My recommendation for a “whole home” broadcast TV recording solution is the Tablo line of DVRs.
What is Tablo?
Tablo is a small black box, kind of like an oversized Roku, that you plug your antenna into. The Tablo Dual Lite requires a external USB hard drive (which you have to supply) to store your recordings (unless you use their cloud recording feature, which will have a fee so I didn’t review it). The regular Tablo Dual has 64GB of internal storage, so no external drive is necessary.
Tablo connects to your home Wi-Fi or wired network. If you have Internet access, you probably have a home network, and if you have Wi-Fi, you definitely do. Tablo transmits live TV and your recordings to other devices on the network such as computers, tablets, smartphones, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, and now, Xbox. With one Tablo, you can play live TV and your recordings back on any of these devices. Thus, you can use one Tablo to watch recordings on all of your Internet-connected TVs and devices.
Which Version Should You Get and Why?
The specific model I would recommend (and the one I test in this article) is the Tablo Dual Lite for $140. This is the lowest-cost Tablo model, but it requires an external USB hard drive sold separately. These are not hard to come by; you can purchase one at almost any computer/electronics store, or you might already have an old USB hard drive lying around (as I did).
If you want to get up and running without an external hard drive, there is a cloud recording option, but that has a fee, so I wouldn’t use that personally.
Or, you can get the regular Tablo Dual (without the “Lite”) for $170. This has 64GB of internal storage (approximately 40 hours of HD recording, according to the manufacturer). That might sound like a lot, but power users can easily exceed this, which is why I recommend the Lite version. You can also attach a hard drive to the regular version though.
The most obvious benefit is that you can make and play back recordings on any TV in your home that is attached to one of the compatible set-top boxes. It’s a whole-home recording solution!
But, I was surprised to find that I also enjoyed watching TV in my computer’s browser and on my iPad. That was something I did not expect! In effect, it turned my computer screen into another TV. This could be great if you have people fighting over TVs in your home. Very cool!
Another benefit is that if you have multiple TVs, you only need one antenna with Tablo, and you don’t need to buy separate antennas or run coax cable all throughout your house to get broadcast TV. Tablo does it all wirelessly with one antenna!
Finally, you can put your Tablo and your antenna anywhere in your home, as long as it’s in Wi-Fi range. It doesn’t have to be next to your TV. You can put it in your attic, where it can get better reception, or in a closet, just as long as the antenna is somewhere with a good line-of-site to the stations.