While at CES this year we caught up with the folks from Tablo. We’ve covered Tablo since first meeting them at CES a few years ago. Their primary product is a headless over-the-air (OTA) DVR. You plug an antenna and a hard drive into their box, and it serves up guide data and the ability to watch and record local channels through the company’s many apps.
This year Tablo is announcing three new products. The first is Tablo DROID. It is a new app that works on Android TV boxes. It should work on many Android TV devices, but initially they are supporting the NVIDIA SHIELD TV. With Tablo DROID you use the Android TV box as the DVR. You don’t need to purchase a separate DVR from Tablo. You will need an OTA tuner though. Tablo will be selling their own, called the Tablo TUNER, or you can use Hauppauge’s WinTV-dual HD USB tuner. The new app, and presumably the tuner, will be available in Q2 of 2017. It will include a free 30-day trial of the Tablo service. Once the trial is over you’ll be able to continue to use the app. You’ll be limited to manual recordings and live TV only if you don’t continue to pay for the service.
Tablo had another hardware device to announce at CES. The new product is called Tablo LIVE. It’s about the size of a typical USB OTA tuner, but it has Wi-Fi inside. You can place this stick wherever your OTA antenna is situated, and then use Tablo’s apps to stream live TV straight from the device. The idea is that often your television isn’t positioned near the optimal antenna location in your home. With Tablo LIVE you can put the antenna and tuner anywhere that you have a decent Wi-Fi connection. You’ll be able to watch the live feed using Tablo’s apps.
Tablo LIVE is a single tuner device. As the name implies, it only provides live TV streaming. You can use it completely independent of Tablo’s DVR services. It will provide 24 hours of guide data, and there won’t be any subscription fees to pay. It should be available in Q2 for $99.
In a slightly more confusing announcement, Tablo also discussed a new proof-of-concept service they are working on called Tablo CLOUD DVR storage. Remember how we just said that the Tablo LIVE doesn’t support recording TV? Well, if Tablo CLOUD DVR makes it to market, it could. The cloud DVR will support recording directly from the Tablo LIVE to the cloud. Then you’d have access to all of your recordings from anywhere by using Tablo’s apps.
If CLOUD DVR launches it will need to compress your recordings as OTA feeds regularly use bitrates as high as 20 Mbps. The service would also, of course, carry with it a monthly subscription fee. None of those details have been announced yet. Look for that later this year.