Tablo TV Version 4 Review

My latest video is a review of the Tablo 4th Gen TV Tuner and DVR, the first Tablo product since the company was acquired by broadcast TV station owner Scripps. In addition tuning live over the air television it also provides a number of free advertiser support streaming channels that will appear in the lineup.

It is currently selling for around $99 at Best Buy (affiliate link) and it works without any ongoing subscription fees.

At first glance, it’s pretty minimalistic with just an ethernet port, a USB port for external storage, a coax connector for the antenna, and a power connector. It also has Wi-Fi, which is great if you don’t have ethernet in the room where you set it up. However, I noticed that Wi-Fi can be a bit flaky with over-the-air TV, so using ethernet might offer a better experience.

The device is wall-mountable, and they even provide the hardware for it. But there’s a catch: it’s not recommended for attic installation due to its sensitivity to extreme temperatures. It can only handle up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) maximum.

When it comes to tuning, the Tablo only supports ATSC 1.0 broadcasts. This was surprising, especially since Tablo was acquired by a major broadcast conglomerate. It is likely because the DRM encryption that the industry is putting in place is proving to be difficult to implement in devices like this. This means that the Gen 4 Tablo will work with the current standard until around 2027 when the transition to the new standard is expected to be complete.

This Tablo has two tuners, allowing it to tune into two different channels simultaneously. It comes with built-in storage of about 128 gigabytes, which they claim can store up to 50 hours of content. The USB port works with an external hard drive for additional storage, supporting up to eight terabytes.

Setting up the Tablo was straightforward. After creating an account on their website, the device guided me through the process. However, I wasn’t thrilled about the fact that they attempt to track activities outside the application on my iPhone, probably for ad targeting.

Watching live TV and setting up recordings was easy. But there’s a limitation: you can’t watch anything on mobile devices outside your home network. This is a significant restriction, especially when compared to streaming services.

The interface on the TV is user-friendly. There are apps available for Android TV, Fire TV, and Roku, with plans for Apple TV along with Samsung, and LG televisions. The channel guide is intuitive, and you can easily set up recordings. However, handling recording conflicts could be improved. If there’s a conflict, there‚Äôs no notification – you have to manually resolve it, which can be a bit tedious.

Another feature I explored in the video was the free advertiser-supported streaming channels. These channels, similar to what you’d find on Pluto TV, are integrated into the Tablo interface. What’s different with Tablo is that you can record content from these streaming channels, offering a blend of over-the-air and streaming content.

Tablo Gen 4 offers a decent experience for those looking to record over-the-air TV without ongoing costs. While it has its limitations, it’s a good option if you have a strong antenna signal in your area. I’m eager to see how the product evolves in the future.

YouTube TV: A Comprehensive Review for Cord Cutters

YouTube TV is quickly becoming a popular alternative to cable television services, offering a comparable channel lineup for sometimes less money than a cable provider. In fact some cable TV companies have ditched their own services and partnered up with YouTube TV instead. That’s what happened with Frontier here in Connecticut who offers YouTube TV as their television service.

In my latest video I take a deep dive into the service to see how it works.

YouTube TV offers a robust channel lineup, including all local affiliates and a wide range of popular cable networks. However, I noticed that the service includes a lot of sports channels, which may not be of interest to non-sports fans. YouTube TV also offers family sharing, allowing each family member to have their own unique experience on the platform. However, it does limit users to three simultaneous streams unless they upgrade their service for an additional $10 a month.

The interface is user-friendly across all supported platforms, with top picks based on your viewing history front and center, filtering options, and a channel guide. It also offers a recording feature with unlimited storage, but recordings do expire 90 days. YouTube TV can be accessed via most popular smart TVs and set top boxes, phones, tablets and web browsers.

Despite its benefits, I must point out that YouTube TV follows the same failing business model as traditional cable providers, forcing users to subscribe to channels they may not watch. The service has seen significant price hikes over the years and now costs $73 a month for the basic plan. This price increase is largely due to YouTube having to pay broadcasters and cable TV networks much like traditional cable companies do.

For those of you who are tech-savvy, I suggest using the Channels DVR server, a self-hosted solution that allows users to record and watch channels through their own server. This service costs extra but offers more control over the viewing experience.

While YouTube TV offers a comprehensive solution for those looking to cut the cord, its rising costs and lack of a la carte channel selection could be potential drawbacks for many. As always, I recommend doing your research and considering your viewing habits before making a decision.

Cutting the Cord: Switching from Comcast/Xfinity to Frontier Fiber & YouTube TV

In this latest edition of my series auditing my mother’s cable bill, we’ve decided to make the switch away from Comcast/Xfinity and opt for Frontier fiber optic paired up with YouTube TV. This decision was driven by the desire to save money and the availability of competitive services in the area. You can see the full video here.

Frontier’s offering is a better deal compared to Comcast. They don’t charge any rental fees even for the modem, no term contract, free installation and they even provided a free Eero Wi-Fi extender. The basic plan we chose is faster than even the highest tier Comcast plan on the upstream: 500 megabits up with the same speed downstream. The total cost comes to just under $150 a month, including YouTube TV and their unlimited telephone service. This is significantly lower than the best deal Comcast could provide, which was $186.20 a month after taxes and required a term commitment.

However, the transition wasn’t entirely smooth. I placed the order for service online and there was no option to port her number back over from Comcast. When the tech showed up they had assigned her a new phone number and couldn’t port the existing one over unless we opened up a new order.

As of this writing the old account is still active and they haven’t yet closed it out. I have heard similar issues from others – if there’s any kind of hiccup it’s very hard to get a resolution quickly without multiple contacts.

The Frontier fiber optic service comes with an Optical Network Terminal (ONT) and a router. The ONT is a more robust device than what my Dad got from them at his place, with multiple Ethernet ports and a coax connection for MOCA. The router provided works fine, connecting all devices in the house via WiFi without any issues. In fact I didn’t even need to use the EERO to get her all of her Roku’s attached.

Overall the switch from Comcast/Xfinity to Frontier fiber optic and YouTube TV has proven to be a cost-effective decision for my Mom. Despite some customer service issues, the service quality and reliability of the Frontier fiber optic service have been satisfactory. The next project will be to explore the possibility of cutting the cord further with over-the-air TV and looking for a less expensive TV provider. Because YouTube TV has no term commitment we can leave it at any time.

I’ll cover more about YouTube TV in my next video where I’ll do a full review. Stay tuned!