So What’s a Tablo?
Tablo is a new go at an off the air digital video recorder that appears to solve the issues I’ve been having with my EyeTV/HD homeRun combination.
SimpleTV and Tablo Functionality Compared
Tablo is an off the air only DVR similar to the Silicon Dust Simple.TV. Simple.TV can receive both ATSC broadcasts and cable TV clear QAM channels. As the reference explains, cable operators are required to carry local market broadcast channels using clear QAM that can be received by a standard HD TV without a set top box. This allows the local channel service to be pirated. The cable companies keep trying to convince Congress to eliminate the clear QAM local TV requirement to prevent theft of local service.
In many areas, especially the 757, the major broadcasters have their towers in a single area and the flat terrain permits local reception out to the tower’s radio horizon. In the 757, there is no real advantage to taking cable “limited service” from Cox as the same material is available off the air at broadcast resolution. Cox often transcodes broadcast content to lower resolution to pack more on the cable. The best signal at no cost (well $300 up front for the antenna plus installation) is available off the air.
Both products are designed to work with a set top box such as Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku. I don’t know if either will stream to an Xbox or PlayStation. Both products use a smartphone or tablet application for control and display.
Tired of the EyeTV So Soon?
After 2 years of living with EyeTV, I’ve come to recognize the following shortcomings.
- My Mac Mini has to be logged in and running to record programs increasing its attack surface.
- My Mac Mini is powered up 24/7 shortening its service life and increasing its operating cost
- The HD HomeRun EyeTV combo on said Mac Mini was unable to play live TV on my Apple TV’s
- Video had to be transcoded for AirPlay from MPEG-2 to H.264 format taking a couple of hours per hour of program.
- TV off-the-air audio from the TV’s internal tuner couldn’t be sent to the hi-fi via TOSlink.
To fix the transcoding issue, I was looking at buying a new iMac for $2500 or so to get one with the stones for lengthy video transcodes. That’s over 1/2 month of living expense I couldn’t justify spending with other priorities around the house and yard.
Comparing Tablo and EyeTV
EyeTV runs on your computer and controls an external TV tuner. Tablo combines the computer, DVR software, and tuner into a single compact low power device. Tablo has
- A Linux computer
- Two or 4 ATSC TV tuners
- WiFi 802.11n. Sorry, not ac
- 2 USB ports for external disks
- Tablo transcodes to H.264! The mini be off when not actually in use.
- The core DVR functionality
- Remote control server
- Streaming playback server
- A USB 2/3 disk <= 2 TB
- A set top box like Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku 3
- An iPad or Android tablet or an iPhone or Android phone
- The phone/tablet Tablo App.
Where Things Stand
- Sunday 6/8 ordered
- Monday 6/9 UPS picked up and reported the parcel hand off.
- Portable disk to purchase while awaiting the truck
- Tablo app installed on iPad.
The Tablo App — It Needs a Buddy!
Tablo uses a smart phone, tablet, or computer as a remote and viewing device. The Table iPad App is useless until hardware comes. I was hoping I could play with the UI while awaiting hardware but the first thing the App does is to look for a Tablo on the LAN. So it just sits there until you have one to add.