What keeps you on Tablo?

Hey Everyone - I’m fairly new to Tablo, having purchased the 4th generation, four tuner back in December. Before that, I was wasting $73 USD per month on YouTubeTV. While I’m certainly happy that I am no longer wasting that money, it’s not like the transition to Tablo hasn’t been without its own challenges. I’m fortunate enough to be participating in the AppleTV Beta, but that is still a Beta product…and even once it gets to v1.0, it will not be as mature as alternatives in the market. That’s not meant to be a criticism.

This brings me to my question - and perhaps one that the Tablo team would actually like to hear the answer to:

What keeps you using Tablo? Alternatively, what keeps you from moving from Tablo to an alternative, such as HDHomerun/ChannelsDVR/Plex/Jellyfin/Emby, etc.?

I for one, look at other applications such as ChannelsDVR and wish I had something so elegant. But I also know that there’s a lot more effort required to get that up and running with a HDHomerun. I also hate the fact that there’s no built-in WiFi to the HDHomerun box (running ethernet in my attic is a non-starter)…and that I have to pay a subscription fee for Channels or Plex…which was the whole point of getting away from YouTubeTV.

Would love your thoughts on this subject!

The integration is the same here. I don’t have to run ethernet all over and can install everything in my garage with a mesh node. There are some issues with Tablo that I’ve touched on in other threads but, for the time being, this is the direction I would like to go. However I am researching other options because the issues are getting annoying.

DTV had another price hike at $90 for DTV stream and $50 for other streaming services. The $150 bill had me searching.

My wife has some local channel shows that she has been watching faithfully for a long time. She wanted to continue them.

The Tablo has a nice GUI (wife liked it), upfront cost was affordable, and no yearly fee. I also like having options… wired, wireless (I have a smb/enterprise networking installed in my home), optional internal recording, optional external recording.

Now my whole TV bill is $40 and my wife and kids are happy. Happy Wife Happy Life!!


I have concerns about all those options you mention in regards to ATSC 3.0 primarily.

What keeps me with Tablo right now is I’m waiting to see where things are headed with ATSC 3.0 and Tablo. I already have a Tablo lifetime guide subscription and an OG 4 tuner Tablo that works great. I could easily transfer the guide subscription to a ATSC 3.0 Tablo so I’d rather wait to see what type of hardware/functionality they offer before making any decisions.

Having said that, if the Tablo ATSC 3.0 route doesn’t look like the solution for me (I’m a little concerned with the acquisition by E.W. Scripps based on the Tablo 4th gen launch) then the only other viable product for me would be the ZapperBox.

From what I’ve read elsewhere, I don’t think any currently compatible ATSC 3.0 hardware will work with the increasing number of encrypted channels.

For now, I’m just looking for a best of breed UX so that my family is happy

ZB already works with encrypted ATSC 3.0 channels for live viewing. If they stick to their schedule they will also support recording/playback of encrypted ATSC 3.0 channels as of next week.

Granted, the ZB is a single TV device vs a “gateway” device like the HDHomeRun or Tablo networked models but it’s a tempting long-term solution for ATSC 3.0.

I take it, that 3.0 is active in your area?

We will be the last place in VA to get it, since we are rural. I’m not concerned about it myself.

I have owned a Tablo for 10 years now and still have both my original 2-Tuner and a 4th gen installed at my home (and have a Tablo Dual Lite available if I ever need it again). Without the Tablo, I would not have cut the cord 10 years ago.

However, I do subscribe to quite a few streaming channels. I watch very little network tv now, except for sports. The 4th gen really does shine with sports since it can display 1080i channels noticeably better than the original Tablo (720p channels are great on both). So I am not using my Tablos as much as others here.

I am in IT as a Performance Tester (and QA at times), so I like testing the Tablos and trying to troubleshoot issues more so that just using them. :slight_smile: I do think the Tablo is the best OTA DVR on the market, but I also understand that the 4th generation is going through a lot of growing pains like the original Tablo did. Hopefully it will become a more stable product by the end of 2024, with all the apps that were promised being released.

Yep, they went active here back in late 2021.

Hard to predict behavior and performance of a device that doesn’t exist (Tablo wise).

IMHO, Tablo is wise to “wait”. Right now, being “first” could actually be costly (talking NextgenTV).

Call me back in about 3-5 years or so.

Personally, I view 4th gen as a huge step backward. So, I’ll happily use those “old school” Tablo devices (the ones you can actually use everywhere). With that said, since Tablo is sort of “dumping” OG users, that is, there is “no path” for us (there is a backwards path being offered). I am doing more with Plex DVR. It’s like everything OG+, and the best parts of 4th gen+… lots of plus.

Would love to hear what comes from your research. I really don’t want to get something like a hdhomerun that requires me to buy either another mesh node or a WiFi extender. I have a NAS so I can record anything I’d need, but I also don’t like the idea of paying another fee for that functionality.

Hell…maybe if Tablo opened up its APIs to allow it to work with Plex/Channels/etc….

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I like the Tablo gen 4 when it works, which is usually, but I admit that it is frustrating when it doesn’t and requires an app restart. I wish it had a faster way to change channels from the apps; to watch shows in a browser; and to help you see signal strength and quality in real time.

This week I bought an HDHomeRun to compare. I was shocked to find that the HDHR native apps are even worse. Their iPhone app guide has horrible glitches in scrolling. The Roku app had no audio (no workaround for Samsung TV). The Google TV app has confusing navigation to new channels and the guide. I assume people who love HDHR are integrating it with Plex or Channels, which I did not try.

I switched to the US$20 ONN Google TV from Walmart and – wow – what an improvement over Roku. The Tablo app is fast, reliable (more), and easier to navigate. You should try it if you’re frustrated by the Roku app. I am ditching my Roku.

That’s how I ended up choosing the Tablo gen 4 path. By the way, I am fairly new to cord-cutting. I installed my Tablo gen 4 one month ago and my eyes lit up when I saw how many channels I could get with a small window antenna. I installed a good attic antenna and the Tablo in the basement. I just want it to be reliable and intuitive, then expand features over time.


Did you by any chance try the free version of Channels?

I didn’t know that was a thing until now. It looks worth a try.

The FAST channel support, the fact it’s a one-time buy, and that it’s a standalone device that doesn’t require a server constantly running 24/7 on my PC.

Other OTA DVRs only record what you get over-the-air, HDHomerun also only does OTA and charges $35/year for DVR functionality, Channels DVR CAN do fast channels (and well way more than Tablo since you can import every Pluto, Tubi, Samsung TV+, etc. channels plus any M3U8 link) but requires an $80/year subscription to use DVR functionality even with the free app for HDHomerun users and requires an always online server, Plex has a lifetime plan of $120 but doesn’t record FAST and requires an always on server, etc.

With that said Plex’s list of FAST channels is an order of magnitude (and more) greater than what Tablo provides, it serves up any type of media you put on it, not just what you can record. Transcodes to a myriad of formats, multiple choice subtitle selection from online sources and of course agents, apps for everything, easy password and user sharing, ability to watch, record, etc. from anywhere.

Does it cost more? Yes. Does it do a whole lot more? Like 100 times more? Yes. Is it missing the feature of recording FAST channels that Plex owns? Yes, because Plex doesn’t own any.

Music, TV, Movies, photos and any number of libraries of those. Ability to share selectively. DVR shows, be they movie or TV fit naturally into your movies and TV you may have from your own other sources. Ability to override and augment meta data. Categorization. Playlists… and playlists built by your own search filters.

I had a Plex server long before I had a Tablo (OG of course, since it works anywhere), but back then Plex did not have their DVR add on. So, if you’re not beholden to just “Internet streaming” and want to have your own local media server (something many have asked for from Tablo, and if we skip “new” Tablo and go back to good ole Tablo, btw, that is actually in their roots), Plex delivers, and can be your DVR as well.

Worth it? Tons more features (I cannot over emphasize that), much broader availability client wise (browsers even, shocker!!), Internet accessible, HW transcoding support, rich content (yep, see those rotten tomatoes), and very well supported, commercial cutting as well as commercial skipping, intro skipping, auto play, custom intros, custom trailers, etc. Up to you. Some people buy the Yugo (at first). The OG (while older) is like getting a Hyundai. Plex is like getting Jay Leno’s car collection, but on the cheap.

Tempted to make a comparison chart, but, it would be sad. IMHO, sad even if restricted to the tiny feature of Plex DVR only.

But, I welcome questions on it. Again, if the number one more important feature is the ability to record FAST channels, then yes, maybe 4th gen Tablo is exactly what you need. But IMHO, that’s the only reason.

You know, this discussion is interesting to me at the moment. I got an HDhomerun Flex (the 4-tuner, but just ATSC 1.0) to play with the other day, and just installed the Channels DVR (app and server) today. Channels DVR is free for the first month, so what did I have to lose :-)? I’ve found that the Channels DVR is much better than the native apps, and stable…works great with the Apple TV. Still not sure if I’m going with the Channels DVR, but I’m leaning that way at $80/year (instead of $35/year for the native apps). Has commercial skip, and other features that the native apps don’t support, and works well. Also rovides an integration point for several different sources of media. Very nice.

I really like a lot about the Tablo DVR, but some design decisions have diverged from my expectations of an OTA DVR.

I have a Plex server running on my NAS as a means to watch/listen to all the movies/music I had ripped before the streaming age (I guess that makes me old). We have 100s of movies on my NAS and 1000s of music tracks. Some (many) are available on streaming, but many (live concerts, rare classical music CDs) are not.

I know I’ve said it a few times already, but I am not keen on having to spend more money on top of what I have already spent. (i.e.: new tuner and a mesh AP). I guess I could get over the Plex fee as there are frequent lifetime discounts, but I haven’t seen the equivalent for Channels (and I don’t believe it can ingest my music library like Plex can)

For us, the FAST channels are irrelevant. All we need is to record OTA properly - and a nice to have (which I know will be nigh impossible with Tablo) would be to FFWD through a live recording to catch up to live.

Because you only use AppleTV?