Tuner Strength and Buffering

Hello Tablo Community,

New tablo user here. Just picked the 2 tuner system up 2 days ago and there are a couple of issues that I am noticing.

First my setup. As stated it is a 2 tuner system. I also purchased the recommended external hard drive (WD 1TB Elements). The antenna is mounted in the attic on a 2 story home. It has an 85 mile range with all the channels I want to get less than 20 miles away. House has cat5 cable running throughout. Tablo is hard wired to my router (netgear nighthawk ac1900) and I am connecting to tablo using my FireTV boxes, also hard wired.

I have a question about the strength of the tuner. During the setup the tuner found something like 65 channels, most of which I don’t care about. The major networks (NBC, ABC, etc) come in fine except for CBS and CW. The signal strength is “red” while the others are green. When I watch those channels the image at times will become pixelated. However, if I connect the coax for the antenna directly to the TV the signal strength is fine and no pixilation when watching. Has anyone found that the tuner on the tablo itself to be weak? Is there something I need to do/change on the tablo box to get the signal in stronger? I don’t think it is an issue with my antenna or its position as the only change I am doing is disconnecting the coax from tablo and connecting the same cable directly to the TV.

My next issue is buffering. Regardless what channel I am watching, from time to time the video will buffer (spinning blue circle). Sometimes it is just a few seconds others so long I change channels and back again to get the video to return. This seems to be only when watching live TV. I have not seen this issue when watching a recording (max 1080p setting). I am wondering if this is a symptom of my first question above. Maybe tablo is not great for watching live TV and more for watching recorded TV. I have read a few other posts on here where people are also complaining about buffering when watching live TV.

Things I have done so far.

  • Toggle on and off “Enable fast Live TV startup”
  • Drop video recording quality to 720p
  • Firmware updated to 2.2.16

As I mentioned before, I am only 2 days in so there might be some setup changes I can make to improve my experience. And while these 2 issues are fairly minor, I would like to see if I could get them resolved quickly as I until the end of August as I have 30 days to return to Amazon to get a full refund. If not I may end up picking up something from Tivo or ChannelMaster

From my experience it seems the average TV tuner is more sensitive than the Tablo tuner (s), although I cannot quantify the difference directly.

If you have a TV that shows reception signal strength, you might want to build a table of your TV reception readings for each channel for reference. You should only need to record the “.1” channels and skip the sub channels.

If the problem channel on the Tablo also shows a lower reading on your TV signal meter or bar chart, that could be a clue the Tablo might be at the “digital cliff” based upon its tuner characteristics, whereas your TV tuner could be more forgiving. If the weak channel dropped slightly in signal strength or SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) your TV tuner might wigg-out as well.

At my house the weakest TV signal reads 63 out of 100 on one TV and 26 out of 100 on a different brand TV, but both show a clear picture. It is really hard to maintain consistent picture quality if the antenna receives some very strong signals and some weak signals as well. Even an amplifier might not help the weak signals for risk of overload by the strong ones.

There are online services that could help you understand your potential reception issues, like tvfool.com to name one.

Check your reception at different times of day and different weather conditions, as both affect TV signal strength and SNR.

Enjoy your new Tablo and try to accent the positive and play down the negative.

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Also you might consider using a passive splitter between the antenna and the TV and the Tablo. Most passive splitters only introduce about 3.5 to 4.5 db loss. In my case I introduced passive attenuators on my weakest channel, and had a clear picture up to 13db of attenuation, so a single 2-port passive splitter should work OK in your arrangement. Of course a powered distribution amp with some positive gain might work better.

I do not recommend using the Tablo for live TV viewing unless you really need its ability to pause the playback and then resume.

Thank you for your reply. I was actually thinking about adding a splitter. I have one that has a -3db and see if that helps. I was thinking it might be possible I am over powering because the antenna I have is a amplified 85 mile range antenna but all the channels I want to get are all under 20 miles away. The antenna itself does not have the ability to adjust the gain for the amplification so maybe the splitter will help reduce that.

I know that many Tablo users say that their TV tuner seems better than the Tablo tuner. I cannot attest to that thought one way or another for I have never compared.

But I have the 4-tuner model so there is a 4-way splitter in my Tablo which weakens the signal compared to if I did a straight antenna-to-TV connection. What 2-tuner model do you have - the old version or the new version? From what I’ve read the old 2-tuner version uses the same 4-way splitter that is used in the 4-tuner model. Thus, your signal will be considerably weakened over what you will see in a straight connection.

I’m no expert by any means but if you introduce another splitter prior to Tablo then you are further weakening the signal. Then there is the issue of amplifiers/pre-amps/distribution amps, all of which can have varying effects on your signal. You simply need to tweak your setup to find the best fit for your situation. Also your network has a lot to do with it, but with the router you have & being hardwired that should not be an issue for you.

Again, I’m no expert but it seems logical that pixelation issues would be antenna/reception related while buffering issues would be network related.

No pixel issue when antenna is directly connected to the TV. No buffering issue when watching record TV at max recording setting (1080p). Only happens with live TV. My antenna was hooked up to my TV directly for 2 weeks before getting Tablo to make sure reception was good before I started spending money on more hardware.

I have this unit. https://www.tablotv.com/products/tablo-2-tuner-ota-dvr/

That is the old/original version. From what others have said (I cannot verify) it utilizes the same 4-way splitter inside of it that the 4-tuner does. If this is indeed the case then the signal strength your Tablo tuners get are only 25% of what a straight antenna-to-TV connection is getting.

The splitter inside your Tablo could explain the signal strength difference between a direct antenna-to-TV connection & the antenna-to-Tablo connection (occam’s razor).

The buffering is a little more puzzling. Considering it is not a problem with recordings (at 1080p) but is a problem on live TV (even at lower resolutions), then logic would dictate that the problem may lie in the transcoding on the fly. When watching a recording the transcoding is complete & Tablo is simply streaming the finished product, but when watching live TV - Tablo must transcode on the fly before it can stream the video. (I am actually assuming this but it does make sense - maybe Tablo Support could confirm or deny)

Not sure why this would be a problem for some (like yourself) & not for others. But now that I really think about it, I believe I see some buffering from time to time if watching live TV. I just rarely ever watch live. I only tend to use Tablo as a DVR & watch recordings.

Just to rule out the antenna and/or its position, I am going to move the antenna to a different location. It is possible I am right on the cusp of that digital edge in the current location and the -3 dB (or more) loss from the internal splitter is just enough to push me over that edge. I will test it out this weekend.

On the buffering, I was thinking the Tablo could not process the live stream fast enough or maybe the hard drive was not fast enough. I don’t know enough about Tablo but does it stream direct or does it write to the drive first? I am assuming the latter and Tablo creates some sort of temp file of the live video and then my player views that file. I might test out live TV without the hard drive connected and see how that performs.

Heck out the channel master let filter, there is a thread in the forum, this may help.

Check your antenna position and check all connections.

Post a tvfool report and you may need to get your antenna higher if it’s in the attic. It’s early where I am I just woke up, can’t remember if you said your antenna is in the attic.

Is it possible to mount on the roof if need be. What kind of antenna do you have and is it right for the channels you are having trouble with? Are theses uhf versus vhf channels?

Are the tv towers sending the signals from the same direction? A tvfool report would help.

Looks like things are better. I turned the antenna seriously like 10 degrees. Per AntennaWeb all the channels I want to get are South East from my location. I just eyeballed it then I first installed the antenna and I pointed it south east and it was perfectly fine when connected directly to my TV. I think my theory about being on the cusp of the digital edge might have been true, with the tablo tuner being little bit weaker than the TV it was enough to make a difference.

After doing a little more checking on TVFool, the signal is more south than east. So more south south east I guess? In any case I turned the antenna to point a little more south (using my iPhone compass) and did a rescan. I actually get 70+ channels now but more importantly, the problematic channels (CBS and CW) coming in green. I have been watching live TV for an hour and have zero pixels and zero buffering. I confirmed all the channels I care about are all green so I hope this resolves the issue.


It sounds as if weak signals can cause buffering then. That is good to know.

Oh, yes, they definitely can.
They can also cause the Tablo to hang, crash, and reboot itself.
Best advice is to only keep channels that come in strong, and stable.

And the less channels in the guide the better. If you don’t watch a channel or barely watch a channel. Omit it and you may see better performance.

Have a time return it. You will have a lot problem with it…

No… stop! It’s Joseph_Bejm, the spammer!! Run… hide… oh no, can’t hide… yikes!!

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Just an quick update. I made the following post here