Monday, April 18, 2022

Tablo delays ATSC 3.0 devices

I'm a fan of Tablo TV. Since I cut the cord in 2011, I've used several antenna DVR setups, and I like Tablo the best.

I actually had a DVR before I cut the cord. I got my first TiVo device in 2006, and really liked it. I used it to record cable TV shows, and over the air antenna after cutting the cord. At the time, TiVo devices could do both cable and OTA. Today, TiVo DVRs can't do both. There's a cable model, and an antenna model. When I cut the cord, mine did both.

I used TiVo DVR, Air TV, Fire TV Recast, and Tablo. I like Tablo best, although all of them do very good jobs. For me, it comes down to the interface, and Tablo is my preference. However, all have very good, though different, interfaces.

In January, Tablo announced new ATSC 3.0 DVRs for what's been dubbed "Next Gen TV." However, there is a problem. Well, two actually. The first was known up front.

First, due to technical limitations, including lack of Dolby AC-4 audio support on most streaming devices and Smart TVs, this is the first Tablo OTA DVR which can not stream content inside or outside the home. Viewing is limited to a single connected television.

The ATSC 3.0 DVRs are single-TV devices, not network devices. I prefer the network devices, so I can watch on any TV on my network. That's a deal breaker for me. I have no intention of buying a Tablo device that can't work over my network. Still, for many, it's not a big deal.

I said there were two problem. The new one appeared this past week. I didn't receive the email, but those that have pre-ordered the new ATSC 3.0 DVRs got one, according to Cord Cutters News, announcing a delay.

... broadcast station ownership groups have indicated their intent to encrypt ATSC 3.0 signals using Digital Rights Management (DRM) beginning as early as this summer. 

...

DRM decryption keys MUST be installed on the Tablo during manufacturing and cannot be added via later firmware updates. 

Because of this, we anticipate a manufacturing delay of several months while we confirm the certification requirements, add DRM capabilities to the product, and obtain certification from the ATSC 3.0 Security Authority (A3SA).

As I said, I'm not impacted, but those that are looking to purchase the new set-connected DVRs are.

I think Tablo is doing the right thing, of course. Had the announcement of encryption been delayed, Tablo may have shipped devices and then been forced to do a recall, which would have been a very bad thing for them and their customers.

And don't get me started on the whole DRM encryption of broadcast signals. Over the air pay TV has all kind of implications that I don't want to think about this early in the morning.

For now, if Tablo ATSC 3.0 devices are in your future Streaming Life, you have a delay. And nobody knows for how ling.

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