I recently cut the cable TV cord with the assistance of the Tablo 4-Tuner OTA DVR, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts on it.

Over The Air (OTA) HDTV

First I'll point out that I don't watch a lot of TV, maybe a few hours a week; however, my family does, and likes to keep up with several TV shows. We've always been cable TV subscribers, both with Time Warner back on the East coast, and Comcast out here on the West coast. We've used the DVR hardware and services from each since they began offering the option(s).

Before dropping cable TV altogether, I purchased a few cheap HDTV antennas and checked out the local OTA offerings. We get 14 digital channels for free, including of course the major networks. Unfortunately, however, no channel guide. I knew this wouldn't fly with my better half, so I looked into options.

Roku TV

We haven't purchased a new TV in many years. After doing a little research I decided to go with a Roku Smart TV (not a Roku device/stick). So glad I did! Our Roku TV not only provides a FREE channel guide for the local broadcast stations, the guide also tells you what streaming services have the show or episode shown in the guide, and will take you to the app for those services in just a click or two. Pretty cool if you want to start the program over or see other episodes.

Tablo DVR

The next hurdle was recording. My wife records several shows to watch on demand. Our new Roku TV can pause live TV, if you add USB storage to it, but it doesn't allow you to schedule recordings. There are several OTA DVRs on the market, but I decided to go with a refurbished Tablo 4-tuner DVR.

Simply connect the Tablo DVR to your network, connect an antenna, and connect your USB storage device and you're in business. You'll then need the Tablo app, which is available on all major platforms, to view your live TV and recordings. Works really well for us, and streams locally via your network when you're watching at home so it's not eating into your Internet use. While you can configure it so you can access it away from home too, I chose not to as I can use streaming services on the road if need be.

Tablo Channel Guide

Tablo requires a subscription to their guide service after the free 30 day trial. At present the Tablo subscription is $5/month, $50/year or $150 for lifetime service. Without the Tablo channel guide service, the entire device is very limited in it's capabilities.

Personally, I prefer the free Roku channel guide and it's capabilities by far, but the Tablo guide is sufficient to schedule the recordings of your favorite shows, etc.

Cutting the Cord

After about a week with the new setup we cut the cable TV cord completely, saving about $100/month. I spent about $500 in equipment & services, not counting the new TV. We also upgraded our Hulu subscription to live TV w/cloud recording, which cuts our savings down to about $50/month. It's been nearly 2 months and so far, so good.

It does take time to get used to the change when you've had cable TV & DVR service for years, but now more than ever we watch what we want, when we want. We'll probably drop the Hulu live TV & cloud recording soon to see how it goes without it. If we do, the new setup will pay for itself well within the first year...including the TV purchase. :)

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