Wednesday, January 6, 2021

TiVo vs Tablo

 Rough Draft but been so long trying to sort this mess I wanted to go ahead and make this info visible.

Tablo seems to see the same active channels. Note Antenna Web was pretty useless here. It says I should only be able to get signals from 4 towers 7.X pretty easy but I can not. Even stranger is it is on a line between 36.X and 18.X which I get great but Antenna Web says should be weaker despite being a mile closer. The 4th being 62.X. If I type in just my zip code it places me ~7 mile east and shows a lot more channels. Many I can not get though. Here is what I can actually get.

Interestingly while comparing channels I found the 40-X channels TiVo seemed to have issues with. Channel scan selected the wrong ones and did not have show info for some. But then while no info was showing for 40-3 TiVo, Tablo said an infomercial should be playing but Maverick was actually on. Note the 40-X channels are the same as the 62-X but in higher rez. And 62-3 said Bret Maverick was on. When I went to see which had better signal via TiVo it seems to report 60 for all channels I can watch. Even 40-6 through 40-9 which Tablo does not list and neither seem to think there is video on. TiVo says it is KISA-LD San Antonio which is at least 90 miles away, across Austin so I definitely should be getting 0 for them.

Also the info for 54-4 (called Mystery by both but on screen logo and TiVo channel list in settings says is CourtTV) has been wrong the few times I've looked at the channel. But the channel itself seems to contradict itself as to if it is two channels or one and what is on.

Tablo has a way better web interface.

Tablo's fast forward and rewind do not show video till you stop. Instead press right arrow. This brings up stills you can arrow forward and back though then use select to start playing at the new point.   Note this only works after recording has stopped. However you can jump forward or back in the same ~30 second intervals you just can not see thumbnails of where you are.

Tablo's season pass are better in some ways not in others.

Seeing some pixelization on play back of morning news while recording going on,

Started seeing odd rebooting when trying to play recording programs on Sunday morning. Might be maxed out, HD issues or because was also connected from PC. Need to monitor this. Note Trying to play a recording that ended at one of those reboots may cause another reboot.

Here is what I've been seeing:

Sunday morning I was trying to record 3 of hour long news casts. The video of all 3 programs appears to be broken in the same places. I tried to start watching one of the recordings and some random time later the the video stops. If watching via Roku the screen says reconnecting. Via the web I reload the page to get it back. When it comes back all the recording streams have another recording. Note both Tablo and Roku are on wired connections.

Later on Sunday it was dropping out just trying to navigate menus.

Weekdays I'm recording 3 of the 2 hour morning news programs starting about an hour before I get up. Again they were splintered. 

I was trying to watch a recording yesterday afternoon via Roku and it would stop and hang with a spinner. Some times I would get a message to reduce recording resolution. (Note the main reason I bought Tablo over Fire TV was 1080 support.) Only way to recover seems to be to exit the app and reenter.

Given the Tablo is in the server room with the rest of the AV, computer and network gear I can't comment on the status LED. A Tablo log file would be REAL handy here. My network monitor reports multiple reconnects though it often misses short duration outages for wired connections. Some of the recordings where around a minute:

1-10 of 10 records
Rows per page
TabloUser10/23/2020 22:5918h 26m 12s120 KB16.3 MB10.10.4.63UnifiS10-CompN #9
TabloUser10/29/2020 3:0315h 34m 57s0 B0 B10.10.4.63UnifiS10-CompN #9
TabloUser10/29/2020 18:4311m 52s0 B0 B UnifiS10-CompN #9
TabloUser10/29/2020 19:0128m 40s0 B0 B10.10.4.63UnifiS10-CompN #9
TabloUser10/29/2020 19:363h 4m 2s201 MB3.38 MB10.10.4.63UnifiS10-CompN #9
TabloUser10/29/2020 22:4914h 10m 56s105 MB1.63 MB10.10.4.63UnifiS10-CompN #9
TabloUser10/30/2020 13:0615m 27s0 B0 B UnifiS10-CompN #9
TabloUser11/04/2020 16:3212m 19s0 B0 B UnifiS10-CompN #9
TabloUser11/08/2020 5:051h 20m 42s0 B0 B UnifiS10-CompN #9
TabloUser11/08/2020 6:339h 53m 27s0 B0 B10.10.4.63UnifiS10-CompN #9

Note looking at Monday's recordings I'm seeing a a couple PBS shows tried to record but where split into several segments. PBS is the strongest signal I get (level 72 on the TiVo scale). Each show was split 3 times the 2 shortest under a minute. Oddly when I played one it actually turned out to be 16 minutes long. They were dups the TiVo already had so it did not try an record them. Checking a couple other splintered ones from Sunday night I found similar results. Both an similarly strong signal channels. 60 Minutes for example shows as 6 segments. The first < a minute but was 16 mins long. When I checked the same recording on TiVo I could find no hint of bad signal. So far the only thing all the bad recordings seem to have in common is they are 1080i signals. But then all the main channels are.

Note this AM I was seeing something diff. One of the stations had some sort of issue and the Table stopped recording just that show and Tablo flagged the recording as stopped due to weak signal. I can confirm there was a signal issue from the TiVo recording of the same show. The station dropped out completely and then stuttered for close to a minute before fully recovering. So the TiVo handled the outage MUCH better. Still I could probably live with lost of half of a single show for the price diff. Dropping all streams and restarting when there is an issue with just one makes the unit useless though. Amazon says I have till January instead of just 30 days to send it back so we can try and sort this a bit longer. 

Response from support:

The recordings broken up into multiple recordings is usually a symptom of an intermittent reception error that is causing the recording to stop, and start again when the signal strength picks back up. This can also be caused by the hard drive on the Tablo losing connection, or the unit rebooting.

Please disconnect the hard drive from the Tablo, reboot the unit, and then try watching Live TV on the Tablo with no drive connected. Do you still have trouble with the Tablo losing connection?

Once you have had a chance to try this out please re-connect the drive to the Tablo, reboot the unit, and then disconnect the antenna. Please try watching a recording without the antenna connected. Do you still have the same issues with the Tablo app?

Please let us know how this goes.


Note I'm saying "rebooting" mainly because any program recording is split into segments after the Tablo reconnects.

Also all the issues I've seen so far have been on the main 1080i feed of the major networks with good signal strengths as measured on my TiVo.

Looks like the signal issue is definitely not it. For 2 days (Sunday and Monday) it was "rebooting" randomly. In the end it did not seem to matter what what I was doing or even if anything was recording much less what so signal seemed to be the only known issue. The morning after contacting support (Tuesday) I found a show flagged as not fully recorded because of signal loss. I had the same show recording on a TiVo and it did indeed drop out. Note the TiVo dealt with the almost full minute of low signal and kept going.

Support replied: "The recordings broken up into multiple recordings is usually a symptom of an intermittent reception error that is causing the recording to stop, and start again when the signal strength picks back up. This can also be caused by the hard drive on the Tablo losing connection, or the unit rebooting.

Please disconnect the hard drive from the Tablo, reboot the unit, and then try watching Live TV on the Tablo with no drive connected. Do you still have trouble with the Tablo losing connection?

Once you have had a chance to try this out please re-connect the drive to the Tablo, reboot the unit, and then disconnect the antenna. Please try watching a recording without the antenna connected. Do you still have the same issues with the Tablo app?"

Not sure how I am supposed to "watch TV" without the HD unless he means setting there monitoring the feed for reboots with live TV on I have no interest in see. Talk about a insane waste of my time to make up for no log files!

I did notice the unit was REALLY hot while doing the antenna test (which gave the same failed to record due to lack of signal error without reboot). I added a fan above the unit but looking at the temperature logs for the rack (the sensor is very close to the Tablo) the temperature was actually cooler when the reboots were happening. So heat is probably not it either.

Everything seemed to be running smoothly so I added shows to record Saturday. Including shows earlier Sunday morning. This AM (Sunday) the "reboots" are as bad as before. The same shows are being recorded on the TiVo and I can see no signal issues at all. After the second one I switched to the TiVo to let the Tablo set and it still "rebooted". Trying to watch after recording was finished was still having problems. For instance Meet The Press: It was split into 2 segments, a 31 minute one and 50 second one. Note show is 1 hour. Trying to watch the 31 minute segment via Roku it "rebooted" @ ~16 mins and @ ~26 mins in and then hung at end. Watching it again via the web interface it had a momentary freeze @ ~26 mins in then stopped normally. Temperature logs show it was lowest when the most problems were seen. To me that might indicate an HD issue (though again the diff handling seems odd) but there is 1.63 TB Available of 1.97 TB so I would doubt the same areas have even been written to yet and it is odd that so far the issues only have appeared on the last 2 Sundays and last Monday. I though that might indicate issues deleting recordings as new are added but the extra shows scheduled for early Sunday morning would not fit that either. If there was a way to reformat and or test the HD I'd give that a try but that too is not an option I can see.

My network monitor is only showing a drop during playback as it only records ones longer than 2 minutes. So no help there.

That would seem to only leave a defective device though again the timing would seem odd. Maybe the extra scheduled recordings will shine some light. Again some system logs would probably sort this in minutes instead of all this black box testing.

11/26 noticed the Roku was not seeing the SD card. (System->About) Pulled and reformatted to get working again. Not sure how long it has not been working but first time I noticed getting an having to reload a channel insert a SD card to avoid in future message. 

HDHomerun Issues


Issues with HDHomeRun

12/20/2020 Same morning Tablo decided to stop talking to anything till it was repowered the HDHomeRun just did not record anything. Not seeing any reason for it. Ended up again falling all the way back to the TiVo to see Sunday morning news shows.

1/6/2021 HDHomeRun still not recording anything though shows tasks in queue. No indication as to why. Pretty much given up on it as a standalone and am planning on building a Plex PC and use the HDHomeRun as the tuners.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

More cable weirdness

 Since just internet from Spectrum costs almost a much and the bundled internet, cable and phone I've kept cable. Especially since the phone comes in handy from time to time out here between towns where cell service is often iffy and I still want access to channels like TBS and BBCA which require a cable ID. After my cable TiVo died I thought I'd return the cable card and tuner to at least get those fees off my bill. It turned out it would cost me more to turn in the cable card since it would invalidate my bundle. Their DVR is even more so the cheapest option was to keep the cable card. Go figure. I wonder how many people just using the on demand app these days also have an unused cable card floating about for the same reason. Now I need to sort where to put it so I can find it when / if it becomes cheaper to go with just internet service.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Tablo Amazon review

My review as it is on Amazon with links added.

I've been looking for a TiVo replacement since TiVo seems intent on driving away all their DVR customers. The Fire TV Recast having only 720p max output was a non starter for me and Tablo seemed to be the favorite so started with it. Coming from TiVo the Tablo interface is a bit of a let down. But on the plus side it is viewable from a Roku or browser. The main issue for me is the lack of being able to visually fast forward till a bit after something has finished recording. Commercial skip works a bit less often and well than TiVo but happens shortly after the recording is done instead like TiVo where it can be a day before it kicks in. Still not sure if commercial skip is worth the added subscription cost. The most disturbing is I've had a few bouts of unexplained "reboots" with the Tablo.  In quotes because it is impossible to know for sure given the lack of accessible logs or debug info screens plus having to access via another device. When they happen all recordings stop for a bit though so it is as disruptive as a reboot. Looking at TiVo recordings running in parallel it does not appear to be a signal issue like others have reported. I should note the one time I was able to see a signal issue in action the TiVo recovered while the Tablo just stopped recording. Support was unable to sort what was causing the "reboots" either. It was annoying enough I got a HDHomeRun Quad scribe to compare but have not had a "reboot" issue in the week all 3 have been running. The HDHomeRun interface is no where near as polished as even the Tablo and its apps appear to mainly useless. So Tablo for all its faults appears to the better TiVo replacement. Though I'm going to look into Plex using the HDHomeRun tuners as well. 


Let me add adding apps to my Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD has proven almost impossible so giving the Fire TV Recast a pass seems to have been a good call as I'd probably need a newer Fire TV to even get it to work.


Tablo worked fine for about a week then did the reboot thing for 6 days worked for one and is failing again today 

More detailed reviews in works but wanting to find a acceptable solution first. Looking like as bad as TiVo has become it might still be better than the alternatives. Still have building a Plex PC using the HDHomeRun as the tuners on the todo list though.


More random reboot waves (confirmed by monitoring it drop off the network with continuous pings) even after adding a laptop cooler below to the 80mm fan on top of the Tablo. Decided to swap out the Western Digital 2TB WD Blue Mobile Hard Drive with a Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB I had bought for another project while I run tests on the 2TB drive and see if that gives me any clues. Note it took 3 tries to get the SSD to format and after it still seems to think I have recordings so I'm no hopeful.

I found this which suggests a external is the way to go which I might try since the issue is at least made worse by heat.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Selecting the streaming services for you

Watch Cordkillers 292 - Don't Be Ridisculous (w/ Fraser Cain) where Fraser Cain details how he used his watchlist on Just Watch to create a spreadsheet of how many movies and TV shows he wants to see are on each service. He then further took the monthly cost of each service divided by the things he wants to watch to figure out the ones with best ROI. If you are looking to budget ths is a pretty quick and easy way to do it. Though I might suggest of there are any deal breakers (stuff you do not want to lose access to) you may want want to add some columns for those as well to mark what service(s) they are on so you do not drop the wrong one.

 Just Watch is an awesome free service by itself. It is similar to Roku's watchlist feature where you can just plug in the stuff you want to see and the watchlist shows what is available on what services you subscribe to. With the added plus it is a well formatted list instead of Roku's notifications format. It also makes it easy to see if something is available on a service you do not have.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

WeaKnees Single 3 TB Replace TiVo Upgrade Kit for 849000 install

Single 3 TB Replace TiVo Upgrade Kit for 849000

If you follow the instructions the hardware part goes pretty smoothly. Step 1D is the only tricky part. Read the whole bit about how to apply pressure in steps or you might break off a tab.

BUT before you start get kmttg before you start the upgrade and save off your settings:

Otherwise you will be manually be setting them up again. Note in theory One Passes should be downloaded from your TiVo account but if you want to have them today you will need to load them via kmttg.

Next bit is you will probably need to call your cable company and have them push an activate to your cable card even though the host ID does not change.

If you favorited channels you will need do those again manually.

Lastly you will need to reactivate all your apps.

Update: looks like you need to turn auto skip back on as well.

After the upgrade you should find:
recordingCapacityHdHours       476
recordingCapacitySdHours       3274
freeDiskSpaceSdHours           3212
freeDiskSpaceHdHours           465

Note part of that used space was programs already recorded by my uploaded One Passes.

If 3 TB is a bit tight you should know WeeKnees has options with Bolts up to 13TB and Roamios up the 20 TB

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Updated Cord Cutting Notes sheet to pull TiVo data

My watched vs available sheet Cord Cutting Notes  now pulls in the csv files created by my TiVoGet program as part of the Last Show update. I also updated the menu to the new sheet model. (Something you seem to need to do now if you edit a sheet script with the old menu model in it.)