Which Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV devices and sticks are compatible with which types of Tablo OTA DVRs?
Which streaming platforms are best for your entertainment needs in 2022?
Keep reading to find out:
Roku Streaming Players
Over half of Tablo DVR customers use Roku as their primary streaming platform.
Why? They make simple and affordable streaming devices and support a wide variety of TV streaming apps.
The new Roku Streaming Stick 4K and 4K+ have improved Wi-Fi and support Dolby Vision.
We think the Streaming Stick 4K+ is worth the extra $20 because it includes a rechargeable enhanced voice remote with programmable quick-launch buttons.
Things to Keep in Mind
Roku Ultras are the lowest-priced streaming devices with onboard ethernet connections.
Canadians should choose a different platform as the Roku Ultra is not available and the platform generally has fewer Canadian apps than competitors.
All current-generation Roku streaming boxes, sticks, and soundbar combos (running Roku OS 9.2+) are compatible with all network-connected Tablo OTA DVRs.
Roku Ultra and Roku Ultra LT are recommended for and compatible with Tablo DUAL HDMI and Tablo QUAD HDMI TV-connected Tablo DVRs.
If you have a 'numbered Roku' (i.e. Roku 1, 2, 3, or 4) or an even older model, it’s time for an upgrade.
Roku Devices We Recommend
TOP PICK – Roku Ultra (2020)
Improved WiFi, faster processors, and programmable quick-launch buttons make this your best bet.
BUDGET PICK — Roku Streaming Stick 4K/4K+ (2021)
It doesn’t have the speed of the higher-priced options, but it has better Wi-Fi than lower-end models and if you spring for the 4K+ you'll get the same fancy remote that comes with the Roku Ultra.
WILDCARD PICK — Roku Streambar (2020)
If you also want to improve your audio experience when you stream TV, this combo soundbar and streaming box could be worth the investment.
Amazon Fire TV Streaming Devices
Amazon Fire TV is the next most popular streaming platform with Tablo DVR users. Like most Amazon hardware, the pricing is excellent and the devices are solid.
Amazon's latest high-end streaming stick — the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K MAX — is much more powerful than previous models and is the first Fire TV device to support the Wi-Fi 6 standard.
Things to Keep in Mind
Fire TV’s interface has improved over the last year but is still designed to promote Amazon-owned content.
Amazon Fire TV products don’t offer onboard Ethernet connectivity, but the Cube does ship with an optional ethernet adapter that can also be purchased separately and used with other Fire TV products.
All current Amazon Fire TV streaming boxes and sticks are compatible with all network-connected Tablo OTA DVRs.
The Amazon Fire TV Cube is recommended for and compatible with Tablo DUAL HDMI and Tablo QUAD HDMI TV-connected Tablo DVRs.
If you’re using a first-generation Fire TV stick or box, it’s time for an upgrade.
Amazon Fire TV Devices We Recommend
TOP PICK (TIED) – Amazon Fire TV Cube (second generation)
The performance boost and optional Ethernet dongle will ensure it will stay speedy for many years.
TOP PICK (TIED) – Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K MAX
This new stick isn’t quite as fast as the Fire TV Cube, but it's pretty darn close.
BUDGET PICK – Amazon Fire TV Stick (third generation)
The 2020 model Fire TV stick doesn't support 4K but has an updated processor as well as TV and volume controls. Those extra buttons are worth it, so choose this version over the LITE.
Apple TV Streaming Devices
While it’s not as popular as Roku or Amazon Fire TV, Apple devotees may want to pay a premium price for Apple TV hardware.
After a very long wait, Apple launched the 2nd generation Apple TV 4K last year with a faster processor and a more user-friendly remote.
Things to Keep in Mind
While Apple’s hardware is excellent, its older touch-based remote did not get high marks from streamers. The newer 2021 remote is much improved.
The Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K (both the 2017 and 2021 models) are compatible with all network-connected Tablo OTA DVRs but are NOT compatible with TV-connected Tablo DVRs.
Apple TV models made before 2015 (with silver or white remotes) do not have an App Store and are incompatible so an upgrade is required.
Apple TV Devices We Recommend
TOP PICK – Apple TV 4K (second generation)
We recommend getting the 2021 version which sports a faster processor and an improved remote. Unless you routinely use many apps, the 32GB model should provide enough storage.
NEXT BEST – Apple TV HD
If you really can’t spare an extra $50, the Apple TV HD will still work well for the average entertainment enthusiast and is bundled with the newer 2021 style remote.
BUDGET PICK – N/A
This isn’t the platform for penny pinchers.
Android TV Streaming Devices
Android TV has been gaining popularity with streamers in recent years.
Several low-cost Android TV-based devices like Walmart's ONN 4K streaming box were launched last year, but we still think it's best to stick with a more name-brand product despite the low price tag.
Things to Keep in Mind
'Google TV' is just Android TV with a different look and feel, so devices like the Chromecast with Google TV will be compatible with any TV-based apps on the Google Play store.
Avoid generic streaming boxes that run the mobile version of Android instead of the TV-based version as they'll be crippled by compatibility and usability issues.
All versions of the NVIDIA SHIELD and the Chromecast with Google TV are compatible with all network-connected Tablo DVRs.
The NVIDIA SHIELD PRO or TV 'stick' and Chromecast with Google TV are recommended for and compatible with the Tablo DUAL HDMI and Tablo QUAD HDMI TV-connected Tablo DVRs.
While the Xiaomi MiBox and the Google Nexus Player may still work with the Tablo app, we do not fully test these older devices for compatibility so you should upgrade to a newer alternative.
Android TV Devices We Recommend
TOP PICK – NVIDIA SHIELD TV PRO (2019)
The SHIELD PRO box is the most powerful and flexible streaming device on the market today which makes it worth the premium price.
NEXT BEST (TIED) – NVIDIA SHIELD TV ‘stick’ (2019)
Don't need extra USB ports for things like storage? Grab the 2019 NVIDIA SHIELD ‘stick’ which is the only streamer of this form factor with built-in Ethernet connectivity. Its excellent specs should give it twice the lifetime of the average streaming stick.
NEXT BEST (TIED)/BUDGET PICK – Chromecast with Google TV
Unlike older Chromecast devices, Chromecast with Google TV is a true streaming device with its own remote, capable of running Android TV apps. A fraction of the price of an NVIDIA SHIELD, it's a great alternative for those seeking a more affordable yet capable choice.
When Should I Upgrade?
If your current streaming TV player is more than five years old, and especially if it wasn’t top-of-the-line then, it's time to upgrade.
As apps get more complex and power-hungry, users can experience sluggish menu navigation, disabled app features, or even a complete lack of compatibility when using older devices with lower memory, slower processors and slower WiFi connectivity.
Smart TV vs. Streaming Stick or Box
While it can be handy to have a television with a streaming platform built-in, not all Smart TV platforms are created equally.
No matter who manufactures the television, Smart TVs built on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Android TV platforms should behave almost identically to their stand-alone streaming device cousins. (At least until the ‘smarts’ start to age and slow down.)
Samsung, LG, and Vizio Smart TVs all have their own non-standard app stores. This can result in spotty app support and sometimes a poorer in-app experience than you’d enjoy with a stand-alone or more mainstream dedicated streaming platform.
If your Smart TV has a non-standard app store or is more than five years old, you may wish to connect one of the streaming devices recommended above for a better entertainment experience.
What About Chromecast or AirPlay?
While network-connected Tablo DVRs do support casting from Tablo's Android mobile and web-based apps to a Chromecast dongle (not to be confused with the new Chromecast with Google TV), and AirPlay from iOS mobile devices to AirPlay-supported devices it’s not a setup that we recommend.
Why? While Chromecast and AirPlay are great for sharing photos or casting a quick YouTube video to your television, a dedicated streaming device will be far superior as a ‘primary’ solution.
Not only is using your smartphone as a remote cumbersome, but it can drain your battery and is definitely not advisable for those with sticky-fingered toddlers.
Watching free, over-the-air TV with an antenna is simpler than you may think. In many cases, you can take an antenna out of the box, connect the cable to your TV, run a channel scan and voila! You have dozens of local channels to surf.
The number of channels you can access and how clearly they come in is based on a number of factors, including your distance from the point of broadcast towers, the type of antenna you have and where it’s located in your home.
Not sure what kind of antenna you need? Take our simple quiz to help narrow down the options. You can also find a general list of recommended antennas here.
Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR device to record your favorite shows
Did you know you can use an antenna similarly to how you watch cable? Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:
Tablo DUAL 128GB Over-the-Air [OTA] DVR: Record up to 80 HD hours and stream up to two free broadcast channels from your HDTV antenna simultaneously.
Tablo QUAD 1TB Over-the-Air [OTA] DVR: Record up to 700 hours and stream up to four free broadcast channels from their over-the-air HDTV antenna simultaneously.