Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR review

Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR review
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What is good in Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR? Tablo is the DVR for antennas. Pause and rewind live TV. Browse upcoming shows, schedule and manage recordings. Advanced recording features enabled by optional guide data service let you schedule and manage recordings with the click of a button, by episode or by series. Automatic Commercial Skipping is enabled by our optional Premium Service Subscription. Get details in Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR review.

In the box

In the box, you’ll find the Tablo Dual HDMI DVR itself, a remote control, a pair of AAA batteries for the remote, a power supply, an Ethernet cable, an HDMI cable, and a quick start guide. Everything you need to set up your Tablo over-the-air DVR, including batteries, comes in the box. Just add an external USB storage device and an OTA antenna.

  • 1 x Tablo DUAL HDMI
  • 1 x Tablo Remote Control
  • 2 x AAA Batteries
  • 1 x AC Adapter
  • 1 x Ethernet Cable
  • 1 x HDMI Cable
  • 1 x User Manual

Pros & Cons – Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR

PROS

  • Easy setup
  • Simple interface
  • Excellent DVR software – robust recording and scheduling capabilities
  • Fantastic recording quality – raw MPEG2 broadcast-quality capable
  • HDMI output and in-home streaming
  • HDMI for TV connection
  • Affordable
  • New remote control
  • Local streaming to TVs and boxes

CONS

  • No remote access
  • Lacks internal hard drive bay
  • No internal storage
  • Limited networking capabilities – no out-of-home or mobile device streaming
  • No streaming to mobile apps and browsers

Specs – Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR

  • Connectivity: Barrel jack power port, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x HDMI 2.1 output, 1 x coaxial input, 1 x Ethernet 1000/100/10
  • Dual TV tuner: Watch and record up to two channels simultaneously
  • Specs: Quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB flash storage
  • Upgradeable firmware.
  • Supports USB external hard drives (1TB-8TB recommended)
  • Stereo PCM audio or AC3 5.1 passthrough
  • Storage: No onboard storage – Support for 1TB to 8TB USB hard drive
  • Ports: Power, Ethernet 1000/100/10, USB 3.0, HDMI 2.1, Coax
  • Processing: Quad-Core, 2GB RAM, 16GB Flash
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac dual-band WiFi with MIMO
  • Dimensions (Device): Height – 37 mm (1.45″),Width – 135 mm (5.3″), Depth – 131 mm (5.15″)
  • Weight (Device): 228 g (8 oz)
  • Audio Format: Stereo (PCM) audio or AC3 Passthrough (5.1)
  • 2 ATSC digital tuners. (4 tuners in the Quad device)
  • 1 HDMI 2.1 port to connect to your TV.
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit ethernet port.
  • 1 USB 3.0 port supporting up to 8TB in storage.
  • 1 Coax antenna port.

Price

There are currently 6 Tablo devices that you can purchase with varying features, onboard storage, connectivity and number of tuners.  They include the 2 HDMI connected devices:

  • Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR: $149.99
  • Tablo Quad HDMI OTA DVR: $199.99

There are 4 network-connected Tablo devices, all with either 2 or 4 tuners.  Two of them also have some limited onboard storage.

  • Tablo Dual Lite OTA DVR: $149.99
  • Tablo Dual 128GB OTA DVR: $169.99
  • Tablo Quad OTA DVR: $199.99
  • Tablo Quad 1TB OTA DVR: $239.99

What is Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR?

Since the Dual HDMI is engineered for use with a display device such as a TV or projector, it sports an infrared (IR) sensor and comes with a candybar-style IR remote. Built-in CEC lets you control select TVs and projectors with the Tablo HDMI’s remote. A pair of TV tuners allow you to watch and record live television from two channels simultaneously.

If you’re not familiar with Tablo, Ottawa-based Nuvyyo has been making the devices for years, and the focus has always been on pulling in over-the-air (OTA) TV channels to stream them on compatible devices. Since the beginning, though, you never actually had to connect them to the TV. You would connect a digital antenna, and stream the signal through your home Wi-Fi network.

Compatibility

You’ll find an Ethernet 1000/100/10 jack as well as 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi with multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) which uses several antennas to amplify a wireless signal. As such, in-home streaming to compatible devices such as smart TVs, Roku set-top boxes, Fire TVs, and Android TV boxes works great. I was able to stream to my Hisense H8F 4K smart television in addition to my NVIDIA Shield TV and Chromecast with Google TV Android TV boxes.

Compare Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR

Tablo DUAL HDMI – TV-Connected OTA DVR for Cord CuttersTablo DUAL LITE – Network-Connected OTA DVR for Cord CuttersTablo QUAD – Network-Connected OTA DVR for Cord Cutters
ATSC TV TunersTwo Simultaneous Live Streams/RecordingsTwo Simultaneous Live Streams/RecordingsFour Simultaneous Live Streams/Recordings
Remote Control IncludedYes – IR Remote IncludedNo – App-ControlledNo – App-Controlled
HDMI ConnectionYes – TV-Connected DVRNo – Network-Connected DVRNo – Network-Connected DVR
Ethernet / Dual-Band WiFi1GB Ethernet / 802.11ac WiFi10/100 Ethernet / 802.11ac WiFi1GB Ethernet / 802.11ac WiFi
Video FormatMPEG-2HLSHLS
Automatic Commercial Skipping (Subscription Only Feature)
Out-Of-Home Streaming (Subscription Only Feature)N/A
Whole-Home StreamingRoku, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV – Subscription RequiredRoku, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Mobile Devices (iOS & Android), Web (Chrome/Safari) – No Sub RequiredRoku, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Mobile Devices (iOS & Android), Web (Chrome/Safari) – No Sub Required
Manual Recordings
Live TV Grid Guide
Table 1 | Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR review

Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR review

Design

Tablo’s Dual HDMI OTA DVR is a small, black 37 mm x 135 mm x 131 mm (1.45 in. x 5.3 in. x 5.15 in.) box that weighs a mere 228g (8 oz.). On the front of the unit, you’ll find an IR sensor that interfaces with the bundled candybar remote.

Ports

There’s an Ethernet jack for a hardwired Internet connection. A USB 3.0 port provides an external hard drive hook up for adding storage space to the Tablo Dual. Its coaxial input delivers an OTA antenna connection. the Tablo Dual HDMI boasts an HDMI 2.1 output for connecting to HDMI-enabled display devices such as televisions, monitors, or projectors.

The device itself is pretty small. It has vented air holes on the top, a small blue LED light, and a small IR port on the front.

Processor

The Tablo Dual HDMI is powered by a quad-core processor that’s mated to 2GB of RAM and 16GB of flash storage. Onboard storage is intended for housing the operating system (OS) and accomodating any software updates rather than storing recorded movies and shows.

WiFi

Firmware updates come from Nuvyyo’s servers, and the DVR portion also needs access to get started. The program guide also needs the web to update itself and pull in the most recent scheduling information. And lastly, if you want to stream live or recorded content to other compatible devices, you’ll need a good connection for that, too.

OTA Channel scan

The Tablo Dual HDMI scans for any OTA channels it can find via the connected antenna. Once that’s done, the channels and their respective shows start to populate, so you can see what’s playing over the next two weeks through the side menu. Tablo breaks it down to Prime Time, TV Shows, Sports and Movies, with Recordings and Scheduled also included. Live TV lets you watch a channel as it’s broadcasting live.

Recordings – Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR review

Being a dual-tuner device, it means you can either record two shows simultaneously, or watch one and record another at the same time. It’s not a new feature, by any means, as Nuvyyo has other units that have quad-tuners for doing the same with up to four shows at once.

recordings are incredibly customizable. Clicking into a show or movie allows you to toggle on various options to record just that one episode, all episodes, or only new episodes. What’s more, you can select different recording options to start recording early and end late in order to avoid missing the start or end of a show. Since the Tablo Dual HDMI features a pair of TV tuners, it’s possible that, depending on your recording schedule, you may have a recording conflict.

Image quality

Video quality is good, though limited to 1080p. You also get passthrough for 5.1 surround sound, but we didn’t see Dolby Atmos included. Still, the encoding was seamless, and we ran into no problems watching on a TV with a Sonos surround setup.

Remote

Tablo’s IR-based remote control, which unlike most streaming remotes requires line-of-sight to the box. And despite that IR connection, it can only control your TV’s volume and power over HDMI-CEC. If your TV doesn’t support CEC for those functions, you might need a separate remote for volume and power.

Supported apps

There are apps for streaming media devices, like the Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Nvidia Shield. Any TV running Roku or Android TV also has access. There are iOS and Android apps, plus a web browser app for Windows and Mac. There are a couple of caveats, though. One of them is that remote streaming won’t work with the Roku and Apple TV. You can use those to watch content within your home network, but not outside of it.

How to setup Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR?

Setting up the Tablo Dual HDMI is a breeze. It’s pretty plug-and-play. I followed the easy-to-follow quick start guide, but the Tablo Dual is fairly intuitive. Essentially, all you’ll need to do is connect all of the different peripherals such as an external USB hard drive, HDMI cable, Ethernet cable, and an over-the-air antenna. The superb setup wizard makes the process extremely painless, walking you through each step of installation from first boot to connecting a hard drive and antenna, plus scanning your channels. I was impressed with its nearly unrivaled level of user-friendliness.

What You Need

To set up your Tablo DUAL HDMI OTA DVR you need:

  • An Over-the-Air HDTV antenna
  • An internet connection
  • A USB hard drive – this is required both for watching live TV and recording
  • A television with an HDMI port (all TVs manufactured after 2005 should include this)

To watch Tablo content on additional TVs within your home, you’ll need a strong home WiFi network, an active TV Guide Data Service subscription and one of these:

  • A Smart TV powered by: Roku, or Amazon Fire TV, or Android TV OR
  • A Set-Top-Box/Streaming Media Device: Roku, or Amazon Fire TV, or Chomecast with Google TV, or Nvidia SHIELD

Subscription

Nuvyyo offers 30-day trials for both its TV Guide and Tablo Premium services, and does treat them separately once you have to start paying for them. The TV Guide portion starts at $5 per month, $50 per year, or $150 for life, and gives you artwork, metadata, show filtering, a more varied menu, and 14 days’ worth of guide data. With it, you can see movies, shows and sports laid out separately for smoother searching. Without it, everything is jumbled together, and you can only see 24 hours’ worth of guide data.

Premium refers to the Automatic Commercial Skip feature for recorded shows. As its title suggests, the Tablo Dual HDMI cuts out all the ads during a recorded broadcast, leaving you with a commercial-free viewing experience akin to any other paid streaming app. For that, you’re looking at another $2 per month or $20 per year.

Tablo Dual HDMI over-the-air DVR customer review

Just Like Cable TV Without The Expense

I love mine, and my wife loves hers. I bought one of the original Tablo tuners about 4 years ago. I remember looking for the perfect solution for an Over The Air (Antenna) DVR. However, the models back then left me wanting, so I returned it. You needed to have tablets to select channels and recordings. And the whole thing was quite “glitchy,” if there is such a word. Well now it looks as if four years time and a lot of work by Tablo engineers has solved those problems. At first, I bought one to try, and then, promptly ordered another. The only thing is since your streaming from a Fire TV or a Roku, the remote does not have the multitude of buttons and functions that are on a dedicated TV remote. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And once you play around with this for a couple of days it becomes obvious what is needed to get the function you want.

And, on-screen titles tell you what selection is needed. So, I would now recommend this to anyone. I would describe my wife as somewhat technically challenged, and I did get some questions for the first couple of days, but now she is a pro. She can now watch and record her shows, and I can watch and record mine. Once you understand the system, it’s a snap. The only negative is that I couldn’t buy these from Amazon. For some reason, Tablo is putting the first units to an exclusive at Best Buy.

These do require an investment in terms of money. But, if you add up 6 months of cable bills that you no longer have, these are quite affordable. In addition to the actual Tablo device ($140), you will need a Roku or Fire TV ($30 to $90) and you will need a 1TB or so WD Elements ($56) or WD My Passport Pro hard drive ($100). This is not only where you record your favorite shows, but it’s also where you rewind, pause, and fast forward the shows you’re watching and have recorded. Just like you do on cable TV. Also, you will need a subscription to programming in your area. Several plans are available, starting from $5 to $150 for lifetime. And if you need help, the people at Tablo are great.

By Mick at Best Buy

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