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Best Streaming Devices to Use with Tablo OTA DVRs in 2020

Over the last two weeks, a flurry of new streaming TV players have been announced.

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 cord cutting needs today?

Which are worth the upgrade if you already have a streaming box, stick, or Smart TV?

tablo compatible streaming devices 2020

Keep reading to find out…

 

Roku Streaming Players

tablo roku 2020

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

Why? They make simple and affordable streaming devices and support a wide variety of TV streaming apps.

  • Notable Updates
    • The new Roku Ultra is faster and has 50% better WiFi range for buffer-free streaming.
    • The new Roku Streambar has a smaller form factor than its predecessor and combines streaming tech with speakers for improved sound.

  • Things to Keep in Mind
    • Roku Ultras are the lowest-priced streaming devices with onboard ethernet connections.
    • Canadians should choose a different platform as the Roku Ultra is not available and the platform generally has fewer Canadian apps than competitors.

  • Tablo Compatibility
    • All current-generation Roku streaming boxes, sticks, and soundbar combos (running Roku OS 9.2+) are compatible with Tablo OTA DVRs.
    • If you have a 'numbered Roku' (i.e. Roku 1, 2, 3, or 4) or an even older model, it’s time for an upgrade.

  • Roku Devices We Recommend
    • TOP PICKRoku Ultra (2020)
      Improved WiFi, faster processors, and programmable quick-launch buttons make this your best bet.
    • 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.
    • WILDCARD PICK — Roku Streambar (2020)
      If you also want to improve your audio experience when you stream TV, this combo soundbar and streaming box could be worth the investment.  

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Amazon Fire TV Streaming Devices

tablo amazon fire tv 2020

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 but will be changing in the coming months to something more personalizable. 
    • Amazon Fire TV products don’t offer onboard Ethernet connectivity, but the Cube does ship with an optional ethernet adapter that can also be purchased separately and used with other Fire TV products.

  • Tablo Compatibility
    • All current Amazon Fire TV streaming boxes and sticks are compatible with Tablo OTA DVRs.
    • If you’re using a 1st generation Fire TV stick or box, it’s time for an upgrade.

  • 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 (3rd generation)
      The 2020 model Fire TV stick doesn't support 4K but has an updated processor as well as TV and volume controls. Those extra buttons are worth it, so choose this version over the LITE. 

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Apple TV Streaming Devices

tablo apple tv 2020

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 2020 but there are rumors that an update could be coming in early 2021.

  • 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.
    • BUDGET PICK – N/A
      This isn’t the platform for penny pinchers.

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Android TV Streaming Devices

tablo android tv 2020

2020 might be the year Android TV gains enough popularity with cord cutters to surpass Apple. 

  • Notable Updates
    • The brand new Chromecast with Google TV is already popular thanks to its low price, slick new interface, and capable hardware.
    • NVIDIA hasn't updated its SHIELD platform in 2020 but given its advanced hardware, this isn't necessary. 

  • Things to Keep in Mind
    • 'Google TV' is just Android TV with a different look and feel, so devices like the new Chromecast will be compatible with any TV apps on the Google Play store. 
    • Avoid generic streaming boxes that run the mobile version of Android instead of the TV-based version as they'll be crippled by compatibility and usability issues.

  • Tablo Compatibility
    • All versions of the NVIDIA SHIELD and the new Chromecast with Google TV are compatible with Tablo hardware DVRs. 
    • While the 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
    • TOP PICKNVIDIA SHIELD TV PRO (2019)
      The SHIELD PRO box is the most powerful and flexible streaming device on the market today which makes it worth the premium price.
    • NEXT BEST (TIED)NVIDIA SHIELD TV ‘stick’ (2019)
      Don't need extra USB ports for things like storage? Grab the 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD ‘stick’ which is the only streamer of this form factor with built-in Ethernet connectivity. Its excellent specs should give it twice the lifetime of the average streaming stick.  
    • NEXT BEST (TIED)/BUDGET PICKChromecast with Google TV 
      Unlike previous Chromecasts, Chromecast with Google TV is a true streaming device with its own remote, capable of running Android TV apps. A fraction of the price of an NVIDIA SHIELD, it's a great alternative for those seeking a more affordable yet capable choice.  

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When Should I Upgrade?

time to upgrade

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

As apps get more complex and power-hungry, cord cutters can experience sluggish menu navigation, disabled app features, or even a complete lack of compatibility when using older devices with lower memory, slower processors, and slower WiFi connectivity.

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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.

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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 (not to be confused with the new Chromecast with Google TV), 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 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 sticky-fingered toddlers.

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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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