Tablo TV comes to Apple TV 4


  1. retrieved 28 June 2016.
  2. retrieved 28 June 2016.


Shortly after I bought my modern television, the digital one, I decided that dark lord Rupert Murdock had received enough of my money. My first try at cord cutting was to move TiVO from the cable to a new TV antenna. Some time later, TiVO’s future was looking uncertain and TiVO’s disk was failing.

I began looking around for alternatives and moved originally to Elgato Eye TV with an HD Home Run tuner. EyeTV required my Mac to be active to record TV so I began looking for an alternative with a lower energy footprint that did not rely upon my Mac Mini for computational and storage resources. At about this time, Tablo was launching so I made the move to Tablo TV using a 2 channel tuner and a WD 0.5 TB USB disk as a program spool volume.

Tablo TV solved the leave the mini running problem. It also solved the TiVO problem of buying a new box when the disk failed. Tablo’s storage is inexpensive and trivially replaced.

Playback in the old days

Tablo TV development was very much a crawl, walk, run thing. The crawling occurred in the lab but once baby was able to walk, Tablo released product. The original product relies upon an iPad app to view content or forward it to an Apple TV to watch on the big screen. I used the AirPlay mode to watch live or recorded programs on my Panasonic plasma TV. This was not entirely satisfactory so I kept looking around for alternative playback means.

This was serviceable but annoying as the iPad was tied up while watching telly. Tablo App and AirPlay worked well but other ill-behaved apps could bring things to a stop. I’m talking about you, Facebook. At wake-up, Facebook sucks up the entire network connection and processor reestablishing situational awareness following hibernation. After a decade, I’m tiring of Facebook (story for another day).

 Plex to the rescue

A couple of enthusiasts built a Plex server plugin that allowed Plex to retrieve the directory and content from Tablo for streaming to the Plex app on an Apple TV. The Plex Apple TV app communicated with the server to show the catalog and play recordings but live watching was still not possible. Plex has a nice interface for recent recordings that shows the most recent shows captured in reverse chronological order in a manner reminiscent of TiVO.

The plugin presented the Tablo recorded material as a Channel in Plex terminology. A channel is a collection of non-native program material that can be retrieved and transcoded for playback by Plex Media Server. Any supported Plex player can control the channel and present the playback stream. Plex playback worked nicely but the channel is unable to support Tablo library management and schedule management. The iPad Tablo app remained the primary means of managing schedules and deleting recordings.

The New Tablo Apple TV App

Tablo completed its Apple TV 4 app shortly before 2016 WWDC and it landed in the App Store the week after WWDC. Tablo sent a press release to all active customers announcing the new app but I saw their Twitter post about a day before the announcement reached my Email. The release ended a year of App Store searches for the new app. It installed without fuss, found my Tablo, and quickly settled down. The App is easy to use for all Tablo TV tasks including

  • Creating and removing schedules
  • Watching live TV
  • Watching recorded shows
  • Removing watched recordings
  • Removing cruft recordings made on speculation but never watched

The only feature I could wish for that is not there is the recent recordings list from the Plex app. This feature may be a subject of TiVO patents but these should be nearing end of life soon.

The new Tablo App is very stable. No segmentation faults so far. Nice work from Tablo.