Sports at 1080i looks terrible - FireTV and Roku and Browser


It seems there are quite a few threads on this issue (see bellow), but no one has provided any information or resolution.

The problem being: Sports (anything really that’s “fast action”) where the content is being broadcasted at 1080i seems to look terrible on the Tablo, irrelevant of platform - Roku, FireTV, browser, etc.

Eliminating bandwidth/wiring/etc - no wifi, local network all ethernet cat6 with gigabit switches, which really doesn’t matter since the firetv ethernet adapter is 10Mb I believe, and the Roku is 100Mb, and the Tablo 4 tuner is 100Mb too.

Samsung TV - smoothing has been turned off, but even with on it made no difference.

The settings on the Tablo I have tried are both “1080” settings – the 720@60fps with 10Mb, and the 1080 with 8Mb – on both there is no change/difference.

I’ve tried multiple other tuners, and so far this only seems to be an issue the Tablo (I have had the Tablo 4 tuner version since June of 2015)

Here are some relevant links:

So, the question being - what is the problem and is there a fix for this (if not yet, is there one planned)? This seems like an actual problem, and as more and more OTA content is moving to 1080i (currently 11 out of 16 channels I receive), this is starting to get quite frustrating.

Here are some screenshots of what the 1080 content looks like:


What “other tuners” have you tried?

Do any of them convert the native MPEG2 video to h.264 video? That is what the Tablo does and explains the slight video quality degradation. The point of converting to h.264 was to save significant storage space and to allow playback on devices like the Roku.

Roku can not play back MPEG2 video.

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I’m watching the Tablos recording of K.C. now. Mine doesn’t look like that. But it’s recorded at 720p while the broadcast is at 1080i.

And what networks have changed their broadcast feed to 1080i. Four out of six broadcast 720p. Two at 1080i.

Another thing to watch is the scoreboard at the bottom of the screen. This displays score, time, down,etc.

You might notice that it is in focus all the time while the longer game shots are much softer and the sideline shots are more in focus.

Before the Tablo I had a mythtv setup with card tuners. Ive tried homerun. Ive tried a couple no name ones from bestbuy. (One had the same issue to be fair). Ive tried the stick for the synology. Ive also tried a couple of network dvr streamers (one which I connected later to the mythtv).

Is there some way to change the encoding if the device supports it?

Around here (MA) a bit more than half seem to be in 1080i - basically all of the major networks with the exception of 1-2. Some of those have a secondary 720 version too. Ive selected the 1080i whenever available. (I can get a list when I get back if you want)

The irony is I dont even like sports, but its driving me nuts when my family watches live sports games and its choppy.

The comparison I would give - its like watching 1080p content on a 5K display full screen. It looms aweful.

Tablo does not, has not, and will never record in MPEG2 video. It is h.264 for file. So your option would be to try and record from 720p channels rather than 1080i. People tend to notice the video differences less when the encoding it from 720p to 720p rather than 1080i to 1080p.

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I’m now recording both ways, mpeg2 ATSC and Tablo. If I prove there’s isn’t that big of a difference, can I have a cookie?

Your other option is to just split your antenna feed, one end directly to the HDTV for live sports. Video will be pristine.

There is a really simple solution, which I use while watching live NFL games. I hook up an antenna to my tv. But I mainly do it so that I can post online as soon as a play happens, since there is a significant delay.

I still have many Titans games on my Tablo (1080i), and they are just fine.

@TabloSupport - Was looking for some kind of an official reply to this. As of right now, this seems like a pretty significant problem. It would seem that in reality, the Tablo is not actually capable of recording/transcoding 1080i efficiently, and it might as well be 720. And due to the “i” vs “p”, with “i” being “worse” for fast action/motion, at 720i, it looks terrible – which essentially makes the Tablo into a 480p device…

@zippy Around here, out of 14+ networks, only 5 are not in 1080i at this point, and they are channels that you mostly never watch. Every major network here except Fox is 1080i, and Fox at least is at 720p
(see screenshot)

If the program is 1080i, the 60fps should be able to capture it perfectly – and that’s not the case as it seems.
I completely understand that 1080p is better for “sports” (or anything motion for that matter), but at 1080i there shouldn’t be such bad blur.

While I love my Tablo and have for 4ish years, with the standard TVs now all 4K/UHD and most content being real HD – Tablo recordings are starting to look a lot like watching old DVDs :frowning:

My channels match the link below with the exception that the CW channel is a sub-channel and thus is 720p and PBS has two primary channel at 720p and two subs at 480p. That leaves only CBS and NBC at 1080i.

In my market, there are six channels that I bother with (ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, PBS). It’s 3 and 3.

@TabloTV @TabloSupport - Is there any plan to fix this?

See link below, I quote: “I wouldn’t call it a “problem” or “unwatchable”. It just will look like you are watching a game streamed online rather than one directly from an antenna, which is still quite good. There isn’t anything to fix, as that is the nature of 1080i data being transcoded to 1080p at 30fps.”

You could also call Tablo Support directly to explain your issue and get it addressed verbally.

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I don’t have a Tablo system yet (waiting for the Quad). I’m hoping I don’t find sports and other high-motion video to be unwatchable. What I don’t understand is this. How can a satellite provider (i.e. Directv) provide a local broadcast channel to the receiver that looks fine for sports? Is the compression method the are using more advanced (MPEG-4?). I assume they are picking up the same original 1080i signal from the station and then converting it before it is being delivered to the receiver.

I’ve taken the advice that others have noted here to split the antenna signal to the TV and to the Tablo (thank you for the great advice). For the times when I can watch live sports that will be a great alternative and easy fix. But I don’t like to watch live sports all the time.

@ventz A couple of questions for you. 1) Where did you find the list that shows what resolution your local stations broadcast in? 2) How sensitive are you to the quality issue. Do you find any other issues with Tablo other than sports broadcasts?

@douga The list is within Tablo itself (after scanning). I believe you can find this via the “OTA scanner” websites and then looking up what each station broadcasts in.

For sports - the quality is complete crap for a lack of a better word. Irregardless of quality setting.
For everything else - it varies between “good” and “ok”.

What bothers me is that this is widely mentioned and talked about on threads/reddit/forums, and Tablo does not even acknowledge it, forget about planning to solve it.

I like Tablo and have been a customer from the early days, and I love their web UI + device compatibility, but they are seriously lacking in technology. This was evident from things like the “syncing” that took place in the first few years on new/mobile devices, and the years it took to get to a streaming API, now used on the roku and the beta firetv app. Imo, the company needs a big injection of technologists/subject matter experts.

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The quality of live local NFL, both in motion smoothness and in sharpness, is definitely inferior to live TV or even to cable TV (Spectrum, which I have dropped in favor of Tablo) on my 82" Samsung QLED. Our local OTA football channels are CBS at 1080i and ABC at 720p. Unless Spectrum cable TV somehow sources these networks in superior format, the fault must lie with Tablo. Or, possibly, my ROKU Premier; I’m not knowledgeable enough to determine which.

Did you even read this thread in its entirety? It’s not a “fault” of the Tablo, it is by design to ensure compatibility on as many devices as possible.

It’s not raw OTA signal

From: -

Your Tablo hardware OTA DVR takes the raw ATSC TV signal coming in from your Over-the-Air antenna and uses a process called ‘transcoding’ to slice it into tiny digital pieces. Transcoding video makes it easier to stream to multiple devices over your home network, and over the internet. (Think of it like turning ice cubes into slush to make it easy to pour.)