For Nuvyyo, its Tablo devices have always represented an alternative to expensive cable packages, and the concept has always been an easy sell. Get free over-the-air TV channels and either watch them live or record them for later viewing. Simply stream them on compatible devices, and you have tons of content that doesn’t come with a hefty monthly bill.
The new Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR is connected to the scheme, yet differs in performance, mainly by restricting where you can actually put it. Unlike other Tablo units, this box must be plugged into the TV. Everyone can appreciate the direct approach, but does it hold true for your cable TV freedom?
There isn’t much to see when unboxing the Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR. The new remote control stands out – a first for Nuvyo. Apart from this, there is a set-top box with power adapter, HDMI cable, Ethernet cable and quick-start guide.
The Tablo Dual HDMI is similar in size and weight to Nuvyo’s other products, but there are two major functional differences that we’ll get to later. There is an IR receiver in the front and an HDMI port in the back. For anyone familiar with Nuvyyo’s products, setting up the Tablo Dual HDMI isn’t all that different. Once you’ve made all the connections in the back, all you have to do is go to the corresponding HDMI input on your TV and follow the opposite prompts to access an app on a mobile device.
You still need to connect the Dual HDMI to your home Internet connection via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, which then enables downloading and installing the latest firmware.
Once it’s done, just scan for channels and let it populate the main screen with all the shows that TV Guide shows are scheduled to air. Since the unit itself has no onboard storage, it requires an external drive to store all recorded shows. Any drive will do, except Tablo, formats it to work with the box, completely erasing anything on it. Just don’t use USB sticks, as they are not officially supported.
Those details aren’t new, except that we’ve noticed a few other nuances that are very important when looking at potential setups. For starters, a direct HDMI connection means that your TV is already close to the most optimal location for the antenna to pull in channels. We already had an antenna attached to the TV, so it was easy to remove and connect it to Dual HDMI.
It made us notice something else. Assuming that the antenna has a signal booster powered via USB, you may run into a problem where there isn’t enough idling. For example, the USB port on the Dual HDMI is purely for external storage and isn’t a power source, so we had to use it on the TV itself. The cable for our Mohu antenna is forked into coaxial and USB extensions, but they each have to be plugged into separate devices – coaxial in the Tablo unit, USB in the TV. For a wall-mounted TV, it made for an awkward setup because of how short the cable was. We tried using a USB extender cable to make up the difference, only then the booster lost power.
There’s another potential problem: If you have something like a Chromecast, Roku, or Fire Stick that’s already occupied by the TV’s USB port for power, you’ll need to split it up and adjust the antenna’s booster. Will need to get a hub. If your antenna doesn’t have a booster or plug into a power outlet, you’re good. But if it does, this kind of connectivity traffic jam may be something you need to work around.
Support and Features
Despite the connectivity gap, Nuvyyo’s support is pretty much intact, except for one major omission. Apps for Apple TV, Fire TV, Android TV, Roku, Chromecast and Nvidia Shield still exist. The interface and layout have changed over time, but we found the navigation to be largely the same.
The main initial difference was going through the interface on the TV with a dedicated remote. It’s not overly fancy, but gets the job done, allowing you to play/pause recorded shows, mute or control volume, and even flick channels up and down. To anyone who used to watch TV with a clicker, this will sound quite familiar.
There is no remote access of any kind.
Now, given that this is a new opportunity for Nuvyyo, there are some sacrifices along the way, like the inability to stream on Nuvyyo’s mobile or web apps. While it works with the TV and streaming device apps we mentioned earlier, we missed out on the ability to stream to mobile devices. There is no remote access of any kind. You can’t stream anything you record while away from home, and that’s because it’s considered a “TV-connected Tablo DVR,” which isn’t compatible with the Tablo Connect, a remote access feature. is.
It all removes streaming at home, which Nuvyo says is the intent behind dual HDMI. However, its direct TV connection actually restricted some of the platform’s openness.
This takes us to the memberships included here. Nuvyyo offers 30-day trials for both its TV Guide and Tablo Premium services, and treats them separately when you start paying for them. The TV Guide portion starts at $5 per month, $50 per year, or $150 for a lifetime, and gives you artwork, metadata, show filtering, a more diverse menu, and 14 days of guide data. With it, you can watch movies, shows and sports separately kept for easy searching. Without it, everything goes awry, and you may only see 24 hours’ worth of guide data.
Refers to the automatic commercial skip feature for premium recorded shows. As its title suggests, Tablo Dual HDMI cuts out all commercials during a recorded broadcast, giving you the same commercial-free viewing experience as any other paid streaming app. For that, you’re looking at another $2 per month or $20 per year.
The Devil is in the details, as we mentioned, but as far as actually watching and recording shows over Dual HDMI, we have little to complain about. With dual ATSC tuners, we can watch one show while recording another, watch two shows on two devices, or record two at once. This has been a prominent feature on Tablo devices for years, and there are quad-tuner models capable of doing this with up to four programs simultaneously.
Of the two subscriptions, TV Guide is the more impressive. Looking at two weeks’ worth of guide data makes a big difference, so you can already set up recordings for shows or movies. The cover art also adds a distinctive streaming media platform look to the layout, making navigation easier. Nuvo is almost ready to present you with just how barren the software looks when the informational elements are reduced without a subscription. You can still watch and record shows that way, much less fun.
Skipping ads is great too, but if you’re patient enough you at least have recourse. Let’s say you opted not to subscribe to that feature and a recorded show has all the ads: You can use the remote to manually fast-forward through the ads if you’re so inclined. Huh. Overall, the ads pile up on your hard drive (let’s say there’s about 12 to 16 minutes of them for an hour-long drama or reality show), but we think you’ll be worth the extra money if you can deal with it. Would like to avoid spending. Noise
Video quality is good, though it’s limited to 1080p. You also get passthrough for 5.1 surround sound, but we didn’t see Dolby Atmos included. Still, encoding was seamless, and we had no problems watching it on a TV with a Sonos surround setup.
The irony of this device is that it’s familiar enough to previous Tablo owners, even without the mobile and remote streaming features we’d argue sets the others apart. Forget cooing in bed with a tablet to catch up on a show. Away from home, this unit is essentially out of reach, so it quickly became clear to us that it’s aimed at users who are more comfortable parked at home on the couch (not that it’s recently I’ve been having a problem) and consume their shows within their walls.
Nuvyyo offers a full one-year manufacturer warranty for Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR repair or replacement. Buy it directly from Nuvyyo’s website, and you have 30 days to return it after purchase, though you’re on the hook for shipping costs. Buy it through a retailer, and their return policy is preferred.
At $150, the Tablo Dual HDMI is on par with Nuvyo’s other devices, but it’s not the upfront price that matters, it’s the helpful features that decide what the experience will be like. It is very clear what this unit was made for, as well as what type of setup is required. The company eventually overcome the lack of direct-to-TV connectivity, yet withdrew some other key features to do so.
Is there a better option?
For streaming, of course. Tablo Dual 128GB Lets you place it wherever the signal is optimal, and includes some decent internal storage to start with. It’s the same price, or sometimes cheaper, than dual HDMI. If you want to go with four tuners and rack up on storage, Tablo Quad 1TB Over-the-Air The unit is $240, and doesn’t even connect directly to the TV. Both of these give you mobile streaming and remote access.
There are other excellent OTA receivers starting with the TiVo Edge for antenna for direct TV connection with the remote, or the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Connect 4K for preparation for ATSC 3.0 OTA broadcasts. The latter of the two is more technical in setup, and may not be for you if you want to keep things simple.
How long will it last?
As long as the network broadcasts over-the-air channels, there’s nothing to stop the Tablo Dual HDMI from doing its job. Since there is no internal storage, you may need to replace or overwrite your connected drives, but this is just basic maintenance.