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Best Streaming Devices to Use with Tablo OTA DVRs in 2019

Tablo Streaming Apps

A slate of new streaming TV players have launched this fall, just in time for the peak pre-holiday buying season. Which Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV devices and sticks are compatible with Tablo OTA DVRs? Which streaming platforms are best for your TV viewing needs today? Which are worth the upgrade if you already have a streaming box, stick, or Smart TV?

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tablo compatible streaming devices 2019

Which streaming devices and sticks are compatible with Tablo OTA DVR?

#1 Roku Streaming Players:

tablo roku 2019

Over half of Tablo DVR customers use Roku as their primary streaming platform.

Why? They make simple and affordable streaming devices and support the widest variety of TV streaming apps.

  • Notable Updates
    • The new low-end Roku Express got a slight redesign and uses power more efficiently.
    • The new Roku Ultra is faster and has more memory, as well as a remote with mute and user-programmable quick launch buttons.
    • The new Roku Ultra LT — which is a US Walmart exclusive — is basically the same Ultra Roku has been selling since 2016, but minus the newest, fanciest remote and the handy remote finder feature.
  • Things to Keep in Mind
    • Roku Ultras are the lowest-priced streaming devices with onboard ethernet connections.
    • The Roku Express+ has mostly been discontinued, so there are no new options for cord cutters wanting to add streaming capabilities to older TVs without HDMI inputs.
  • Tablo Compatibility
    • All current-generation Roku streaming boxes and sticks (running Roku OS 9.0+) are compatible with Tablo OTA DVRs.
    • If your Roku was introduced more than 4 years ago, it’s time for an upgrade.
  • Roku Devices We Recommend
    • TOP PICKRoku Ultra (2019)
      The new programmable quick-launch buttons are super-convenient and the performance boost should ensure it will stay speedy for many years.
    • NEXT BESTRoku Ultra LT
      Still a great choice, but only if you really can’t afford the extra $20 for our top pick.
    • BUDGET PICKRoku Streaming Stick+
      It doesn’t have the speed or the bells and whistles of the higher-priced options, but it has power and volume buttons for your TV and better WiFi than the low-end Rokus.


#2 Amazon Fire TV Streaming Devices:

tablo amazon fire tv 2019

Amazon Fire TV is the next most popular streaming platform with Tablo DVR users and cord cutters in general. Like most Amazon hardware, the pricing is excellent and the devices are solid.

  • Notable Updates
  • Things to Keep in Mind
    • Fire TV’s interface is designed to promote Amazon-owned content.
    • Amazon Fire TV products don’t offer onboard Ethernet connectivity, but the Cube does ship with an optional ethernet adapter.
  • Tablo Compatibility
  • Amazon Fire TV Devices We Recommend
    • TOP PICKAmazon Fire TV Cube (2nd generation)
      The performance boost and optional Ethernet dongle will ensure it will stay speedy for many years.
    • NEXT BESTAmazon Fire TV 4K stick
      The stick isn’t quite as fast as the latest Fire TV Cube, but it’s a great option for secondary TVs or for those on a budget.
    • BUDGET PICKAmazon Fire TV Stick (2nd generation)
      You can still purchase the 2016 model Fire TV stick which has been updated with a newer remote control, but unless you’re able find it for 50% off and it’s for a secondary TV, we’d suggest a newer model.


#3 Apple TV Streaming Devices:

tablo apple tv 2019

While it’s not as popular as Roku or Amazon Fire TV, Apple devotees may want to pay a premium price for Apple TV hardware.

  • Notable Updates
    • Apple hasn’t released any new hardware in 2019 but has made some interface improvements via operating system updates and the Apple TV ‘App’.
  • Things to Keep in Mind
    • While Apple’s hardware is quite fast, its touch-based remote does not get high marks from cord cutters.
  • Tablo Compatibility
  • Apple TV Devices We Recommend
    • TOP PICKApple TV 4K
      Since the hardware hasn’t been updated this year, we recommend getting the latest version. Unless you routinely use many apps, the 32GB model should provide enough storage.
    • NEXT BESTApple TV HD
      If you really can’t spare an extra $30, the Apple TV HD will still work well for the average cord cutter.
      Despite repeated rumors of Apple working on a lower-cost ‘stick style’ device, it has yet to materialize. This isn’t the platform for penny pinchers.


#4 Android TV Streaming Devices:

tablo android tv 2019

Android TV has so much going for it… It’s a powerful and open platform with a devoted following on mobile devices. However, it has never been able to match the popularity of its competitors.

  • Notable Updates
  • Things to Keep in Mind
  • Tablo Compatibility
    • All versions of the NVIDIA SHIELD are compatible with Tablo hardware DVRs.
    • While the 1st generation Xiaomi MiBox and the Google Nexus Player may still work with the Tablo app, we do not fully test these older devices for compatibility.
  • Android TV Devices We Recommend
      The latest SHIELD PRO box should be 25% faster thanks to an updated processor. Multiple ports make for a super flexible cord cutting platform, worth the premium price.
      Though it’s not the latest, the 2017 SHIELD is still very powerful. Don’t need extra USB ports for things like storage or external tuners? Grab the 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD ‘stick’ since its excellent specs should give it twice the lifetime of the average streaming stick.
    • BUDGET PICKXiaomi MiBox S
      While you may not have heard of Xiaomi, they’re a popular cell phone manufacturer based in China. The MiBox is one of the few lower-cost Android TV streaming devices that has both Google and Netflix certification.


When Should I Upgrade?

If your current streaming TV player is more than 5 years old and especially if it wasn’t top-of-the-line then, now is a great time to upgrade.

As apps get more complex and power-hungry, cord cutters can experience sluggish menu navigation at best, or at worst some app features being disabled when using older devices with lower memory, slower processors and slower WiFi connectivity.

NOTE – Some apps no longer support the 1st generation Fire TV stick or box and Roku is discontinuing app and firmware updates for ‘legacy model’ devices primarily manufactured before 2011.


Smart TV vs. Streaming Stick or Box: 

smart tv vs streaming device

While it can be handy to have a television with a streaming platform built-in, not all Smart TV platforms are created equally.

No matter who manufactures the television, Smart TVs built on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Android TV platforms should behave almost identically to their stand-alone streaming device cousins. (At least until the ‘smarts’ start to age.)

Samsung, LG and Vizio Smart TVs all have their own non-standard app stores. This can result in spotty app support and sometimes a poorer in-app experience than you’d enjoy with a stand-alone or more mainstream dedicated streaming platform.

If your Smart TV has a non-standard app store, or is more than 5 years old, you may wish to connect one of the streaming devices recommended above for a better cord cutting experience.


What About Chromecast or AirPlay?

airplay or chromecast

While Tablo does support casting from our Android mobile and web-based apps to a Chromecast dongle and AirPlay from iOS mobile devices to AirPlay-supported devices it’s not a setup that we recommend.

Why? While Chromecast and AirPlay are great for sharing photos or a casting a quick YouTube video to your television, a dedicated streaming device will be far superior as a ‘primary’ solution.

Not only is using your smartphone as a remote cumbersome, but it can drain your battery and is definitely not advisable for those with small children.


Have a question about a streaming media device or its compatibility with your Tablo OTA DVR that isn’t covered here?

Reach out to us via Facebook or Twitter, or check out some of the related posts below:

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How to restart your phone/tablet

Sometimes, just restarting your smartphone or tablet can clear up issues with apps. The links below will provide detailed instructions on how to force close your Tablo app. 

Apple iPhone

Android smartphones 

Most Android smartphones and tablets can be restarted by holding the POWER button and then selecting RESTART or POWER OFF and RESTART from the POWER OPTIONS menu.

NOTE: Newer Samsung devices require you to hold the POWER/SIDE button and VOLUME DOWN to make the POWER OPTIONS menu appear. On the Google Pixel 6, hold the POWER and VOLUME UP buttons.

How to force close your Tablo app?

Sometimes, just restarting the app can fix things. The links below will provide detailed instructions on how to force close your Tablo app. 

Apple iPhone/iPad

Android smartphones/tablets 

Need help with the final steps?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.  Follow the steps in the video below for a full walkthrough of the remaining parts of the Tablo setup process.

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