Amazon Fire TV Recast will support External USB Storage after launch

During the scramble to cover the myriad of different devices that Amazon announced last week, one detail about the Fire TV Recast that slipped past me is that Amazon has officially confirmed that they will be adding support for external storage to the DVR soon after it is released. This will allow customers to use the USB port on the back of the device to store even more content than the internal drive can hold.

The Fire TV Recast comes with either 500GB or 1TB of internal storage, depending on whether you select the 2-tuner model or the 4-tuner model. Amazon says that 150 hours of recorded content will fit on the 1TB model. If that doesn’t sound like enough room, or if you purchase the lower capacity model and decide you need more space, you’ll be able to easily expand the device’s storage capacity by connecting an external USB hard drive.

With 8TB external drives costing around $150 right now, that would add about 1,200 hours of recording capacity to the Fire TV Recast. If you’re confident that you won’t ever need to watch or record more than 2 programs simultaneously but are considering the 4-tuner model for its larger internal storage, you might want to consider buying the 2-tuner model instead and using the $50 you saved to buy a 2TB external drive when external storage support is added, resulting in over twice the storage of the 4-tuner model.

Support for external hard drives might also make offloading recorded content from the Fire TV Recast possible or easier. As mentioned in my article about the DVR’s video specs, Amazon’s official stance is that customers cannot transfer recorded content off of the Fire TV Recast, but many existing DVRs make the same statement yet it’s easy to pull files off of them, so I’m confident the same will be true for the Fire TV Recast. The device stores video as raw unprotected MPEG-2 files, so it will hopefully be possible to pull those files off of the external hard drive and convert them to something like h.264 or h.265 encoded MKV files to achieve more space efficient long-term storage.

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27 comments
  1. fred says:

    Is it true with the four tuner model you can only watch two streams at a time, because only 2 of the tuners transcode?

    • AFTVnews says:

      It’s true that you can only watch 2 streams simultaneously, but it has nothing to do with the tuners.

      Simultaneous scenarios that ARE possible on the 4-tuner mode:
      – Watch 2 live channels while recording 2 other channels
      – Watch 2 recorded videos while recording 4 channels

      Simultaneous scenarios that ARE NOT possible on the 4-tuner mode:
      – Watch 3 or more recorded videos simultaneously
      – Watch 3 or more live channels simultaneously

    • Tim S says:

      UMMMM ya all,,, “tuners” only tune in (or decode) OTA broadcast channels.
      So you can access up to 2 OTA channels simultaneously w/a 2 tuner DVR.
      Encoding/Decoding is a different segment of the box.

      When you are watching OTA channels, your are not “streaming” as in the internet sense.

      So, the 4 “Tuner” box will give you access to FOUR OTA channels simultaneously.

  2. Frank says:

    I’m going to reserve judgement until we get some hands on reviews and look at the software. It may be to little to late for me as I have both a Tablo and HDHR 4 tuner models

  3. InIrons says:

    I am intrigued with this device… but the price is a bit high and I am curious as to how sensitive the tuners are.

    My Sony TV and my Tivo tuners are very sensitive and CBS off my antenna here come in rock solid, but on my Hdhomerun Connect it pixelates (everyone has some problems with CBS and some pixelation in this area)… so the differences in tuner circuitry are noted.

    I hope the Recast will be in the former group and not the latter.

    • Jeff says:

      I don’t know if this helps much. I purchased the recast 4 tuner. My Samsung’s TV tuner is more sensitive than the recast. The recast tuner is more sensitive than my HD Homerun. I’d like to know if your TiVo is has a more sensitive tuner than the recast, if you pick one up.

      • Inirons says:

        Got the 2 tuner model today, but at this point am redoing setup a 3rd time as its not anywhere as sensitive a tuner as my Sony TV, Vizio tv, Tivos or Hdhomerun. Its connected to outside antenna and on all sources the stations come in nice and clear… But on this device i get pixelation and it takes forever for the cicle to stop spinning on channel changes.

        I may be returning this.

        • Inirons says:

          Ok found out the LAN dongles that are provided with the FireTV Cubes are sketchy… I kept getting connection and losing stream source error.. so removed the LAN dongles from all my FireTV Cubes and went wireless. Then my tuning issues basically were resolved pretty much.

          I am liking the Recast more and more… I was ready to return the Recast as indicated above but I think with a good router the Recast does a good job via wifi (even though I have 1 gig switches and 1 gig lan ports on my router).

          Now its still not as good a tuner as my Tivo or Sony TV tuner but is on the same line as my HDHomeRun tuner

  4. Tim Schllngr says:

    This is exactly what I wanted built into my Element FireTV when I purchased it over Black Friday week last year.
    I love the Element FireTV, but the only thing it is missing is the ability to plug in an external drive for DVR !!!

    Do you think any TV manufacturer will be allowed to incorporate this DVR technology into the Fire TV ??

  5. Garysb007 says:

    You could use the latest Firestick pendant for $39 and connect a hard drive or just connect the DVD to the TV via hdmi cable….

  6. shwru980r says:

    Does the Recast marry the internal and external drives together as one drive or does it access the two drives independently? If the internal drive fails, can you still use the Recast with an external drive?

  7. Midwaybrit says:

    Will I be able to use the Recast with an Apple TV ., or is it only going to work with Fire TV sticks, dongles and cubes ?
    I like not being tied and have the flexibility, as with the HDHomeRun of watching on all brand stuff of devices.

  8. Midwaybrit says:

    Will I be able to use the Recast with an Apple TV ., or is it only going to work with Fire TV sticks, dongles and cubes ?
    I like not being tied and have the flexibility, as with the HDHomeRun of watching on all brands of devices.

    • inIrons says:

      Midwaybrit,

      Per the Recast specs on Amazon’s site, they are saying for devices including but not limited to: “…an iOS device running iOS10 or higher”.

      And Bob’s your uncle…

  9. Justin Cider says:

    Will it be technically possible to cast/recast recorded video from the FireTV Recast using an inTRAnet with a WIFI LAN but no WAN connection???

    The reason for my question is this: I have a vacation home in a very rural area with no broadcast TV or internet at all and it would be nice to take the recast device and a Fire TV device with me when I go so I can watch previously recorded video.

    I would appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this. Thanks

    • InIrons says:

      Unfortunately at this time Justin we simply do not have enough information on this. I have not found any hands on reviews other than press release type of info. If anybody does, please post the link here.

      As an alternative I have a PlayOn Zoomgo Device that you attach a USB drive to and it rebroadcasts on its own wifi signal that you can connect to with android or iOS device. You load up your USB HD or USB stick and attach to the ZoomGo and you connect over its own broadcasted wifi signal with your wifi enabled device (smartphone, tablet, etc)

      Here is the device on amazon:

      https://www.amazon.com/ZoomGo-ZX10-Media-Stick-Charger/dp/B079K5PZFY

      It works very well and its also good for those long trips with the kids in the back seat and they have their own tablets. Each kid can watch their own shows but I am sure there will be a bandwidth limit on # of streams. And it doesnt use your data plan as its all local intranet.

      I think the above would work well with your remote cabin scenario. Just dont watch the Cabin In the Woods… LOL

  10. Sebastian says:

    Two streams at a time still worries me but if that approach removes the channel switching delay that plagues all Tablo models then I am all for it.

    I am happy with Plex DVR but this will be a good device to recommend to friends and family who don’t want to tinker and just want the out of the box solution.

    Great article. I appreciate the technical detail you’re going into.

    • waltf says:

      @Sebastian – In response to your hope that Fire TV Recast may remove ‘the channel switching delay that plagues all Tablo models’ read InIrons -> Jeff -> InIrons thread above:
      InIrons states “…and it takes forever for the cicle [sic] to stop spinning on channel changes.
      I may be returning this.”

      As for me I am still waiting for more hands-on real user reviews before committing to Tablo 4-tuner versus Fire TV 4-tuner models.

      I am going to be using Fire TV sticks on all 4 of my TVs so the issue of device support is not an issue for me (and I am not that interested in watching TV on my phone or tablet).

      Seems that the overall costs are about a wash (Tablo a little higher):
      Tablo:
      3TB USB Drive ($90), Lifetime TV Guide subscription ($150), 4-Tuner Tablo ($250) = $490
      Fire TV Recast:
      4TB USB Drive ($110), 4-Tuner Recast ($280) = $390

      (Above is assuming Amazon supports external USB drive as they have announced – I will not buy until they do, If they wait too long I will just go ahead and buy Tablo)

      Note that I used 3TB in the Tablo and a 4TB for the Recast (Total of 5TB including 1TB internal) as the Table can store (best quality) at 4.6G/hour and the Recast is fixed at 6.6G/hour.

      That works out to about 652 hours for the Tablo and 757 hours for the Recast (you could drop the cost of the Recast about $10, and drop the recording hours to about 606, by using the same 3TB Drive).

      • Sebastian says:

        @waltf Keep in mind that Recast is only 2 streams at a time. This might be a problem if you need to serve 4 screens and mobile devices. If channel switching delays are not a problem for you then Tablo might be a better option since I believe they can do 6 devices at a time.

        Also, single Tablo lifetime subscription can have multiple boxes “attached” to it in case if you need to expand and add more tuners in the future.

        Don’t get me wrong I like Recast a lot but it will probably not work for so many TVs especially if you watch OTA a lot. OTA is more secondary for me so Recast would be perfect.

  11. Stan LaMuth says:

    Any updates on support for adding external storage to the FireTV Recast? It’s been months since the release and I’ve not seen the subject mentioned since before the release of the device .

  12. Wingnutt says:

    Will the recast allow the 3rd gen fire tv to run w/o having to clear cashe and data often. I use kodi and it does take up space, plus a few amazon unremovable apps like games, alexa, amazon shopping, etc. are useless to me. Or should I root the fire tv to remove those apps that I’ll never use? I still want a recast because it works smoothly with my fire tv unlike my present ota reviever.

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