Tablo has released a new Dual OTA DVR model of their networked DVR for $249.99. The new device is 20% smaller than their old model and it now comes with 64GB of internal storage. While those are great improvements, if you’re the tech savvy type, you’re actually probably better off buying the old model if you’re looking to watch and record live OTA channels on a Fire TV device.
For those unfamiliar with Tablo and their devices, they are one of the best ways to watch live over-the-air television from an HD antenna on the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. You connect them to your network, over WiFi or ethernet, connect an HD antenna, and can tuck them away wherever you get the best antenna signal since they do not connect directly to your TV. You then use their app on any of their numerous supported devices, including their Fire TV app or Kodi add-on, to configure settings, watch live TV, setup recordings, and watch recorded programming.
In order to record content and take advantage of its DVR capabilities, you had to connect an external hard drive to the previous model. This new Tablo comes with 64GB of internal storage, so it’s ready to start recording right out of the box. Tablo says the internal storage will hold up to 40 hours of HD recordings. Thanks to Jared Newman’s great review we know those figures are for the device’s default quality settings of 720p video at 30 frames per second and 3 Mbps. If you bump up the quality to 1080i or 720p at 60fps, Jared says internal storage recording time “can drop by more than half”.
You can connect a USB drive to expand the recording storage of the new Tablo, but if you’re going to do that, which I assume most people likely will, you might as well buy the older model without any internal storage. The old model also has the advantage of 2 USB ports, for connecting 2 drives at once, while the new one only has a single USB port.
Other than the new internal storage and smaller footprint, not much else has changed with the new model. It still has the exact same processor and capabilities as the old model, including two tuners to record two shows at once or record one show while you watch another. The software is all the same and you still get one day of guide data with manual recording capabilities for free, while you can still choose to pay the optional $5 per month, $50 per year, or $150 for life to get premium features like 14 days of guide data, cover art, detailed descriptions, filters, and the ability to stream remotely while you’re away from home.
The biggest thing going for the new model is off the shelf ease of use, thanks to immediate DVR functionality, which is certainly a commendable improvement. However, for the more techy audience that visits this site, who don’t mind setting up drives and likely already have a few lying around, I’d recommend buying the older model, while it’s still available, or buying the 4-tuner model for the same price. The new Tablo Dual OTA DVR is $250 and will be available exclusively from Best Buy in June.