Channels DVR HDHomeRun Vs Tablo

HDHomeRun Vs Tablo

HDHomeRun and Tablo Both Offer Great OTA DVR Hardware


Both the HDHomeRun and Tablo offer hardware that can record live TV shows from an over the air antenna and play it back like a cable TV or Satellite company DVR.

There are several difference between them that may make one a better choice than the other depending on your needs.

Best Picture Quality

When it comes to streaming TV picture quality this is usually pretty high up on the list. Television hardware technology has dramatically improved the last few years.

Buying a device that can faithfully record and play back the superior HD signal from an antenna could be an important factor. When it comes to picture quality the HDHomeRun video playback quality is far nicer than the Tablo and here is why.

The Tablo transcodes everything it records on the fly from the raw (MPEG-2) stream to TLS. This makes it more compatible with streaming devices like Roku, Android or Apple TV. You can use their app directly on these media streamers and watch recorded content from an attached USB drive. Some Tablo models now come with internal storage.

One advantage of TLS recordings is they are smaller and will play directly on devices like Roku which can't play MPEG-2 streams. And while this saves space on a hard drive, video quality is at a lower quality resolution than the untouched 1080p MPEG-2 video stream.

The HDHomeRun on the other hand needs a computer, NAS or Nvidia SHIELD with attached drive to record and save stored video recordings. And this must be on an running while the video is played back through the Channels DVR app. Much the same like the Plex Server and the Plex app.

The Channels app when used with an HDHomeRun to play back time shifted recordings on an AppleTV or Nvidia SHIELD offers a great user experience. And since the recorded videos are not transcoded, there is no loss in picture quality between the original 1080p HD signal seen from the antenna, and the recordings viewed on your TV screen with a HDHomeRun.

Channel Changing Performance

While the Tablo has a nice interface, another area where it lags behind a HDHomeRun is in overall speed while changing channels. There is a noticeable lag during channel changes. For those that recently cut their cable or are used to watching Live TV from an antenna. The channel lag can be a little disconcerting.

Channel changes on a HDHomeRun will be noticeably faster than on a Tablo because no transcoding is required. But HDHomeRun also made a now discontinued Dual Tuner Extend model that can still be found online. It can do native transcoding. But this will face the same problems as the Tablo. Slower channel changes and a slightly lower picture quality on transcoded recordings. But the Extend model offers several levels of transcoding.

720p30, 720p60, 1080i60 or no transcoding

This offers more options and still lets you have the highest quality video stream available. Something you won't have as much control over with a Tablo.

Which Device Offers the Best Value

Because a HDHomeRun requires a PC it can add a lot more to the overall cost compared to a Tablo which sells some models ready to roll. Also, a Tablo can be used without any additional software guide fees. But with less features than their full fledged guide or the Channels DVR software.

The enhanced Tablo DVR Guide Subscription is free for 30/days. But if you want to keep it longer, it can be purchased for $4.99/month or $49.99/year. They also offer a lifetime guide service which is tied to the life of the Tablo tuner. This costs a one time fee of $149.99.

The Channels DVR app does not offer any lifetime service and costs $8 a month. But they do offer an annual discounted plan for $80/year.

Even though the Channels DVR software costs a little more. The Channels DVR is by far our favorite guide service and is better than both the enhanced Tablo Guide or the Premium HDHomeRun guide. And in some ways the Channels DVR guide is every bit as nice as the TiVo guide. Which for a long time has been the gold standard of DVR Guides.

HDHomeRun also has includes Free guide app which offers a 14/day guide and it's available on the Apple App Store or on Google Play for Android.

Additional recording features can be purchased for this guide for an additional cost of $35/year. This also adds a longer 28/day guide, along with extended Live TV pause and rewind times.

Tablo Models & Prices

Tablo currently sells 4 DVR Models:

1. $149.99 Tablo DUAL Tuner Lite OTA DVR (Needs External Storage)
2. $169.99 Tablo DUAL Tuner 128GB OTA DVR
3. $199.99 Tablo QUAD Tuner OTA DVR (Needs External Storage)
4. $239.99 Tablo 1 TB QUAD Tuner OTA DVR

HDHomeRun Models & Prices

Silicon Dust currently sells 5 different OTA HDHomeRun Tuners

1. $99.00 HDHomeRun Connect DUO Dual Tuner OTA DVR
2. $149.00 HDHomeRun Connect QUATRO Four Tuner OTA DVR
3. $179.00 HDHomeRun Scribe DUO Dual Tuner OTA DVR with 1TB 150 Hour Recording Capacity
4. $229.00 HDHomeRun Scribe QUATRO Four Tuner OTA DVR with 1 TB 150 Hour Recording Capacity
5. $179.00 HDHomeRun SERVIO is an External Storage Device which adds 300 Hours of recording space to any HDHomeRun which does not have its own internal recording capacity.


While both the HDHomeRun and Tablo are great DVRs that cost significantly less than a TiVo, choosing the right one may depend on your needs. For a simple solution, the Tablo can't be beat. But if you want a nicer picture with a better guide and faster performance, a HDHomeRun Network tuner together with the Channels DVR app are hard to beat.

Also See: Why the Channels DVR Software Rocks

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