Why do sports look so bad using a Roku / Tablo?

I have a 4 tuner tablo.  Sports viewing is terrible on my Roku 3 (hardwired).  I’ve tried all the quality settings.  When viewing hockey or football when there is motion it is difficult to watch.  It almost looks like the Tablo is transcoding the live image into a lower frame per seconds (like 20 or something - sort of robotic choppy). 

Anyone else having this issue?  Anything I can do to fix it? Tablo issue? 

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Before I share my tweaks to get Tablo/Roku/sports to look like HD, I should preface, that I now run Tablo in standard def and find the overall fuzziness an improvement over my moderate expectations of quality HD via Tablo/Roku.

But when I did have HD expectations from Tablo, I did find that the Roku 3 seemed to upscale Tablo 720 content when the Roku is set to display in 1080. I’m sure it’s still doing it for me for the Tablo standard def content… But I haven’t kept testing. The big win for me was that Roku (at 1080 and Tablo at 720) cleaned up the fast motion artifacts trailing behind running football players.


I never really experienced slow frame rates, though others seemed too… Maybe a fix is to disconnect the hdmi and reconnect? Some weirdness with HDMI synch and rokus exist. Not clear on what that is about. Also, rokus can get slow (even across channels… Netflix…) So a reboot, power cycle is needed occasionally to resolve. I personally had that happen once. It was weird.

Roku is just another device with its own code and processor, so it’s got its own issues, too.

In the end, I found Tablo 1080 was the worst setting as that seemed to eliminate any down stream cleanup.

The tablo 720p setting is even worse on my Roku…

This is clearly a Tablo problem, not a Roku problem.  I watch sports through Plex / Roku at 1080i without issue.
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I just got my Tablo and Roku 3 a week ago so I haven’t had a chance to play with the settings, but I have had issues with artifacts during sports and motion blur through my Roku 3 (wireless).  I thought about hardwiring it to my router to see if that helped, but it sounds like you already tried that nkouts.  Using the web app through Chrome on my laptop doesn’t have any issues.  However, I’d rather it be better on my Roku since it is hooked up to my TV.  Thanks for the suggestions Thumbs.

4 tuner Tablo has problems with 1080i video material recorded as 1080p however they will not acknowledge it.    I do not know if the issue exists for 2 tuner Tablo.  The problem appears to be the compression algorithm Tablo is using to transcode  1080i -> 1080p.     Based upon the data from recordings others have posted, I don’t think its a bitrate issue although I’d need to see more files.    I’d like to think this could be improved in firmware unless the problem lies within the hardware?   Unless Tablo acknowledges the issue  with 1080p recording, its hard to believe anything is going to change.    

How hard is it for Tablo support to take a 4 tuner model, set it to record 1080p and then watch via Roku@1080p an NFL game on CBS or episode of the Price is Right?

I feel like this a known problem - the Tablo doesn’t record sports or fast scenes very well. Especially on 720p.

Known by users but has TabloTV acknowledged the issue?   TabloTV would you please respond?

Yes, they answered it here: http://community.tablotv.com/discussion/comment/7033/#Comment_7033

We addressed the deinterlacing issues in both the 2.1.14 and 2.1.16 releases, and we did extensive testing to verify that they were working as intended.

There are only two things I can think of that would cause a noticeable difference for you:

- The Tablo plays video at 30 FPS (which is relatively standard). This isn’t usually a problem, as mostSports broadcasters send out video at 30 FPS because most video devices would have deinterlacing issues at 60 FPS playing at 1080.
It’s possible that the broadcaster in your area is sending out 60 FPS instead - for whatever reason.

This still isn’t a problem.The Tablo will transcode the video and bring it down to 30 FPS in that process.
However, if you were to watch the ‘native’ broadcast directly through an antenna, you might notice a difference. Most people can’t, but same can - and this may be what your experiencing, and would be the only cause for a noticeable difference.

In fairness, my issue with fast motion artifacts could be related to my receiver and the Fajoudja DCDi video upscaler it has. I haven’t tried the pass-through or game mode setting to confirm but once I realized that I have an external upscaler, I researched and found this post, which seems to be directly applicable to my situation. 


Unfortunatly, this matters little to me now… as for reasons other than video quality, I’ve transitioned to Tablo standard def quality and find the product experience improved. It will take a lot of product improvement before I consider going back to HD with Tablo. In fact, even lower def settings (aka smaller screens) is probably the right expectations for Tablo.

@snowcat :  I am familiar with that post and their response.    Do you have a 4 tuner Tablo?     There was a noticeable improvement in the deinterlacing from 2.1.14 -> 2.1.16 however the video material, such as NFL games or Games shows, on CBS (1080i channel) look poor with a YouTube like look during motion with blurring/macroblocking.   There is definitely an issue in how Tablo is processing video content 1080i -> 1080p as when Tablo records 1080i - > 720p, there is an obvious improvement.   

As soon as Tablo releases their software to transfer content off the Tablo hard drive, I’ll take further look at the files.   4 tuner Tablo owners aren’t hallucinating what they are seeing.

@Thumbs -  I applaud you for being content with SD.    While that may be OK for phone or Tablet, on flat panel big screen its reasonable to want to view HD content in HD.

Hmm… I noticed this last night while watching a recorded program on CBS. I just purchased my four tuner and signed up for lifetime. Jumped in head first. I think I still have 30 days to return it, though. Are you guys saying this is only an issue with the four tuner and not the two? @TabloTV seems pretty quiet about the issue. So, is it safe to assume it’s hardware problem and not software? Would love some advice because I don’t think I really need the four tuner. Just trying to future proof I guess.

I am using a Tablo 4 Tuner with the quality set to 720p Roku and a Roku set to 1080p and I have no such issues.

If you read the posts above, the issue is 1080i broadcasts of video content with Tablo quality set to 1080p.   

Tablo poorly processes 1080i video content to 1080p.

@adamfox -  TabloTV has not yet acknowledged there is any issue.  I do not have a 2 tuner model so I do not know if the issue is limited to 4 tuner models.   I would think the issue can be corrected in firmware although I do not know if its a hardware or software issue.

I returned my 4-tuner and went with a Tivo OTA.  My issue was that the frame rate on the Tablo is 30FPS and broadcast TV is not.  I tried 720 and 1080 and it didn’t affect what I was seeing,  which fast images trailing across the screen.  

I hope this issue can be resolved in the future,  because $5/month is alot cheaper than $15/month (Tivo).


I think you have to keep in mind that Tablo is a streaming device and they save the stream at that rate. Currently not all streaming devices do not support 60fps so they would have to save at 60 and down convert for most devices. 

Now, if Tablo would be able to do this on the fly that would be great, but I don’t think it is powerful enough to do that and record 4 shows while streaming to multiple devices. It would be nice if they could, and I am sure they are trying to figure out how to do this in the future :wink:

I’m thinking maybe we’re talking apples vs. oranges.  60fps?  ATSC?  Aren’t there some limitations?

Since this topic never ends… I know in the past some vids tried to show the problem, but I’ve never seen it.  I store in 720 (the recommended) format.  But regardless if the football game was 1080i or 720p, they both looked great to me.

There’s a part of me that wishes I could see the problem and troubleshoot it locally.

I have a 4 channel tuner and have not seen this issue … sorry guys… 

Tivos and Tablos are quite different devices.  Tivos are a traditional DVR that hooks up directly to a TV, so the picture is going to look almost the same as hooking up an antenna.

Tablos are media servers that transcode shows and play back on a variety of devices.  Tablos do have an "internet" feel to the picture that may look a bit different that a straight antenna feed.

Choosing between a Tablo and a Tivo depends heavily on how you are going to use your DVR, how important picture quality is, and how much you are willing to spend.  Tivos still cost more in the long run, and they have extremely limited streaming abilities.

I noticed it most when watching fast moving objects like a QB passing to a WR.   I could see it trail across the screen.   I would assume not everyone “sees” this effect not because it doesn’t exist,  but rather because they aren’t sensitive to it.

As for the power,  is the Tablo 4 tuner not as powerful as the Tivo OTA 4-tuner?   Because I watch football from on a 46 inch plasma using the Tivo Mini which is streaming it from the main tuner without issue.

If it is not as powerful,  then I don’t think we are getting our money’s worth as the Tivo Roamio 4-tuner with 500GB HDD is $199,  though the Mini device is $149 per TV.


There have been several threads on this topic… Bottom line is that tablo has to transcode mpeg2 to h.264 in real time. While it does a pretty good job for film content which includes most prime time shows, video content particularly sports may suffer from artifacts during motion… This isn’t an issue for TiVo which isn’t transcode or satellite DVRs which already receive transcoded content. I don’t record much video content and for watching live sports I just bypass tablo and use TV tuner. Perhaps the next version of tablo will have a newer better encoder but until thens it is what it is.