Amazon is reportedly working on a DVR accessory for the Fire TV and Smartphones

Amazon is reportedly working on a new device that will record live television and stream those recordings to Fire TVs and smartphones, according to a person familiar with the plans that has spoken with Bloomberg. The project is codenamed “Frank” inside Amazon and is said to be a DVR with its own physical storage.

The Frank DVR is said to “connect to Amazon’s existing Fire TV boxes.” That could simply mean that Fire TV devices can connect to it over the network to watch recorded videos or it could mean that the DVR must be physically connected to a Fire TV to work. I would guess it’s the first scenario, since that’s how devices like the Tablo and HDHomeRun work, but the leak does not specify.

What is also not specified is the source of the recorded content. The leak states that the DVR “records live TV” but does not mention how the video enters the DVR device. It is unknown if the DVR uses a built-in TV tuner, relies on an external networked TV tuner, uses a cable card, or some other means of acquiring its video feed.

Program guide interface from Fire TV Edition televisions

Earlier this year, I predicted that Amazon would release a networked OTA TV Tuner with built-in DVR. They already have a great unified experience with their Fire TV Edition televisions that very nicely blends together OTA content with streaming content. They just need a device that will allow them to bring that experience to Fire TV and Fire TV Stick owners and this leaked Frank DVR sounds exactly like the device to do it.

A possible release date for the Frank DVR was not revealed. The person familiar with the plans indicated that it’s not guaranteed to be released at all and that it “could either be canceled or delayed.”

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21 comments
  1. tampa8 says:

    Intriguing. This highlights why some of us thought the new Fire TV Cube would have a coax input and be able to incorporate OTA.

    • AFTVnews says:

      If you say “Alexa, open Guide” to any Fire TV device, it will load a “Live TV” settings screen. It’s the same exact settings screen that is on the Fire TV Edition televisions for scanning OTA channels, but it doesn’t do anything on Fire TVs. I always assumed it was just unintentionally left over, since all Fire OS devices share common components, but maybe it being there is intentional.

  2. MikeS says:

    That’s odd. This isn’t exactly a new and/or under-served market. I’ve always thought of Amazon as being near the leading edge of new tech stuff. I’ve been using SiliconDust HomeRuns for a loong time now alongside various devices and Windows Media Center, Plex and Kodi.

    I guess as long as it’s not overpriced, I’d be willing to play around with one and see if it’s worth changing to yet another system. But, if it’s anything like the latest CubeTV, I might wait for a year or two to pass before trying it out.

    If it works well with the original FireTV and is comfortable enough to be 2nd nature, it could work.

    • AFTVnews says:

      I think this device doesn’t have a big market, but it’s necessary to complete Amazon’s position as a complete cord cutting solution. This DVR is like the Fire TV’s equivalent of the Echo Connect. For the Echo to be considered a complete communication device, it needs a way to receive land-line calls, so the Echo Connect is born. For the Fire TV to be a complete cord cutting device, it needs a way to receive all your local channels, so the Fire TV DVR is born.

  3. Charlie says:

    It seems logical fireTV Edition TV tuners could be a source for the DVR recordings.

  4. Brian says:

    anyone else notice the prediction post strangely starts with “Frankly, …” and the DVR is code name “Frank”? hmmm….

    • AFTVnews says:

      I’ve said in the past that I often know more about a topic than I’m able to share at any given time. I have many sources with insider knowledge and one of the ways they trust me with information is that they are always in full control of what gets published and how it gets published.

      That said, the first word of the “prediction” article was chosen very deliberately as an Easter Egg for Amazon employees who read the site. ;-)

  5. X says:

    The lead paragraph reports that Amazon’s new device will “work around cable providers”, is there any way currently that Amazon could create a device that could work on Directv without their approval?

    Or perhaps it would only be able to work with Directv NOW but if it was superior to Directv’s streaming DVR option even that would be something intriguing as heavy DVR users could perhaps downgrade to NOW without any loss in DVR functionality.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Good catch. I interpret “work around cable providers” to mean it does not need a cable provider to get you content, i.e., it likely uses an OTA tuner.

  6. ermic says:

    Everyone I know in my age range around me just stopped watching all kinds of “television program”, esp. those using a Fire TV – the easy way to move from TV to VoD. I don’t see alot of demand for this fading, old habbit of even caring about “what is on channel xyz” and “recording” something from there. That is so 20 years ago.

    They have enough to work on as it is, with the rather unpopular Fire TV 3, the removal of “included in Prime Video” badges, the roll-out of the so called cinema mode to old Fire TVs and other things that need improval.

    Amazon becomes more and more a regular, “old folks”, conventional company.

    • tampa8 says:

      Lets not go overboard on this. There are Millions more who still use traditional TV, just the two satellite companies alone have about 30 million+ subscribers. It’s still the main way to watch. Even of those who are streamers a percentage have access to and use traditional TV and also of that percentage they use streaming as a secondary way to watch.

      No question streaming has boomed but take a close look. It’s begining to be close to what traditional TV is with DVR access and traditional channels, incorporating locals etc just that it’s online instead of Satellite or Cable. It may be something like what the future of TV is but it isn’t there yet by a long shot. And there’s plenty of time to kill off any price advantage by raising cable rates because if that becomes the main way to get entertainment that cost is going rise more than it even has over the last 18 months.

    • Joe Cord Cutter says:

      For people who have actually cut the cord, this is the only way to watch video.

  7. shwru980r says:

    Why can’t the DVR software be added to the Fire TV hardware directly and use a network tuner and an external USB hard drive?

    • AFTVnews says:

      Probably because that would make the Fire TV a requirement to the whole thing. The Bloomberg article focuses more on it working with smartphones, so it sounds like it’s a single stand-alone device that a non-Fire TV owner can set up and be able to watch content on their phone. The DVR content might even integrate directly into the Prime Video app. So all the Prime Video users could buy this device to “unlock” all the latest episodes of CBS/NBC/ABC/FOX TV shows. An accessory for Prime Video has a much larger market than an accessory for just the Fire TV.

      • shwru980r says:

        Right, but the fire tv is already a relatively inexpensive device. I would imagine a separate device would cost as much as a fire tv. I guess the only caveat to tying the functionality to a fire tv is that the user would have to own a TV to use it.

  8. Vlaves says:

    I would wish, that at least for this device, they wob‘t ignore Europe as with the TVs.

    • floki says:

      Of course they will. Officially you can only get the Fire TV 3 in 3 or 4 european countries, the only thing most countries can get is some fire stick without voice control, Amazon chooses to be meaningless in Europe, unfortunately.

  9. Masterblaster says:

    Amazon would love to have the premium subscription “channels” to be in a dvr style guide.
    I think Amazon might be working with or creating their on streaming service with a “tuner” guide with an intergrated dvr.
    HDHomeRun is beta testing their own version right now and I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon is working with them too.
    But this my opinion,
    What else can you speculate?

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