Tablo Blog

Tablo FAQs – Should I Buy a 2-Tuner or 4-Tuner OTA DVR?

If you’re considering making a Tablo Over-the-Air DVR part of your cord-cutting arsenal, the only real decision you’ll need to make before you buy is whether to choose a model with two OTA TV tuners or four.

(But what about storage, you may ask? Since all Tablo DVRs offer expandable storage, and this is more of a personal preference it shouldn’t be your primary decision-making factor.)

To determine the number of TV tuners you’ll need before you buy, you must consider:

  • The number of channels you receive with your OTA TV antenna
  • The number of your favorite TV shows that air during the same time slot 
  • The number of devices on which you want to watch TV at the same time
  • The number and varying tastes of people enjoying Tablo content in your household

Keep reading to find out how many tuners you will need for the best OTA DVR experience.


What Are Tuners and How Do They Work?

Tuners are hardware that take the Over-the-Air TV signals coming in from your antenna and turns them into video.

Like all OTA DVRs, Tablo divides the signal from your antenna between either two or four tuners depending on the model. The additional tuners allow your Tablo DVR to decode video from more than one OTA TV channel at the same time, unlike your television which only includes a single tuner.

(Check out our product comparison chart.)

It’s worth noting that despite the in-line amplifier contained in every Tablo OTA DVR, dividing the signal between multiple tuners can reduce your overall signal strength. If you have marginal reception on some of your channels, you may wish to improve your antenna reception before you purchase an OTA DVR. 


Why Extra Tuners Come in Handy

tablo dvr lineup

Although it might be tempting to save some cash and immediately go for a dual-tuner Tablo DVR, we've heard time and time again from customers that those extra two tuners come in handy more often than they thought!

So, considering it can do twice the work for less than twice the price, don’t rule out the Tablo QUAD or Tablo QUAD 1TB before you consider the following things…

With a 4-Tuner Tablo OTA DVR you can:

Watch More & Record More Simultaneously

A tuner is required for each live TV or recording stream. A dual-tuner Tablo will let you watch live TV from two different channels at once or record two different channels at once. With a 4-Tuner you can watch or record up to four different TV channels simultaneously.

As broadcasters increasingly schedule the most popular TV shows in competing timeslots – like Thursdays at 8 p.m. – the more likely you’ll create recording conflicts with a dual-tuner device.

Those who are lucky enough to receive a lot of channels via an Over-the-Air TV antenna may also have to make tough decisions about which favorite show or sporting event gets recorded or not, based on how many tuners are available.

If you attempt to view more concurrent Live TV streams than you have tuners available, your Tablo app will show a 'No Tuner Available' error message. If you attempt to schedule more concurrent recordings than you have tuners available, your Tablo app will show a red conflict flag. If you wish to record the airing with the conflict, you must unschedule one of the competing airings in the same time slot.

Worth noting – Watching a previously recorded show does NOT require a tuner, unless you’re away from your Tablo’s home network. More on that below.


Watch on More Devices

One of the great things about a networked DVR like Tablo is that you can watch TV on a wide variety of supported devices, instead of a single connected television.

That means with a dual-tuner Tablo DVR you can watch the game live in the family room, while someone else watches the latest episode of their favorite sitcom upstairs. With a 4-Tuner Tablo, you can watch the game and the sitcom live, while recording two other shows.

Avoid Conflict

If you have a big household – especially if your family includes teenagers or grandparents - you’ll want a 4-Tuner Tablo DVR. Overlapping schedules, viewing habits and conflicting interests make it more likely you’ll need more than two concurrent live TV streams or recordings to keep the gang happy and entertained.


Enjoy Fast Forward Previews Sooner

One of the Tablo DVR’s most-loved features is the fast forward preview thumbnails available on completed recordings. Fast-forward previews make it easy to see where commercials start and stop so you can skip them in a snap.

However, creating those thumbnails requires an available tuner at the end of the recording, so although recordings are processed one at a time, having an extra tuner available for processing will come in handy to those who are impatient.


Watch Local TV Away from Home

The other advantage of a network-based DVR like Tablo is that you can watch live TV or recordings from your hometown anywhere in the world using Tablo Connect.

Unlike viewing on your Tablo’s home network, viewing previously completed recordings DOES require a tuner unless your remote streaming quality is set to ‘full’, so having a few extra tuners to record while streaming remotely can come in handy for snowbirds and business travelers alike.


Tuner Math Recap
Here’s a quick recap of all of the things your Tablo DVR needs a tuner for:

And a caveat… For 4-Tuner Tablo DVRs ONLY when using the highest recording quality (HD 1080, 720 @ 60fps) Tablo’s fourth tuner will be temporarily disabled if any 720p stations are currently being watched or recorded at 60 fps. This is due to the high processing requirements of this setting. You can read more about that on our Knowledge Base.


TLDR: If you love primetime shows, have a sports fan in the household, have a large household, or if you can receive more than 30 channels using a TV antenna, you should seriously consider the Tablo QUAD OTA DVR, or you might wind up singing the ‘lack of tuners’ blues.


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