Tablo The Tablo 4-tuner over-the-air DVR ($238 at Amazon.)

Tablo today announced a firmware update that enables Dolby 5.1 surround sound through its over-the-air streaming boxes. It's a staged rollout, so you might not see it immediately. But it is on the way.

What the hell took so long, you ask? Tablo answers:

There are two primary reasons why we haven't supported Surround Sound on Tablo hardware DVRs in the past.

The first reason is that Tablo OTA DVR hardware and its associated apps are designed to create and deliver a single audio stream.

This hasn't changed, so you'll need to choose between staying with stereo sound OR moving to Surround Sound audio.

Secondly, until recently most mobile devices couldn't decode 5.1 Surround Sound. This is (slowly) changing for the better as newer mobile devices begin to support this audio profile.

Surround sound isn't supported on all devices, of course. If you've turned it on but are using a device that can't do 5.1 audio, you'll see video but not hear anything. Here's what's supported, though:

  • All Roku models, including Roku TVs
  • All Amazon Fire TV models, including TVs powered by Fire OS
  • Android TV, including NVIDIA Shield TV, Xiaomi Mi Box, Nexus Player and smart TVs powered by Android TV
  • Apple TV 4th gen, and Apple TV 4K
  • iPhones or iPads on iOS 11 and newer
  • Select Android phones
  • Mac OS via Safari
  • LG TVs running webOS 2.0 and up
  • Select Samsung TVs

Here's the full changelog, for those into that sort of thing.

  • Support for 5.1 Surround Sound passthrough
  • Workaround for Fire TV 4K/Fire TV Cube video stuttering issue
  • Improves reliability of new firmware update downloads on poor network connections
  • Other reliability and performance enhancements

Tablo OTA DVR

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The best over-the-air antennas

Who doesn't like free TV, right? And it turns out that in 2018 there's still plenty to watch — free and legal — if you've got a decent enough over-the-air antenna. For the cost of a decent meal at the Sizzler you can get an antenna that pulls in stations from dozens of miles away, piping free 1080i content straight into your TV.

All you have to do is pick the right one for you.

The best OTA antennas