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Tablo’s latest over-the-air DVR does ATSC 3.0 — with a catch

Nuvyyo, the Canadian maker of the popular Tablo line of over-the-air (OTA) receivers, may not be physically present at CES 2022, but that hasn’t stopped it from debuting its latest product, the $300 Tablo ATSC 3.0 Quad HDMI, an OTA receiver and DVR that has not one but four ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV)-compatible tuners, each of which can also be used to pull in older ATSC 1.0 broadcasts. You can pre-order the device now at TabloTV.com and it’s expected to begin shipping this spring.

But before you smash that pre-order button, the ATSC 3.0 Quad HDMI comes with a few caveats that make it different from previous Tablo tuners. The biggest change is that you won’t be able to use the new box to stream video to your other devices, whether you’re at home or on the road. Nuvyyo says that this has to do with a lack of support for Dolby’s AC-4 audio codec — the codec used by ATSC 3.0 broadcasts. So for now at least, think of the ATSC 3.0 Quad HDMI as an HDMI-only box that is meant to be used with a single TV.

Tablo ATSC 3.0 Quad HDMI OTA receiver/DVR.
Nuvyyo

Another catch is that automatic ad-skipping, which is a feature of ATSC 1.0 Tablo tuners, isn’t available for ATSC 3.0 broadcasts. It still works on ATSC 1.0 content.

The good news is that the ATSC 3.0 Quad HDMI is fully compatible with all of ATSC 3.0’s key features, like 4K resolution, high dynamic range video (HDR), and Dolby AC-4 (which is compatible with Dolby Atmos). At the moment, most ATSC 3.0 broadcasts are still in either 720p or 1080p HD, but eventually, the higher-quality formats will emerge and the new Tablo will be ready for them.

As with other Tablo units, if you want to use the ATSC 3.0 Quad HDMI as a DVR, you’ll need to buy your own external hard drive and connect it to the receiver via USB. One nice thing about using the receiver for ATSC 3.0 content is that it only takes 25% as much room on your hard drive as the older ATSC 1.0 recordings. That’s thanks to the higher efficiency of the HEVC video codec used by ATSC 3.0, which can encode the same video quality as the older MPEG-2 standard, with far less data.

The OTA receiver comes with complimentary 24 hours of TV Guide Data (traditional grid guide) and manual recording (one-time or recurring) of your favorite shows. If you want more, you can sign up for Nuvyyo’s Tablo TV Guide Data Service, which gives you episode and series synopses, cover art, and metadata for programs airing over the next two weeks. It also gives you one-touch series recording, advanced recording options, automatically extended time on live TV show recordings, and automatic avoidance of duplicate recordings. The TV Guide Data Service costs $5 per month or $50 per year. Unfortunately, Nuvyyo’s lifetime option of $180 does not exist for owners of the ATSC 3.0 Quad HDMI.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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