I have wanted to dump cable for years, since around 2005 when I built my fist real media system with HDHomeRun to deliver TV to all out devices. I split the cable and plugged that into the second HDHomeRun antenna so I could get cable and OTA TV on our wireless devices back when that didn’t really exist. It worked very well but my wife was not sold on pure streaming yet. To be honest, streaming TV wasn’t really a thing then and I am not sure we could have lived on Netflix or Hulu alone back then. Either way I talked her into canceling cable a couple years ago, since there are plenty of options now, and I haven’t looked back.
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We tried a couple services that included cable and local channels at around $50.00 per month. We had the usual suspects: Direct TV Now, Playstation Vue before finally landing on YouTube TV. YouTube TV is the best and I see no reason to leave at this time but at one point, after Direct TV Now and Playstation issues, I wanted to go cheaper and more stable.
We settled on Philo mainly because they carry Paramount, which no one else seems to have. Yes, my wife is very adamant on watching Ink Master; although, I’d just buy the seasons myself. The problem with Philo is that it does not have local channels or network news, just like Sling TV. It did however carry everything else we watch and it is a great service. If you don’t care about local channels, news, or a lot of sports it is the way to go.
I wanted something where my wife could watch local channels on her tablet as well as record while sticking with the affordable Philo. There are a lot of options for wireless OTA TV, including Amazon Fire TV Recast. I think the Recast would be an awesome choice but I wasn’t willing to spend over $200.00 for Judge Judy and reruns I can watch on other services.
Of course I looked at the HDHomeRun but it isn’t WiFi and I wasn’t willing to run wires so the antenna could be upstairs away from the router. The Tablo Dual Lite was reasonably priced WiFi alternative and had decent reviews so I bought it. I also decided to dump the cheap flat antennas I had for the JoyGeek, because it claims to have a 160 mile range. It works very well upstairs and I got over 25 channels where the flat antennas got 18, if I was lucky. Once you find a good spot you will be happy with this antenna. The biggest selling point for me is that it is less ugly the the flat style and can sit on a self in the back. Mine is sitting on the window ledge in an upstairs hall.
The Tablo Dual Setup
Setup was simple. I unboxed, hooked up the antenna, and followed the online instructions. I chose to ignore the channel guide, which caused some setup hassles that a restart and going through the setup again fixed. Once connected to WiFi I installed the Roku and iPhone apps and I had WiFi live TV throughout the house like I had with the HDHomeRun. I had an extra 32gb USB so I plugged that into the Tablo and it detected and formatted with no problems. I was happy with it. I moved it it upstairs and re-scanned to pick up the full array of available channels.
All and all this product works very well and is reasonably priced since you’re not paying for included storage, just add your own storage if you want it. I’ve had no issues watching or recording for over a year, and it’s easy to install and delivers to all my devices without any trouble. Software works well and is stable.
You can buy their TV Guide for a monthly cost or just pay a one time price for the lifetime guide, or download a free guide separately, but the guide makes the Tablo more enjoyable. You do need to setup an account with the Tablo so if that bothers you you might want to look elsewhere. If you only want to watch on a single television don’t spend the money and connect an antenna directly to your set.
The JoyGeek antenna has been the best indoor antenna I have used. They do all seem to be about the same as far as picking up channels. My reasoning was that it’s cheap, has a long cable, can sit on a table, and isn’t too ugly. Honestly, it’s really all about placement and location when it comes to picking up over the air TV. If you have trouble with an indoor antenna you may want to consider a rooftop solution.
If you really want cheapest streaming solution with the most cable content I’d personally recommend Philo or Sling TV with the Tablo Dual Lite – if you want live TV throughout your home or antennas connected directly to your televisions if you don’t.
If you want convenience just get YouTube TV or similar. These full service streaming solutions are only around $50.00 a month, which compared to cable is super cheap! Just get cheap Fire TV stick and plug into the televisions you want to watch on and not bother with OTA. If you’re a geek and cost is unimportant, get the HDHomeRun, hack a Roku, and spend the rest of your life babysitting your streaming devices. The sky is the limit.