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Amazon launched its newest product in the Fire TV line just in time for holiday sales this year. Fire TV Recast is a DVR that lets you watch and record over-the-air TV and stream the content anywhere in your home or on-the-go with no monthly fees.
It would be easy to conclude that the Recast doesn’t fit into the vision of the Fire TV device family. It’s not a streaming-compatible device, nor is it cloud-based. Looked at another way, though, the Recast ports live programming and makes it available through the Fire TV portal. From this perspective, it makes perfect sense. It’s another example of Amazon combining all of the entertainment options into one easy to use, voice-enabled interface.
Amazon has a lot of success making plug and play devices that work well and are easy to use. They might not be as customizable as a Tablo DVR or programmable like a Kodi box. But the interface is familiar, predictable, and already has voice compatibility. If you already have a Fire TV stick, Kindle, or Echo Show, you will appreciate how easy the Recast is to install and use.
You can record anything that plays on the over-the-air broadcast channels that you receive. You’ll need an HD antenna to access broadcast channels in your area. Most people in an urban setting receive signals from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW, but it varies a bit by location. The terrain near your home and the distance to broadcast towers can make some signals stronger than others.
Find out what channels you’ll receive by entering your home address on the NoCable website or in the free app to find out what channels you can receive with a digital antenna.
You can play live or recorded shows on any Fire TV device or Echo Show that is on the same Wi-Fi network and registered to the same Amazon account. The Fire TV Recast DVR works with all generations of Fire TV streaming media players like the Fire TV stick and the Fire TV Cube as well as all of the Fire TV edition televisions.
You can also watch live or recorded programs on compatible mobile devices with the Android or iOS app or on a Fire tablet. One feature that the Recast doesn’t offer is that it can’t record from any source other than over-the-air broadcast so that it won’t work with a cable, satellite, or streaming subscription.
You can watch live or recorded programs on any two of these devices simultaneously.
The Recast makes it easy to take your favorite broadcast shows anywhere in the house or on the road. Watch your favorite live or recorded programs at home or take them with you on a Fire tablet or compatible iOS or Android mobile app. Record shows airing live and watch them on-the-go using a cellular or Wi-Fi connection.
The seamless compatibility with the Fire TV devices and Alexa makes the Recast easy to use. You can search for a show or schedule a recording using voice commands. Ask Alexa to change over-the-air channels, pause, or delete a recording when you’re done watching.
One thoughtful design element in the Recast is that you can place it anywhere in your home. You’ll need to purchase an HD antenna separately, but once it is installed and connected to the Recast, you can place the devices somewhere with a clear line of sight to the broadcast towers. The ability to place the device anywhere in your home without attaching it directly to a viewing device means you can optimize the placement for antenna reception.
Fire TV Recast only records over-the-air programming. Your home must have an HD antenna installed to receive broadcast channels. You have to have at least one Fire TV device like a Fire TV stick, Echo Show, or Fire TV edition television on the same Wi-Fi network as the Recast. You’ll also need to download and use the free Fire TV app on a Fire tablet, iOS device, or Android device.
The Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR has two configurations. The smaller of the two has two tuners so that you can watch two shows at once. It can record and store about 75 hours of HD programming on a 500 GB drive. List price on the day of publication was $189.
The larger configuration costs about $40 more and is currently listed at $229. It has four tuners that allow you to watch two shows at the same time and record two shows at once, or you can record four programs at once. This model can record and store about 150 hours of HD programming on a 1 TB drive.
When streaming to other devices, Fire TV Recast transcodes 1080i streams to a resolution up to 1440x720p using H.264 to ensure that all Fire TV streaming media players work with Fire TV Recast, and to deliver more reliable video streams over Wi-Fi.
Amazon Fire TV products are not feature-rich or customizable, but they are plug and play and give technically challenged users access to sophisticated controls without having to struggle with compatibility issues or hardware knowledge. For a DVR that makes it easy to watch live and recorded TV on the go and at home with no monthly fee, the Fire TV Recast is a solid choice for consumers who already have one Fire TV device in the home.
Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, "I was the remote for our TV growing up."
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