Amazon’s super-simple Fire TV Recast is a great way to record broadcast TV

Amazon's Fire TV Recast brings old-school TV into the streaming era

If you’re a dedicated cord-cutter or a rural viewer without reliable cable, on-demand access to your favorite network shows can be a pain to find. Sure, a quality HDTV antenna is a great way to get local programming for many, but who has the patience to rearrange their schedules for appointment viewing in the streaming era? Thankfully a whole new generation of over-the-air (OTA) DVRs has emerged to solve this problem, including Amazon’s own Fire TV Recast.

A simple black box that connects to your home network, the Fire TV Recast DVR delivers your local on-demand programming inside Amazon’s popular Fire TV ecosystem, all but guaranteeing users will never miss their favorite local broadcasts again. We spent a few weeks putting it through its paces and came away impressed.

Some extras required

Amazon Fire TV Cube
You’ll need one of Amazon’s Fire TV streamers, like the Amazon Fire TV Cube (pictured) Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Before you add the Recast to your Amazon shopping cart, it’s worth noting that to use Amazon’s latest device, you’ll need some auxiliary items. First, you’ll need one of Amazon’s Fire TV streamers (a Fire TV Stick, Cube, or a TV with Amazon’s interface built-in will do). Second, of course, you’ll need a quality HD antenna. You can purchase these items at relatively affordable prices (you can likely get both of them for under $50 total), but it’s worth noting that both are required to interface with the Fire TV Recast.

Finally, this may seem obvious but not all viewers live in a location that’s able to receive over-the-air TV programming. If you’re unsure about your location, you can check your broadcast availability by visiting a site like Antennaweb.org.

Easy setup

Once you’ve got all the gear you’ll need, the Fire TV Recast is remarkably easy to get up and running. Simply plug it into your router, attach your antenna’s coaxial cable, and plug in the included power cable. We tested the device in two locations, and in both instances, it took less than five minutes to set up — no fuss at all.

Amazon Fire TV ReCast
Amazon Fire TV ReCast Riley Young/Digital Trends

Once the box is connected, simply make sure your Fire TV device(s) is on the same network. If it is, you’ll immediately notice a “DVR” tab appear on the top of your Fire TV’s menu list, as well as the option to navigate live TV channels from the home screen.

Frankly, it’s rare that any piece of A/V gear is as easy to plug and play as this one.

It’s also nice that you can place the Recast away from your TV, as long as it’s on the same network as your Fire TV device. This is in contrast to some competing OTA DVRs, such as TiVo’s Bolt, which plugs directly into your TV, meaning you’ll be limited as to where you can place your antenna. On the other hand, the Fire TV Recast is limited by the fact that it must be hardwired into an Ethernet port, so users should also keep this in mind.

No cable, no problems

The Fire TV Recast comes in both 500GB ($230) and 1TB ($280) sizes, which works out to around 75 or 150 hours of programming, respectively. All shows are recorded at 720p at 60 frames per second, which is pretty good quality for an over-the-air DVR. Tablo‘s similarly priced OTA DVR tops out at 30 frames per second for 480i and 1080i content, and even Plex’s over the air DVR system (which requires added hardware) will only offer 60 frames per second with higher-end hardware like the Nvidia Shield TV.

The Recast also supports 5.1 surround sound, so you’ll get immersive sound should you have a full surround system connected.

Fantastic interface

It’s difficult to overstate just how simple and well-integrated the Fire TV Recast’s interface is into the overall Fire TV menu; it really feels like a well-designed addition to the Fire TV world, rather than an afterthought meant to appease cord cutters and rural viewers. Quite frankly, adding the live TV component to Fire TV makes these streaming devices more compelling than ever, and we wish this feature would be integrated into standalone Fire TV models like the Fire TV Cube.

As it is, finding, recording, and simply enjoying broadcast programming is easy and intuitive.

Amazon Fire TV ReCast
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Once you’ve selected the new DVR section in your Fire TV’s menu, you can quickly scroll between different TV channels to watch live. If you find a show you want to record, simply press the menu button and choose the “record” option. Once done, the Fire TV Recast will ask if you want to record just this episode or the entire series, making it extremely easy to always have the latest episode of your favorite show on demand. You can also record up to two programs in real-time — a nice touch. In comparison, Tablo’s two Dual models also offer two TV tuners, while the Tablo Four offers four, as does TiVo’s Bolt. Some might say that only offering two tuners makes the Fire TV Recast a bit of a lightweight compared to TiVo and higher end Tablo models, but we’ve got to be honest: At no point in the testing period did we find it a hindrance to saving our favorite shows.

The Fire TV Recast will automatically start deleting older content when it reaches its hard drive limit, but you can manually tell it which recordings you don’t want to delete. Perhaps the biggest omission in the Fire TV is the lack of ability to skip ads — something TiVo and Tablo both offer. You can fast-forward in 30-second increments, but it won’t detect what is an ad, and what isn’t.

A great solution for Fire TV faithful

At $230 for the 500 gig model, the Fire TV Recast is a well-designed and cost-effective solution for easy access to on-demand local programming and network TV. The Recast works exactly as advertised, making it a great option for Fire TV fans in need of an over-the-air recording solution.

Paying up for at least a few on-demand streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime will be most effective for most users — after all, there’s little reason to have a Fire TV streaming device if you don’t stream TV. A combination of both options offers a great way to get a lot of quality programming, on-demand and at a low price.

Home Theater

Don't need sports or local channels? Philo can save you some cash

Philo is an affordable live TV streaming service, with an impressive channel list and feature set. With more hardware support, unlimited DVR, and greatly improved TV Everywhere features, the service is now even easier to recommend.
Home Theater

These TVs might cost less than $1,000, but they certainly don’t perform like it

Check out our picks for the best TVs under $1,000 to enjoy top-shelf features like 4K Ultra HD, High Dynamic Range, and gorgeous image processing. Park yourself here to find the absolute best values in TV land.
Deals

Take a gander at the best deals on 4K TVs for April 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Home Theater

The best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Movies & TV

Want to make Netflix browsing even easier? Try this useful trick

If you know exactly what category of film you're looking for on Netflix, you'll find this hack for the streaming service useful. It allows you to manually browse genres and subgenres of interest.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on HBO and what’s leaving in May 2019

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. May 2019 brings the Deadwood movie, the final episode of Game of Thrones, and the PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 on HBO.
Product Review

Microsoft’s $350 Surface Headphones are a good first try, but not good enough

Microsoft’s Surface Headphones are stylish, comfortable, and have great noise-canceling, but at $350 a pair, they’ll have a hard time matching the industry leaders like Sony and Bose.
Home Theater

FiOS problems: The potholes in Verizon's fiber internet and how to fix them

Verizon FiOS offers no just fiber internet, but TV and home phone service as well. See what kind of problems, issues, and trouble other Verizon FiOS users have reported before you decide to sign up for the service.
Home Theater

Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless headphones get a $93 price cut

Good head-fi is expensive, but a premium set of headphones is worth it. The excellent Bose Quietcomfort 35 Series II is on sale right now from Rakuten with a two-day coupon code that can save you more than 90 bucks.
Mobile

Weird Galaxy View 2 is a TV-style tablet to take your mind off the Galaxy Fold

Samsung may be about to resurrect a product line that last saw an entry three years ago. Renders of the Galaxy View 2 show it's sticking to the tablet-that-thinks-it's-a-TV formula.
Mobile

The best Bluetooth headsets of 2019, from Sennheiser to Jabra

Quality headsets are rare. Here are our picks for the best Bluetooth headsets available, whether you need something modest, cheap, or loaded with features. We highlight the best Bluetooth headsets you can get for different situations.
Home Theater

From game consoles to 4K UHD spinners, these are the best Blu-ray players

Streaming may be popular, but the disc isn't dead yet. To get the very best picture and sound quality from your system, you need to be watching Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and these are the best Blu-ray players you can buy.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek forms, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.