Tablo: My first week experience

Tablo is a great device and simple to use. I love it. However, I found two things that made me grind my teeth.

  1. Tablo is hardwired to the router. The device went into coma and it didn’t broadcast itself on the network. Client (Nexus Player, Android phone, and all couldn’t detect Tablo on the network. I had to unplug the power to make it work again. Extremely frustrating.

  2. The USB ports are junk. My hard drive kept on disconnecting, and I thought my hard drive wasn’t compatible - just like people reported in the thread “Tested - Hard Drives”. I plugged the hard drive to my desktop pc and laptop, and it was working perfectly. So I plugged back to Tablo. Tablo didn’t provide any power to the hard drive at all. After a little troubleshooting, it was the Tablo’s USB ports. If I plugged the USB cable all the way in, no power to the hard drive. If I backed out the cable a tiny bit, and turned the cable head slightly, it worked! The symptom is on both USB Ports, and got it to work same method. It looks like the USB ports on the Tablo is not up to standard specs. For a device that costs $300, USB ports shouldn’t be skimmed to cut cost.

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I would contact support. I have to imagine they will replace the unit. I am sure they don’t do the manufacturing themselves, that might be where the problems are introduced.

I think I’ll return it to Amazon. It’s probably quicker that route.

There was a thread about this too, so it wasn’t just one-off problem.

Oh, sorry, I wasn’t suggesting it was a one off. Entire runs can be botched pretty easily. Good Luck

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Apologize too. I didn’t mean to say you suggested a one-off issue. I thought my issue was a one-off because it could happen during the manufacturing process until I saw other people are having the same issue too.

I requested an exchange from Amazon, and it will be here Thursday. Let’s see how it goes.

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First weeker…if that’s a word…here myself. I have experienced issue #1 that you mentioned above twice but have not encountered #2.

Overall I have been impressed with the device. It does have its quirks but I am sure given time those will be worked out. The biggest issue I’m having is the WAF, Wife Acceptance Factor. Right now she’s just not buying into it mainly due to how slow it is to switch between channels.

Good luck with your hardware replacement.

I’ve had my Tablo for many months now and still haven’t cut the cord because of WAF, as well as a few other quirks. Well in my case it’s the PHC (Pre-emptive Husband Check) that is failing so I won’t even push it to the wife yet. It seems if there was a solution to the slow channel switching, it would have been implemented by now. I think the inherent setup of the Tablo is what causes the slowness - There is no remote that talks directly to the Tablo tuner, which is already a slowdown, and then on top of that the actual Tablo itself just CHUUUUGS when it changes. To be simplistic in many instances you have Remote–>Roku–>WiFi–>Tablo–>Tuner

Select a channel from the web browser and it says “Loading”. Loading what? You mean “Buffering”?

And yes, I have the sync issues also.

We talked about channel switching speed in another thread recently. My theory is that its 100% a result of buffering. Remember, at its core, Tablo is a DVR tool. My guess is it is designed to buffer x amount of time before actually loading. This allows a smooth start and immediate DVR tool functionality.

The HDHomerun network tuner loads new channels near instantly so I don’t think its a tuner issue. It would be nice if we could 1) get confirmation for what the delay is and 2) have an option to toggle the delay off, if possible.

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Most viewers who want fast channel switching and channel hopping run a coax directly to the television from a splitter and another coax to the Tablo from the splitter.

Tablo’s streaming functionality uses HLS. Because HLS is based on a series of short (typically 10 seconds) duration media files, there is an inherent need to have an initial delay before viewing while the first video segment is prepared. That’s the nature of the beast. IIRC Tablo has experimented with shorter length segments which do improve the “startup” time somewhat.

Tablo also transcodes the MPEG-2 broadcast stream into H.264, which also may account for some fraction of the delay. As far as I am aware HDHomerun simply uses the broadcast stream as-is.

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The HDHomerun Extend converts to H.264 before streaming (unless toggled off) so it is possible the transcoding is not the cause of the delay. I am not familiar with HLS so I can’t comment on that.

Wiki has a good description of HLS (which may explain the startup delay):

How HLS Works

At a high level, HLS works like all adaptive streaming technologies; you create multiple files for distribution to the player, which can adaptively change streams to optimize the playback experience. As an HTTP-based technology, no streaming server is required, so all the switching logic resides on the player.

To distribute to HLS clients, you encode the source into multiple files at different data rates and divide them into short chunks, usually between 5-10 seconds long. These are loaded onto an HTTP server along with a text-based manifest file with a .M3U8 extension that directs the player to additional manifest files for each of the encoded streams.

See diagrams -

Roku and HLS are discussed here -

As indicated by Tablo in another thread, the interaction between Tablo and Roku is a pull model which falls in line with the HLS model:

Tablo Roku Pull

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The slow channel surfing is due to buffering. For this reason, I use a coax splitter and feed one directly to the TV. You can tell by watching the same channel on TV and through Tablo. Tablo is about 15-20 seconds lagging behind TV feed. When you watch through Tablo, Tablo is replaying from the disk. This accomplishes two things: 1. allow you to pause the program, and 2. allow the program to display smoothly.

Channel surfing is really the Achilles heel of the unit. I have an attic antenna that runs to the basement and then steals the coax to each TV from there. I do all my channel surfing via the regular old antenna on the TV itself. Thanks Cable Co.! (That is the ONLY thing I will thank them for)

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I’m thinking of doing something similar and just using the Tablo as a DVR. The WAF would likely be higher that way. The only downside is then she would “have to turn on” another device, the Fire TV, to be able to get to Sling TV.

Changing channels can be slow but we don’t jump around much. Especially because we use the guide mainly to navigate between channels.

I was having issues like #1 while back, I did the following

a. Updated my firmware
b. Wiped the Tablo to factory settings starting all over again
c. Got a new wireless router with AC - [it was Free] (how are your devices connecting to the network? hardwire/wireless? What device?
d. The Nexus player and the Apple TV both support AC wireless protocol.

Right now, I’m waiting for the Apple TV app.

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what splitting the signal would solve? Wouldn’t you have to toggle inputs on the TV to switch between inputs? What about an on screen guide for direct coax?

Some of us have split the signal and use the TV itself for channel switching and hopping - much quicker. Tablo is used for recording only.

Occasionally my wife and I use the Tablo to review the guide and see what to record. Or else to see what is the lineup for the evening. So we don’t toggle continuously between TV and Tablo. Splitting solves the channel switching\hopping slowness of the Tablo and makes it mostly a recording device, not a viewing one.

In any case, I use Plex, like others here, together with Tablo Ripper to get recorded shows off the Tablo which we watch later. We seldom use the Tablo for viewing since most of our viewing is delayed, not immediate. In our case, the Tablo is used mostly for recording and consulting the guide on a long term basis.

When we’re watching live TV, if we need any info on a show we use the PSIP data provided by the station to the TV.

It’s a different model and environment for using the Tablo and working around its weakness. I realize that a lot of people prefer to work solely through one device - the Tablo - and understand the desire to have a quicker channel switcher with the Tablo itself. In my case I had this environment all set up for years before getting a Tablo which was the last component to come in (like others here who had been Sage\Plex users).

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Firmware is up to date.

Had not thought of wiping the factory settings and starting all over again. Seems a bit extreme.

I’m hardwired and using an Amazon Fire TV

Wouldn’t you have to toggle inputs on the TV to switch between inputs?

Yes. Some users are okay with this. I don’t channel surf OTA channels (or even watch them live) that much so its not a huge deal for me that the channels load slowly.

The big “input switching” problem for me is Amazon - still no good, smooth way to watch Amazon prime video on Android TV. Plenty of workarounds, but nothing great. As a result, I still have a fire stick hooked up to the tv but luckily I have plenty of content to watch between HBO/Netflix/Tablo.