Tablo 4-Tuner Digital Video Recorder [DVR] for Over-The-Air [OTA] HDTV with Wi-Fi for LIVE TV Streaming
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Ships from and sold by Amazon.com
( stars, based on 1553 reviews)
Tablo is a 4-Tuner Over-The-Air (OTA) DVR for Cord-Cutters using HDTV antennas to access broadcast TV signals. All Tablo units include dual band Wi-Fi enabling Tablo and the antenna to be placed in an optimal location for OTA reception. Browse, record and stream up to four simultaneous live or recorded HDTV programs on your iPad, Android tablet, laptop, smartphone, or your big screen TV using Roku, Chrome cast or Apple TV. A Whole-Home-DVR and place shifter combined, Tablo streams your favorite HDTV programs including local news and sports to all connected devices on your home network or anywhere you have internet.
- Color: Black
- Brand: Tablo
- Model: SPVR4-01-NA
- Dimensions: 3.00" h x 9.00" w x 9.00" l, .93 pounds
- Watch, Record, Pause, and Stream Free Broadcast HDTV Channels: CBS, ABC, NBC, and many more
- Four Tuners allow you to record and watch four different programs on up to (6) devices in your home
- Discover new shows, schedule and manage recordings and skip commercials using the content-rich interface of the Tablo Apps for iPad, Android & Kindle Tablets, Smartphones, Chrome, Roku, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV
- With TabloConnect Subscription you can stream your hometown news and sports when traveling
- NO HDMI with Tablo's Wi-Fi wireless broadcast of content to Tablets, Laptops, FireTV, AppleTV, Roku, Android TV, Chromecast, iPhones, Galaxy Smartphones, NVIDIA Shield, and more
Most helpful customer reviews
1060 of 1090 people found the following review helpful.
Not perfect, but pretty awesome! (updated)
By J. P.
I have looked for a while for a whole-house DVR solution for over the air (OTA) HDTV. I have tried a couple of versions of the HDHomerun product and read everything I can about others like the Channelmaster DVR+, SimpleTV, and others.
I believe that Tablo has the best feature set. The major disadvantage of HDHomerun is that it is not a self-contained system. There is no recording ability built-in. You need to dedicate a computer to it just for recording. Then, in order to watch the recordings on anything but that computer, you have to figure out how to get the data to your TV. This might require transcoding the video so it's usable on another device like a Roku. Transcoding is either another manual step or requires setting up jobs on a server. Too much hassle even for me, and I'm a computer/gadget geek.
Reading about the Channelmaster DVR+, I could not see how to watch the recordings on another TV or tablet, at least not easily. It looks like a promising device except for that. I could be wrong but for the price it should include streaming to other devices.
SimpleTV is getting very mixed reviews, to put it mildly. I decided to skip it. Tivo's guide pricing turned me off of their system--$15 a month for a guide???? If their pricing was more reasonable I would have gone that way.
When Tablo was announced I was very interested. Self-contained system for recording, watching TV or recordings on PC's, MAcs, Roku, iPad, and Android tablets. Ability to watch on basically any device in your home, or even over the internet from a remote location.
While Tablo does charge a fee for their guide service, it's optional. The system is still functional without it. You can set up manual recordings using time and channel number, just like the old VCR days. I subscribed to the service, I think it's worth the fee they charge but again, it's optional.
I've been using the Tablo for a week now. The system is tucked into a spare room and hard-wired with an ethernet cable into my wifi router. I think that's an important factor for best performance. The more wifi connections in use, the slower they will be which can result in dropouts when viewing the streams. The main TV connects to the Tablo with a Roku 3 which connects to the nework with 5ghz 802.11n connection. No dropouts when watching Tablo or Netflix. Beautiful picture on my recordings, at least equal to my old Comcast DVR setup.
The ability to watch live or recorded TV anywhere in the house on any device is very cool. My wife has an iPad and I have an Android tablet and both work great. We are saving a fair amount of money over our old Comcast setup, about $85 a month even after you factor in the $5 a month guide service (it's cheaper by the year) and $8 a month for Netflix.
I'm now a cord-cutter and I'm happy to say the Tablo is everything I hoped for. It makes watching recordings anywhere in the house simple, and does not require a dedicated PC for transcoding and serving up streams. I have not had any problems with my Tablo rebooting or freezing or anything like that. I think having it hard-wired to the network is a big part of that.
UPDATE: 10/22/2014 I've been using the Tablo for a month now. I'm still completely happy with it. I haven't had any problems at all after getting it set up. I did have a problem with the initial setup not working with the web app, so I completed it using the Android app which worked fine.
It's very early days for Tablo still, and some people have reported some issues, such as failed recordings. I have not seen this. The most likely reasons are too many signal dropouts from the antenna, or a hard drive issue. Some folks are not happy with the Roku app. It's in a very early stage of development. Tablo has promised improvements and I think they will deliver but even as is the app is functional.
The Tablo should be thought of as a network device, not so much an accessory for your TV. For best results it should be hard-wired to your router and have a solid antenna signal. You will then need a Roku 3 or equivalent to stream it to your TV. This works fantastically well in my setup. The Roku Stick is known to have weak wifi reception and may not work well.
If you're looking for a straight DVR to connect directly to your TV like a traditional setup, you might be better off looking at the Channel Master DVR+ or Tivo Roamio OTA. Neither of those devices will match the flexibility of the Tablo out of the box though--The Tivo needs additional hardware to enable streaming, and the DVR+ can't stream at all, as I understand it. You gain a lot of flexibility if you let go of the 1980's VCR paradigm and embrace network devices like this.
Update 1/5/2015: Still love the Tablo. Tablo just announced a preview of the new Roku channel at CES, can't wait! OK, here's the key to success, I'll repeat it again. Many of the bad reviews talk about wifi problems with the Tablo. Don't use wifi--Connect it directly to your router with an ethernet cable. Using wifi for the Tablo itself doubles your chances of having buffering/lost connections. I never have issues with buffering on any of my devices. FWIW: My setup is 5 GHz 802.11N. You mileage may vary if you use 2.4 GHz or G band wifi. Make sure you have enough wifi speed for streaming HD video. If you can't already stream HD video, you won't be able to stream Tablo either. It might be worth upgrading to an 802.11AC router, if you have a laptop or tablet that supports 802.11AC.
Update 12/11/2015: ROKU updates have caused some issues. When fast forwarding thru commercials the Roku app can freeze occasionally requiring a reboot of the Roku. When this happens the Tablo is still working fine, I can connect to it with a tablet or PC and watch recordings. More frequently Roku would paused streaming and display "Loading, please wait" for 10 seconds. So following advice of others on the Tablo community forum, I purchased a Google Nexus Player on sale for $49. It works far better than the Roku for accessing the Tablo. Fast forwarding works incredibly well and starts up instantly. I still have a Roku in my bedroom so I'm hoping the Roku issue gets fixed. At this point it is uncertain whether the problem lies with Roku or Tablo. So, it you are considering getting the Tablo, at this point the Roku may not be the recommended streaming receiver. Make no mistake I still love the Tablo, just annoyed with the Roku issues. Right now the Nexus Player is working great in it's place.
Update 12/17/2015--ROKU issue fixed. ROKU issued an emergency software update that was supposed to fix lockups in one of their apps. Well, guess what, it also fixed the lockups in the Tablo app. So the problem was on the Roku side as many of us have suspected. I have gone back to using Roku 3 instead of the Nexus player and it's working great again. So thanks to Roku for fixing this issue but no thanks to them for breaking it in the first place.
Final Update 3/16/2017--This is my final update to this review; nothing has changed since the last update. Still using my Tablo every day and still love it. I still just have the 1TB WD portable drive mentioned in the comments below (I don't keep recordings after viewing them). So I've had this device almost 2.5 years and use it nearly every day. I record a lot of old movies, especially Sci-Fi from the Comet network. I will never go back to paying for cable TV. I also got rid of my Sling TV subscription. Anything I can't find OTA I stream from Amazon or Netflix.
303 of 313 people found the following review helpful.
Cut the cord and go green, too - Finally a feature-loaded DVR for the masses, no required monthly fee.
By William Dickerson
I spent a lot of time searching for a DVR and always came up empty save for the few offerings that required satellite or cable service to get them, or those few that were made but not well supported because so few bought them. Why would I want to pay a monthly fee, hundreds of dollars a year, for the right to record OTA TV? Or IU was finding stuff that when I clicked the link I found the company stopped making them for some reason or got a lot of "no longer available". I had given up - until I had trouble finding DVDs for our DVD recorder and decided to look into DVR again. This time I got results - I kept seeing the word "Tablo" pop up on Amazon.com and on tech review sites. Most had "good" reviews, some said "young product" or "not mature" but they all loved the concept. So did I. It was what I had been hoping for without realizing it.
Even better than expected this used an external drive, had multiple tuners, and no need to tether it to just a single TV if you have 3 or 4 or 5 TVs in the house. I read all I could and decided with Amazon's return policies I couldn't lose.
Thanks Amazon but I won't be needing your return policy.
The really good:
This device is LIGHT,
small, low power requirements (it uses a small external transformer or power supply, proving how little power it really consumes. One could call it going green AND cutting the cord to those crazy cable fees.),
For location or placement of your Tablo that is limited only by where your existing antenna needs to sit, where your roof antenna cable terminates or where you have room for a new antenna. (by the way, *free TV has never gone away*, it's always been there, free over the airwaves regardless of what the cable and satellite companies would love you to believe. It's not because of any mandate or law like the makers of that antenna sold on TV commercials try to convince you, it just never went away, only converted from analog to digital. Those roof antennas aren't just for show.)
Mine sits on a small shelf on the bottom of an end table in the front room. Antenna cable, short USB cable to slim drive for the recordings, Ethernet to my Netgear 2200D router, power supply.
The connection to the TV is over Wi-Fi using a Chromecast device plugged into one of the 3 HDMI ports on my TV. (I could watch on other TVs by buying other devices such as more Chromecast, or move this one to a different TV. The Tablo can stay put, no need to even look at it.)
It's also Wi-Fi equipped (more on that later)
Their support is quite good, responsive and cares.
They listen to suggestions and requests and are willing to look at customer input or ideas.
They keep adding features where and when possible.
It can broadcast live TV and/or recorded shows to multiple devices (depends on number of tuners and other things)
Here is the "more on that later" part - Wi-Fi. It can utilize Wi-Fi to connect with "control devices" which mean a tablet, Android phone, PC, iPad, etc. and to the receiving device - Chromecast, Rokue and other things - the list keeps growing.
HOWEVER, Wi-Fi success depends on YOUR network, your home layout, walls, etc. Wi-Fi is fine for convenience and data but isn't always the best thing for streaming media like TV shows at a decent resolution. There are a lot of "what-ifs" involved there. I strongly suggest using the Ethernet port the Tablo is equipped with and wiring it to the core of your network - your router or a good switch next to your router in your network configuration. This way your Wi-Fi is used only to get from router to streaming device.
In full Wi-Fi mode the program has to traverse Wi-Fi from Tablo to router, then from router over Wi-Fi to the control device (iPad, phone, computer and from there to Chromecast, etc.
If you wire the Tablo to your network, the Wi-Fi is used for only the last parts and it's much faster/better.
That's not the fault of Tablo or the device, that's just networking 101, Wi-Fi as it is.
There's a bit of a learning curve - setup is SIMPLE and fast. You can record without reading a thing, but playback can require some thought or reading because you aren't popping in a disk and hitting the play arrow. But on the other hand, it's mostly intuitive and is well supported by Tablo and by a growing community of Tablo fans who know these things inside and out. As General Zod said "you are not alone" - if you buy a Tablo there's a wealth of information and support out there.
Oh, on the topic of monthly fees - there is one but only if you want to pay. It's for their guide. It's CHEAP, and it's wonderful and I absolutely DO recommend it. Click to record. Otherwise you can skip the fee and manually program shows to record like we used to do before DVRs (for any of you old enough to remember VCRs or DVD recorders)
If it's this great and still so young, it can only get better and smoother with age.
Buy a Tablo right here on Amazon. You can't lose with their return policy.
Buy directly from the Tablo web site - they also have a good return policy.
They will also strive to be sure you are happy with it.
If you have questions, shoot Tablo a message or ask on their online community.
It's hard to go wrong!
In the photo - 3 wires. White is antenna, yellow is Ethernet to my router, thin black is to the power supply in the outlet.
The thin small silver device is a 2T drive to store the recordings on. That's hundreds of hours of TV.
333 of 349 people found the following review helpful.
Best of the next-gen OTA DVRs...and perfect to pair with upcoming Sling TV service!
By K. Krueger
*****Update: 8 Jan 15*****
I continue to be happy overall with the Tablo. There have been some notable developments over the last few months that potential Tablo buyers (and anyone stuck with huge cable/satellite bills) should be aware of:
1. SLING TV: Wow...it's an exciting time to be someone looking to escape their big Cable/satellite bills. At CES, Dish Network just announced that their stand-alone "Sling TV" service will launch in the coming weeks. Sling TV will be an online streaming service that will cost only $20/mo and live-stream a small number of the most popular cable channels that typically keep people sucked into huge, bloated Cable bundles...ESPN, HGTV, TNT, Disney, CNN, etc...all will be streamed live to Roku and other streaming devices. Very exciting. The big "problem" that people are pointing out is that Sling TV does NOT provide access to the network channels (ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX/PBS)...well, that's where TABLO comes in to fill that gap. While Sling does have some other notable "issues" such as being viewable on only one device at a time...A "Tablo + Sling TV + (Netflix/Amazon)" bundle could be a huge value-play for forward-leaning TV viewers. Not to mention being potentially very disruptive to the traditional Cable/Satellite-TV paradigm.
2. Phone Apps! As noted below, Tablo did not enable streaming to phones upon original release. This was remedied a few weeks back with the release of "web-based apps" for both Android 4.1+ and iOS7+. I have not used it yet, but they are there, and seem to be fully functional according to feedback.
3. HDD selection. Be sure to carefully select what external HDD you choose to use with Tablo. Many HDDs have had inconsistent results when used on Tablo. As of right now, the WD "Elements" line seems to be Tablo's recommended drive. Recommend going to the Tablo forums to see what the latest recommendations are on the HDD front.
4. Major ROKU app upgrade coming. On their blog, Tablo has released some screenshots of a MAJOR upgrade to the Tablo ROKU channel/app. This will use a custom-built channel (like Netflix & Hulu do, for example) rather than sticking to the very limited "standard" ROKU channel format. The screesnhots look GREAT. A recent Tablo survey indicated that ROKU is by FAR the most used way to watch Tablo, so I'm very interested to see how this turns out. A really good Tablo channel for Roku would go a long way towards making Tablo seem more like a traditional DVR. No ETA has been given yet.
*****End of update...original review below*****
For the better part of two years, I've been on a search for what I would consider the holy grail of cord-cutters: A high quality Over the Air (OTA) whole-home DVR solution. I have three (sometimes 4) TVs throughout the house, and didn't want to maintain 3-4 different DVRs. However, that's not all...I also wanted to be able to stream recordings and live TV to my mobile devices (Androids and Kindles). I wanted at least 4 OTA tuners to basically eliminate any recording/watching conflicts. Oh...and bonus points goes to the solution that also ties into my Roku 3's...which would allow me to avoid having to add another "box" to each of my TVs. And, of course, I don't want to have to pay a lot for it. If this sounds a bit like a fantasy, it's for good reason. It seems like it didn't exist until recently.
I went hands-on with multiple potential solutions to my requirement...and researched several others, but the quad-Tuner Tablo is where I found the best blend of functionality, reliability, price, and performance. It hasn't quite reached holy-grail status, but it comes really, really close...and is getting closer by the day.
Prior to Tablo, here are some of the other solutions I tried:
1. I tried the do-it-yourself Myth-TV server. It turned out to be too complex to be reliable. I sank a couple of weeks of effort into it, but eventually cut my losses and moved on.
2. Windows Media Center (WMC) with extenders. It worked...but required stand-alone extenders (Ceton Echos or Xbox360s) that added cost and complexity to my overall system. Streaming to my android devices could be achieved by using a Remote Potato service, but doing so required a powerful computer and taking the risk of relying on a non-commercial product for that functionality. Finally, Microsoft's tepid support to WMC made it feel like I was very late to the game on this one...so I moved on.
3. Simple.TV v1. The Simple TV is very similar in concept to Tablo in that it transcodes to a stream-friendly format for Rokus and mobile devices. It worked in the most basic sense, but it failed on multiple fronts. The transcoder and compression was poor. Picture quality was ok on my Android devices, but simply didn't cut it on the TVs. None of the meta-data or schedules were stored locally on the device, so it would "phone home" to Simple's servers constantly during use. Unfortunately that meant that it turned into a brick whenever their servers or your internet connectivity were down. It was only a single-tuner as well, meaning it was not up to par as a true whole-home DVR. Simple released a v2 dual-tuner version...but it was a disaster at the beginning, with widespread overheating problems and very loud cooling fans.
4. Tivo. I had Tivo HDs in the past, and liked them. The base Tivo Roamio, which is the only one with OTA tuners, receives really good reviews. Tivo's Achilles Heel, however, has always been their pricing practices. They historically have required a relatively high monthly fee for EACH device...or a huge upfront cost for a lifetime subscription for EACH device. Additionally, Tivo did not have Android streaming support until just recently. It also requires a Tivo-specific "box" at each TV (either full-up Tivo, or a Tivo-mini) with corresponding networking infrastructure. It should be noted, however, that Tivo seems to be making changes rapidly in recent months...with the possibility of the monthly fees being ended on Tivo Minis, as well as a previously mentioned Android streaming being finally released after years of development. This occurred after I purchased my Tablo...but even with those changes, I would still have picked the Tablo.
After looking at the above solutions, I decided to give one last try before resigning myself to keeping my Dish Network service....Tablo. On paper, it looked good. It had two models, including one with 4 tuners. The channel schedules and meta data were stored locally on the device, so it avoided the cloud-reliance issues from the Simple.TV. It also approached the transcoding differently than the Simple (too techy to really get into here)...so I suspected the picture quality would be better. Streams to Roku? Yep. Streaming to Androids? Mostly...but only Tablets (more on that later). Is it cheap? Well...that probably depends on what functionality you'll be using. For me, with 3-4 TVs and multiple mobiles to stream to, it was cost-effective.
So, I pre-ordered the Tablo Quad-Tuner and received it shortly after release. I've been using it now for about 3 months, and have been very, very impressed with it.
Here are some of the STRENGTHS of Tablo from my viewpoint:
Picture quality: Pretty good. For most content, it's almost indiscernible from Dish Network. The transcoding does struggle a "little" during sports, where motion isn't quite as smooth as the original OTA transmission...and the compression is noticeable on my biggest TV (54" plasma)...but overall, light-years ahead of Simple.Tv when it comes to viewing on TVs.
Reliability: Probably the most surprising part for me. It was pretty solid from the start. There have been a few reboots (maybe every couple of weeks), but it's getting better with each firmware update. Having the data stored locally also is huge as far as reliability goes.
Seems to be a great company: Tablo is very, very active on their forums and other popular forums. They seem to very interested in what the customer wants. They communicate well...and are rapidly improving their product.
Roku integration: For my own requirements...this is the money maker. I already had Rokus on all of my TVs, so I didn't have to add any additional devices to puchase/install. The Tablo "channel" for Roku works well. It takes a bit of getting used to and has some quirks and shortcomings (no traditional "guide", for example)...but it gets the job done and is also being improved continuously.
Some DOWNSIDES of Tablo:
Audio: All audio is transcoded to stereo AAC for maximum compatibility. However, it loses a lot of the "pop" from the original Dolby Digital transmission when viewed on capable surround sound systems. Dolby Digital pass-through has been a popular request on their forums, and Tablo acknowledges it...but it doesn't seem to be imminent or high on their priority list.
Phone streaming: As of right now, Tablo only support streaming to devices 7" or larger (tablets, basically). It doesn't stream to phones. Tablo readily admits they underestimated the demand for streaming to phones...and seems to be committed to making this happen in the future. This can be overcome, however, if you have a PLEX server. PLEX can serve as an intermediary to enable streaming to any PLEX-capable device. It works well...kudos to the developers. **Update: phone apps were released in Nov 2014***
Syncing/downloading content: Tablo doesn't have that functionality (yet).
External streaming: This takes a bit of technical know-how to open ports on your router...and requires your device to have been "registered" previously with the Tablo by having been on the same LAN previously. Kind of an odd "authentication scheme" there.
So...in the end, if you're looking for an OTA DVR...what should you buy? In my opinion...it depends. What do you want that DVR to do? What do you currently have?
Do you have a couple of TVs and want a traditional DVR experience? Willing to spend some money for a high-quality and polished experience? Get a Tivo Roamio and a Tivo Mini. Honestly...Tivo is the best pure traditional DVR. Uncompromised picture quality...the famous Tivo UI experience. It makes for an easy transition for family members.
Do you already have a traditional DVR you're happy with...but just want to be able to stream the big game to your phone/tablet while you work on a project in the garage, commute, or are out-and-about on the weekend? Give the Simple.TV v1 a try. You can get these for dirt-cheap on Ebay now (~$75...including a lifetime subscription). Take the hard drive out of an old laptop, slap it in a $10 external hard drive enclosure...and for less than $100, you have that ability. The cloud reliance of simple.tv is actually a strength in this case...because it's server serves as an intermediary for connecting...making router-adjustments unneeded.
Do you want a whole-home DVR to integrate into your Roku-streaming house? Want mobile streaming without having to deal with horrible transcoding? Tablo is what you want. For me...it's the best "next-gen" OTA DVR on the market right now. It's not a traditional DVR...and it's not purely an Aereo-replacement. It's something in the middle or something else entirely depending on how you look at it. It's not perfect. It won't fool anyone into thinking that it's a traditional DVR, and that takes some getting used to. It still has some shortcomings, but those are being actively worked on by what seems to be a very good and responsive company...so, it gets a highly recommended from me.