Tablo announces its first ATSC 3.0 OTA DVR with support for 4K and HDR video

Tablo has announced its all-new Tablo ATSC 3.0 QUAD HDMI OTA DVR. This is the company’s first product to support the new ATSC 3.0 standard that is transitioning over the air broadcast television away from 1080i video and towards 4K video. Unlike all of Tablo’s past devices, this new DVR is not a networked device for whole-home streaming of OTA content. Instead, it’s a standalone device with a remote and HDMI out, for use with a single TV, which means it’s not compatible with Fire TV devices or any streaming media player.

The Tablo ATSC 3.0 QUAD DVR, as the name suggests, has 4 hybrid ATSC 3.0/1.0 tuners. This means it can stream or record 4 channels, being either ATSC3.0 or ATSC 1.0 channels, simultaneously. To my knowledge, this is the first 4 tuner ATSC 3.0 device where all tuners support the new 4K standard. Comparatively, the HDHomeRun ATSC 3.0 model only supports ATSC 3.0 channels on 2 of its 4 tuners. There is no built-in storage for recordings on the Tablo ATSC 3.0 QUAD DVR, so you’ll need to connect an external hard drive to its USB 3.0 port. Tablo says 4K recordings will consume about 9GB per hour of content and 1080 ATSC 3.0 recordings will use 2.3GB per hour, which is about a quarter of the space that MPEG-2 ATSC 1.0 recordings take up, thanks to ATSC 3.0’s much more efficient use of HEVC encoded video.

Unfortunately, the Tablo ATSC 3.0 QUAD DVR is not a networked tuner like all of Tablo’s previous products. This means you can’t stream its live channels or recordings to Fire TVs, phones, or other devices. As such, the Tablo ATSC 3.0 QUAD DVR comes with an HDMI out port and a remote. The DVR itself runs Tablo’s interface locally on the DVR, via its quadcore processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16 GB of flash storage, so it must be connected to, and used from, a single TV. The device’s built-in Gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11ac WiFi are only used for local updates and metadata.

The Tablo ATSC 3.0 QUAD HDMI OTA DVR costs $299.99 and can be pre-order now. You’ll need to pay $29.99 when pre-ordered and you will be charged the rest when the device ships this spring. As with all of Tablo’s products, included with the purchase price is free 24 hours of TV guide data which can be extended to 14 days if you subscribe to Tablo’s guide plan for $4.99/month, $49.99/year, or pay $179.99 for a lifetime subscription. The subscription comes with additional perks in addition to the longer guide data.

26 comments
  1. Zeric says:

    Who is their target market? Those who would be interested in a quad tuner ATSC 3.0 DVR that requires an external HDD are likely enthusiasts, and an enthusiast is going to expect it to be networked. This seems like a no-go as currently designed.

    • Rik Emmett says:

      The target market is those who don’t want to pay for broadband internet. The guide data can be downloaded from a cheap cellular data plan or just use an existing cellphone plan as a hotspot.

      • Zeric says:

        OTA DVR systems are for those that don’t want to pay for content that is available free over the air, regardless of having broadband. I have broadband, and I have OTA DVR system (HDHomerun with Plex), and most who use an OTA DVR also have broadband from what I have seen.

        This product is really only good for someone who has a single television that they want to view recorded content on, with no plans of ever using it with a second television. That really limits the market. And my prior point is those who are most interested in ATSC 3.0 on a device that requires an external HDD at this moment in time are going to be enthusiasts, and they will want the ability to view recorded OTA content in more than one location.

        • Rik Emmett says:

          This DVR has hybrid tuners that also receive ATSC 1.0. Tivo doesn’t sell a 4 tuner OTA standalone DVR anymore and their dual tuner OTA DVR doesn’t have ATSC 3.0. They didn’t bother to make this DVR capable of running streaming apps. This DVR is perfect for a cord cutter who wants to drop cable and broadband. Someone cutting costs may only have one TV anyway.

  2. Charlie says:

    I think the current Tuners of theirs that connect to a TV by HDMI are also not networked.

  3. Charlie says:

    I also think taking up a rare HDMI port on your TV is a no for me.

  4. Spartacus says:

    I wonder if a man-in the-device (not the bad kind) would work? A device such as a raspberry PI could access the hard drive to serve as network access or copy the data to some NAS device to make it available to the network. I’m not the guy to write such code but doesn’t seem like it should be that hard. Best case the recordings are read and stored directly from the hard drive, Worst case might be capturing data via the HDMI output. just a thought. I’ll look into possible hardware that “might” work and someone with coding ability might be able to automate the process. JP

  5. TechyChris says:

    Could someone kindly explain to the un-initiated:
    If this is “not a networked device for whole-home streaming of OTA content” BUT has the ability to “stream or record 4 channels, being either ATSC3.0 or ATSC 1.0 channels, simultaneously” how does it do that to more than 1 TV? And if it is to only one TV (as it appears to be), why would you need to stream 4 channels simultaneously?

    • EJMax+ says:

      “why would you need to stream 4 channels simultaneously?” Four tuners for recording, not streaming. If viewing, then three for recording.

  6. Rik Emmett says:

    Tablo probably can’t support more than one device streaming 4K content over a network. They would have to limit the number of devices connected and send a message to the second device.

  7. hdmkv says:

    Unfortunately Tablo are not offering lifetime subscription w/this unit.

    • hdmkv says:

      I’ve had the HDHomeRun Flex 4K unit for several months now and love it. Only issue is not being able to edit HEVC recordings w/AC4 audio. No AC4 editors yet.

      • russ says:

        Where are you at, has NFL been in 4k this season where you are?

        • hdmkv says:

          No, it’s all been upscaled 1080p to date. Still, looks and sounds better than ATSC 1.0 stuff because of HEVC. Hopefully, we’ll see true 4K this year.

        • hdmkv says:

          One annoying thing I’m noticing is that some stations are over-compressing their ATSC 3.0 streams :(. Why have the latest and greatest and do this crap?!!!

      • Charlie says:

        Just ordered mine today, going from 1.0 to 3.0 tuner. I’ve read forum posts that make it sound as if the ASTC 3.0 signals are weak at this point. Have you experienced that? I do know several stations can be sharing the same channel or maybe it’s the tower?

        • hdmkv says:

          No, it’s the opposite. ATSC 3.0 signals come in better, and they are less prone to multipath issues like with 1.0. Bottom line: weaker 3.0 signals still come in solid over similar 1.0 counterparts.

  8. Rik Emmett says:

    This product could put Tivo out of business.

    • Meax says:

      Tablo is crap. I was gifted (Mother’s day) one and it worked for few months. I subscribed to their unlimited and it has not worked since. Moving on to Amazons Dvr. Don’t get this for your parents this is terrible and will be emotional terrible. They have terrible customer service and will blame everything on the cable company even though everything else works fine.Cable says this is the worst thing to replace cable. They get tons of complaint. Please spare your parents from this awful thing. Don’t put them through this ordeal. Buy anything else. This was a Mother’s Day present 2020 I hope Tablo rots in hell. I hate hate Tablo. Do not buy. Save your parents from this product. I believe Canada companies hate the US.

      • Charlie says:

        Isn’t that interesting, that you despise them so much. I have been dealing with them on the phone, Twitter, and email lately and found them to be very helpful and responsive. I actually ordered a tuner earlier this week, but decided to stick with HDHomerun and upgraded to their ATSC 3.0 tuner, arriving in a few days. I am going to return the Tablo tuner by refusing the USPS Priority Mail delivery.

        Their customer service stated to me they no longer withhold the original shipping charges if you return an item. They asked me to let them know when I have reversed delivery so they can watch for it to process my full refund. I was telling myself this week that Tablo had made a very good impression on me and would expect that to continue. I almost regret losing that service.

      • EJ Max+ says:

        I’ll tell you who has the worst customer support. All U.S. cable TV providers … like the one you work for.

      • Rik Emmett says:

        This is an OTA only DVR. Nothing to do with the Cable company.

  9. hectare says:

    Apparently I’m not the only one that thinks this is a huge MISS

    • Rik Emmett says:

      It’s the only device that has 4 ATSC 3.0 tuners. Lots of people only have one TV. It will keep working during the OTA transition from ATSC 1.0 to 3.0. Can save alot of money using this DVR and ditching cable and broadband.

    • Zeric says:

      Yep it’s a miss. However, I expect they can increase it’s capabilities via a firmware update if the market demands it.

      And despite what some say, people who buy products like this are not looking to ditch broadband, they are tech enthusiasts that would be much more likely to be seeking faster broadband. Those who have only one TV are not the type of people who even know what ATSC 3.0 is, let alone would want/need 4 tuners.

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