From full HD videos to personal video recorders, cable TV has taken several leaps ahead in the past years to distinguish itself from regular, over-the-air TV. Many viewers don't realize they can still receive full 1080p TV using a regular TV antenna. With the Tablo TV receiver, they can even record over-the-air TV and play it on a remote device.
Manufactured by a small company named Nuvyyo, based in Kanata, near Ottawa, the Tablo is, truly, the cord-cutter’s best friend. Those of us who enjoy watching TV but are willing to go the extra mile to find alternatives to costly TV providers can find in the Tablo TV most of the features a regular PVR has, but for over-the-air TV.
It’s surprising to see how many channels you can get over the air, especially around urban areas, where a $100 outdoor TV antenna will easily find more than 10 full FD-OTA channels.
Just plug in a regular indoor or outdoor TV antenna, a USB drive, and an Ethernet cable to connect it to the Internet. The Tablo takes care of the rest: it scans the airwaves and finds all the available TV signals with surgical precision. Then, it goes online to gather some info and builds a custom on-screen electronic program guide (EPG) for each registered channel (based on the local postal code).
The interface will look familiar to anyone who’s seen an Apple TV or any video-on-demand service: TV shows and movies appear at thumbnails on the screen, and can be sorted by air time, by alphabetical order, etc. Click on a thumbnail to see more information and to schedule a recording. Recorded content can be found in a separate subsection, by genre, date, or name.
Nuvyyo offers the Tablo TV in two versions: the base, $250 model sports two ATSC tuners, two USB ports and even a dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi antenna. When it launches later this summer, the $320 version will get a total of four tuners, which allows to record and stream up to four live or recorded programs simultaneously.
Tablo TVs come with either a 30-day or a six-month subscription to Nuvyyoís enhanced EPG, featuring 14 days of guide data, synopses and various recording options. After that, users have to pay an extra $5 per month, $50 per year or opt for a lifetime subscription at $150. You also need to subscribe if you wish to watch TV or your recordings remotely.
So even if you dream of cutting wires seems to be closer to reality with a Tablo TV in your digital arsenal, don’t expect it to come cheap… since, on top of that, the Tablo cannot be directly connected to a TV. To do so, you need to use the Tablo app on a separate device and stream its content to the TV directly, or via another digital receiver.
You can use an iPhone, iPad, Roku, Chromecast, or even a computer to stream the content to your TV, as the Tablo can be accessed via a simple browser window.
For those who are new to the cord-cutting game, acquiring all the necessary gear to get a Tablo TV working properly is an expensive proposition. It might be easier and cheaper to subscribe to a local TV provider’s online and on-demand service (since most of them offer one).
For those who already own a powerful antenna, a Roku, an Apple TV or who already have a way to connect their PC to their television, the Tablo TV certainly is an interesting complement to what’s already available online. Especially since local content is usually hard to find on iTunes, Netflix and other such providers.
Digital video recorder for over-the-air television (OTA TV)
Live or on-demand watching, locally or remotely via Internet
Android, iOS, Roku and web apps available (free)
Two USB ports, Ethernet and Wi-Fi
$250-320 (includes either a 30-day or six-month subscription to EPG)