Tivo Works fine but Tablo Pixelates

I am trying to replace a 4-tuner Tivo Roamio with Tablo Quad. I am using an Ethernet connection and a Roku3. I installed a new Toshiba drive into the Tablo internal drive bay. Everything has the latest software/firmware. I have hooked everything up and double-checked all the connections. Downloading the channel guide worked fine and I have 5 green dots on most all OTA channels. The installation of the Tablo app on my Roku went fine and I set up the Tablo with the app on the Tablo website. Everything went smoothly. But the Tablo has terrible pixelation issues to the point that it is unwatchable. And with some channels I get a “signal is not strong enough” message. I have tried everything I can think of and reset everything in the chain. My Internet download speed is 86 Mbps. And I have reset and rebooted the Tablo Quad.

I can take the exact same Ethernet cable and the same antenna connection, hook that back up to my TIVO and everything works beautifully. If I put those same connections into the Tablo everything is pixelated. So the only variables are the Tablo and the Roku 3. The Roku 3 streams everything flawlessly. That leaves the Tablo as the only variable. And while it does have 4 tuners, so does my TIVO.

The fact that Tablo has this big orange card in the box saying “Before returning to the store STOP… Contact us for help” is incredibly frustrating as their support hours are limited and they are not open on weekends.

If anyone has a solution for this you will make me a very happy camper!!!

Many have “channels work on everything else” type issues… whole bunch more don’t. Yes it’s extremely frustrating and irritating knowing it works… but yet it doesn’t.

Hopefully you’ll get some constructive suggestions. One thing to look into is the recording or live TV quality. If you’ve set these to max, lower these and see if it changes anything.

Tivo, from what little I understand, uses the raw mpeg data while tablo transcodes the data so it can stream things over your network (internet speed is irrelevant) so they don’t operate exactly the same – tuners should still receive a signal.

yea, and it’s not even meant to be funny :neutral_face:

If/when you get this straightened out… I bet you’ll discover tablo is a reasonably decent device for what it’s designed to do.

Thanks for the response, djk44883! It is very much appreciated!

I have tried lower quality settings (all the way down to 720p) and it seemed to make no difference. Also, I am running the Tivo at 1080i with no issues. If can’t get the same quality from Tablo than I can from Tivo, then I will have to return the Tablo. I was actually looking at the Tablo as an upgrade from the Tivo. Maybe that’s not the case.

Temporarily remove the hard drive, then try watching live TV. If the pixelation stops then it could point to a hard drive problem.


The pixelation has to do with reception of the stations. This time of year, the tropospheric propagation is a problem for some channels (this is where stations 100+ miles away bounce of the atmosphere and create issues with channels that are local - known as "co-channel interference).

If you hook up the antenna directly to the TV, do you have the same issues?

Although it certainly can be a reception issue, pixelation can also be caused by HDD issues as @mbellaire points out.

You didn’t mention what hard drive you are trying to use. Some are better than others.

Hey, folks, thanks for all of the replies! Much appreciated! So, I’ve now done some more troubleshooting…

My wife and I watch TV after dinner until around 10:00p. So, during that time I switched back to the TIVO and completely unhooked the Tablo from everything for about 3 hours. Now I’ve hooked it back up and the picture is much better and the pixelation mostly gone. I left the HDD in and I am now able to get all channels without the dreaded “Signal is not Strong enough” warning. However, there are occasional video jerks and from time to time, and some very brief pixelations. Also, compared to my TIVO the picture looks somewhat smeared and not near as detailed as the TIVO. And I am getting banding and moire artifacts where there were none before. It seems that whatever conversion the Tablo does in order to stream the signal over a network changes the frame-rate and lowers the resolution of the original signal. The picture just looks different and it’s very apparent that the video frame rate has been changed. You know when you watch a film that was originally at 24fps and some LED TV’s will try to smooth the picture by interpolating frames to try and remove motion artifacts? This is the same feeling. The frame rate has changed from the original and it just doesn’t look right. And it also, it seems to actually drop frames every once in a while. (Thus the video “jerk” mentioned above)

So, I then removed the HDD and there was no improvement.

My TV is ISF calibrated and I consider myself somewhat of a Videophile. To me, if this is the best picture I can get from it, the Tablo is just not ready for prime time. Overall, the Tivo picture quality blows the Tablo away, no contest. Frame rates are accurate and motion is smooth, and if I do see artifacts, they are most definitely from the source, not the Tivo. I get really great signal from my Rooftop antenna and have never had problems before. And the Tivo looks stunning.

So anyway, let me know if this is par for the course for this device. If it is, I will certainly return it. If it’s not, please let me know how to improve the PQ. Of course, I would love to discuss this with the Tablo folks, but they are not going to be around for another 51 hours…

[Report: I just checked to see if setting a lower the bandwidth in the settings to (1080-8Mbps) would help and now I’m getting that “signal isn’t strong enough” error message again. This thing seems to be all over the place with no rhyme or reason. Arrrgg!!!]

No, it seems to work virtually issue for an overwhelming majority - you just don’t hear as much because they don’t have much to “complain about”

For you, it may be and a tablo may not be a good option.

I’m not always happy with my device and currently have similar issues - suddenly a channel won’t work at times, on my tablo.

Getting through that, not real big on their UI and limitation. But using it as an OTA DVR, like 95-97% of the time it doesn’t give me a problem. {It is technology and OTA RF signals, things happen)

The Tablo units have to transcode the signal to stream it to devices (Roku, FireTV, SmartTV, etc). TiVo doesn’t do this, and that is why they require you to utilize a TiVo mini for viewing on a 2nd TV.

Tropospheric propagation is an issue with OTA during the summer time (especially in Texas where I live). Usually around 10:00PM, it starts (when daytime temps are over 95, and the temp falls below 80 is when this happens), and usually when it is going strong (11:30PM - 1:00AM), I lose 3 channels in my area due to “co-channel interference”. This is due to channels in Houston (200 miles away) and San Antonio (120 miles away) that have channels on the same RF frequencies. The signal is bouncing off the hot/cold air, and traveling a longer distance.

The funny thing - I watch ION at 11:00PM on the weekends, and I can’t watch the local ION station because of the problem, but I can watch the Houston ION channel (223 miles away) perfectly clear.

It takes looking at the frequencies in surrounding areas, and looking for the RF channels that are the same as the stations that are pixelating.

I went through hell for almost a year trying to figure this out…

If you are wanting the highest quality picture on the TV sets, TiVo has the best - as there is no transcoding of the signal. DVRs that have an HDMI to the set, and do not stream to streaming devices are the best bet at this point. I don’t know what will happen with ATSC 3.0…

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Thanks to you both for replying. I do want to say that members make great forums and there are some great members in this forum. So thanks to all again!

I totally get the transcoding thing. I just think they do a very poor job of it. It’s not the home network that is making things bad.I have other HD video going through my network that looks great. Netflix on my Roku looks much better than my Tablo OTA does. I stream HD video from a DLNA server on my network and it’s pristine! (MP4) Maybe it’s because Tablo attempts to transcode in real-time that makes it bad. But it certainly is not for lack of bandwidth or the fact that they have to make the video compatible with a home network. It’s just that they are bad at what they attempt to do.

The fact that the Tivo works flawlessly and the Tablo is showing me 5 green dots for signal strength should mean that the Tablo is seeing what it needs to see (regarding signal strength) and it still tells me that the antenna signal is to weak to stream the channel means that something it terribly flawed either with their algorithms, their hardware design, or it could just be the fact that I got a bad box. All of this could possibly be solved if only I could contact them and try to work out the kinks. But alas, I have to wait two more days to do that.

Me, I use a TV to watch live TV, so I can’t say much about watch a tablo in “real time”. But it’s basically the same as watching a recorded video - in that it’s transcoded, buffered, then streamed to devices. The same process as when it’s “recorded”, it’s streamed In what format does Tablo save the video/audio stream to the hard drive? This, I understand, is where there’s a substantial difference with TIvo - good/bad depending or your needs. But it’s unlikely to contributed to your “bad reception”.

They have a “lot” of articles about pixilation and reception issues. Obviously these aren’t of much interest to you. As @ronintexas points out, the time of day and heat stuff. I fear I may be struggleing with this for the first time is some 30 years of TV viewing. Recently had a perfect channel, nightly, not work on a tablo unit. Very irate. I’m not absolutely sure it’s not the tablo, but something screwy is going on.

Yes, if your device is “newly purchased”, have wasted your time contacted support, return it if your needs aren’t meant, before it’s too late.

I have 2 Dual Lite devices, I’m otherwise happy with them! so I’m not suggesting you to return them because I"m a tablo hater… You know what you have should work, and you shouldn’t have to “re-invent the wheel”.

Thanks again for the reply, djk44883. I’m sure this has nothing to do with time-of-day issues as @ronintexas mentions. Again, my Tivo works fine all the time; day or night. We watch recorded TV so that we can skip commercials. At this point I do plan to return it but I am going to give Tablo a chance to respond. I am just writing an email to their support folks now. So, we’ll see what they have to say. But the fact that their hours are so short, and from what I have read here on this forum one should plan on being on hold for quite a while, makes this all the more frustrating. It just seems that they don’t care. But I shall wait until Monday to see if they reply and if they do, see if they can solve the problem.

Thanks again for your help!

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Every time I have emailed support, they responded within one business day. They have always come through for me. They can also look at the logs on the Tablo to determine what is going on. The “green dots” on the scan are virtually meaningless.

I had a TiVo Premiere Plus (gave it to my brother), and it does a great job for what it was designed to do. It does produce a better picture (native resolution). The deal breaker for me was it doesn’t allow streaming (I have several computers, tablets, phones, Roku, FireTV and other devices) that I couldn’t watch programs on.

It is difficult to compare the TiVo to Tablo (or Amazon Recast, AirTV or other streaming DVR), as they are built on different platforms for different uses. I don’t know of the “perfect” DVR out there for OTA viewing (none of them do everything).

I hope they get it fixed up for you.

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Thanks, @ronintexas. Yeah, I was kind of looking forward to the streaming thing. But it’s not a deal-breaker. Really, picture quality and reliability are the most important issues for me. But I’ll certainly wait for a response from the Tablo folks!

I have two 4-tuner Tablo units, and they stream to 7 televisions throughout the house, plus computers, tablets and phones. I love being able to watch TV on the back porch without any wires while I crank up the smoker - especially during football season.

I never have issues with buffering, whether it is wireless or wired (I have an Orbi Mesh AX6000 with 2 satellites, connected via ethernet backhaul), and other than the Tropospheric Propagation, there are absolutely no issues.

My only complaints are that it takes 3-7 days for a channel to be added (repack, new channels), and that isn’t Tablo’s issue - it is the 3rd party that populates the guide data.

The firmware updates have improved the performance over the last 2 years, but it isn’t as polished as the TiVo service (who started in 1999), as the Tablo came out in 2014.

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Ha! Very cool! Especially the smoker and the Football!!!
I don’t have any buffering problems. Just pixelation problems which are different.

Now back to the NFL. (The really important stuff) Do you think we’ll have a full season? I just don’t see how they will be able to continue a contact sport during the pandemic. If one guy on one team tests positive he could have transmitted it to others on the team. I don’t know if I would want to play another team that had players that tested positive.

With me being in Minnesota my allegiance is set (Vikings). Should I assume you are a Texans fan rather than a Cowboys fan??? :wink:

Actually, I am a transplant in Texas…I am from Cleveland, so my allegiance is with the Browns.

I can’t see playing a contact sport right now. I am rooting for my Indians, but the games are really missing something with no fans.

I am a Big10 Fan, love my Buckeyes. They have already eliminate all non-conference games (not sure that helps - LOL).

I bleed purple too

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I feel very sorry for you that you have to be a Brown’s fan. :smile: :smile: :smile: