ‘unified-interface’ as mentioned above would require pulling programs from the Tablo using one of the 3rd party solutions available and placing them in my Plex library location. Not ideal, but not a deal-breaker. (I’m assuming the reverse is not possible – sending files to the Tablo like files can be sent to the TiVo). When pulling files from the Tablo - since they are already in h.264 format, is it simply transfer speed of your network? Or are there other post-transfer conversion operations necessary like ffmpeg recode, etc? I’m trying to get a feel of the workability of this use-case by estimating time involved in the file-pull. I get that if I add steps like post-transfer commercial removal, for example, I get a time-hit. But a simple pull and move to the Plex library (commercials and all) - am I just looking at transfer time?
(3) My wife has daily shows that she records (GMA, Kelly Ripa, Rachael Ray, etc) that she typically catches up with on weekends. She never watches the all the way through - she simply fast forwards through the bulk of each program, stopping only when she sees a guest or segment that interests her. In a Plex recording world - I would need a separate library for her daily shows that has thumbnail creation on so she has the visual cues while fast forwarding. Because of that - it would not be terrible to have her daily shows outside of the ‘unified interface’. If using the Tablo app for watching those recordings - are preview images pretty reliably generated? How responsive is resume from fast forward? A few seconds delay? Or reasonably instant?
(4) I made note while researching of some people complaining of soft volume with Roku. Since I already have them, I would likely use them in a Tablo solution. Are these isolated instances? Or does everybody who has a Roku have the soft volume problem?
(5) Finally – and this is not as important – how big is the delay (or buffer needed) for live TV? I mean - how far behind live TV is … well, live TV. The only reason I’m curious is for Sunday football. I like to watch games while listening to my local radio play-by-play guy. As radio broadcasts are always ahead of TV - I have to find a stream online that is behind the TV broadcast so I can use the DVR to ‘sync’ the video and audio broadcasts. This is harder than you would think. I have a reliable iHeart stream - but it is always ahead of the TV broadcast. Usually - after much searching, I can find an audio stream that is behind the TV broadcast (and their stream hasn’t been blacked out because they’re not supposed to be streaming the game over their website anyway). With the TiVo - the difference between ‘TiVo-live’ and ‘actual-live’ is literally just a couple of seconds, which makes it a bit easier to find a suitable audio stream. With Tablo I’m assuming that difference is more? That recording, transcoding, and transmission of live TV results in something with a greater delay. Is the difference between ‘Tablo-live’ and ‘actual-live’ on average 15 seconds? 30 seconds? More? Less?
Thanks for your attention and assistance. I certainly appreciate the time invested by people familiar with the Tablo to help me make an informed decision regarding my desires for what a TiVo replacement would have to do.