Amazon Fire TV Recast Setup Process and Antenna Tips

Networked OTA tuners and DVRs are fairly notorious for having overly cumbersome and often confusing setup processes. This stems from the fact that the devices don’t have a user interface of their own and require external apps or devices to configure the tuner. Amazon has done a fairly decent job making the Fire TV Recast’s setup an easy process. Here’s what the setup process is like, what you’ll need to start using the device, and some tips for getting the best antenna placement and signal strength.

To set up the Fire TV Recast, you’ll need a smartphone/tablet, an HD antenna, and a coax cable, which usually comes with the antenna. Surprisingly, you actually don’t technically need a Fire TV to set up the Fire TV Recast. After setting it up with a phone/tablet, you can start watching content through the phone/tablet or an Echo Show without having ever turned on an actual Fire TV. Several functions, such as managing recordings, are currently only possible through a Fire TV, so it’s certainly a good idea to have one around, but you won’t need it for the setup process.

Setting up the Fire TV Recast is done through the existing Fire TV app, which is available in the Amazon Appstore, Google Play Store, and Apple App Store. The app was formerly just used to turn your phone/tablet into a Fire TV remote, but it has received a major update that also makes it the main app for the Fire TV Recast. Once setup is complete, you use the same Fire TV app to watch content from the Fire TV Recast on your mobile device.

At the bottom of the Fire TV app is a link to begin setting up a Fire TV Recast. You’ll want to make sure you’re logged into the same Amazon account that you use for your Fire TVs and Echos, to ensure that your devices see the Fire TV Recast once it is fully set up. After a few initial welcome screens, you’ll be asked to grant the app permission to read your location.

After granting location permission, the app asks for the range of your antenna. It uses these two pieces of information to determine which cardinal direction is best for mounting your antenna. Since a strong antenna signal is crucial to a good experience with the Fire TV Recast, the setup process spends a lot of time helping you optimize antenna placement.

The setup process then proceeds to present several antenna placement tips. These include things like placing the Fire TV Recast and antenna on the topmost floor where you still have a strong WiFi signal. It’s also preferable to place the antenna on a glass window, as opposed to on a wall, when using an indoor antenna. If placed on a wall, it’s far better to use a wall made of drywall or plaster, as opposed to a stone/concrete/brick or metal wall. Later during the setup process, when you scan for channels, you’ll be able to reposition your antenna and rescan without restarting the entire setup process. This allows you to easily try multiple antenna locations if you’d like.

Now that you’re educated on general antenna placement tips, the setup process tells you which of the 4 cardinal directions is best for your specific location. Essentially, it’s using your proximity to broadcast antennas in your area, as well as the range of your own antenna, to determine which direction will result in the most number of channels. You should generally follow the suggestion, but you can always try other directions and rescan later on to determine what is best. With the antenna mounted and connected to the Fire TV Recast, it’s time to plug in the power cable and turn it in.

Next, the phone/tablet will establish a direct WiFi connection to the Fire TV Recast. This process will be very familiar to anyone who has ever set up an Echo device. If the phone/tablet does not automatically connect, you’ll need to manually select the “Amazon-XXX” WiFi network through your phone/tablet’s WiFi settings menu. Once a connection is established, you select which WiFi network for the Fire TV Recast to use and it proceeds to register itself with your Amazon account once it has an internet connection. It also appears to download software updates at this point, since a second “Connecting to Fire TV Recast” step appears, after the registration step, that takes several minutes.

After finishing the connection and registration process, the Fire TV Recast jumps right into scanning for channels. After the scan is complete, a list of found channels is shown. At this point, if you’d like, you can try repositioning the antenna and rescanning for channels to see if the new antenna position results in more found channels. You can essentially do this as many times as you’d like. Unfortunately, there’s no indication at this point of how strong the signal strength is for each channel. You should just try to maximize the number of channels found and I’ll tell you below how to check and optimize for signal strength using the Fire TV device itself.

After scanning for channels, the setup process is complete. At this point, you can immediately tune into a live broadcast using the phone/tablet app or even an Echo Show, although you’ll probably want to hop onto a Fire TV device next. Your Fire TV devices should all automatically now have a new “DVR” option in their main navigation menu at the top of the home screen. If they don’t, you should first try restarting the device by going to Settings > My Fire TV > Restart. If the DVR menu still doesn’t appear, you can scan for the Fire TV Recast by going to Settings > Live TV > Live TV Sources > Fire TV Recast.

The new DVR menu, as well as a new “On Now” row on your Fire TV’s home screen, is where you’ll access all of your Fire TV Recast channels, recordings, and settings. Before jumping in to watch content and schedule recordings, I recommend taking a few more minutes to check and optimize the signal strength of the channels you’ll be viewing the most.

To do this, on your Fire TV device, go to the Settings > Live TV > Channel Management > All menu. Here you’ll see a list of all the channels that your Fire TV Recast has found. Scroll down to a channel you’ll be watching often and you’ll see a live feed of the channel appear on the right, as well as the channel signal strength. This interface will let you quickly check the channels that you care the most about to see if they’re coming in clearly. If they aren’t, just leave the channel selected and try repositioning your antenna until the channel is clear. You can also add channels to your list of favorites from this interface by simply pressing the menu (hamburger) button on your remote while a channel is highlighted. If you need to, you can trigger a rescan of all channels by backing out to the Live TV menu and selecting the Live TV Sources > Fire TV Recast > Channel Scan option.

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20 comments
  1. Taylor says:

    I know this is not sold in Canada, but do we know if it will work in Canada?

  2. Fred says:

    Thanks for the professional review, which others were more this in depth

  3. Michael says:

    Waiting for the next story on this device. Wanting to know about pause, FF thru commercials, rewind to see a play etc. Speed of the remote and interaction.

    Super job on set-up and install with the app. Hope the Amazon folks link to the stories to make it less of a challange for the “always had cable” crowd.

  4. Hoosiertech says:

    What I’m most curious about is the guide data and DvR functionality. What are they using as a source for their guide data? Does it properly recognize new episodes and only record those when you set a series recording?

    Other options for recordings like can you just set it to record a certain timeframe on a station every week? Will it look for later airings of an episode if you have several recordings set at once? etc. etc.

    It seems with all the other solutions I have tried, HDHomeRun,Plex,NEXTPVR etc. The weakness is always the guide and the intelligence of the DVR options. None seem to ever work as well as my old Dish or Xfinity DVR even from 10 years ago.

    I’m hopeful considering the size of Amazon and resources available they just might be able to get it right versus these smaller players in the space.

  5. Ray says:

    What’s been a dealbreaker for me on devices like the Tablo was the need to wait until the show finishes recording before being able to watch it. I usually let a show record a while before jumping in to watching it (Saturday Night Live is a good example) so I can skip through the commercials, but I do not want to have to wait until the entire episode has finished. Can you report on that aspect when you get a chance, Elias?

    • Brandt says:

      I have two current whole home DVR solutions up and going in my house, Tablo and Plex using the HDHomeRun Quatro tuner. You can do exactly what you are suggesting with the Tablo, jump in during the recording whenever you would like, fast forward, rewind, etc., while it’s still recording and airing live. The Plex OTA DVR currently has the limitation you are describing, I have to either join the recording live at it’s real live air time, or wait until the recording is complete to view it.

      • Ray says:

        That’s good to hear. When I was considering the Tablo a year or so ago, that was a limitation. I’m glad to hear it’s not anymore.

        • Brandt says:

          I believe you got some bad info from someone. That’s never been a limitation of the Tablo. The ability to time shift inside of a currently airing recording has been available on the platform since it’s original creation.

          • Ray says:

            I got that bit of information in a conversation with Jared Newman who writes the Cord-Cutter Confidential, and if anybody knows the scoop on devices like this, it’s Jared. It may no longer be an issue, but if Jared says it was at one time, I give him the benefit of the doubt.

  6. Ray says:

    Oh, and excellent job putting this in-depth report together. This one looked like a lot of work.

  7. Michael says:

    Does it only have 720p resolution for all recordings? I recall that being discussed. My Tivo does 1080i and it looks fantastic on my 4k TV since it’s a pixel by pixel increase compared to 720.

  8. Roger says:

    Sad this doesn’t have a signal strength meter to more accurately position the antenna.

  9. Steve says:

    I received mine the day it released and setup was super easy. I’ve been enjoying my antenna channels more than my PS Vue subscription ever since. I think they did a good job with this device.

  10. Kim Plumlee says:

    I cannot get additional Amazon Fire TV Sticks to connect to the Recast. I’ve done a complete Factory Reset on the Recast and done a Restart on both Fire Sticks. When I go to Settings, there is not an option for Live TV. Not sure what else to do. These 2 firesticks were added a few days after I set up the Recast with the 4K Firestick that came with it. They are all on the same Network and all show up in my Amazon account and on my phone.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  11. Jeff S says:

    I just spent a miserable two hours trying to get this to work – I could never get the DVR option to show up on my month-old Fire TV 4K firestick. Finally found the solution was simply that the Firestick needed to have a system software update. Took some digging to figure this out since it doesn’t tell you it’s out of date and the Recast doesn’t offer any guidance either – it just doesn’t work unless you have the latest Firestick system software. Then it works great.

  12. Don says:

    For the people whom have the Amazon Fire Stick go to Settings > Device > About > update… once the fire stick is updated, you should see the DVR option. I was getting pretty frustrated as well.

  13. Brian says:

    Jeff and Don, thanks for the news on the update. I consider myself more tech-savvy than 95% of the population but this was totally non-intuitive. I had to update a brand new Fire Stick to make it work. This is a major F****K UP by Amazon in my opinion. I’ve had a HomerunHD and Tablo. Both were easier to get working than this. Once you know the trick it works great but Amazon’s setting themselves up to fail with this one.

  14. iris says:

    If I travel to overseas can the recast be use at overseas? Europe, China or Dubai?

  15. Eddy says:

    Elias, have you noticed buffering when using Ethernet. I called support today about this issue and they told me to switch to wireless as they seem to be seeing these issues on a wired connection. I am curious to know if you also experienced this buffering on Ethernet.

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