It’s no secret that we are big fans of the Tablo TV system. Since the launch almost one year ago, Tablo has continually pushed the little placeshifting over-the-air DVR forward via software updates to bring functionality up to speed with most major competitors.One of the later enhancements has been thumbnail previews while FF/RW a recorded show. That alone seems to have pushed the Wife Acceptance Factor to 11 as it was one of her biggest complaints while trying to use Tablo!
Back in January at 2015 CES, Tablo announced a major overhaul to their Roku app, and also announced the addition of Fire TV and Nexus Player apps. Today, Tablo looks to make good on that promise by releasing these apps. For the past few days, I’ve been using the both the new Roku “preview” and the new Fire TV app. Visually, these apps are a major upgrade more akin to today’s standard DVR interface. My current setup for Tablo is that the device is wired directly into my router. From there, I am using a pair of Netgear 1200 Powerline adapters so my connections is wired straight to the Roku 3. For the Fire TV stick, it’s currently running on my 5ghz band of my wireless router to minimize congestion.
For the updated Roku preview app, Tablo had to completely rewrite the entire code base. This involved getting special privileges from Roku to break away from their standard app template. And although the old Tablo Roku app was fully functional, the number one feature was to have a more conventional UI that included a guide screen. With this “preview”, Tablo has transformed the interface to provide this functionality.
Now as nice as the new interface is, there are some caveats to the Roku Preview. To get the new UI out on time, Tablo has cut back some of the existing functionality. At launch, the new Roku Preview app enables you to:
- Browse and set recordings coming in the next 24 hours via the Live TV grid guide
- Watch live TV (including pause & rewind)
- Browse and watch recordings (including pause, rewind and fast forward)
- Delete recordings
In the coming months Tablo will add the following:
- Browse and set recordings for upcoming TV, Movies and Sports occurring in the next 14 days
- View scheduled recordings
The Tablo preview app running on the Roku 3 was very responsive. Yes, at times it took a few seconds to load information on the guide, but overall, the preview was very nice departure from the old Roku template app. I look forward to Tablo adding the additional features to bring the new preview up to par with the older app. Until Tablo does this, the old app will remain in the Roku store. The main functionality is there to browse and watch live TV or recorded shows for the Roku preview. As for the missing features noted above, I have no doubt Tablo will get these out as soon as possible. The company has continually shown in the past the ability to iterate changes over time to add new features and fix outstanding issues.
The bigger surprise was the new Fire TV (and Android TV) apps. As stated above, I believe Tablo has nailed the UI aspect for both the Roku Preview and this has translated over to these new apps as well. The Fire TV app not only opens up Tablo to a another substantial customer base, but also brings with it all the features from the main web app experience including the ability to schedule recordings out 14 days, searching for existing shows, and changing settings to your Tablo TV. This is different than the Roku preview app which does not yet have these features.
Now saying that, the Tablo app on the Fire TV stick can be a bit sluggish at times. It’s not as fast to load information as the Roku 3, but I believe that just comes down to the horsepower behind these streaming devices. Maybe someone with a Fire TV (not Stick) can comment on any speed increases. Despite the performance hit of the Fire TV stick, I would still recommend owners at least giving it a try.
It’s great to see Tablo continuing to improve their products as well as take advantage of the newer streaming devices on the market. If you are an owner of a Tablo TV, get out there an update your apps to get on this new experience!