An increasing number of households are using tablets as second TVs. Nuvyyo’s Tablo is a digital video recorder for tablets. And rather than depending on cable subscriptions, this combination of hardware and software works with over-the-air broadcasts, making it a good option for cord cutters.
Build and Design
Most of us have a collection of accessories clustered around our TVs, so it’s a good thing that Nuvyyo made the Tablo a small, black box that doesn’t take up much room. On the other hand, it doesn’t have any internal storage, so an external hard drive will have to be added.
Not every hard drive will do. In order to stream high-definition broadcasts, a high-speed drive is required. There’s a list of compatible ones on Nuvyyo’s website.
The hardware needs to be attached to an antenna to pick up HDTV broadcasts. The better the antenna, the more TV channels will be captured.
The Tablo receiver can’t be hooked directly to a regular TV because it was designed specifically for tablets. However, those who want to stream video to a TV can do so with another device like a Roku box or Chromecast.
A web interface can be used to access a Tablo with a smartphone or PC – there isn’t a smartphone or Windows 8 app yet.
This accessory supports Wi-Fi, so it’s doesn’t need to be hooked directly to a wireless router. However, those who prefer can connect it to an Ethernet network.
Setting up the Tablo is relatively simple and straightforward. Connect the receiver to the network and an antenna, plug in the hard drive, install the appropriate app, launch it, scan for available TV channels, and you’re all set.
This process can only be done when the tablet is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Tablo receiver. And once a tablet, phone, or PC has connected to the receiver, it can then be re-connected from anywhere in the world. At this time, there’s no way to secure the connection, so any device on your Wi-Fi network can connect, and continue connecting at any time from then on.
There are Tablo apps for iPad and Android tablets. These are the primary methods of setting up and controlling the hardware.
The app shows a list of currently playing and upcoming shows. Users can tap on a program name to get a description or begin streaming it.
The Tablo can be set to stream video at a low resolution that uses just 500kbps,but it can be increased in increments all way to full HD. The lower resolutions work well over 4G LTE connections, and the highest ones run at over 4 Mbps, requiring Wi-Fi and a broadband connection.
In the higher resolutions, video looks great running on a tablet – we tested this service on an Apple iPad Air, and shows appeared as they would on a small HDTV. The lower resolutions are similar to watching an SDTV.
Finding and recording programs on Tablo are fairly easy. They can be set from the grid of upcoming shows, of course, but the app also has a list of prime-time programs for the next two weeks, as well as separate listings of all TV shows, upcoming movies, and sporting events. These lists are well-designed and easy to use.
Individual programs can be recorded, or whole series. Like other DVRs, users can set Tablo to only record new entries in a series. It can be programmed to not record duplicate episodes, and even to automatically erase old episodes to make more room in storage.
There are two versions of the Tablo receiver available. A model that can record two simultaneous programs is $219.99, while one that can record four programs at the same time is $299.99. Prices for hard drives vary by size, good antennae can be found for $20, and a Roku 3 to connect the Tablo to an HDTV is $99.99.
For comparison, a 4-channel TiVo Roamio is $199.99, and the Stream accessory required to watch programs on an iPad or Android tablet is $129.99. There’s a $14.99 TiVo monthly subscription requirement. Either an HD antenna or a cable subscription will be necessary as well.
Nuvyyo charges a subscription fee of $4.99 a month. This isn’t a requirement but, without a subscription, some of the functionality of this product is disabled; users can still play live video and watch recordings that have already been made, but only when the tablet is on the same Wi-Fi network as the Tablo. New programs can only be recorded by manually entering the time and channel.
Most of the major TV networks have apps for watching shows on tablets, but these have limitations. Most notably, almost none of them offer live streams, so there’s always a wait of between a day and a week before shows become available. In addition, these apps mostly have limited libraries, while many smaller networks don’t have apps at all.
With Tablo, everything that’s broadcast over-the-air in your area can be watched live or recorded: sporting events, movies, TV shows, kids programing, the works.
Nuvyyo designed it to be used with tablets first and foremost, so anyone looking for a DVR to primarily be used with a TV might be more satisfied with another product unless they already own a Roku box or Chromecast. That said, anyone who frequently watches TV on a tablet at home or on the road should consider a Tablo.