Tablo’s new auto ad-skip feature might change cord-cutting forever

The best part about watching an on-demand streaming service like Netflix, or Amazon Video (other than the on-demand bit) is the lack of commercials. It’s such a big benefit that going back to traditional broadcast TV feels like going back in time. Obviously, there’s no way to skip the ads on live TV (or on ad-supported streaming services like YouTube, Hulu, etc.), but if you’ve got a DVR, skipping ads when watching recorded shows becomes a reflex — your thumb poised over the skip button, ready to press it the moment you feel the inevitable end of an act about to occur.

But what if recorded TV ads skipped themselves, automatically, and without any intervention on the part of the viewer? Well, that would make watching DVR-based recordings almost as good as watching Netflix. And if those DVR recordings came from free, over-the-air broadcasts? Now that’s a game changer, and it’s exactly what Tablo, a Canadian maker of OTA receivers, says it’s going to introduce as an open beta in March, for Tablo owners who subscribe to the company’s $5-per-month guide service.

Simply called Automatic Commercial Skip Feature, according to Tablo, it relies on “a cloud-based hybrid of digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms and machine learning. When enabled, pesky ads are accurately and automatically detected so Tablo apps on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and Apple TV can hop right past them.”

tablo commercial skip ces 2019 appletv comskip

In Tablo’s screenshots, you can clearly see yellow sections of a recording’s timeline that have been flagged as commercials. If it works as described, it will be a significant advantage for Tablo. Even Tivo’s much-hyped Skip Mode can’t compete with automatic ad-hopping that works on all OTA recordings, regardless of the source.

Tablo also has some hardware news: A new, 4-tuner OTA receiver called the Tablo Quad. Expected to ship in March, for $200 ($260 in Canadian currency), the Quad shares the same design language as its Tablo Dual Lite and Dual 64GB stablemates, but is slightly larger. That extra space not only houses the extra two tuners — handy for households that watch a lot of TV but not necessarily on the same TV, or the same show — but also gives you room to install an up-to-8TB SATA hard drive internally.

tablo commercial skip ces 2019 quad left view

There’s still the option to plug in external drives via the USB port, but having a clutter-free way to record your shows is very appealing. The Tablo Quad also gets improved gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi AC, which should help stabilize streaming especially when all four tuners are being accessed, assuming your router is AC-equipped.

We’re keen to try the Tablo Quad and its very cool auto-skip feature, and we’ll update our roundup of the best OTA receivers when we get the chance to do so.


Google’s Stadia lets you stream big-time games from nearly any device

At GDC 2019, Google unveiled Stadia, a game streaming service that lets you play games on PC, tablets, smartphones, and TVs. Stadia looks to open up gaming to everyone, removing the need to buy additional hardware.
Home Theater

Any night can be a night at the movies with the best home theater projectors

Are you sick and tired of those cumbersome big screen TVs? Don’t want to spend big for a huge TV? These home theater projectors will bring you that big screen experience without breaking the bank.
Home Theater

Banish the bunny ears (and monthly bills) with these excellent HD antennas

When transitioning away from cable and satellite, finding the best HDTV antenna for your area can be tricky. To aid in your cord-cutting quest, we've compiled our picks of the best indoor HDTV antennas you can buy.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Home Theater

TCL drops the price of its 75-inch 6-Series 4K Roku TV to $1,500

March is a great time for TV deals, and we've got a whopper: TCL has taken $300 off the price of its superb 75-inch 6-Series 4K HDR Roku TV, making it $1,500. That's the lowest price ever on this affordable TV.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.

Apple’s Netflix competitor Apple TV Plus headlines a barrage of new services

Apple's It's Show Time event in Cupertino, California, is officially over, with the tech giant announcing a new video-streaming service to compete with Netflix and Amazon, a new way to subscribe to paid news outlets, and more.

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…

DisplayPort and HDMI both connect to screens, but here's how they're different

HDMI and DisplayPort are two of the most popular connectors for hooking up consoles, gaming PCs, TVs, and monitors, but which is best? To find out, we pitted HDMI vs. DisplayPort and compared their best and worst features.
Home Theater

Apple’s new TV app: All of your shows, on (almost) every device you own

Apple is updating its TV App into a truly cross-platform one-stop shop for all of your movies and TV shows. It will appear on smart TVs and devices from Roku and Amazon, but there are still questions about features and price.
Home Theater

All of the TVs and devices getting Apple’s AirPlay 2 and Apple TV in 2019

Apple is done keeping its AirPlay wireless streaming technology to itself. These are all of the TVs and devices that will get AirPlay 2, and the new TV App, in 2019. The list is growing, so check back regularly.
Home Theater

Powerbeats Pro: A first look at Apple’s new true wireless earphones?

Beats will reportedly release a true wireless pair of Powerbeats earphones next month. The second-generation AirPods received the new H1 chip, which is also expected to power the new Powerbeats, and an image has been revealed.
Home Theater

As Apple takes on Netflix, is YouTube ditching its original content strategy?

On the same day as Apple's video subscription service launch, Google is denying reports that YouTube is reportedly stepping away from its planned big-budget original content ambitions.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.