For cord cutters, the Supreme Court's recent decision to squash streaming service Aereo is a blow — and an opportunity.
Other tech firms are seeing the defeat as a chance to educate consumers about legal ways to watch and record local, over-the-air TV broadcasts.
Another player hoping to build on Aereo's momentum is Tablo, an app-based system for watching local TV at home and on the go. You buy Tablo's set-top box ($219.99) and a location-based programming guide (one-month free trial, then $4.99 per month, $49.99 annually or $149.99 lifetime), then connect your antenna and an external USB 2.0 or 3.0 hard drive.
Tablo recently announced availability of a new four-tuner DVR ($299.99). Having additional tuners lets people in the home watch or record four different channels simultaneously.
The goal with Tablo was to offer a convenient and cost-effective way to watch and record local broadcasts, says Grant Hall, CEO of Nuvyyo, which makes Tablo. "Aereo has really been great for us in increasing awareness on free, over-the-air HDTV," he says. "Most people just don't realize that those days of ghosty pictures and rabbit ears and bad TV that fades in and out are gone. With HDTV, now you've got a stunning quality picture."
Setting up the two-tuner DVR couldn't have been easier. I connected it to the antenna in the upper floor of my home, then downloaded the Tablo app for iPad (there are also apps for Android, Web viewing and Roku). I linked Tablo to my home Wi-Fi network and also formatted a 1-terabyte external hard drive — you can find name-brand drives of 500 gigabytes for $40 — and started surfing.
"We thought, why couldn't we bring a more Netflix-style or modern Internet-style interface to broadcast and network TV?" Hall says. "We wanted to make it a joy to use rather than a pain, like it is with the remote today."
Not everyone is going to want to watch only on tablets or computers, and Tablo can connect to your TV in several ways, including Apple TV using AirPlay from an iPad, as well as using Google's Chromecast. I connected by adding a Tablo channel to my Roku device.
Overall, Tablo is slick and easy to use — another impressive option in the cord-cutting toolbox.