The Tablo is a nifty little item that lets you play over-the-air (OTA) HDTV signals on your tablet, smartphone, PC or TV. Combined with a hard drive, it’s a DVR. And it slings.
It’s hard to discuss any OTA broadcast TV product without invoking Aereo. Aereo has a cloud-based approach to delivering TV – it sets up arrays of antennas and then provides network storage. Customers pay a fee to essentially rent an antenna and storage space. As of this writing, the Supreme Court has yet to decide its legality.
Tablo avoids Aereo’s alleged legal problem entirely. You buy it; you own it – so the legal questions that dog Aereo don’t come in to play.
Tablo works precisely as advertised. My tablet is now a TV with DVR functionality and Sling-like capability.
The Tablo box is roughly the size of a hardcover book, black with an obligatory blue LED for decoration (which can be turned off). You download an associated app to your device.
You attach an HDTV antenna and a USB hard drive, hook the whole thing up to your router (via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) and then scan for available channels. The set-up is simple and takes a few minutes.
You get video in whatever the broadcast quality is, as broadcast stations may use their spectrum for more than one signal. Stations in my market broadcast in 1080i, 720p and 480i. Tablo-delivered video is as clear as the format in which it comes gets.
The app syncs your viewing device to your Tablo unit. There’s a setting to set — easy as pie — and then you can take your device anywhere, connect to the Internet and you have access to your Tablo, including everything you’ve got stored on your disk drive. Connecting was simple and quick enough for anyone except those who need everything to be absolutely instantaneous.