Nuvvyo, makers of the Tablo over-the-air DVR, are updating their quad-tuner model with better Wi-Fi, a new look, and—most surprisingly—internal hard drive support.
Tablo doesn’t connect directly to your television. Instead, it connects to your Wi-Fi network and streams video to the Tablo app on smart TVs, streaming players, game consoles, mobile devices, and computers. That way, a single antenna can provide over-the-air broadcast channels to any room in the house. The Tablo Quad can play or record up to four broadcast channels at a time.
Whereas Tablo’s previous quad-tuner DVR only supported single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, the new Tablo Quad supports 802.11ac, which allows for faster speeds on the 5GHz band of newer routers.
Like Tablo’s Dual Lite tuner, the Tablo Quad requires you to bring your own hard drive, but the Quad’s wider design can now accommodate a 2.5-inch internal SATA hard drive. Internal drives are generally cheaper than external drives, and sliding one into the Tablo Quad will make for a less cluttered setup. (The Tablo Quad still has a USB port for external storage, but you can’t use it and internal storage at the same time.)
The Tablo Quad will launch in the first quarter of this year and will cost $200. Basic viewing and recording is free, but you’ll still need a guide subscription ($5 per month, $50 per year, or $150 for life) for features like series recording, out-of-home streaming, and genre search.)
In addition to announcing new hardware, Tablo also announced an ad-skipping feature that will be covered under its subscription service.
When you complete a recording, Tablo will upload some metadata to its servers to analyze the video. About 10 minutes later, it’ll produce a version of the recording with the commercial breaks marked in yellow. Tablo will then fast forward through those breaks automatically, but you can always go back and watch them or disable ad-skipping for individual recordings. (If you’re on an internet plan with strict data caps, you may also want to disable ad-skipping altogether, as the feature uses about 100MB to 120MB of data for each hour of recorded video.)
The ad-skipping feature is headed to all Tablo networked DVRs in the first quarter. It’ll roll out to Tablo’s TV apps (such as Roku and Amazon Fire TV) first, followed by mobile devices and the web.
Other Tablo updates
During the CES trade show in Las Vegas, I asked Nuvvyo CEO Grant Hall for some updates on other Tablo products.
Hall says Tablo is working on some new software for Tablo Engine, which turns the Nvidia Shield TV streaming box into an over-the-air DVR. The software was a bit bare-bones when I reviewed it last year, so hopefully Tablo is looking to bring it more in line with Tablo’s networked tuners. Hall is hoping to have an update out in the first quarter, but the exact timing is uncertain.
Nuvyyo also hasn’t given up on the Tablo Live networked tuner that the company announced back at CES 2017. The idea was to offer a cheap, single-tuner device for viewing live broadcast channels on streaming devices, and perhaps tying in cloud DVR for the occasional recording. My guess is this device has been on the backburner as Tablo has priotized its new DVR products.
Speaking of cloud DVR, it remains available as a free beta on the Tablo Dual Lite, but Nuvyyo is still figuring out how to price it for a public launch. Tablo is using Amazon Web Services for cloud storage, which incurs costs whenever users store a program, and the costs are even greater when users decide to download and watch a program. Nuvyyo needs more data on what normal usage might look like before settling on a price.
The Tablo Dual Lite is still our top pick among over-the-air DVRs due to its easy setup, extensive recording features, and broad device support. Amazon’s Fire TV Recast is a compelling alternative that works in practically the same way, but it only streams onto Fire TV, iOS, and Android devices. Hall says it’s too early to measure any impact from Amazon invading Nuvyyo’s turf.