Amid Amazon’s vast array of Fire TV devices, the Fire TV Recast looks like the ugly duckling.
This wireless antenna DVR was released almost three years ago and has received little or no significant software enhancement since then. In interviews, Amazon has subtly indicated that Recast hasn’t been a huge hit with cable cutters, and some of its features have become more difficult to access in the most recent Fire TV interface update.
But with the Fire TV Recast selling at a deep discount on its week,BuyDig has it for $ 114, down from the original $ 230, and more discounts are likely around Black Friday, it’s worth taking one last look at the Recast to see if it’s still a worthy investment.
Fire TV Recast explained
Fire TV Recast is similar to other wireless network DVRs, such as Tablo Dual / Quad, AirTV Anywhere, and Channels DVRs. However, it does not have its own HDMI output; as such, it does not connect directly to your television.
Instead, set up the Recast in an area with strong antenna reception and use your Wi-Fi network to stream the video to other Fire TV devices, like the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max. That way, a single antenna and a DVR box can power multiple televisions throughout the house. (You need to supply your own antenna).
The base model for sale via BuyDig this week It has 500GB of storage, good for recording roughly 75 hours of video, and can play or record up to two live channels at once. Amazon also sells a model with 1TB of storage that can tune in to four channels at once, although that is not currently sold at a discount. Both models support external USB hard drives, so you can add more recording space over time.
Unlike Tablo, Channels DVR, and Plex DVR, Recast has no subscription fees. But it also has a major downside: it can only stream video to Fire TV devices, iOS devices, and Android mobile devices. If you prefer other TV streaming platforms, such as Roku, Chromecast, or Apple TV, Recast is not to begin with.
How does Recast hold up today?
It’s been a while since I dusted off the Fire TV Recast review unit Amazon sent me in late 2018, so I was curious to see how the experience held up.
The setup, done through the Fire TV mobile app, wasn’t that easy this time. Although the Recast seemed to connect with my Wi-Fi router from about four feet away, and it even showed up online at Amazon Device Management Website, I was unable to establish a connection through my iPhone, Android phone, or Fire TV devices. After an hour of rebooting and resetting, without the help of the Recast anemic support page—I was able to connect through the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Pixel 4A 5G phone, but my iPhone refused to connect.
At least the main viewing experience still works quite well. The recast channels appear directly within the Fire TV live guide, which in turn gained prominence in Amazon’s latest interface update. From Amazon’s channel grid, you can watch Recast over-the-air channels along with other live streaming sources, and you can filter the list by source and mark channels as favorites.
That level of integration extends to the rest of the Amazon home screen. Live channels appear in the “Recently Viewed” section near the top of the screen, and shows you’ve recorded appear in search results. You can also use Alexa voice commands to play a specific channel over the air or jump to your DVR.
DVR options remain strong too. You can add buffer times to each recording, keep only a certain number of recent episodes, and limit recordings to a specific channel. Recast lets you automatically pause and rewind live TV, and you can watch recordings while the show is still in progress.
Still, the issues that previously made Recast imperfect have continued to be encountered in recent years. Amazon never fixed the image pixelation that I mentioned in my original review, it’s still present even on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, giving still images a strong gradient. Amazon also doesn’t help at all with ad skipping. There’s no automatic business detection, like that found on Tablo, Plex, and Channels DVRs, and you don’t even get a visual preview when you fast-forward through recordings.
Some of the changes to the Amazon interface have also made the Recast experience worse. The DVR menu, which once had its own tab on the home screen, is now buried within the Live tab, where you have to browse through multiple rows of unrelated content to get to it. Amazon also rejected their mini guide, so you can’t switch live channels without reducing the live video to the size of a thumbnail.
Those may be reasonable trade-offs for a subscription-free DVR that’s just $ 114 at the time of writing, at least if you’re fully into Fire TV streaming players, but it also underscores how the Recast has become an afterthought. in Amazon Lineup.
How long will Recast last?
Given that the Recast is already three years old, it is reasonable to wonder if it is nearing the end of its support life.
I don’t think it is a big concern if you are satisfied with the product as it exists today. As I wrote last week, Amazon now guarantees at least four years of security updates for its products, starting when they were last available for sale on Amazon.com. That gives the Recast at least until 2025 for basic patches.
And while Amazon could potentially decide to stop providing TV guide data for Recast owners, that too seems unlikely to me. Amazon already provides the same guidance data for antenna users on its Fire TV Edition smart TVs, and the impact of Recast users on Amazon’s results is likely a rounding error. Additionally, those users are firmly rooted in the Amazon ecosystem, seeing its ads on the home screen and possibly making additional purchases.
Just don’t expect Fire TV Recast to get better over time. Last March, I asked Sandeep Gupta, Amazon vice president and general manager of Fire TV, about the status of the Recast, and he didn’t exactly describe a bright future for the product. He noted that users are heavily leaning towards streaming services now, making over-the-air television less important than it was before, and said Recast had some technical barriers to entry.
“In general, people are more comfortable downloading an app and being able to access live content, rather than trying to set up something like a Recast,” Gupta said at the time.
Amazon deserves some credit for making a whole-home antenna DVR in the first place, but ultimately, it’s a niche product category best left to smaller players like Tablo, Channels, Plex, and AirTV. That could explain why he’s now listed on BuyDig, a site known for clean aged products“Less than half the price.”
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