Tuner lag time revisited

I’m a new Tablo user and am involved in the electronics design business. I’m pretty satisfied with the Tablo
now as I expected this to be an “early adopter” platform. It occupies a wonderful market niche and on paper, has the best feature set on the market. But I have to ask if the Tablo development folks are setting their priorities right.

If I were running the Tablo program, After fixing the actual bugs, I would throw every resource under my control at THE performance problem - meaning the lag time to tune a new channel. IMO this is the biggest and most customer visible issue with the Tablo platform and the dominant aspect of the user experience. I think it is also likely driving a lot of business to your competitors.

I’ve seen responses from the Tablo reps in this community regarding this problem saying that the lag time is necessary to create a buffer to allow pause and rewind to function. Hogwash. This introduces unnecessary latency into the tuning process for a function that no one is interested in at that particular point in time.

Tablo is a first and foremost, a TV viewing device and GETTING PICTURE ON THE SCREEN should be the #1 priority. Anything else is just a distraction.

Now Its entirely possible that I don’t have the full story and this lag time is caused by more than just a design choice. If the cause is something more fundamental, then it would appear that you guys are facing a real engineering problem. But it is one that your competitors have apparently already solved if the message boards can be believed.

You folks have a head start with the best product on the market from a feature mix perspective. If you don’t go attack this problem head on, I fear you will go the way of the dinosaurs.

I will now stop telling you how to run your business :slight_smile: Back to the lab guys!

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This ‘lag’ time is the normal and intended behaviour of the Tablo.

The Tablo must first tune the channel, then transcode the video and audio from MPEG-2 video to h.264 video, and then buffer an adequate stream to send to your device. This takes about 10-15 seconds in total.

I see the Tablo as first and foremost a DVR that streams to as many platforms as possible. It is not the same as a cable or satellite DVR, nor is it the same as a Tivo.

Because it is different from those devices, the lag time to a new channel for live tv is just a limitation that I put up with. I don’t see any good way for the Tablo folks to get around it. If I want to channel surf, I just use the antenna feed that goes directly to my TV.

I no longer use Tablo to watch live tv because of the lag problem. Mainly use it as a recorder now. It’s a bit disappointing. Using the Android App or Chrome browser to watch live tv doesn’t work well for me. The player can only either play or pause. Can’t fast forward nor rewind.

Not sure if it is a fair comparison, Hopper DVR from Dish also stream videos to client Joey and does not have the lag that Tablo has.

Dish DVR isn’t transcoding. It is recording the signal in the format sent by the satellite, so it is instantaneous. The Tablo is transcoding so that it can send the show to any device. You gain a lot of flexibility at the cost of speed.


I thought Tablo only transcode during recording to the hdd and remote viewing. And that’s done on the backend using one of the tuner. Watching video locally does not require transcoding. At least that’s my understanding.

Unfortunately your understanding is misinformed.

To be able to playback Live TV on the Roku for example, the video must be re-encoded from MPEG-2 to h.264 (this uses one tuner as well). The Roku can not play back MPEG-2 video, it is an inherent limitation of the Roku itself. Even the new Roku 4 only plays back h.264 video. The Tablo overcomes this limitation by making the video format something the Roku can play.

I use the Roku as my example because it is the most commonly used device by Tablo users.

De-jitter buffers are in the order of ms not seconds (typically 100ms) – every action you outlined is effected by both SW and HW - and the lag is not indented

My issue with the lag is populating and maneuvering within the guide - no excuse for this

Tablo creates a 10 second buffer of the Live TV stream before it even starts sending any data to be played on any device. So yes, an actual 10 seconds of video is transcoded before your device can play it back. That’s the lag we are discussing in this thread

We are not talking about guide data load times on that screen, or recording information load times on the recordings screen. That is a separate discussion for another thread.

Agreed… didnt mean to step on this thread - but both issues contribute to the overall impression of tablo being a very laggy and under powered device

What device are you using for playback? If a Roku, what exact model?

It is pretty zippy on my Roku 3 Model 4200 and Fire TV box (it was slow on the Fire TV Stick, which is underpowered compared to the FireTV box).

FireTV Box Gen 1 … I am thinking of going to Gen 2

IOS User experience is very nice and “snappy” - even on my old Ipad mini gen 1

I say give the Roku 4 a try, if you don’t like it, return the box.

Yes, the experience is fast on the iPhone 6 and iPad Air with iOS 9.0.2, and on the computer with the Chrome browser.

I’m streaming though the Roku 2 4210R. My understanding is that his has the same electronics as the Roku 3 just without the fancy remote which I don’t need.

maybe that’s my problem. I’m a new cord cutter and I bought the tablo specifically to replace my cable DVR.

The ‘lag’ time to tune a channel is not going to change, it is based on how the Tablo was designed. It is not playback device dependent.

The lag time that @John_Mielko is talking about with regards to navigating the interface varies by device.

If you want a straight replacement for your Cable DVR, which likely means you really only want playback on one HDTV, then consider the TiVo Bolt.

See this thread:

So playback on Roku occupy 1 tuner? Does this apply to both Live and Recorded shows?

I had a whole home DVR from Cox. It has a base station that contains the actual hard disk which is connected to one TV. Other TVs were connected to “slave” DVRs that retrieve all content from the base station. Communication between boxes is not wireless - they talk via some proprietary protocol over the home cable infrastructure.

My cordcutter system uses the Tablo to replace the base station and one Roku per TV to replace the slave boxes. Operates almost the same as what I was paying $150 a month for. THere’s no other product that does this that I’m aware of.