18 thoughts on “Tablo Ups The Ante As TiVo Retreats”

  1. Do you really think the endgame is to abandon the DVR market altogether and surrender all of the subscription fees they’re taking in on a monthly basis?

  2. No, I don’t think they’ll cease retail DVR sales or operations at this point. But I suspect they’ll continue to let things languish, while prioritizing cable with retail DVR as a beta pool. I do wonder what the split is on lifetime vs monthly and remember Minis generate no additional revenue at all. On paper, retail TiVo DVR was more profitable than cable on a per box basis. But it lacks scale.

    To be seen what the new corporate leadership thinks of things and if they get back to the idea of splitting the company up or dropping retail, as Rovi once contemplated.

  3. Three quick thoughts on the Tablo hardware:

    a.) The internal 1 TB drive for the quad is very good, but the 128GB storage for the Dual is a WTF head scratcher. I have a Dual 64, which came with 64GB on-board, and have to tell you that’s pretty limited amount of storage, even at transcoded file size (an external USB drive was an easy solution, for me). I’m not sure another 64 GB will make all that much of a difference. I’m not the marketing nor hardware guy, something closer to 500GB internal for the Dual would make more sense, and position that more as a Bolt OTA / Edge OTA killer.

    b.) Speaking transcoded files, the de-interlacing in Tablo’s SD source transcoding needs serious help. Once you notice the artifact induced jaggedness in angular solid lines, it can’t be unseen. Imagine Michelangelo on a bender, trying to draw his perfect circle. If all you watch is HD source primary network material, you will never have this complaint.

    c.) I love and respect Tablo for what they’ve done, but it’s starting to appear that one of their strengths: open app platform support will move more to Roku/FireTV/Android only. The Tizen and WebOS apps are somewhat crippled, and still buggy, and the response on Tablo’s support boards is that the lack of support and distribution control from Samsung, LG, etc makes it difficult for Tablo to improve these apps.

    As for Tivo, I believer you are correct that their OTA DVR lines will languish on the vine. If ATSC 3.0 is successful (and that’s still a rather large “if”), their cost structure gets worse as the new tuner technologies involve significant cost for licensing of the bootstrap tech that makes ATSC 3.0 tuner possible. It also becomes more challenging to produce an accurate guide to reflect a myriad of streaming feeds from each local broadcaster.

  4. I’ve been a TiVo customer since 2000. Have had many models, on cable or OTA (where I am now).

    Have always loved them, but in the last 5 years they’ve made a lot of stupid decisions that have really undercut the overall experience.

    As I’ve said before.. I’m a big fan of my Apple TV box. If Apple ever bakes OTA recording into that (much in the same way Amazon did with the Recast), I’d drop TiVo and go with Apple’s solution.

    Never thought I’d say that, but TiVo has been annoying me for a few years now.

  5. Bruce, I assume 64GB -> 128GB was an easy and relatively inexpensive enhancement – it’s not a drive (which are cheaper by capacity) but a chip. If I remember correctly, anyway. It’s been awhile. :) Related, their internals are getting long in the tooth – they’d probably benefit from newer guts (with better thermal management). Perhaps that’s next on the docket.

  6. i got the stream 4k on the first day of release although i already have roku, fire, and apple streamers. the tivo is bug ridden and the first update last month didn’t fix the major ones and they have already cancelled the release date for the update to fix the update. mine won’t control volume or mute on my tv although it does control power and input. if you go to a service such as disney+ or netflix and pause, the audio drops out when you resume–sometimes you have to rewind to get it back. sling channels don’t show up in the guide with the tivo channels, you have to drop to android os and run the app from there.

    the big attraction is the conglomeration of about 8 services into one search, but this is hardly seamless. i suggest getting reelgood which works on multiple platforms and nearly any other streaming device. i do have to say that the opening price (which they’ve extended) of $50 isn’t steep enough to cause buyer’s remorse though.


  7. Tivo user since 1999 and a tablo user for 6 days.

    Tivo has pretty much come to an end, as hardware releases slow and new features aren’t that snazzy, the stream 4k shipped with bugs and no ability to replace a tivo mini, which is a huge mistake. While I have a pair of roamios and 3 mini’s, I won’t be buying any more tivo products. Too many years of relying on IP royalties, not very competent management, getting bought and sold and split up and so forth. Too many good people went out the door. Support is terrible.

    Tablo as a replacement? Honestly the last product I’d use. I got a tablo quad and put a 2tb sata SSHD in it, a drive with some flash cache to act as an SSD for most used parts, in my instance presuming the OS and key databases. I replaced a four tuner roamio with the tablo. The tablo channel scan gave me green on most of the channels the tivo did, but while the tivo could tune over 60 channels, the tablo could only tune ONE, and it was spotty. Tablo blamed my antenna. My antenna has had a four way splitter with two simple.tv boxes, a single tuner and a dual tuner silicondust network tuner. No problems. Tv’s. No problems. Tivo. No problems. Tablo? Problems. Not my antenna.

    So I start looking on reddit and other tablo forums and see folks with similar issues. The vaunted commercial skip requires uploading a chunk of the show to analyze, and didn’t work on the one channel it received due to “poor signal”. Now they charge an extra monthly fee for it. The wifi was useless. It couldn’t manage a 720p stream of about 8Mb/s when my phone right next to the tablo could pull over 100Mb/s. And the heat. I saw the many complaints about overheating tablo’s, requiring laptop coolers and fans blowing over them and that it was worse with a HDD installed inside. The Quad has a fan cutout, but tablo decided not to install one. Mistake. So I popped the bottom off to look inside to find….another bottom. A metal heat sink the same size as the box, and inexplicably under the PCB instead of on top. I removed the heat sink to find it only connected via a thermal pad to the cpu only, which along with memory and tuners and everything else was on the BOTTOM of the pcb. On top of it? Just about nothing. I identified it as a reference board from its markings, basically some generic ‘dvr/tuner’ board with 50 test points on it.

    And tablo had mounted it upside down, with the components and heat sink on the wrong side. And same with the rest of their dvr’s, as I found youtube video teardowns with the same “????”! discovery. They bought a reference card, built a plastic box around it the wrong way, and still haven’t figured it out. In fact, the heat sink is so big and so tight in the case, that heat was building up between it and the pcb with very tiny seams around the board that the heat had to pass around. Guess what’s on the edges? The tuners, the ram and the wifi m.2 chip, which for some reason they epoxied in.

    I hear the firetv recast also has crap tuners and heat related issues.

    So my next destination, some years from now hopefully (hang in there tivo with guide updates!), will be plex with a quad or two dual tuner silicondust boxes.

    No more tivo, and for the love of god, unless you have incredible OTA reception, an ethernet cable to it or a tiny house for the wifi, and don’t mind a DIY cooling solution to resolve a silly engineering mistake, stay away from Tablo.

    As a finisher, when I approached their social media rep on reddit, he assured me also that I had an antenna problem, that their products were not made the way I described, and that their QA is so good the shipper must have damaged the tablo somehow without leaving a mark on the box. In other words, its not them, its me. Which is probably why they’ve lived with a problem for so long without fixing it.

    If you DO have a tablo and have heat issues…try turning it upside down and place some standoffs to hold it 1/2″ off the shelf. My bet is your problems with heat go away.

  8. Yeah, the heat issue and causes are well known. Poor design, overdue for a refresh. Commercial skip is somewhat kneecapped by having to process it all in the cloud. Not sure how many are willing to pay anyway. Should you go the Silicon Dust route, in addition to Plex you can also try Channels DVR, which is our daily driver these days. Wife approved, with very active development.

  9. I’d looked at both. I think the ongoing subscription costs of channels vs a one time ~$100 pay for plex pass and a friend using and liking plex pass would sway me in that direction. Not much of a ‘monthly sub’ kind of guy. No wife or kids here, so if I can figure it out, its good to go.

    This is, the Quad if the new design. So they still haven’t figured out they built it upside down, and aren’t interested in hearing about it either.

  10. I’ve been using a couple of base Roamios at home…one upstairs connected to an attic antenna, the other downstairs on cable with a CableCard & tuning adapter.

    Since I can simply buy & stream those few cable shows that interest me I’ll drop cable this fall & use Dish’s installation service to add a chimney-mount amplified antenna.

    I’ve also backed the HD Homerun with two ATSC 3.0 (& two ATSC 1.0) tuners on Kickstarter.

    And I’ll add Channels for a DVR with a NAS which will hopefully work to also serve shows to/from the old Roamios via Plex or via another solution.

  11. cfb, Channels has a free trial. So check it out when the time comes. Or try it now with Locast to sub tuner. It’s $80/yr but the superior experience in my opinion. And I have a lifetime Plex Pass…

    Bill, not sure about your exact scenario but you can get clever. I have both Channels DVR and Plex Server running on my NVIDIA SHIELD TV to provide a second means of access to my recordings. But I usually just use Infuse app to download shows from NVIDIA to my daughter’s iPad Mini for clearly presented offline access. (It’s really my wife’s iPad, but things happen.)

  12. My first TiVo was the roamio after Replay TV and TW dvrs. It was good when it started, but it stagnated with the CC/TA requirement. I cut the cord when sports stopped and was planning on going with Youtube TV when sports came back, but now it’s more expensive than Spectrum basic!

    I guess we’ll just go out to a bar when we want to see live sports when/if they return. College football appears to be done, the NFL can’t be far behind… I think women’s/fringe sports are going to be hit the hardest. It’s already going through the NCAA, canceling unprofitable sports. This is going to be a long recession for anything that involves selling tickets.

    TiVo should just commit hari kari and admit they don’t care.

    Dave, I hope you can reinvent yourself with someother brilliant TV technology. At the moment it’s PlutoTV, Bein soccer for me!

  13. I am quite impressed with Pluto and Xumo’s offerings these days, since they got gobbled up by content companies. (I think) Xumo has an NFL channel (not NFL network) that plays a lot of NFL content, comedy central is on one of them, Pluto has I think every news network around (even the stupid ones). Nice that my android tv lets me tap either as a source for the “local channels” source.

    So folks who haven’t looked at them lately, look again. No DVR or any of that, but if you just want a range of news, movies and tv shows…the offerings are quite good if you don’t mind linear tv and a few commercials.

  14. I have been a TiVo customer forever and I too have been frustrated by the changes in TiVo’s policies and general attitude. Recently I cut the cord, so had to do some modifications to my equipment. Currently we have 3 TiVo DVRs, 2 Bolts, 1 Edge, all in one room connected to the outdoor OTA antenna and to my wired home network, and the there are Tivo Mini’s behind each TV. The Tivos feed the OTA channels to all the TVs and of course the TiVo apps are all available that way as well. I added Rokus at the 2 most often used TVs and even got a Tivo Stream 4k (which I actually like, notwithstanding the criticisms). I was excited by the potential of Tablo, got a Tablo 2 Tuner-LITE which sits on the same rack as the Tivo DVRs, connected to the antenna and the wired network and do use it regularly through the rokus, and the Tablo apps that are native to the smart tvs. It works as it is supposed to, but is nowhere near as fast as the TiVos when changing channels, searching, etc. We used to have all the cable channels come through the TiVos, now we have no cable so have to go outside the TiVo DVR/Mini system for HBOMax (which is gorgeous on the Tivo Stream) and the other streaming apps mot supported by TiVo,. The network etc. channels that come OTA work as well and as fast now through the OTA TiVos as when we had cable. Also, the streaming apps load MUCH faster through the Rokus, the Tivo Stream and the native apps than they do through the Tivo DVR / Mini setup. I do wonder whether TiVo really intends to replace the Mini product with something comparable, upgrade the Stream4K to access recordings and OTA broadcasts on the DVRs, since if did, that would probably replace the need for the Minis.

    Bottom line is that I really hope that Tablo significantly upgrades its hardware and software, particularly as TiVo seems to be losing steam. Meantime, while I’m glad the option exists, and while I will likely upgrade the storage (right now there is a 1GB drive attached), right now the TiVo experience is still much better for OTA TV.

  15. I am a 5-year+ Tivo user with a network of 5 minis attached to a Roamio. When I added a new mini-vox, my Tivo network crashed and I have spent 30 hours attempting to recover. Tivo support is absolutely unhelpful, as they read thru canned scripts of endless network tests and device restarts. All 6 devices connect successfully to the Tivo service, but none will connect to the DVR. Their diagnostics report ‘something is wrong with your account’ but they are unable to fix it. When a change is made in the on-line account, it takes 2-3 DAYS to update. I installed a new BOLT dvr yesterday, and its authorization is still pending. As a long-time tech user, I do not believe Tivo will survive more than another year in the face of competition from Tablo, Amazon, and others.

  16. You are probably right. I have been a Tivo user for probably 15 years going way back to Comcast-supported Tivos. Currently we have three DVRs (2 Bolts and 1 Edge) all hooked up in my network center to an OTA antenna. Then there are minis all over the house, connected to each of the TVs, that can access any of the DVRs. This gives us LOTS of tuners and recording capacity. But I run into the craziest issues, and I agree that for t he most part TIVO support is frustrating. There are times they help, but it can take far too long. Adding new remotes via RF is always a nightmare – I just got two of the VOX Lux remotes (they are terrific BTW), after HOURS got them working on the box I bought them for, then a month or more later, they stopped working as RF, I had to go through it all over again, this time the Tivo support person told me it was not possible to connect both (although the instructions plainly say otherwise…. I also have a Tablo that I have been experimenting with, really don’t like the interface as much as Tivo, but it seems to be problem free…..

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