Tablo Gen4 arrived today, first impressions

Setup for me anyway was a breeze. The most technical thing I had to do was cut a piece of coax and put compression connectors on it.

Setup Notes

The Tablo app on Android worked well for setting it up with one minor gripe.

Firmware downloaded quickly, initial schedule downloaded quickly. I kind of wish the MAC address had been printed on the device so I could assign the IP address ahead of time but I admit most people just let DHCP assign whatever.

It saw all the channels I get on my TV (also ATSC 1.0).

After going into settings so I could turn off the built-in amplifier (don’t need it) I noticed my one minor gripe about the setup process.

In settings, it saw my external hard drive and saw that it needed to be formatted, but nowhere in the setup process did it inform me that I had a hard drive that needed to be formatted.

Formatting it was easy, but IMHO it should have asked during the setup.

Hardware Notes

The Ethernet cable it came with is only fit to be thrown away. It only has two wire pairs (positions 1,2,3,6) and thus that cable is only capable of 100baseT.

Does that mean the Tablo itself is only capable of 100baseT?

I’ll have to look at the specs. If so, that’s a shame. Things like downloading two weeks worth of the channel guide would go a lot quicker if it had gigabit.

Even if the Tablo itself is only capable of 100baseT though, it really should still ship with at least a Cat5e cable that has all four wire pairs. I just junked the cable.

Roku Notes

The Roku app is painfully slow to bring up the home screen. Maybe that’s because it is still fetching data?

When on the live screen and looking through the channels, sometimes it would suddenly refresh to the top. Is that because it is still fetching data?

Many of the channels didn’t have current data even though I let it sit for awhile after the setup.

When viewing Live TV, the tuner is very slow compared to a TV. All our televisions have a coaxial connection to the antenna, so we probably won’t be using that feature.

Once a channel is tuned though, it looks good. At least with an Ethernet connected “Roku Ultra” it all seems fine. Later I’ll test with a 5GHz WiFi connected “Roku Ultra” and then with a 2.4GHz connected Roku Premiere.

The interface for setting up recordings was rather intuitive. I like the categories. Maybe some adjustment could be done, but mostly they are good.

Recording

I’ve scheduled some, but I have to wait and see.

Okay in “Product Details” it says: Ethernet 10/100

Hopefully they bump that to gigabit in a future model.

And when they bump it to gigabit, hopefully they make sure previous customers that used the crap Ethernet cable they included know to replace that instead of reusing it.

On the classic Tablo, tuning seems to take 5-10 seconds or more. I have an HDMI, and direct is twice as fast as using a Roku.

Sorry I messed up my post and meant to edit not delete. I don’t think gigabit is really needed to stream simple things like this has.

Where it might help is when downloading data. One of my frustrations, it’s supposed to be a DVR which means you need to find stuff you want to record but as you move forward through the schedule for a channel you have to wait while it “loads data” and then move forward and wait some more and then move forward and wait some more.

That waiting is frustrating.

On my 2015 Sony Bravia that uses Gracenote, looking ahead is fast even after a channel scan but on the Tablo, it’s incredibly slow. Maybe the bottleneck isn’t the NIC.

But the real issue is that they shipped a “Ethernet Cable” that is only two twisted pair. four-pair Cat5e cables are dirt cheap. Two-pair “Ethernet Cables” should not even be produced in 2023 and even back when all home networks were 10baseT, vast majority of 10baseT products that shipped with a network cable used Cat5 or Cat5e and not a two-pair cable.

Are they so cheap they need to save two cents per cable?

Cat5 is four-pair. Cat5 was introduced in 1995, over 20 years ago.

Cat3 allowed for two-pair, which is basically what their cable is as it doesn’t meet Cat5 spec—but likely with more twists per pair.

Strictly speaking, 2-pair Cat5 cable is NOT Cat5 cable. True Cat5 cable always has 4 pairs. You can have cable with 2 pairs and similar transmission characteristics to Cat5, that works with 10, 100, or 10/100 devices only.

Correct, but the only reason to use such a cable is for more flexibility than Cat5e (which is already quite flexible) AND PoE.

If you don’t need PoE (which Tablo doesn’t) then flat Cat6 is even far more flexible.

-=-

Another issue with Tablo only have 10/100 Internet, if they ever provide a way for users to back-up/restore their library (which could be done with 4th gen via software update), the backup/restore would be a LOT faster with gigabit.

But enough of the negativity.

So far, for me the DVR playback has been sweet. I recorded a 1080i and then tested by streaming it to the most likely problem device (Roku Premiere that only has 2.4 GHz WiFi) and it was flawless.

Right now, testing recording two shows at once - football - so one recording starts, the second starts while first still going, then first ends, then third starts while second still going.

Hopefully it does the right thing.

So far I am really happy.

First pic shows my setup where I have the Tablo installed. I did use a flat Cat6 cable.
(and yes, flat Cat6 is twisted pair and most meet spec, the claims that they aren’t are a common myth).

Second shows me using the thumbnails to skip through commercials, and just happened to stumble on a Tablo commercial…

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The Tablo itself did fine with recording the games - including two at a time and three where one overlapped the other two (but not three at a time)

However when using the Roku app to connect while it’s recording is very very very slow, even if just recording one show. Fortunately all our TVs have an antenna connection.

I suspect those performance issues are why there isn’t a 4th gen 4-tuner yet, and honestly the best approach to 4 tuners is probably two different Tablos.

Hi @StargateFan - Formatting of external drives during setup is available in iOS but not Android quite yet. It will be there soon.

There are also many improvements planned for the Roku app.

All of the newer apps will be getting frequent updates over the coming months to ensure feature parity and improve overall performance.

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