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If you want to watch over-the-air (OTA) television, like your town’s nightly news broadcast or a late-night talk show, you need a way to get it onto the devices where you want to watch them. And if you want to record those shows to watch later, you need a DVR. The new Amazon Fire TV Recast does both. You connect it to an antenna, and it streams all the OTA shows and sports you want to watch onto your TV and mobile devices. It also gives you a whopping amount of storage for saving programs to watch later.
The Fire TV Recast isn’t for everyone. But if you’re in the market for a DVR, it’s one of the less expensive options on the market because it doesn’t have a subscription fee. One downside, though, is that it requires additional devices to work.
Here’s what you need to know before buying the Amazon Fire TV Recast.
What is Amazon Fire TV Recast?
The Amazon Fire TV Recast is a digital video recorder (DVR) that lets you watch broadcast television in real time or record it and watch it later. Using any old antenna, you can get OTA content onto one television set, Fire tablets, and mobile devices. You can even watch shows when you’re not home.
The Fire TV Recast has multiple tuners, too, which means you can record different shows simultaneously. So if there’s a sports game on at the same time as The Good Place on NBC, you can record both, or watch one while saving the other for later.
As an object, the Fire TV Recast is little more than a black box with a few ports on the back and a button to initiate a Wi-Fi connection. A coaxial cable port lets you connect to an antenna. An Ethernet connection point gives you an option to hook up the Fire TV Recast directly to your router. There’s a power port for plugging in the device via the included cable. And there’s a USB slot that will eventually allow for external storage but isn’t useful for the time being. Note, there’s no SD card slot.
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What else do you need?
To use the Fire TV Recast, you need extra components. For starters, you need an HD antenna to pull in the OTA content. Antennas aren’t particularly expensive, maybe $25 or so, but if you don’t have one yet, be sure you account for the extra cost. (Here’s our guide to the best HD antennas.)
Because the Amazon Fire TV Recast is essentially just a box with no interface, you also need a device that lets you set up and operate the device. You have a few options, such as a Fire TV Stick or any other Fire TV streaming device. An Amazon Echo Show will do the trick as well. Another way to get the interface is to use the free Fire TV mobile app for iOS, Android, or 5th gen or later Fire tablets. You also need this app if you want to watch television shows on your mobile devices. Note: You cannot get the Fire TV app on a computer or through a web app, only mobile devices.
During set up, be sure that your Fire TV streaming media player or Echo Show is on the same network and registered to the same Amazon account as the Fire TV Recast.
You do not need an Amazon Prime membership to use the Fire TV Recast work, although considering all the other Amazon ecosystem products you need to make it work, you probably already have one.
How to set up and use the Fire TV Recast
Once you have all the pieces, find a good place to put your antenna, such as near a window. Feel free to leave the Fire TV Recast near it. You don’t need to put the box near your television set. Go ahead and tuck it under an end table or shove it into a closet.
To set up, connect the antenna to the Fire TV Recast and plug in the device. Then launch the app and follow the prompts.
When the Fire TV Recast is ready, you can browse a list of channels in the app. If you want to watch anything from a cable channel, you’ll still need a cable or live TV subscription. But anything that’s OTA will be listed and freely available. Then, you can start watching or program the DVR to record shows for later.
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One neat convenience is that you don’t have to be in your home to stream content on mobile devices. Even when you’re away, you can stream content through the app, even over 4G.
When you are home, however, you can use a paired Echo-compatible device to control the Fire TV Recast with your voice. For example, you can say, “Alexa, open the channel guide,” or “Alexa, record The Late Show.”
Amazon Fire TV Recast cost and availability
When buying an Amazon Fire TV Recast, you have two options. For $229.99, you can get one that has two tuners and 500GB of storage. For $279.99, you can get four tuners and 1TB of storage. The number of tuners equates to how many shows you can record simultaneously.
As to storage, how much video you can put on 1TB depends on the quality of the show. A rough estimate puts it at about 150 hours for HD. The 500GB model should comfortably hold 75 hours of HD video.
You can buy it through Amazon now or in select stores such as Best Buy, but check for availability first.
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What channels can you watch?
The exact channels and shows you can watch depends on your geographic location. Still, you can expect to see networks such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and the CW.
If you pay for a cable subscription, you can get access to those channels via the interface, too. And of course, you’ll still have access to all the on-demand content you normally get with your Fire TV streaming device.
Should you buy an Amazon Fire TV Recast?
If you’re looking to watch OTA television with the convenience of streaming it to nearly any device, and you’re in the market for a DVR, consider the Amazon Fire TV Recast. Not having a monthly subscription fee sets it apart from plenty of other DVRs, such as TiVo. It also slots in nicely to households using other Amazon products. Just be sure you have all the required companion devices before committing to it.
New to cord-cutting? Here are our picks for the best movie streaming sites of 2018 and free live TV apps and channels. If you’re looking for a specific channel, here’s how to watch HBO, Showtime, Starz, Sundance TV, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, AMC, FX, Fox News, Freeform, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, FS1, TBS, TNT, Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, Syfy, HGTV, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Bravo, Lifetime, Discovery, PBS, the CW, BBC, CSPAN, NBA TV, MTV, Comedy Central, Food Network, TLC, HLN, A&E, Animal Planet, National Geographic, the Weather Channel, the History Channel, and NFL RedZone without cable, as well as free movies on YouTube. If you’re on the move, here’s how to watch Fox Sports Go and live stream NBC Sports.
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Jill Duffy is a writer covering technology and personal productivity. She writes most often about software, fitness gadgets, and smart home devices. Her work has appeared in PCMag, FastCompany, Vogue India, The Ritz-Carlton Magazine, Prevention Magazine, and other publications. She has lived in the U.S., U.K., and India, and currently resides in Romania.