Tablo has announced their latest over-the-air DVR and it’s unlike any of their previous models in that it connects directly to your TV via HDMI. While all of Tablo’s devices up until now have been headless networked DVRs that are accessed through the Tablo app running on a streaming media player, smart TV, or mobile device, the new Tablo DUAL HDMI OTA DVR comes with a remote and displays the Tablo interface directly on your TV. While the point of the new device is to appeal to those wanting a single all-in-one DVR solution, it does retain some of its networked capabilities, such as streaming to other devices like Fire TVs.
Like the similarly named Tablo DUAL LITE OTA DVR, the new Tablo DUAL HDMI OTA DVR has 2 ATSC tuners that allow you to record or watch 2 channels at once. Both versions don’t come with any internal storage and rely on you connecting an external USB hard drive (up to 8TB) for recording capacity. While the key difference between the two is that the new model outputs its video directly over HDMI to your TV, there are a few additional differences that are important to consider.
The new Tablo with HDMI records raw MPEG2 video, while Tablo’s other DVRs record compressed video. The advantage of this is slightly better picture quality, but the disadvantage is far less storage capacity. A 1TB drive will store about 130 hours of HD video with the new HDMI-capable Tablo, while the same drive will store up to 700 hours of compressed video with a network-only Tablo. Since the new Tablo with HDMI is storing uncompressed video at up to 18 Mbps, accessing that video from another device on your home network will require either a very strong WiFi network or wired Ethernet for both the Tablo and receiving device.
As mentioned, this new Tablo can stream video to 2 other devices on your home network simultaneously, but there are some limitations here as well, compared to Tablo’s network-only DVRs. For starters, Tablo recommends higher-end devices, like Fire TV Cubes, Roku Ultras, and Nvidia Shield TVs for accessing those streams. Streaming sticks and older devices are not recommended for use with this new DVR, likely due to more limited deinterlacing capabilities on those devices. Apple TVs, phones, tablets, PCs, and a few other devices that work with Tablo’s other DVRs are not compatible with this new one.
While some may find the aforementioned limitations and smaller recording capacity a deal-breaker for the new Tablo DUAL HDMI OTA DVR, others looking for the simplicity of a single device with its own remote that does it all a refreshing option to the sometimes confusing notion of a networked DVR. The fact that it still retains several of those networked capabilities that Tablo is best known for can be seen as optional bonuses to an otherwise very straightforward DVR. The Tablo DUAL HDMI OTA DVR costs $149.99, the same as Tablo’s network-only counterpart. It’s only available to order through Tablo’s website and it will ship by December 1st.
Without reading past the first paragraph, my first concern is that it takes up a valuable HDMI port. I’m using a HDHomerun tuner and my Shield as server now. My TV’s only have 3 ports and as much as I love streaming devices this would be an issue for me. Intriguing though.
Looks like Tablo is trying to take market share from Tivo.
That’s kind of been the plan since day 1 :)
Love that Tablo now provides access to the raw MPEG2 files, but what is really sneaky and sucks is “*Lifetime TV Guide subscriptions are NOT available for Tablo DUAL HDMI.” :( Not cool Tablo!
It is indeed a bummer but the powers that be made that decision in order to help us continue to deliver new features, software improvements, new products and maintain our high-quality in-house support for our customers.
This device isn’t sustainable long term with ATSC 3.0 on the horizon. People looking for lifetime service with MPEG-2 access might look for a used Tivo or even the new Tivo OTA Edge unless they want the OTT app that Tivo refuses to provide.
Lifetime service might not be worth it since these devices will become redundant when ATSC 3.0 is implemented more widely. ATSC 1.0 resolution will be reduced to 480i until it is phased out completely as they move the legacy channels all to one station to make room for ATSC 3.0. Once the HD resolution disappears, there won’t be much left to differentiate these devices from the others.
But, isn’t lifetime tied to your a/c, not your device?! In which case, I’d have expected new DVR’s under the same a/c to continue honoring lifetime. Sad to see Tablo go away from their original model… I hate subs, and would rather pay more up front.
Lifetime service applies to the life of the device.
My thoughts exactly.