Nuvyyo Tablo DVR Page 2

Beyond the typical “what’s on now” grid, Tablo has far sexier presentations under tabs labeled Prime Time, TV Shows, Movies, and Sports. These sections present upcoming programs in alphabetical order using a cover-art-style display, making it easy to locate items of interest in the 14-day guide. (There’s also a handy search function that divides results by TV and movies.) Selecting a movie displays the genre, MPAA rating, and critic’s rating out of five stars. TV shows display an overview of the show and a brief synopsis of each episode, along with when it first aired.

Depending on the strength of the antenna’s reception, picture quality ranged from great to really blocky and unwatchable. Again, this had far more to do with the fringe area where I live than with any Tablo shortcomings. Distance from the broadcast towers as well as geographic obstacles (like hills and valleys) can all have an effect on OTA reception, but if you typically get good OTA reception now, your Tablo picture should look great. One cool thing: When my Dish signal went out during a massive rainstorm, the OTA signal survived, letting me continue to enjoy the PGA Players Championship. So, #winning.

I loved being able to view Tablo from anywhere in the Internet-connected world, such as my desk at work. Via the antenna, I received MeTV (channel WFXB 43-4 locally), something not available from Dish. MeTV broadcasts awesome programming like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, and Night Gallery. There are easy-to-follow instructions in Tablo to set up port-forwarding on your router to allow this access, and in order to summon your Tablo while away from home, you must have previously linked the device you will use (iPad, Android tablet, etc.) to the Tablo from your home network. Once the device has been paired, though, it automatically finds and connects to your Tablo and authenticates from wherever you are. Super simple, and it worked like a charm.

Along with your antenna’s signal strength (or the quality of the recording you’ve made) the image quality of remote streaming will be dependent on your home Internet connection’s upload data rate. You can set streaming bit rates from 64 kilobits per second to a “Full Quality” 4 megabits. Since my Time Warner upload speed is a meager 2 Mbps, I couldn’t remotely view full-quality 720p (5 Mbps) or 1080p (10 Mbps). Also, using any setting other than “Full Quality” ties up one of the Tablo’s tuners for real-time transcoding, so this is yet another reason to spring for the four-tuner model when available.

One thing I didn’t love was that when you leave a recorded show locally or remotely without finishing, Tablo starts back at the very beginning when you return to it. There is currently no “resume play” feature, though Nuvyyo says this is on the short list of upgrades. Another missing feature is the ability to start recording a program from the “live” watching window. Exiting out to press record won’t pick up any of the program that has already happened. Also, I experienced several audio sync issues when using AirPlay or Bluetooth, where the sound would slowly start trailing behind the picture. Nuvyyo does seem to be pretty aggressive about rolling out updates and fixes, though, as I went through three in the relatively short period I had my unit. (After my review period, the company informed us that sync issues with Airplay can often be resolved by resetting your Apple TV unit and insuring its firmware is up to date.)

There are some other options available now for off-air DVRs, including the more traditional DVR+ from Channel Master ($250), which provides a conventional HDMI connection for a TV and a remote. But it offers none of the Tablo’s cool web-viewing features or sophisticated guide options. [Ed. Note: a Sound & Vision review of the DVR+ is in the works. —RS] Tablo is slick and easy to use, and it works as promised. If you live in an area where there’s an abundance of free OTA channels and, especially if you value mobile access to your recorded content, this could be one of the best investments you make in your TV watching future.

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