Tablo OTA DVR Review: Should You Buy The Cord-Cutting Tool?

The Blacklist Raymond Red Reddington James Spader NBC
Will Hart / NBC

Should you get the OTA (over the air) DVR Tablo? The short answer is “no,” and this review explains why. It does not work well, and I will explain that in detail a little more below. First, here is some important background info. Yours truly has had a Tablo for multiple years. It was a solution to cutting the cord before a digital one took its place.

New streaming services are coming out every day. Hence, the price of watching TV is going up, and with it, cord-cutters are turning to different methods to navigate a healthy medium. There is a desire to simply record what is broadcast on the main networks (TV, figure skating etc.). You know, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. For me, that mainly involves NBC and the shenanigans of Raymond Reddington on “The Blacklist.” Enter Tablo.

It is an over-the-air tuner that supposedly allows you to record television programming via a DVR. Sadly, Tablo rarely records. In other words, the odds are you will not get to watch the show you are dying to see. If you want to see the latest surprising twist on “The Blacklist” or shocking installment of “Dateline” with Keith Morrison, you are out of luck. 

This April, I had enough and cancelled the annual Tablo subscription. It was not recording anything anymore and was completely disabled. The app on Roku could not be reached, and the Tablo device would not turn on at all. In cancelling my subscription, I wrote the following farewell review:

I have been incredibly disappointed with my experience using Tablo. [Hence], my family will not be recommending it to anyone else, quite the opposite. We will work to dissuade them from buying one. Tablo failed to record 85% of the time, and if it did manage to record a program, the recording was often in terrible, unwatchable condition.

Then, there is the issue of “losing” a lot of important recordings and Tablo’s customer service refusing to take any responsibility for the failure -- simply put -- it is never Tablo’s fault. The customer is always blamed. Customer service refused to make a price adjustment regardless of how poorly Tablo performed. Tablo made no effort to keep my family as a customer, so they are getting what they want -- we’re done.

Tablo has yet to respond.

The unwatchable quality of certain recordings bears repeating. The visual was often fragmented with jittery audio. I literally got a migraine headache because I had to watch “The Blacklist” and had no other choice but to watch Tablo’s terrible recording. I called Tablo’s customer support. Guess what. They said it was not their fault. So, it was time to move on. 

Tablo alternatives include Peacock, where you can watch all four seasons of “Yellowstone.” If you are interested in another Tablo substitute, you should consider Philo. You can also watch episodes of “Yellowstone” on Philo and romantic mysteries until your heart is content on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. It does not have the main network but it is close enough.