Video quality, audio sync issues


I’m a relatively new user of this device (4 tuner).  Spent many hours trying to find a suitable solution for a good OTA DVR with streaming to other tv’s in the house capability.

The home network is fully gigabit with ac1300 N600 support.  Tablo is set up on a wired connection.  Being <20 miles from the towers and on relatively flat land, there are no reception issues.

Device: 4 tuner 2.1.24 firmware
Playback device: Chrome browser on win 8 PC’s, i5 or higher.


1) Lip sync issues.  There is a subtle but noticeable offset in the audio.  I can’t tell if the audio is leading or lagging, but it enough to be noticed.  Various comments in the forum suggest this has been a known issue for some time but as of yet no fix.  As indicated in other posts, this is probably due to the transcoding of the video. 

2) Video quality.  We don’t watch a whole lot of tv in our household, mainly news, live sporting events and blu-ray video.  The device does allow 1080p transcoding, it seems the quality is subpar.  Edges are jagged and video is jittery in non static segments.  This may not be an issue when viewed in a 10" tablet.  On a 50" tv however, this is not expected when OTA antenna tv looks fantastic.

3) UI - improvements need to be made in navigation.  Short cuts can be added to other functions in the scroll bar instead of going back to windows mode, selecting menu, then choosing the desired option.

What kind of improvements can be expected in the near future for issues 1 & 2?

I have been using the 4 tuner model for several months now & have been very happy. We do not have any audio sync issues or video problems. Edges are sharp and colors are vibrant. We view the tv shows thru Roku 3’s hard wired. We also have the Tablo set at 720p even though all of our TV’s but one is 1080p.

I have heard that the 1080p setting can cause the issues that you are describing. I know that this may not help you at the 1080p setting but you might try the 720p setting & see if that will cure your problems. Of course this setting change will only affect new recordings.


The majority of broadcasts are either 720p or 1080i so up converting to 1080p will do nothing for you from a picture quality perspective and may cause the issues you have. Change your setting to 720p and you will be much happier.

I’m seeing similar quality artifacts at 720p.  Around here, the main 3
network channels are all 1080i.  If there is no 1080p content, I’m
puzzled why such a setting even exists.  Being around hd and bluray
content for many years I’ve gotten spoiled to what good quality looks
like so my expectations maybe higher.  Maybe it would be helpful if the
UI offered more encoding tweaks/parameters.  A one size fits all
approach is not necessarily optimal.

A passthrough setting where the raw ota signal is simply saved and then allowed to be streamed would be useful too… 

my expectations are not realistic of this product.  $300 is quite a bit
to pay for a device that you still need to add at least $100 additional
to make it work.

@user0306 - the 1080p setting exists because you cannot stream interlaced content.

This link says a raw HD transport stream is 19.3 Mbps.  Good luck streaming that, especially if you have any wifi in the path!

Mark, thanks for the link.  I’ll read it in greater detail in the am.

As for the lan, only a few devices are wireless; cell phones, a tablet, and one client pc (ac900 connection).  Everything else is gigabit.  At 19.3 Mbps, that’s only a small percentage of a 100Mbit network and even less of gigabit.  Any decent N or faster network adapter should be able to sustain a 20 Mbps stream.

I’m currently experimenting with a tv tuner card (dual tuner) and window media center.  The files are indeed huge, an hour of full 1080i with multiple audio streams (eng/spa) is around 6GB. The resultant content plays in a number of different players on the client pc including windows media player, vlc, and powerdvd.  It’s all still a work in progress.  Eventually will get it sorted.

I’ve tried the Window Media Center experience.  IMHO, it sucks.  An orphaned child of M$ (that they are now trying to milk more $$$ out of via Win8), they don’t do anything with it.

Like all Windows products, it needs constant maintenance, occasional reboots, and a lot of TLC to keep running.  Oh, and if you want a TV style remote with that, you’ll have to buy a special IR receiver and remote.  And then it’s even clunky.  On the plus side, the guide is free (and WMC itself USED to be free, until Win8).

I currently have a Tivo and am here because I’m scouting out a Tablo (eventually).  Again, IMHO, if you want to watch TV, get a TV dedicated device.  If you want to fiddle with another Winblows machine, have at it.  Just sayin’…  ;)

@VegasSteve It seems you are not a big fan of the boys in Redmond.  :slight_smile:

I hear ya, brother.

@user306, please share the total cost of your WMC plus tuner setup.  :slight_smile:

With that said (since it’s likely > $500), yes, certainly you can run a “hot” power hungry device 24x7 that also does more than the Tablo.  I think we can all agree that a full tilt PC can do more than the Tablo.  I think we can all agree to that.  But is it really the right fit?  I suppose if you already going to run a PC 24x7, then it might be the right fit.  But obviously, that’s not going to be for everyone.

So… while it may seem like a steep cost for a Tablo, if you do the math, it’s actually a quite affordable device… at least for those who are not trying to run a server style piece of hardware 24x7.

But if you’ve seen my other posts, the idea of a “pc” device as a OTA recorder is something I do dabble in.  As a hobbiest (where price tends to not matter a whole lot)… sure… it’s a lot of fun.  But unless you have a serious investment already in a expensive to run 24x7 device, I think for most, the Tablo is going to be a pretty good deal.

YMMV.  At some point I’ll share my home DVR solution price tag… it will definitely be bottom barrel price wise… and for some you it will make you think twice about Tablo… but there’s the cost of the care and maintenance of the system as well to be considered… and will it work with my Roku, my phone, my FireTV, etc… those sorts of things…

Not saying Tablo can’t figure out a way to make things cheaper… just saying it’s harder than people realize.  Feel free to do your own number crunching and post though…  You may be surprised at how much a whole setup can cost.

@VegaSteve  I’m running windows 8 pro w/ media center.  The machine itself has been exceptionally stable.  I can go for months without a reboot (sleep mode at night).  Very surprising given past windows experiences. 

@cjcox  Point well made.  Everyone’s situation is different.  The main desktop is more a workstation than desktop and on most of the day.  We’ll see how well the power management works to turn it on and off in the off hours if something is scheduled for recording.

Another power hungry device is the client pc (pc connected to the tv). A circa 2008 overclocked q9550 machine.  I’ve been reading up on intel nuc’s.  The newer ones are quite powerful little boxes.  The price tag however is not something I want to spend until the client pc above kicks the bucket. Still for a 5x"5"x2" pc, very impressive.

I’ve been reading about these windows on a stick pc’s.  They sound promising.  Essentially it plugs into the hdmi and usb ports, runs on an atom processor and contains emmc to store the windows OS.  Priced at ~$150. 

Windows stick == no 2TB (or even 1TB) harddrive… it’s not a PVR/DVR solution… it’s more or less a Roku replacement (an expensive replacement).
Just saying…

So… .bottom of the barrel.  Let’s say you can get a 2TB USB powered HD for $50 USD.
A low power PC can be got for $150 USD (this is tough, but I’ve bought 3 so far).
A cheap one tuner for about $50 USD, so let’s do 2 (probably USB, because of cheapness of the PC)… so total of $100.

That’s $150 + $100 + $50.  So… for $400, you “could” create a Tablo-like thing.

However, that doesn’t include the “time” to setup software etc. to make it into a reasonable PVR/DVR… and of course, it won’t work with Roku or FireTV (etc), well… at least not “well”…  as a hobby, (a headache you don’t mind)… it’s fine… but otherwise… need to emphasize the headache part.

NUC’s are VERY expensive.  Even for low end units.  They sound cheap until you realize they don’t have disk or memory.  NUC’s in fact are probably the most expensive of the tiny PC’s… but they do look cool… but looks can be deceiving once you get all the cable hooked into it.

Consigment (used) can be your friend… so again, you might get a great deal on something used or refurbed… but not on anything new… it’s just way too expensive (normal bottom threshold for a computer with memory and disk is $250… but I’ve bought some powerhouses that were new for $150, but that’s not the norm).

^^The window stick would be used as a client, not server. The q9550 i’m using now draws at least 150 watts (overclocked and inefficient p/s) - call it a repurposed old pc.  The way I see it, a winstick is really nothing more than a windows tablet without the screen or battery.  Even with 32GB emmc, it’s possible to have a very useful device.  Using wimboot for windows installation, one is left with ~15-20 GB of space.  The question is, does this have enough power to play nontranscoded streams and full bluray…  There’s more research to be done here.

As for the NUC’s, really only 2 cables are needed, power and hdmi.  Keyboard/mouse would be handled via wireless dongle. 4GB ram + 120GB ssd should be possible for $100. If I do buy one, it would need to be powerful enough to handle 4K and H.265 decoding.

Ultimately, the question becomes how many years will it take me to break even considering the saved energy costs of a nuc or window stick vs the full blown pc (currently in use).  Given the math, many.  Makes sense to continue using what I currently have until it dies.  Surprisingly, that pc (q9550) is from 2008 and still working quite well.