Tablo vs. HDHomeRun: Battle of the networked OTA boxes

Trending 3 months ago
An old HDHomeRun box alongside a new Tablo box.An old HDHomeRun Connect Quatro alongside a 2023 Tablo over-the-air tuner. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Over-the-air television is still a affair in the 21st century. Yes, streaming is the future. Yes, cable and accessory are still actual abundant in existence. But there’s still a abode for the aboriginal technology that beamed black-and-white TV into homes all above the apple all those decades ago.

But you can do bigger than active a distinct antenna into a distinct tuner on the aback of a distinct television. Instead, you can bung into a affiliated box that shares the augment over your home network, authoritative your bounded advertisement channels accessible to aloof about any accessory you own.

The two above players in that amplitude are Tablo, which appear its fourth-generation accouterments in the abatement of 2023, and HDHomeRun, which is still banausic along, abundant in the aforementioned way it has for years now. Both work. Both accept a place. But which is better? Tablo or HDHomeRun? Let’s breach it down.

Price

This allotment is appealing simple math, admitting the options amid Tablo and HDHomeRun do alter a bit. And we’re activity to allocution in accepted amount ambit here, back sales can and do generally happen.

The with bifold tuners retails at $130 (or less) with an calm antenna included, or $100 if you already accept an antenna. A quad-tuner Tablo is on the way for $140. And these all appear with 128GB of complete accumulator for recording whatever you want.

Both accessories are in the aforementioned appraisement ballpark, but Tablo has bigger value.

— with two tuners — costs $110. So we’re in the aforementioned ballpark. But it doesn’t accept any array of accumulator complete in. If you appetite four tuners, you’ll accept to bang up to the newer HDHomeRun Flex 4K, at $200. It has four ATSC 1.0 tuners and two ATSC 3.0 tuners. (That’s what gives the name the 4K part.) Neither the Flex Duo nor the Flex 4K has any complete storage, however.

Winner: Tablo, abnormally if you charge four tuners in a distinct device. Those are acceptable prices, abnormally because Tablo has complete recording capability.

Vibes

This part’s activity to get a little weird, and there’s a acumen why I’m putting it up so high. The abbreviate adaptation is that I accept apropos about the constancy of HDHomeRun as a product. It’s article I’ve acclimated for years. And it still works aloof accomplished today and is still actuality somewhat actively developed, as you can acquaint from the posts in the SiliconDust abutment forums, as able-bodied as on Reddit. That’s cool.

But HDHomeRun’s website is a hodgepodge of accepted and earlier devices, with some of the closing actualization to not be accessible at all anymore. (Including the four-tuner Connect Quatro I’m still application today.)

Tablo, on the added hand, is run by Nuyyvo, which is endemic by E.W. Scripps — a above amateur in this space. And you get a absolutely altered feel from Tablo as a aggregation than you do HDHomeRun.

Winner: Tie. And I’ll be the aboriginal to say this is all adequately abstract on my part. But it’s the array of affair I anticipate needs to be mentioned here.

Hardware

For the best part, there’s not a accomplished lot to be said about the accouterments in this array of device. If you’ve anytime absurd accessible any array of TV tuner (and I have), it’s a appealing basal ambit axle with accessories for ability and the antenna and whatnot.

Coax cable acquainted into HDHomeRunThe HDHomeRun box is basically banausic over the years. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

HDHomeRun is a baby atramentous box, about the admeasurement of a brace of decks of cards. It’s acutely basic. The fourth-generation Tablo is about the aforementioned size, admitting it’s annular and off-white, with a actual ablaze LED on the front. (You can and should about-face that off in settings, by the way.)

Me? I accept abundance active in a box of exercise accessories in my bedroom. (Probably because it fell off the chiffonier abutting to it and I never agitated to move things.) Just set it up and balloon it. It’s not the array of affair you charge to accept out area anyone can see.

The fourth-generaetion Tablo box.Tablo has been redesigned in its fourth generation. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Winner: I’m activity to alarm this one a tie. Neither is a looker, and whether you accept it out in the open, area bodies can see it, actual abundant depends on area your antenna affiliation is in your home.

Networking

This area is super-easy. Tablo has Wi-Fi capability. That’s a acceptable affair because you’re not affected to hard-wire it into your wireless router or a switch. It’s application Wi-Fi 5, by the way, or 802.11ac, which is affluence fast abundant for what it’s doing. It additionally has an Ethernet anchorage if you adopt the active route. (I consistently bung in if I can.)

HDHomeRun requires a active affiliation via Ethernet. If your antenna isn’t anywhere abreast your router or a about-face — well, it’s activity to accept to be somehow. So it’s aloof not as adjustable as to its location. It’s not a deal-breaker; it’s aloof not as easy.

Winner: Tablo, obviously.

Recording

Tablo has 128GB of complete accumulator for recording shows and movies (good for about 50 hours) and can access up to 8TB of alien accumulator via the USB-A anchorage in the back.

You can almanac with Tablo or HDHomeRun, but alone one makes it easy

HDHomeRun doesn’t, instead acute you to be able to cross some array of network-attached accumulator and install added recording software. (Its own HDHomeRun Servio alien accumulator accessory appears to be no best available.) If you run an NAS (Network Attached Storage) and bedrock Plex, you are likely just accomplished on your own, though.

Winner: Tablo takes it. We’re not activity to belabor this with too abounding added details. Yes, it’s still accessible to almanac with HDHomeRun. But Tablo’s recording is complete in and far easier to use. If recording over-the-air TV is important to you and you’re not the array of being who runs a NAS, get Tablo.

Software and availability

If there’s a distinct complaint I’ve had about HDHomeRun over the years, it’s that its complete software was … not great. At all. And it hasn’t absolutely afflicted any. It’s anatomic but far from good.

The HDHomeRun app.The HDHomeRun app is not an adorable app. But it is functional. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

But you can instead still use an app alleged Channels (Android, iOS), which is abundant bigger above all platforms. (I’ve been application Channels so continued that I absolutely had to pay for it aback in the day. The app is chargeless to watch alive TV via HDHomeRun.)

HDHomeRun additionally has apps for Mac and Windows; Tablo does not.

The Tablo alive guide.The latest adaptation of Tablo software has one of the best alive guides anywhere. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

The Tablo app, in contrast, is actual good. It’s accessible to use, which absolutely is all that matters.

Winner: Tablo, easily down.

Extras

An over-the-air tuner is a almost simple device, alike one with arrangement connectivity that lets you watch over assorted devices. And accustomed that both Tablo and HDHomeRun are network-connected tuners, they’ve got a few added tricks up their corresponding sleeves. Or, rather, HDHomeRun does.

Screenshots of HDHomeRun augment central the Plex app.Screenshots alive TV in the Plex app application HDHomeRun as the source. Screenshot

The accepted bearing of HDHomeRun accessories hasn’t afflicted all that abundant from what we’ve enjoyed for years. And that agency a agglomeration of account that artlessly aren’t accessible on Tablo. Consider that HDHomeRun:

  • Supports Plex for alive TV as able-bodied as DVR
  • And that agency you could watch alfresco your home network
  • Can be managed via a command band interface, or a web browser
  • Can be watched via a third-party app, Channels

Tablo doesn’t do any of that. It’s all absolute central the Tablo app. That’s not a bad affair at all — it’s aloof a apparent difference.

Winner: HDHomeRun

The winner

Tablo TV box.Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

For best people, the fourth-generation Tablo should be the bright winner. It has newer hardware, with recording adequacy included. It has bigger software. And it has the air of a aggregation that affairs to abide accomplishing business for the accountable future.

That’s not to say there isn’t a abode for HDHomeRun. If you’re application one of the accessories that Tablo doesn’t currently abutment — Apple TV, or a acute TV arrangement that doesn’t run Amazon Fire TV, Google TV, or Roku — again HDHomeRun is your best bet. Or if you apperceive you appetite to run things through an NAS, again you’ll appetite HDHomeRun. Or if you aloof accept to accept abutment for ATSC 3.0, but that’s far from a must-have yet.

Plus, there’s the affair of price. Tablo wins there, too, decidedly if you’re activity to appetite four tuners. And at the end of the day, that’s absolutely what all this is about. Getting the best chargeless TV for the atomic aggregate of time, money, and agitation up front.

Editors' Recommendations

  • Tablo TV tips and tricks: How to adept this OTA DVR
  • SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun swings and misses, abandons alive TV alive service