Tablo Review: The King of OTA DVRs

tablo_dvr

People are often surprised to find how much free TV they can get with an antenna like the Mohu Leaf 50. Assuming you live within range, you can get all the major networks like ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS, plus smaller local stations, live in HD on your television — no cable required.

However, we can’t always watch the shows we want live when they come on. Life just gets in the way. For cable users, this hasn’t been a problem for quite some time thanks to DVRs. But what about for cord cutters? Can you record the live programming you get with your antenna?

Absolutely. All you need is an over-the-air (OTA) DVR to connect to your antenna. And that means you need to learn about the TabloTV, my top pick for OTA DVRs. Learn all about it below in my comprehensive Tablo review.

 

How Tablo Works

Tablo is similar to DVRs you’re used to in that it allows you to record live television and record it later. However, it has some perks that a traditional DVR does not.

The Tablo DVR hooks up to your antenna, but you don’t actually connect it to your TV. Instead, it connects to your wireless network. This allows you to record content received from your antenna, and then stream that content to a connected mobile device, tablet, or TV via streaming player like a Roku 3.

What’s the benefit? As long as your device has been connected to your Tablo DVR on your WiFi network, you can then watch your programming on the go. And not only that, you can also live stream content from the antenna to your mobile devices.

 

Tablo Review: Out of the Box Setup and Specs

tablo guideRight out of the box, you’ll notice that the Tablo features a somewhat off design, almost like a perfect rectangular cube with rounded edges and a slight inward curve on the bottom.

The sleek design measures in at 1.3” x 6.3” x 4.5.” Instead of something large and bulky, this 13.3 ounce machine is perfect for any spot you deem worthy in your decor.

You’ll notice that it doesn’t have an HDMI port, or any sort of video output at all for that matter. Remember, the Tablo DVR was never meant to be hooked up straight to your television. To watch your programs, you’ll need a streaming device like the Roku 3, Apple TV or Google Chromecast. You can also watch on most mobile devices, tablets, and computers.

As for storing your recordings, Tablo doesn’t have it’s own storage. Instead, you’ll need some type of external hard drive (we recommend this one) to hook into the USB.

 

Key Features of the 2-Tuner and 4-Tuner Tablo’s

When you get the Tablo DVR connected to everything and you’re good to go, the key difference in the 2-tuner and 4-tuner comes into play. The 2-tuner can only record 2 different things at once, while the 4-tuner can record — you guessed it — 4 things. Now is when you get to take a real look at why the Tablo is our OTA DVR of choice.

  • Once setup is complete, the Tablo will scan for the channels it can pick up from your connected antenna, and then adds those channels to a selected database.
  • The Tablo comes with a month’s free subscription to their electronic program guide, or EPG. While the service isn’t free, it’s not mandatory to keep it either, but if you do choose to continue using the EPG it would be $4.99 a month, $49.99 a year, or $149.99 for life (I recommend the lifetime option, as it pays for itself relatively quickly).
  • Tablo DVR is actually one of the cheaper options of it’s kind, with other home DVR systems costing around $4-500.

 

Cost of the Tablo DVR

Tablo_LoveIf you want to purchase a Tablo DVR you’ll need to decide if you’d like the 2-tuner or the 4-tuner first, as the 2-tuner costs $219.99 and the 4-tuner costs around $299.99. That isn’t to say that you won’t be able to find it cheaper, as at the time of publication, Amazon currently has a sale on the 2-tuner for $197 and the 4-tuner for $270. Keep an eye out for other sales and you’ll be able to find yourself a great deal!

 

Do I Have to Have a Subscription?

Not necessarily. The only subscription that comes with the Tablo is the one for the EPG, which isn’t by any means mandatory. All you need to do is pay for the price of the device and it’s necessary components if that’s all you’d like to do. However, the programming guide sure comes in handy and is worth the lifetime subscription price in our opinion.

 

Tablo Review: The Top Pick for OTA DVRs

Record live TV from your antenna. Stream to all your connected devices. It just makes sense. Get your own Tablo DVR here.

Have questions about our Tablo review? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Mr. Cable Cutter has been featured on Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, TechCrunch, Engadget, Fortune and more. Check out his step-by-step guide for free advice on how to get rid of cable.
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Tablo DVR

Tablo DVR
8.5

Overall

9/10

    Pros

    • Lifetime Subscription
    • Stream to Multiple Devices
    • Live Stream Away from Home

    Cons

    • Requires External Hard Drive