The fact that Amazon created the Fire TV Recast goes to show just how popular and common cord-cutting is nowadays. It used to be all about over-the-air DVR, but ever since more and more people have decided to unsubscribe from cable TV, more user-friendly options have popped up. These options include Plex, AirTV, TiVo, Tablo, and others. It’s thanks to these options that Amazon was inspired to create and release the Fire TV Recast.
What this device does is that it takes and records broadcast TV channels that are free from an antenna. Then, the channels that it gets to pull will be streamed right on Amazon’s streaming devices like the Fire TV. It’s clear to see that the Amazon Fire TV Recast is the company’s superb attempt at over-the-air DVR, and this can be seen in how simple and refined the device is.
Compared to other similar options, the Fire TV Recast is noticeably more affordable due to the fact that it doesn’t require any subscription fees. However, this device is far from perfect—the Fire TV Recast still has several limitations, including the fact that you’ll need a Fire TV device first in order to use it. As you can imagine, this isn’t a device that can be readily available to many cord-cutters out there.
Easy Setup Process
What we do like about Recast is that there’s not a lot of hassle involved in the setup process, unlike other traditional DVR like the TiVo. Specifically, you don’t have to plug the Recast into your Fire TV—you can simply put the device anywhere within your household and you’ll be able to receive broadcast channels on your Fire TV, Fire tablets, as well as Android and iOS devices. Of course, the device also has an ethernet port which you can use to connect the Recast to the router. However, the cable for this isn’t included in the box and you’ll have to supply your own.
It’s obvious that Amazon really thought about all the negative aspects of a networked DVR, including how much of a hassle it can be. As such, the company provided options for companies to choose from for different price points. The $230 dual-tuner model contains a 500GB drive; that’s worth 75 hours of high definition video already. For $280, you can get the 1TB model, which has four tuners with it. This option is more than sufficient to store 150 hours of recorded HD video. With these options, you no longer have to connect and external hard drive into your streaming device, unlike others.
Even setting up the Recast with the help of the Fire TV mobile app is as hassle-free as can be. It gives you ample information as to where you should place the antenna before connecting the device to the internet. It offers a couple of suggestions, including which side of the house you should install based on your location and where the most broadcast towers are.
Once you’ve successfully installed the Fire TV Recast, you don’t need to do anything else at that point. If you have Fire TV devices connected to the same network, they will automatically detect the DVR and add a section for this in the menu.
As mentioned, the major shortcoming for the Recast is the fact that you must have a Fire TV device first if you want to watch content on a television screen. You can’t use the Recast on streaming devices that aren’t made by Amazon, including Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, game consoles, and most of the other smart TV brands out there.
There’s a workaround to this, though, but it may not be the best nor the most convenient. You can mirror your iOS device to your Apple TV through AirPlay or your Android device to Chromecast, but you need to have the screen constantly focused on the Fire TV app.
If you do have a Fire TV device, then everything should be smooth-sailing from there. There’s no need to download or use a separate app because you can already access everything you need from the Fire TV’s DVR menu—whether you’re looking for the DVR settings, recording, live channels, and more. Amazon also integrates over-the-air functionality into the interface. For instance, there’s a “Recents” row somewhere in the Fire TV’s home screen where you’ll find all the channels you’ve recently watched. There’s also an “On Now” row of channels too.
DVR Recording Options
The recording capabilities of Amazon’s Fire TV Recast is great—the company had a solid idea of what cord-cutters might want in a DVR. Just like other similar devices, Recast is capable of recording series, and even offers a lot of control as to what you can save and store into the device. There are so many things you can do with this feature, such as protect recordings so that they don’t accidentally get deleted, include start and stop buffer times, record in either HD or SD, ensure you’re not recording reruns, and many others.
You even have the option to set up priorities. This can come in handy when an unexpected conflict arises in program schedules. When this happens, Recast can cancel the recording for the program on the lowest priority.
If you’re fond of watching live TV, then you’ll definitely have a blast with the Recast. Whenever you watch a live channel, the device will instantly begin a buffer. This allows you to pause as well as rewind whatever you’re watching without having to record it first. The Fire TV Recast even has a mini guide you can refer to if you want to check out what else is on but you don’t want to close the program you’re watching. All you have to do is press down on the Fire TV remote and this feature will appear.
That being said, the Fire TV Recast’s recording capabilities still aren’t up to par as the other options like Tablo, Plex, and TiVo. For one thing, there’s no way for you to manually schedule recordings.
Unfortunately, the Fire TV Recast isn’t as flawless as we’d like it to be. But then again, no streaming device ever is. Some users came across an issue wherein the Recast stopped displaying 60 fps videos. Fortunately, the issue was resolved by restarting the tuner, but this can understandably get annoying if it happens too often.
One other limitation is the fact that you can’t watch local TV when you’re out of town. Plus, you can’t even download what you’ve recorded and store it on your mobile device if you want to watch it on-the-go. This is a feature that’s available on other DVR devices, so this may be something you have to consider.
All in all, we can’t say that the Amazon Fire TV Recast is the best DVR out there. While it can’t be denied that it’s a solid device for cord-cutters and provides great features, it also has its fair share of limitations that some may not be able to look past. If you do have a Fire TV at home and you’re willing to restrict yourself within that brand, then you might get a kick out of the Recast.