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TabletTV review: Live from your iPad, it’s local TV, no subscription necessary

J.R. Bookwalter | March 8, 2016
TabletTV combines a small, pocket-friendly TPod with a free mobile app to deliver live television broadcasts to any iPad.

Off the air

Like the ill-fated Aereo, TabletTV includes digital video recorder (DVR) functionality, courtesy of internal storage capable of recording roughly four hours of HD content. The TPod also ships with a removable 8GB micro-SD card, which can be easily swapped for a larger capacity as the need arises.

Recording is done by tapping a button from the On Now tab while a broadcast is playing, or by scheduling in advance from the Program Guide. Recorded content can be copied to the iPad for offline playback when the TPod isn’t available. Saved programs can’t be played back while a new recording is in progress, nor can viewers channel surf at the same time, due to the TPod’s single tuner.

When used in an area with more than 50 percent signal strength, TabletTV provides a fairly clear, hiccup-free picture, particularly with HD channels. The decision to buy ultimately comes down to where you live: I’m located about an hour south of the nearest major city with towers for the four biggest networks, so my channel selection was limited to PBS and 25 other oddball stations.

After driving a little further north, I had no problem picking up broadcasts from the local ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX affiliates. A new channel scan is recommended after moving to a different location, but viewers can choose to use the previous one instead. Even when new channels are successfully added, there’s no guarantee they’ll be strong enough to actually work, displaying a “signal is weak” error instead. The TPod also needs to remain stationary while in use—even when placed on the dashboard of my SUV with a clear view of the sky, broadcasts cut out once the car started moving.

Bottom line

Assuming you live in a geographical region with good reception, TabletTV is an inexpensive, subscription-free way to bring local TV stations to your iPad; updating the app for iOS 9, iPhone, and native Apple TV support would make it an even better value.

 

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