To Tablo or not?

Hey folks
I’m considering a Tablo Dual 128 Gb. I cut the cord years ago and was a pretty satisfied customer with multiple Tivo products. My last one, the Roamio OTA, developed a noisy fan, got swapped out, and the replacement also had a noisy fan. I’ve gone a couple of years with just Hulu, but miss my own recordings. So, a few basic questions:

  1. Overall satisfaction with Tablo?
  2. A few posts a couple of years ago expressed concerns with overheating. Is that still an issue?
  3. Is there a fan? If so, does it make any noticeable noise?
  4. Any annoying disk noise
  5. I hate commercials and would opt for the premium guide subscription. Does the commercial skip work a advertised?

Thanks in advance!

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I have two Tablo DVRs (one a newer quad, the other a 3-year old 4-tuner model), and both have performed well. I also had a Roamio Premiere Plus, and it was a good DVR, but the main reason I switched was due to the necessity of having the mini at every TV, and I couldn’t stream on computers. The Tablo works with all my devices.

The user interface is a little more polished in the TiVo, and channel switching is faster (this is due to the Tablo having to transcode the signal so it can stream to all devices) - it takes about 3-5 seconds to change a channel.

There is no fan on either of my DVRs, and they don’t make any noise. My external hard drives are WD 4-TB models, and they don’t make any noise either.

In my opinion, the Tablo is a great DVR, and performs exactly the way I want it to.

As for the commercial skip - I was an early beta tester, and also used it during the public beta, and it works pretty well (not as good as the TiVo) - and I preferred to use the remote to skip commercials (it gives a preview pane with forwarding). It isn’t expensive if you want to use it.

Pretty satisfied with Tablo. My biggest complaint was upgrades were supposed to be included and they did not include CS (commercial skip).
I have been around for awhile as I am coming up on 5 years. I have the original Quad and did not have problems with it overheating.
I do not know of a fan but if it has one it is quiet.
I think CS does a good job on most shows but if it does not work then you can just rw or FF to get to where you need to be.
two other things not asked. I would recommend the 4 tuner model unless you are certain you will not be useing more then 1 at a time. I think the extra price is worth the extra tuners unless you watch very little OTA tv.
The other thing to remember is you are on a Tablo form so I would say most people are happy with it here. I like it so its not putting it down but I would think most people on here would like the Tablo.

I was one of the first Tablo buyers (at least 6 years now), and my original 2-tuner is still going strong. I also have a Dual Lite (maybe 3 years now). So these devices do last, though some users have had to replace the power supply or the whole thing.

Some of the newer models with internal drives can get pretty warm (from what I have read here), though the Tablo folks have assured us that the temperatures are within acceptable ranges. My devices have external drives, and neither drive has had an issue.

No fan. The Tablo itself is silent, though the attached hard drive (internal or external) will make some noise. I only notice mine when the TV isn’t running.

The big adjustment when coming to the Tablo from any other DVR is that the Tablo transcodes the signal before it is written to disk. This allows the Tablo stream to be played back on almost any device, but live tv will take 6-11 seconds to start playing after being tuned. Going back and forth between tuned channels is pretty much instant, but that first time on a channel is slow.

This also means sports on 1080i channels will not quite as good as sports on 720p channels. The Tablo can do 720p at 60 frames per sec, but 1080i is transcoded to 1080p at 30 fps, so it isn’t as sharp.

The biggest reason to use the Tablo is flexibility. You can play it on almost anything, and you can play live tv and recordings away from home as well (with some device limitations).

My original 2 tuner is 5 1/2 years old now and also “going strong”. We are very happy with it.

It is located in the basement in my computer area away from any TV’s so we never hear it. Other than when you wake up its hard drive it makes no noise.

I added taller rubber feet to it for better airflow and being in a cool basement keeps it from getting hot. It only gets warm.

We use the remote to skip commercials. Never tried commercial skip.

8/10 - I use it as a straight OTA DVR. Unconventional, export recordings, so I use it to primarily schedule recordings. Very little issues with it. It’s technology, OTA RF broadcasting, networking… there’s occasional hiccup. I have don’t have may major issues or “breakdowns”.

If you follow TaboTV’s and TabloSupport’s replays and support articles, it’s not “an issue”. Not to discount the comments users have made. Some may have been more valid than others IHO.


the Dual 128GB’s onboard storage isn’t mechanical. As for disk noise, that’s up to you.

You’ll notice negative comments, but then those enjoying the service generally don’t bother joining an online community to say “this is amazingly awesome”. I believe it has issues, likely depends largely on programing. For $2/mo, give it a try before you buy.

I agree the “now with commercial skip” was somewhat mis-leading for new products. For current, already paid-for products: when it was rolled out, you had to read the entire article - New Tablo OTA DVR Feature: Automatic Commercial Skip

In January, we announced a new feature – Automatic Commercial Skip – was coming to all subscription-enabled Tablo OTA DVRs.

We’re thrilled to announce that the open beta for this feature begins today with our latest firmware update (2.2.26).

to get to the open beta explanation…

During the open beta, Automatic Commercial Skip will be free to enjoy for Tablo customers with active or 30-day trial TV Guide Data subscriptions.

Once we are satisfied with the accuracy and quality of the feature and have reviewed the server infrastructure costs associated with Automatic Commercial Skip, this feature may transition to a paid add-on.

Just as a privacy statement uses we may use your information or we may do what ever we want… this feature may transition can most very likely be translated to will be. At the lest it was noted it was in beta - aka testing / development. No implication, will be included.

So your “biggest complaint” that “upgrades were supposed to be included” all firmware and app upgrades are included… including the one allowing commercial skip. So I believe you may have been misinformed or misunderstood “they did not include CS (commercial skip).”

There’s still plenty to enjoy with tablo.


I’ve never owned another DVR so my views on this product vs another product is biased.

I’ve owned a Tablo 4-Channel unit since January 2016. I’m very satisfied with this product. I’m using a WD 2GB hard drive and record at 720p @ 3mbps to maximize my HD usage.
I like the ability to be able to watch my Tablo on my TV, PC or Tablet.
I believe that Tablo supports up to 6 devices at any one time.
Live TV is buffered in such a way so that I can stop viewing in one room, move to another room and start watching the same program without missing anything.

Something to take note of is that for every TV you use, you’ll need a streaming device (Roku or FireStick) to use the Tablo. This was an extra expense required when I first setup my cord-cutting system.

There are many useful feature available…

  • You can ‘start early’ or ‘stop late’ any program.
  • There is a feature to automatically extend live recordings. Useful for sports programs.
  • Keep the last x number of programs. I record several news programs. Using this feature automatically deletes the oldest programs without me having to manually delete them.
  • When a program is broadcast on multiple channels, you can select which channel you record from.
  • You can select to record only ‘New’ programs or ‘All’ programs. This is useful when you don’t want to record reruns.
  • You can ‘protect’ a program so that it’s not deleted.
  • When you do delete a program, you can select to delete only the ‘watched’ programs or ‘all’ the programs.
  • There is a feature to watch your Tablo remotely (outside the home), but I’ve never tried this feature myself.

I wouldn’t purchase this product for the Commercial Skip ability. It’s a ‘premium feature’ that you choose to subscribe to or not. This is a new feature offering and still has it’s quirks. Sometimes it works great, sometime not. Some programs I record CS fails every time. Some programs, CS starts too early or misses the commercial completely. When CS fails or not subscribed to, you can use fast forward to bypass the commercials. This is how it was done before CS became available.

Something to consider is that ATSC 3.0 is coming sometime in 2021. As far as I know, the Tablo is not ATSC 3.0 compatible. So the Tablo you purchase today may become obsolete tomorrow. Now that said, I don’t know how the rollout of ATSC 3.0 will be done. I’m hoping that broadcasters will be required to broadcast both ATSC 1.0 & ATSC 3.0 for some time period. Similar to the way it was done when changing over from analog TV to digital TV.

All in all, I’m very satisfied with my Tablo. I would and have, recommended it to anyone that wants to eliminate their cable bills.

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Just curious, “extra expense” in your cord cutting. That’s to say with out the tablo, you’re wouldn’t have had the “extra expense” of these streaming devices? …because you don’t really use the internet as part of your cord cutting experience? Many don’t, well some don’t I believe most do.

Just to note, most if not all of these useful feature are part of the paid subscription features. They are very useful, and I agree they are worth the price.

That is completely unfounded misinformation! Even if a broadcaster began what’s now marketed and NextGenTV, they don’t have to stop 1.0 ever, but can’t for at least 5yrs. So at least years from tomorrow at the earliest :wink:

Thanks all for the responses to date. I think I’m going to take the plunge. I am an Apple guy, so I’ll be using Apple TV, Mac, and iPad, but mostly Apple TV. I also have a smart LG TV, so from what I read, I should check that “connection” out as well. Thanks again for all your inputs.

Primary concert, get a good signal to the device!! It’s paramount, not just a good antenna, but antenna placement!! Have ex-Tivo users here say it worked fine with tivo, but not tablo. Some, I’ve seen it, my TV works, why won’t my tablo?

Not an Apple or IOS user :(, so I’ve mostly passed over those topics, but I’ve noticed they may have some specific - hope nothing challenging.

Yes, you should really really research that LG alleged smart TV. I understand it’s extremely proprietary, so you may find limitations.

Take note, of “official” live tech support, so you know going into it - Regular telephone support hours are Monday - Friday, 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. ET. (seems new users are shocked by this)

Not that you should need it. Besides, you’ll likely get a quicker response here, and learn from others found out the hard way what doesn’t work… so you don’t have to.

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Hey ota4me -

  1. I set my parents up with the 4-tuner, then replaced it with the new Quad. After some initial problems with a first 4-tuner box (replaced for free by Tablo) things have worked remarkably well for them. It’s the only way they can tune into their preferred NBC affiliate, and the PBS sub-channel they enjoy. The Tablo is used to enhance the content the streaming provider wasn’t providing. It isn’t the only source of TV they’re using. They actually watch more Netflix than anything else at this point? I have the 4-tuner at the office, just haven’t hooked it back up yet.

  2. I set the 4-tuner on it’s side to try and help cooling while troubleshooting the original unit Tablo replaced, and when I replaced the 2nd 4-tuner with the new Quad, decided to do the same? Can’t say that I’ve noticed any issues that could be heat related, but my father keeps their house at 70 degrees most of the time?

  3. I don’t have the Dual, so can’t respond to this one with confidence?

  4. Using a Lacie D2 external 4TB drive, (Desktop 3.5" HDD) with the Quad, no real noise issues/complaints?

  5. Tested the commercial skip when it was in public beta. It did not perform reliably enough to pay for at that point? Tablo just added a new test period and it seems to be working much better with the non-PBS shows that are recording in the off-season so far? None of the shows regularly watched frequently will be airing new programs before the test is over, so not sure parents will be interested enough/impressed enough to add any additional fees in the near future?

Primary device being used is the AppleTV HD. The Tablo is upstairs connected via ethernet to an Airport Express. The attic antenna is a short 20’ coax run away.

Still have the Tivo Premier this all replaced with old recordings on it humming away under the tv?

Hope this helps

I’ve been using OTA for my TV viewing for 30+ years. Tablo was my first OTA DVR and I was not using any streaming devices at the time. In my calculations for the Tablo, I had to also factor in the expense of the streaming devices as well.

That’s good to know. I’ve now been informed. Thanks.

I have a similar background. I guess along with the devices you’ll need to add in internet access as a cost for using our tablos. Whether we use it for anything else or already had it… you can’t watch your free OTA recorded content without paying for internet to use your tablo. (something I’ve always grumbled about)

As for ATSC 3.0 / NextGenTV there’s speculation after the “free” primary channel they are strongly looking at pay-per-view-OTA or subscription programming business model. Terms like broadcast internet as well, taking up the bandwidth instead of programing content.

Not sure how a DVR even fits cleanly into this, if at all.

This company has an “antenna box” using 3.0/NextGenTV to provide

Evoca uses Next-Generation broadcast technology to provide high quality, reliable programming at a fraction of the cost of cable. It’s the smart, simple way to watch TV!

So a free DVR might not even be an option in the future, or a straight tuner might not even get you the content you think. Depends what’s going to generate the most corporate profits, I believe.

Stay Away From Tablo. More problems then anything.

@JB_Cool - Sorry to hear you’ve had a rough time. Have you contacted support? They’d be happy to help:

Update: Thanks to all for your responses. I’ve taken the plunge by purchasing a Tablo, and signing up for a year of the guide and commercial skip. Overall, I’m quite pleased with reception, playback, the TV guide, etc. My only disappointment, to date, is the commercial skip. It seems to be hit and miss, so I’m not sure I’ll renew it in year. Interestingly, my Tivo never messed up a commercial skip that I recall. At present, Tablo’s is not much better than simply scrolling with my Apple remote. Maybe it will improve or “get smarter” with time.

Tivo does it manually on certain channels at certain times, while the Tablo does it automated on all channels at all times. That is the main reason for the discrepancy.