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.