News by Andrew Kameka on Friday January 10, 2014.
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Cutting the cord is a hard thing to do, but ditching cable and sticking to the most basic television entertainment setups are becoming easier to manage thanks to services like Tablo. Designed as a way to stream free over-the-air (OTA) TV to mobile devices, Tablo can be just the sort of thing to keep cord cutters connected to their favorite network programming and DVR video streamed to a mobile device or web-connected television.
Tablo works by connecting a box with DVR capabilities to your home internet setup. The hardware features two or four tuners that can stream live network television and record other channels, so a two-tuner model can watch one program and record another while a four-tuner can view or record up to four programs simultaneously. It works only with OTA television, so don't count on watching cable programming like ESPN, HBO, Bravo or anything that doesn't come from the major networks (the Daily Show appears in the demo below, but it is OTA programming in Canada, where Tablo's creators are based). The Tablo apps for Android and iOS include guides that let users browse schedules for what's available and discover content that they can then set to record or watch on those devices.
In addition to streaming videos to an iPad, iPhone, or Android device, Tablo can turn the mobile device into a remote control for a larger television. Apps exist to watch content on Apple TV and Roku, and the company fully intends to support Chromecast once the public SDK becomes available. Video streaming to Airplay is swift and fluid provided that a strong internet connection is available to the Ethernet cables or Wi-Fi connections.
The aim is to eventually have Tablo become the center of a customer's entertainment setup, though there will be some challenges to that. Tablo requires an external hard drive that is not included in the $200 entry price. It also will support only a handful of channels, so only people who want to shows from the major broadcast networks will find the service useful. Supplementing that with Netflix or other paid services might help fill in the gaps not met by the $5 per month subscription used for Tablo.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.