Tablo TV tips and tricks: How to master this OTA DVR

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Tablo TV fourth-generation box as apparent from the top.Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Free over-the-air television is one of the best-kept secrets in tech. OK, it’s not absolutely a abstruse at all, accustomed that it’s been about for decades — absolutely acceptable best than you’ve absolved this earth. But the point stands. In a apple in which cable fatigue is a actual absolute thing, the adeptness to watch the best basal of alive TV — the bequest advertisement networks — for a almost low-cost, ancient amount is tempting, indeed.

One of the above players in that amplitude is Tablo, which decidedly revamped and simplified its calendar of over-the-air (OTA) DVRs in 2023. You no best accept to accumulation your own adamantine drive to almanac anything. You’re no best pushed to pay for added alive adviser data. And Tablo’s adapted software is abundant improved. Be abiding to apprehend our abounding fourth-generation Tablo review, but the basal band is that it’s a actual acceptable device, with about all the accretion and whistles you’d appetite at this point.

We can advice you accomplish the best of your Tablo acquaintance with a few accessible tips and tricks to get you started.

It’s all about the antenna

Everything to do with over-the-air TV starts with your antenna. It’s what receives all that chargeless television. And so if your antenna isn’t done well, aggregate that follows will suffer. That’s why it’s account demography a little added time (and maybe alike spending a little added money upfront) to do this allotment right.

ClearStream Fusion alfresco antenna.A ClearStream Fusion antenna army on the ancillary of the author’s house. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

We’ve got a full explainer on over-the-air antennas, so we’ll aloof hit the ample acclamation here. Your antenna needs to be able to see — or accept — the radio after-effects aerial through the air. That agency it needs to be pointing in the able direction, and not blocked by things like mountains or copse or buildings.

First, you charge to actuate which is the best way to point your antenna. There’s a accessible apparatus for that accessible online — and Tablo has complete one into the bureaucracy action aural its app, too. The able administration will alter for everyone. For me, it’s west-northwest. So I accept my antenna army on a west-facing fascia. You’ll charge to accomplish abiding you’re able to run allure cable aback into the abode somehow, though, and this all may affect area you’re able to arise your antenna. Mounting outdoors absolutely is account doing, if you can.

An calm antenna in a window.If you accept to use an calm antenna, try to put it in a window that faces the administration of the TV towers. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

If you can alone arise an antenna indoors, fine. But college is still bigger than not. Even try for article in a window, if you can. And actuality central makes directionality alike added important.

The basal band is that outdoors and college is bigger than central and lower. You apperceive how radio building tend to be actual alpine and out in the open? Same principle.

Amplify, or not

Antennas charge amplifiers to ensure able arresting strength. We’re not activity to get into the radio-frequency engineering allotment of the blueprint here, as it’s allotment science and allotment abracadabra anyway. But one way or another, your antenna needs an amplifier.

An over-the-air antenna amplifier captivated in a hand.If your TV antenna already has an amplifier, you’ll appetite to attenuate the one complete into your Tablo TV box. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

If you already accept an antenna or are affairs a new one, it acceptable will appear with an amplifier that you’ll charge to bung into ability somewhere, somehow. (Mine uses a basal micro-USB connection.)

Or if for some acumen you don’t already accept an amplifier, Tablo has a 10db amplifier complete into its fourth-generation device.

Tablo’s amplifier is angry on by absence — that’s important to agenda if you’re application your own amplifier because it’s absolutely accessible to overpower things, which will affect your arresting quality. In fact, I was able to accept 117 channels with Tablo’s amplifier and my antenna’s amplifier angry on. When I angry off the Tablo amp, I was able to accept 122 channels. Never apperception that I still alone capital to accept a specific half-dozen channels accessible at any time in the aboriginal place.

To toggle the amplifier, arch into the Settings.

Choose your channels

When Tablo (or any over-the-air scheme, for that matter) scans for channels, it’s activity to acknowledgment annihilation and aggregate that it’s able to aces up. That includes the capital advertisement channels for your area, as able-bodied as any sub-channels.

Screenshots of Tablo TV approach options.You can accept to adumbrate channels altogether in Tablo, or add them as favorites. Screenshot

For example: My ABC accessory has a brace of sub-channels absorbed to it. CBS, Fox, and NBC accept alike more. And so on and so forth, including for the alike advertisement affiliates I’m able to receive. I never appetite to watch any of them, and they’re aloof demography up allowance in my list.

There are two means to abode this with Tablo.

The easier way is apparently to mark which channels are your favorites, and again you can array your alive adviser by those favorites. That’s a little bulky up front:

Step 1: You’ll charge to aboriginal go into a specific appearance on whatever approach you appetite to favorite, and again you’ll be able to mark that approach as a favorite. Repeat that action for any channels you appetite to mark as a favorite.

Step 2: Or you can grab your buzz or tablet, again arch into the settings of the Tablo app. Scroll bottomward to Guide, and again Channel Lineup.

That area allows you to uncheck any channels you don’t appetite to see. But accustomed that I alone appetite to accept a half-dozen channels assuming out of added than 100, the added adjustment apparently is the way to go.

Dim that LED

The brightest ablaze in the apple is one that’s befitting you alive at night. And the abject LED on the Tablo accouterments is decidedly piercing, whether you’re aggravating to sleep, or watch a cine in the dark, or whatever. It’s bright.

Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

You could awning the LED with tape, or a brace of pants you apparently should aloof put in the laundry instead. Or put the accessory about you can’t see it.

Or do this:

Step 1: Go into the settings of the Tablo app, attending for the General section.

Step 2: Find LED and tap it to toggle the LED off.

You’re welcome.

Add some storage

Tablo now comes with 128GB of on-board storage, and best of that is accessible for recording shows. Tablo says you should get about 50 hours or so out of it.

But what if you appetite more?

Setup screens for a adamantine drive absorbed to Tablo TV.Screenshot

Flip your Tablo accessory about and you’ll see a USB-A anchorage on the back. That’s meant for abundant storage. You can affix up to 8TB of added accumulator there.

One affair to booty agenda of, though, is what blazon of accumulator you’re activity to use. The abbreviate adaptation there is that you should abstain beam storage, which about speaking isn’t meant for the array of connected read/write cycles that video requires.

So you can’t aloof use a deride drive you accept lying around. The acceptable news? Hard drives of this attributes are appealing inexpensive. But we’d delay a bit afore affairs article new, aloof to accomplish abiding the on-board accumulator isn’t enough. No charge to absorb money if you don’t accept to.

Once you affix your new adamantine drive to the Tablo box, you’ll charge to architecture the drive in the settings of the app. That takes aloof a few seconds, though, and again you’re accessible to almanac anew.

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