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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.

Our impressions

It's easy to see how the Tablo DVR can be a powerful device for cord cutters. Its many features will certainly appeal to on-the-fence pay TV subscribers who are accustomed to cable box luxuries such as scheduled recordings, whole home DVR, commercial skipping, and portable viewing.

Tablo's direct competitor, Simple.TV, offers similar features and service in its dual-tuner model. Tablo has a leg up in that the hardware is slightly cheaper ($220 vs $250). Simple.TV also disables some core features, such as remote Internet viewing and recording an entire series, if you don't subscribe to its premier service. That's not something that Tablo does if you don't subscribe to its guide service, so that's another plus for Tablo.

I did have some trouble with streaming to my TV over Roku — I just couldn't get the Tablo DVR to work with the Tablo channel on my Roku XD. Tablo support says it could be an issue specific to my device, but I haven't had any issues with any other apps or services on this Roku box. The Tablo's Wi-Fi also seemed to interfere with my Roku box — the Roku couldn't get a network connection when the two boxes were sitting directly next to each other. Moving the Roku a couple feet away from the Tablo resolved the issue.

The Tablo 2-Tuner DVR costs $220 and becomes widely available April 14. A four-tuner model will follow later this spring, with an anticipated retail price of $250. Tablo provides a month of free program guide data with purchase. After that, the optional service costs $5 per month, $50 per year, or $150 for a lifetime subscription.


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