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’s 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.