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Tablo: The Best Broadcast TV DVR For Most People

By Brian
Published 05/24/2018
 | Updated 07/03/2021

My recommendation for a "whole home" broadcast TV recording solution is the Tablo line of DVR's by Nuvyyo (Nu-vee-o). Note, these DVRs work with a TV antenna; they won't record cable TV. For most Tablo models, you'll need a Roku or other streaming player to watch your recordings. The newer models also have HDMI output.

What is Tablo?

Tablo is a small black box, kind of like an oversized Roku, that you plug your antenna into. The Tablo Dual Lite requires an external USB hard drive (which you have to supply) to store your recordings (unless you use their cloud recording feature, which will have a fee so I didn't review it). The regular Tablo Dual has 64GB of internal storage, so no external drive is necessary (but I'd still recommend one if you're doing a lot of recording).

Tablo Dual Lite rear panel
Connectors from left are antenna coax, USB, Ethernet (optional), and power.

Tablo connects to your home Wi-Fi or wired network.  If you have Internet access, you probably have a home network, and if you have Wi-Fi, you definitely do.  Tablo transmits live TV and your recordings to other devices on the network such as computers, tablets, smartphones, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, and now, Xbox. With one Tablo, you can play live TV and your recordings back on any of these devices. Thus, you can use one Tablo to watch recordings on all of your Internet-connected TVs and devices.

Both Tablo Dual models have two tuners, so you can stream or record two channels at the same time, or record one while watching another. There is also the Tablo 4-Tuner model which can stream or record four shows at the same time.

Where's the Tablo Remote Control?

Many folks have asked me what kind of remote control the Tablo uses. The answer is, there is no Tablo remote control for the regular (non-HDMI) units. You'd use the remote for whatever device you're using to control your Tablo. The Tablo with HDMI does come with a remote control.

To clarify, in order to make and view Tablo recordings, you can control it through the Tablo app running on a streaming box or smart TV, or a browser on a computer.

So, if you're using a Roku to view your Tablo recordings, you'd be using the Roku's remote to control the Tablo app. If you're using a smart TV, you'd be using your TV's remote. If you're watching on a computer, you'd use your computer's keyboard and mouse. If you're using a Tablo with HDMI, it comes with a remote.

Which Version Should You Get and Why?

For most people, I would recommend the Tablo Dual HDMI. That has two tuners (so you can watch one show while recording another), and HDMI output so you can connect it directly to a TV if you choose. Plus, it comes with a remote.

If you want to be able to record multiple shows simultaneously, you can get the Tablo Quad Dual HDMI.

If you don't plan to connect your Tablo directly to your TV, (for example, if you want to put your antenna in your attic or skylight), you can save a few bucks and get a Tablo without HDMI. But, you don't get a remote control with these, and the savings is not that great.

The specific model I test in this article is the Tablo Dual Lite for $136 (without HDMI). This is the lowest-cost Tablo model, but it requires an external USB hard drive sold separately. These are not hard to come by; you can purchase one at almost any computer/electronics store, or you might already have an old USB hard drive lying around (as I did).

If you want to get up and running without an external hard drive, there is a cloud recording option, but that has a fee, so I wouldn't use that personally. Or, you can get the Tablo Dual (without the "Lite") for $170 with 128GB of internal storage (approximately 80 hours of HD recording, according to the manufacturer). That might sound like a lot, but power users can easily exceed this, which is why I recommend the Lite version.  You can still attach a hard drive to this version though.


The most obvious benefit is that you can make and play back recordings on any TV in your home that is attached to one of the compatible set-top boxes. It's a whole-home recording solution!

But, I was surprised to find that I also enjoyed watching TV on my computer's browser and on my iPad. That was something I did not expect! In effect, it turned my computer screen into another TV. This could be great if you have people fighting over TVs in your home. Very cool!

Another benefit is that if you have multiple TVs, you only need one antenna with Tablo, and you don't need to buy separate antennas or run coax cable all throughout your house to get broadcast TV. Tablo does it all wirelessly with one antenna!

Finally, you can put your Tablo and your antenna anywhere in your home, as long as it's in Wi-Fi range. It doesn't have to be next to your TV. You can put it in your attic, where it can get better reception, or in a closet, just as long as the antenna is somewhere with a good line-of-site to the stations.

Tablo Dual with hard drive
Because the Tablo does not physically connect to your TV, you can put it in a more hidden location, like a closet.


Tablo was easy to set up. I plugged in power, an antenna, and a hard drive and then started the Wi-Fi setup process. I used an iPad to connect to the Tablo's Wi-Fi network, then entered my home Wi-Fi name and password (note I had to use my non-5GHz network). I also had to do two firmware updates, but that wasn't difficult. After that, I let the Tablo scan for broadcast TV signals.

I used a ten-year-old USB hard drive I had lying around, and Tablo worked just fine with it. So for me, the hard drive was virtually "free". If you don't have a spare external USB hard drive though, you'll have to purchase one, which does add to the overall cost of ownership.

Tablo did a good job of finding TV signals, finding about the same number as my Channel Master DVR+. That was good news.

User Interface

Next, I checked out the Tablo user interface in a browser on my computer. From the get-go it was gorgeous, presenting TV shows, movies, and sporting events in a nice Netflix-style grid (if you have a subscription - more later). All of the movie and TV show artwork was there. I actually felt like I had Netflix at times!

Tablo Movies
Tablo movie guide on Windows browser ($4.99/month subscription)

Note, this is based on using the Tablo channel guide subscription which expires after a month and is $4.99/month. More on this later.

Live TV

To watch live TV, select that in the menu and you'll see a program guide. Simple select the channel you want to view.

Table Channel Guide
Tablo live TV channel guide ($4.99/month subscription)

You can adjust the quality based on your network speed. I used the recommended HD 720 5Mbps and I was happy with that. You can go up to HD 1080 10Mbps though. Picture quality won't be quite as good as raw broadcast TV, but the difference didn't bother me, and it's still better than satellite or cable TV picture quality.

You can pause and rewind live TV (back to the time you started watching that channel).  For live TV and in-progress recordings, you will not see the video while recording, so you have to kind of guess if you're trying to skip over a commercial.

However, on recorded programs, you will see a sped-up preview image as you fast forward.

In older versions of Tablo software, it took up to 17 seconds to change channels, which was a real bummer! This has improved with subsequent software revisions, and now it takes about 5 seconds to switch channels for me. Still not ideal for surfing, but much better!

You also have the channel guide. Most of the time, I don't channel surf by going from one channel to the next but rather I step through the guide and only watch things that look interesting.


Scheduling a recording is super easy. Just click on a show, movie, or sporting event in any of the grids, then choose which episodes (if there are several) to record.

If you are subscribing to their directory service, you can easily record the entire season of a show (also known as a "season pass" feature), so that you don't have to set up the recording every week.

Recording quality was great. No dropouts (other than due to reception problems) or crashes during playback. I like the fact that if you pause playback, watch other shows, and come back to your recording, it will remember where you left off. That is key!

If you want to download your recordings for viewing offline, there is an Android app called ota2GO. I have not tested it but it's pretty highly rated in the Android store.

Tablo on Roku 3
The Tablo app on Roku 3

The Subscription

One big caveat here is that my review is based on using the one-month free trial of the Tablo channel guide. This is what delivers the beautiful Netflix-style grid and cover art. After the first month, the subscription costs $4.99 per month, or you can pay $150 for a lifetime subscription.

If you don't want to pay, you can still get a "manual mode" which enables "access to basic recording and Live TV functionality".

After my 30-day free subscription expired, I tried out manual mode and boy did I miss the subscription!  In manual mode, you get a channel guide that only goes 24 hours into the future. It's easy to record one of those shows. If you want to record a show more than 24 hours out, you have to do it manually, which is a bit more work.

So, even though I hate paying monthly fees, I would seriously consider subscribing at five bucks a month or $150 lifetime. The grid is so nice that it makes me feel like I have Netflix even though I don't!

Customer Service

After owning my first (previous-generation) Tablo for over a month, I powered it down to do some tests and when I powered back up, I was unable to connect to it by Wi-Fi.

I emailed Tablo support and got a response within 24 hours, but still was not able to connect. They suggested that I call their support line, 1-844-TABLOTV (822-5688). After two rings, a support person picked up.  The call went right to someone who could help me - no menus, no waiting - amazing!!

He was able to walk me through the setup process on my iPad and I was up and running again in a few minutes!  A couple of tricks:

  • Always start the connection process connected to your home network, not the Tablo's network.  That was one of the mistakes I had made.
  • It might also have helped to delete the existing Tablo from the Tablo iPad app by tapping the "Edit" button in the upper right corner of the app.

So, although I had a little hiccup in functionality, nothing was wrong with my Tablo, and I found out that their customer service is excellent!

Where to Get It

You can get find the Tablo on Amazon:

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I test or research each product or service before endorsing. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. I own this site and the opinions expressed here are mine. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


I am a huge fan of Tablo. It's a great solution for recording broadcast TV when you have multiple TVs, or if you want to watch on multiple devices like computers and tablets. It's much more convenient to set up compared to running coax through your home (unless your home already has it). It's extremely easy to use and reliable.

My two major complaints have been vastly improved in the software.  Changing channels is much better now. You can now see video while fast-forwarding recordings, but still not live TV.

I also am not crazy about paying monthly fees for the guide.  But, it's so nice that it just might be worth it if you watch a lot of TV, and there is a lifetime option which is a good deal.

These shortcomings are not show-stoppers. I love my Tablo!

Tablo Advantages:

  • Can record and play back on multiple TVs, computers, tablets, and phones
  • Does not need to be near a TV; can put in your attic next to your antenna while your TV is in your basement
  • Easy to use interface and channel guide with movie poster artwork
  • Can use Tablo as an alternative to wiring coax cable throughout your home

Tablo Disadvantages:

  • Requires a streaming box like Roku, or a smart TV to use, unless you buy the Tablo with HDMI, which you can connect directly to a TV.
  • Tablo Dual Lite requires external USB hard drive (sold separately or use one that you already have)
  • Requires Wi-Fi or wired home network (most people with Internet access have this)
  • You don't see video while rewinding or fast-forwarding live TV (but you do for recorded shows)
  • Channel tuning speed is much improved but still takes 5-7 seconds
  • The "nice" channel guide (which is virtually a requirement for recording) requires $5/month subscription or $150/lifetime.

Did You Like This Article?

Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com
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Check out my other site, thefrugalnoodle.com, with ideas on saving money and living simply.

Ask a Question or Tell Me Your Story

If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. 

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Richard Santoni
Richard Santoni
4 months ago

HI, the article states that Tablo will record programs from broadcast TV. Will it also record programs that are streamed from Roku? Thanks.

2 years ago

I Purchased a used TiVo that came with the lifetime subscription so after I purchased it for twenty five dollars on craigslist that is the only cost I’ve ever had it has two tuners recording some others have four or six and you can usually find them used for about a hundred to hundred dollars max and it sounds like it does the same thing As the tablo Does. And Tivo has a long history and has worked out all its bugs and just came out with a newer version that sounds even better. I guess it just depends on which one you buy first because you’re certainly not gonna buy both. The whole point is to save money avoiding cable or satellite. Again I bought used TiVo with lifetime subscription that goes with the box no matter who owns it that’s really the only way to do it because he wants spend any money just to watch TV.

2 years ago
Reply to  KC

Hi KC,

If you found a used TiVo with lifetime subscription, that is a great deal! I do think the TiVo is a great machine; I just don't like paying every month for it. Great job!


Thomas Peter
Thomas Peter
2 years ago

I purchased the Tablo quad a couple months ago on trial. I had problems with it freezing up randomly and sent it back before the trial period was up. I will say that the user interface is one of the best I've seen. It's intuitive and easy to navigate. Customer service is also great unlike what you experience the majority of times. The box was very new when I jumped in and I think a lot of the issues will probably get resolved as the product matures. However, not having prior experience with Tablo, I didn't want to take the risk. I'll definitely revisit this in a few months. The Tablo quad has tremendous potential.

2 years ago
Reply to  Thomas Peter

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for sharing!


2 years ago

This is first I heard about channel changing delay. How does this compare to other top ota dvrs? Also, I assume I would need all TVs to be smart or would need a roku or similar device on each tv, correct?

2 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Hi Steve,

Yes, each TV would need a Roku or other device which has the Tablo app on it.

If you read some of the cable-cutter Facebook groups, you'll see other folks mention the channel changing delay as well.

But, here's the deal. The Tablo provides a channel guide. So, I don't find myself channel surfing like I did with cable, but rather, I step through the channel guide and only change channels when I find something that looks promising. If you use it like that, the channel delay isn't so bad.

For comparison, the Amazon Fire TV Replay doesn't even provide a way to directly step through channels (that I know of). You have to go back to the channel guide to change channels, so surfing isn't even possible in the traditional sense on that DVR.


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