Stuttering and macroblocking is killing me

I have a 2-tuner model Tablo and a Roku 3 hardwired.  The Tablo is also hardwired.  Every recorded show has stuttering and macroblocking, and it is driving us batty.  At first, I thought the problem was with my seagate usb hard drive.  We noticed that watching the same show at the same time on an ipad has way less macroblocking.  It is almost unnoticeable on an iPad.

After seeing the results on an iPad, I doubt that the hard drive is not playing nice.  We can stream 1080 from netflix across the internet just fine. Why can’t I even stream 720 Tablo from a hard drive on the same LAN?  I’ve updated the Tablo to the latest update, and actually, things got a little worse for us.  I hope somebody has a solution. 

You’ve tried power cycling the Tablo, Roku and router?

@dirtfarmer Let’s cut out the basics and go straight to a remote session so I can get a closer look at this to see what’s going on.

Send me your Tablo’s MAC directly, and I’ll send you the instructions to set a remote session.

One thing to note is that if you freeze frame the Tablo’s 30FPS (which is all the Tablo sends) video at HD video, you will always see some kind of distortion - the point is that it’s not visible if you don’t freeze frame. A ‘freeze frame’ is inherent in some buffering. 

Basically, if you get buffering on a fast action stream, you’re liable to see some pixelation. All we need to do is get rid of the buffering and make the stream smooth - then we can take a look at your reception to see if it’s causing any issues with the feed.

I really need some help. After several months of “putting up with the issue”, the lady of the house has put her foot down that this has to get fixed or the Tablo goes away. We are having terrible macro blocking on all channels. The playback skips backwards sometimes 2-3 minutes, and then it will play very fast for a few minutes. Below is a video of what our video looks like every day: Video to Tablo

I have ruled out “poor tv reception”. We get 56 digital channels, and none of them macroblock. Here is a video of the same channel connected directly to the TV: video - direct to TV

The stuttering and macroblocking is the same whether we are playing on a Roku3, Roku2, Ipad, or Chrome.

I have also tried two separate hard drives (Seagate expansion and WD passport).

I have downloaded the latest software for the Tablo and Roku. Nothing seems to solve this issue. Can somebody please help? I’m at my wits end. Thank you.

Have you ruled out your home networking? … is it on ancient equipment? … neighbor wifi interfering? microwave oven killing wifi? … I personally run everything on hardwired cables because of neighbors wifi/cordless phones and microwave ovens causing issues.

btw @dirtfarmer did you take up @TabloSupport offer? they are very helpful and can probably fix it if not sort out what the problem is for you.

I know you say you ruled out poor TV reception, but honestly that’s exactly what a poor signal on the tablo looks like to me. Keep in mind that your results may vary between direct TV reception and tablo reception. The Tablo has an internal splitter (2 way for dual tuner and 4 way for quad) causing slight loss in signal quality.

Thanks for the input!!

As far as networking goes, it is wired. I’m using a WRT54G router, which is an older router. I can easily stream 1080 Netflix through this router from the internet, so I’d be surprised if this unit couldn’t handle the 720 Tablo feed from within the network.

As far as reception goes, I’ve been using the same antenna for about 10 years. It is a big mast-mounted antenna. I live in a large metro area. Antennaweb says that I am 21 miles from the antenna farm. There is no ‘signal meter’ on the Tablo, but years ago when we had a Tivo, the signals were nearly all 99% strength.

The first couple of weeks we had the Tablo, the macroblocking was very isolated. It only happened once in a while. Now it fills the screen, which makes it unwatchable.

I have filled out a service ticket, I’ll keep posting results. Thanks again.

Oh geeze … WRT54G … I would get a new router since they are amazingly dirt cheap these days and have much faster and better processors in them … even if you used a custom firmware on that the hardware/processor in the router is still VERY OLD and its more than likely the processor is having issues with a consistent bandwidth stream… Since they are fairly cheap and your router is exceptionally antique I would replace that ASAP … if nothing else you will get much better performance from all your other devices… Also I would check your cables aren’t worn … I have had some instances of issues with cables just going bad (notably the one on my PLEX media server which caused all sorts of problems until on a laugh I swapped it out for a different one and all the problems went away) … If you use network “hubs” or “switches” also make sure those arent ancient either.

“The original WRT54G was first released in December 2002.” – yup that thing is too old for modern streaming video.

At best the processor in that thing runs at a paltry 125MHZ to 200MHZ … yes I said MHZ … not GHZ…

I had a similar issue, which went away when I set my Tablo on its side.
It lowered the operating temperature by 20F.
Haven’t had an issue since.

Easy to try.

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Had exactly the same issue which went away when I put my 4 tuner tablo on a fan to cool it down. In my case, it was definitely heat related.

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While true overheating causing issues is rare, can you make sure the Tablo is in a well ventilated area? And then maybe try a fan and see what happens?

I am having the same issue. Started about 2 weeks ago now. I turned the Tablo on its side thinking it could be heat. I restarted it and power cycled it. It is a 4 tuner and it doesn’t matter what I use to watch, Roku 3, Roku 2, Fire TV…they all have stuttering and macroblocking.

Nothing has changed recently, except updating to the .28 and .30 firmwares.

Okay - I unplugged the Tablo and let it cool for a few hours. Plugged it back in and once it was booted up, I tried connecting again. I tried Roku, my Macbook, and FireTV app. All had macroblocking on several channels and recordings. I reran the signal check "Edit Channel Lineup"and all stations have 5 green dots.

I checked the wireless connection - Airport Extreme reports the quality as “Excellent” and the speed 144 Mb/s with the Tablo.

Audio is always 100% - only the video stutters or macroblocks.

I’m so frustrated. I don’t want to hard reset for fear of losing all my recordings and scheduled recordings. But - if I can’t get this working soon…

I’d be willing to bet that the Hard Drive is the culprit. Since you can’t install a new one and reconnect your old one without reformatting, you probably don’t want to test this, but if you get to a point of last resort and do swap out hard drives, let me know if the problem is solved.


The last attempt could be to try a USB cooler fan and see if it’s heat issues, unlikely it is.

What is the brand and model of your HDD you’re using with the Tablo?

I’m pretty sure it’s not heat related - The problem showed up after I unplugged it for a while, let it completely cool, then plugged it back in and tried using it as soon as it was booted.

I’m using a Western Digital 2TB Drive: WDBU6Y0020BBK with 1.63TB remaining.


Many individuals have had issues with 2 TB drives. I say open a support ticket with Tablo Support and let them check your logs.

I would say try another HDD such as a 500 GB and 1 TB drive.

Letting the Talbo cool down wouldn’t fix an issue with either a bad HDD or one that is simply not working well with Tablo for some reason. All of your video is streaming off the HDD to what ever device you are watching, even Live TV.
Again, you may not think it, but that could (and I’m guessing is) be the source of the problem. You’ll not know until you try a different drive.

I have this exact model of hard drive with my Tablo and it works great so problem is either not the hard drive or the hard drive is defective

It’s quite possible my HDD went bad then. I will try a smaller model for two reasons: 1) it’s cheaper and we aren’t even getting close to approaching our limit and 2) sounds like maybe smaller is more reliable.

I have a ticket open. I’ll see what Tablo Support says. If I then have to swap/replace HDD then so be it. I’ve got a couple around here I can use to test. First time ever an HDD has died on me. In anything I’ve ever owned. Guess it was bound to happen. That’s why I run a mirrored array for home backup. :smile:

Thanks for all the responses!