Received my DUAL HDMI - Initial impressions

As the title states, I received my DUAL HDMI to replace my failing ChannelMaster DVR+.

My initial impression - wow this thing is sluggish !! Every button push and menu selection buffers and waits. In fact some fundamental operations are nearly impossible to perform.

I would have to guess that the single most fundamental menu for an OTA DVR would be the live TV grid. Too bad it barely works on the DUAL HDMI. If one selects “Live TV” from the side menu and jumps into the grid, trying to scroll up and down the channels is an exercise in frustration.

The cursor starts at the top of the channel list and if you want to scroll down the list, the cursor will jump down a few channels then buffer, then jump down a few more channels then buffer, etc. If you lose patience and click the remote too many times the screen goes blank, the circle of doom appears, and then the box must do a core dump of some kind and you are dumped back to the side menu. The same thing happens if you try to scroll horizontally across time.

How in the world could Tablo release a box that performs like this ?

One little trick I discovered is that the buffering is reduced if you set the cursor on the channel numbers to scroll up or down, or the time field to scroll right or left. I suspect this is because in those cases the show information does not have to be displayed at the top of the screen. It helps, but it’s still easy to overrun the CPU. And why should I have to find ways to trick the unit into working ?

I can post a link to a video if anyone wants to see a demo.

I also have several concerns about the software. For example, why can’t I page up and down on the grid instead of having to click through every individual show ?

I have a few days to evaluate this, but I have saved all the packing materials in case I decide to return it.

Yes please post a video for us.

What HDD are you using with the new unit? Maybe try running the Tablo without the hard drive to see if that helps in basic operations.

I would be surprised if Tablo released a box where the hardware is too slow to run the DVR software and playback interface.

Considering speed should be the #1 benefit to this box, it is disappointing to hear about sluggishness. Hopefully this can be improved over time. Keep up with any praises and concerns for this new device, please.

Do you have a Roku or other streaming device? Would be curious to see if the sluggishness you’re seeing is still present when using one of those.

Could the sluggish behavior be linked to the initial population of the guide?

Here answers to a few questions:

I bought a WD Elements 4TB hard drive to use with this box. I bought it from the link provided on Tablo’s web page and it’s never been plugged into anything but the DUAL HDMI

I thought about the population of the guide,and I cut it some slack for that in the beginning. However, I received it yesterday, confirmed that the guide was finished populating, and it sat overnight. Today I notice little if any difference.

I also turned off the commercial skip option yesterday, but I didn’t notice any effect with that either.

Here are some videos. I think they are self explanatory.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/kf6pvypoqzsm5ho/2020-11-22%2010.25.36.mp4?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/66b8izovmop7atl/2020-11-22%2010.29.07.mp4?dl=0

Edit: fixed 2nd link

Since you are talking about the remote, I can only assume you are talking about the Grid accessed via HDMI versus network.

You didn’t indicate how many channels are configured or if the 14 day versus 24 hour Grid is enabled.

For network devices the grid use to be populated from low virtual number up in 24 hour chucks. So channel 39-1 is not available until ptevious channels are populated.

The grid is more then the PSIP data that appeard in the Grid per show. It also has the more detailed information and options accessibile when you click on the show. The actual channel column basically doesn’t have dynamic detailed information. So there would be little to no delay.

So yes I doubt clicking on the actual show will result in the display of data that hasn’t been populated.

And hammering the buttons can be self defeating. Since we don’t know if the various buttons only allow for single action or stack multiple clicks in a row you could be cancelling a previous click with and incoming request.

And since this is a new feature I don’t know if where ever the HDMI grid is stored is dynamically updated or updated on access.

How many channels do you have? I run my Tablo with 15 HD channels, no SD.

Also try the 24 hour live TV guide / grid, not 14 days.

Since this a new device with a new remote, a better test might be to let the initial grid load occur. Then watch a show for an hour and come back and access the grid to see how much if any grid information is retained and the whole grid doesn’t have to be repopulated.

The initial scan found 61 channels and I kept them all active.

Anticipating that someone will comment that 61 channels is absurd, or not realistic, I disagree. This box was not marketed as something to use with X number of channels. It is marketed for someone that lives in a rural area, not well served with internet or cable services, which is exactly who I am.

I have a friend who lives closer to the city and his TV picks up over 100 channels. So my number does not seem to be extraordinary or unrealistic.

I suppose I could try the 24 hour guide as a test, but it doesn’t really matter to me what the results are. Having a 14 day guide was a primary reason I bought this unit to replace my DVR+. The DVR+ originally had 14 days of expanded guide info, but ChannelMaster stopped support for that and reverted back to the 24 hour PSIP info only.

By the way Tablo, in case you are following this, ChannelMaster nailed it with the DVR+, it was snappy and worked great. They did things different. For example, the grid did not contain any data except the name of the show. If you wanted to know more about a specific show you could press the “Info” button on the remote to get all the rich info. Think about it, you are trying to dynamically show all that data when the user most likely only needs to see it very rarely (Who cares about the episode info for Wheel of Fortune as they scroll by it). If you have the horsepower to show it all dynamically, great, but it appears that is not the case.

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As a test, try temporarily de-selecting some of your channels - maybe down to 30 or so - to see if that is the cause of the issue.

I may try that in a day or 2 just out of curiosity.

By the way, we have been talking about the guide because I brought that up as a starter topic, but just about ALL the menu options are sluggish. The only snappy screen I can think of is the Settings screen.

What about the video and audio quality playback? Are you happy with that at least?

If channelmaster nailed it with the DVR+ buy a new one or two.

While I don’t care if you store 61 channels or 100 channels. But I’m not sure a household can record and/or view 61 channels worth of programming with a 4-tuner.

And I’m sure the people who want the episode info for Wheel of Forture are rolling on the floor with laughter about 61 channels.

My 4 tuner has 36 channels and it doesn’t have any problems.

Good point, so far I’ve only talked about one issue.

The picture is excellent, bright, and sharp with vivid colors. The audio seems good although I haven’t played anything to really push it yet.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll start a new thread with a complete review.

As I continue to use the DUAL HDMI I am learning more about it. I’ve attached a video that confirms some of my earlier suspicions.

After scouring the internet I found some info on the remote, specifically that the user can call up an overlay guide while watching live TV.

I took this video early in the morning. There were no recordings in process, and the unit had been sitting all night. Therefore we can assume that all updates were complete and no background operations were tying up the CPU.

In the following video I call up the overlay guide. It is black and white with only some very limited info about the current shows available on other channels. Notice how fast one can scroll up and down the overlay guide.

This confirms my impression that the normal menus rely on too much dynamic data population. In other words, the overlay guide loads some very basic info into ram and the CPU has no problem quickly scrolling up and down through the guide. By contrast, the main guide tries to dynamically load a large amount of data (including a thumbnail picture) every time the cursor lands on a show in a time slot. That requires a relatively large amount of CPU processing and I/O traffic. As I stated in a previous post, dynamic data calls are great if you have the horsepower to pull them off, but it seems obvious that this is not the case with the DUAL HDMI.

The good news here is that some software changes could fix this problem (obviously hardware changes can’t be done to shipped products). If I were in charge of product development at Tablo I would add an option in the settings menu under “Guide”. I would give the use a choice of “Standard” or “Enhanced”. The standard setting would work much like the overlay menu. Only the name of each show in each time slot would be loaded in the grid. That would most likely allow fast navigation throughout the grid. If a user wanted to know more about a show title he could simply click into the show to see the already existing show information screen. The “Enhanced” option could function as it does now for users that have just a few stations and want to see the rich content for each time slot they land on.

The video continues with me trying to navigate through some menus. You will see the same problems on each move of the cursor. For example when I click down from “Live TV” on the main menu, each menu option starts to load data immediately, even though I’m just trying to pass by that option to get to another. Why the heck does “Recordings” try to load every recording before I click on it ? The same goes for every other option on the main menu. Just passing by the menu option starts a load option. Tablo, please change this so that data doesn’t start to load until the user clicks the option.

Here’s the Video:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5euqfplck2tdnbm/2020-11-23%2009.01.11.mp4?dl=0

Don’t the options in the settings page apply to any and all devices that connect to the tablo unit?

Doesn’t the HDMI unit allow for up to 2 network devices to connect. How will the new “Standard” and “Enhanced” settings feature work with my Roku and Fire TV Stick.

Tablo users just went through a number of years getting all features and filters on the various devices. I’m not interested in going backwards.

IMHO, it’s a UI design flaw. That is, the problem would exist on other Tablo UI’s, but they aren’t designed like this one. For example, if a “scroll” populated the image data while going through the guide, on other UI’s, IMHO, it would also “stick”.

So… I think I’d just change the UI. Get rid of the large top image space on guide (don’t do it), or allow for windows scroll of the guide data and somehow only view image data when “selected” for a show.

This is the problem with a “remote”. The idea is to do too much with an action (because it’s what remote control users expect).

Hi all, thanks for your interest and feedback so far. First off I’d like to address the major questions/concerns coming in about Live TV navigation and performance.

First, I can confirm this is an area of intense focus right now, and we are working on delivering an update with some significant improvements in this area. Performance can take a hit depending on how many channels are added to the guide, and how many days of data are being loaded. We are working to mitigate this and improve the experience. This update will be arriving soon, and we’re confident it will improve the results OP’s been having.

Second, in the interim we recommend two things to improve performance: turn off the 14-day guide for Live TV. This can be done from the Settings screen. Second, run a new channel scan and trim down the number of channels added to the guide. Generally speaking, there will usually be a few duplicates in most OTA lineups. The Tablo will de-select duplicate channels, will pre-select HD channels over SD channels, and will un-check channels with poor reception. We also recommend removing typically unwatched channels.

This is not mandatory for a smooth experience, but should improve results until our next update arrives.

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Fair enough Tablo, thanks for the reply.

I’ll sit tight in anticipation of the software update :+1::+1: