Tablo Shortcomings (5.1 sound & channel surfing)

I’m new to Tablo and I read just about all the comments on 5.1 sound and channel surfing. I happen to have a high tech setup in my basement that I too want to take advantage of. For unrelated reasons, I hardwired each of my TVs to prevent interference with my wifi signal. Now my network is pretty unlimited in what it can handle. However I can’t take advantage of this due to the downgrade in the Tablo recordings. My question is this… Why can’t the option to record native content be added (higher than the 10Mbs option). Then transcoding can happen as the content is played if necessary. Otherwise, let the raw content pass through. This seems like it would resolve everyone’s concerns and put the responsibility on the user and their network limitations if they really want these options. It would also address the main limitations of the setup without compromising those that need the transcoded content. I know I’m probably missing something, but had to ask.


It’s not totally a network limitation. It’s also a client playback issue. Not all client devices can handle 5.1 sound. And the Tablo isn’t powerful enough to do trancoding without using one of the tuner/processor modules. So depending on transcoding for the majority of playback is a non-starter.

Right now, all content is transcoded from mpeg2 to HTS format as it’s recorded. That’s required because most streamer boxes can’t play native mpeg2. It’s that initial transcoding which causes the channel surfing delay.


It’s a trade off. I’m willing to accept slightly lower quality content (I have my Tablo set to record with the 8 Mbps option) in order to have it automatically transcoded while being recorded so that multiple devices can play it back without having to transcode it during playback.

Quite honestly, we use Plex for playback so we have a unified UI for all content so I like that a standalone device does the transcoding so that the Plex server itself (Shield TV in our case) doesn’t have to be that powerful and can be used for other purposes while it’s serving up content.

Remember, the Tablo Engine (plus Nvidia Shield) give you the fast channel changing and surround sound as it’s just storing the (large) ATSC captures. It’s a very different product though.


Really? I gave up on Tablo three years ago, and buyers are still bitching there is no 5.1? I don’t see how you stay in business.

You must not have totally given up on tablo. If you had, you wouldn’t even be reading the posts and logging in to make a comment.

You would just be fat, dumb, and happy with whatever solution you are using.


Thing is, there now IS a Tablo product that supports 5.1, Tablo ENGINE as @cjcox said.

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They stay in business and are successful. They’re probably making more money than you ever will (whatever it is that you do whenever your Tablo obsession doesn’t get in the way) LOL.

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shoutout to fuddy duds who lurk on the board just to sling mud and fud !

5.1 sound is a vortex and will sap your life energy. It was a GOOD CALL for the Tablo marketeers and designers to decide on stereo only.

Stereo is better than 5.1/DTS/blah-blah for TV/HBO/movies/netflix. That is because stereo sounds great, and involves way less debugging. Another bonus with with stereo, there is no annoying hiss from those back/surround speakers.

With the extra time saved via less debugging and fewer manual-changes to audio modes, you can spend more time watching TV. And more time romantically with your significant other who is not an engineer. Win win!


When I sold my Tablo I bought a Tivo Bolt with three minis. HD, 5.1, and all the software features of Tablo. Yes, I have a QAM card for HD cable, but the Tivo will do OTA just fine without the need for a user group suggesting how to get the Tablo unit to do what the Tivo already does. I did log in after nearly two years, hoping to see that Tablo was indeed successful; the postings today look a lot like the same gripes of two years ago, with those more technical posting patches, using other hardware, etc. So if recording TV is a hobby and you like dinking around with it, Tablo is for you. If you just want to buy a unit, plug it in, and expect it to work as advertised, there are others that offer that; Tablo does not.

And to answer the other post: sold the company I started for a few $MM and am now retired, but I spend my time playing golf, not trying to figure out how to get 5.1 sound. Cheers.

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:slight_smile: (hoping that cheers means…)

Valid points and glad to hear TiVo is working out for you. Everyone has different needs and requirements so it’s good there are multiple products out there and it’s just a matter of identifying what works best for you.

I didn’t want to be tied to investing even more money into Minis or the TiVo ecosystem after they were sold to Rovi, so I chose to go the Tablo route. I think making a general comment about it not working as advertised is a bit disingenuous because I don’t recall them ever saying 5.1 was supported for any other product then the Tablo ENGINE that was announced last year.

For plenty of people Tablo just works. Sure, the general products don’t support 5.1 (which isn’t one of my requirements) but not everyone needs 5.1 and the hardware itself has been pretty dang solid for me once I got my reception issues resolved. In fact, I’ve encountered way fewer reboots with the Tablo then I did my TiVo Roamio. To each his own…

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How many episodes do you really need 5.1 for - local news, Big Bang Theory, Flash, older movies and series, etc? Sporting events are basically not realistic. Sound amplifiers on the football capturing field level sounds that you would never hear at an actual game.

Of course if you are old enough and grew up going to rock concerts in the 60’s and early 70’s, 5.1 can sound like you are in a echo chamber.

Selling a company for big bucks is just a tax problem. Bought Microsoft and Intel in late 1987 and Cisco in 1982. Now the cost basis is pennies on the dollar. My tax account freaks when I kid him by indicating I might sell some stock.

just to jump on the bandwagon-

Every homes needs differ. For mine, I fill the channel surfing and occasional 5.1 needs with HDHomeRun; Tablo is strictly my DVR of choice. That hybrid approach makes my family happy, so “whatever floats your boat” :slight_smile:

If paying Tivo every month in perpetuity (and the per box subscription model) works for you- rock on…

I am fine with the pay once and done model I am living under today.

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I bought a Tivo with accompanying minis because it handled 5.1 and had a few other nice features. However I couldn’t justify the costs (for my setup, it was just short of 3x the costs of Tablo when comparing a lifetime subscription) considering it was buggy and seemed to lack support. So I sent it back. I knew what I got into when purchasing the Tablo. Just figured I’d pose a question considering I haven’t seen anyone approach the deficiency with a setting and having the Tablo transcode on the fly. I’m still not convinced that it can’t be done considering that is what happens when you watch live TV or when you stream at a lower quality away from home. Adjusting based off your device’s capability seems like a good compromise. Oh well, I appreciate all the feedback and will just continue to hope that a solution is somewhere in the future

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This is funny because the fact that I could buy Tablo simply plug it in & it would work is exactly why I choose Tablo.

As long as you have a good & properly setup antenna & wifi network, Tablo functions rather well. If 5.1 surround sound & channel surfing is a big deal to you then yes, Tablo is probably not the best fit.

Tablo was developed with current technology in mind. It can stream live & recorded programming to a multitude of devices; i.e. computers, tablets, phones, streaming boxes, etc. It is this functionality that makes 5.1 surround sound problematic & useless for many of these end devices. But at the same time it is this functionality that appeals to many customers. Tivo does not have these capabilities. Furthermore, a Tablo owner can access their content from across the country. I do this from time to time in my RV. Again, Tivo does not have this capability. The ease of setup (connect my antenna to Tablo & Tablo to my router) & cost were additional reasons why I choose Tablo over Tivo.

I am glad that Tivo satisfies your needs & yes there are many Tablo customers who crave 5.1 surround sound. But there are other features that Tablo offers that you simply do not get with Tivo.

zeppo good call buying cisco 4 years before it was gleam in a couple of stanfords kids’ eyes. (are you secretly from the future or did you make a typo? or both?)

btw, your data about 5.1 & rock concerts appears consistent with current observations. 5.1 at home sucks. same with 6.1, 7.1 or however many increasing integers plus 0.1 .

stereo is better.

I really meant Cisco in 1992. And that was because the software/hardware R&D company I worked for had built a new R&D facility. After evaluating companies producing networking equipment it became obvious that Cisco not only had the best networking equipment, they could actually articulate a road map for future products.

That’s also exactly what happened in the 1987 time frame. Many companies wanted to exit hardware R&D development and instead focus on more profitable areas. For various companies exiting CPU R&D was essential.

They wanted the old term “synergy” and very few companies wanted to get into bed with IBM. So after meeting with the Motorola 88K, SUN Sparc, and Intel groups, we went with Wintel. So buying both Microsoft and Intel was a no-brainer.

LOL, that’s some good satire right there.

It is rather funny when you have 20,000 shares and the cost basis is $1.53. But not even death keeps the IRS from getting their share.