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Hands on with the Tablo DVR: Over-the-air TV to go

Wes Novack | April 7, 2014
Anyone looking for an alternative to forking out cash each month to a cable provider has another cord-cutting option at their disposal in the form of Tablo. The DVR not only records over-the-air broadcast television, but also streams live and recorded TV over the Internet for those times when you've left the couch in body, if not in spirit.

Anyone looking for an alternative to forking out cash each month to a cable provider has another cord-cutting option at their disposal in the form of Tablo. The DVR not only records over-the-air broadcast television, but also streams live and recorded TV over the Internet for those times when you've left the couch in body, if not in spirit.

Tablo's focus is beaming DVR-ed and live broadcast TV content to tablets, computers, and mobile devices. Once it's on those devices, you can then send it over to your TV, but Tablo doesn't connect to your TV directly, and technically, you don't even need a TV to use it. TechHive had a first look at Tablo back in January at CES, but now that Nuvyyo is shipping pre-orders, we've gotten a chance to test the Tablo 2-Tuner DVR.

Getting set up

The Tablo comes with a power cord, an ethernet cable, and a quick start guide. At 4.5 by 6.9 inches and 1.4 inches high, the device is about 30 percent wider than my Roku XD and slightly taller, though it's still quite small for a DVR. Tablo keeps things slim by relying on an external USB hard drive for storage — you'll have to provide that yourself.

To use Tablo, you'll need a TV antenna, a home Wi-Fi network, a USB hard drive, and either a tablet, computer, or smartphone. If you want to watch any of the content on your TV, you'll need a bridge device — Tablo currently supports Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast — or you could just connect your computer or tablet directly to your TV with HDMI.

Installation is pretty simple: You connect the coaxial cable from your antenna to the Tablo. Then hook up the USB drive — flash drives aren't supported — and plug in the power adapter. You can connect the included ethernet cable directly to your router, or opt to use the built-in Wi-Fi.

Then you'll launch the Tablo app, on your iPad (iOS 7 or later) or Android tablet (4.2 or later, with support for Android 4.1 coming soon) — I was able to use my iPad mini to add my Tablo to my Wi-Fi network and update the software. Or you can turn to the browser-based app to set up your Tablo, as long as the Tablo is connected to your network via ethernet. Tablo doesn't currently support the initial setup over Wi-Fi using the web app. Nuvyyo is working on adding Wi-Fi setup to the web app, but for now you'll need an iPad or Android tablet to set up Tablo's Wi-Fi.

At this point, the Tablo software will tell you to connect an antenna. Tablo then scans your signal for over-the-air TV channels and asks for your location to provide program guide data. When that's done, you'll have a list of channels discovered by Tablo.

 

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