Amazon has just announced the Fire TV Recast, a DVR an over-the-air DVR that can stream live or recorded channels from an antenna to Fire TV devices, the Echo Show, and both Android and iOS mobile devices. It’s available in a 2-tuner model with 500GB of storage for $229.99 or a 4-tuner model with 1TB of storage for $279.99.
At its core, the Fire TV Recast is a networked TV tuner. That means it does not connect directly to a television or Fire TV, so it can be placed anywhere in your home where it will receive the best antenna signal. It connects to your home network via 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi or the Gigabit Ethernet port on the back of the device.
Once the Fire TV Recast is set up, which is done through a mobile app, it will stream your local broadcast channels live to all of your Fire TV devices, Echo Shows, and mobile devices running either Fire OS, Android, or iOS. The channels you’ll be able to watch through the Fire TV Recast depend on what is available in your specific location, which can be checked using a DTV reception map lookup service. It is not compatible with cable or satellite TV services.
In addition to watching live channels, the Fire TV Recast is a digital video recorder (DVR) that can record programming for on-demand viewing to its internal hard drive. The amount that can be recorded and viewed simultaneously is depended on which of the two models is used.
The 2-tuner Fire TV Recast for $229.99 comes with a 500GB internal hard drive. Having 2-tuners means you’ll be able to either watch two live channels simultaneously, record two channels simultaneously, or watch one channel live while recording from another channel. The 4-tuner Fire TV Recast for $279.99, which comes with a 1TB internal hard drive, allows for up to 4 simultaneous recordings, but that number drops for each live channel that is being watched. So, 2 devices can be watching live while the device is recording from two other channels.
The internal hard drive space determines how many hours of recorded channels can be stored for on-demand viewing. Amazon says that 75 hours of HD programming can be stored on the 500GB model and 150 hours on the 1TB model. The amount of programming hours that can be stored will increase if the channels you record are not in HD.
Live and recorded programming can be viewed through any Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, or Fire TV Edition television model. All generations, new and old, are compatible with the Fire TV Recast. Amazon says the Fire TV Recast “delivers the most reliable video streams over Wi-Fi of any over-the-air DVR.” It does this by automatically and seamlessly switching between a regular network connection and a direct connection to the Fire TV devices. Instead of the video stream always going through your router, like all other networked tuners/DVRs, the Fire TV Recast will make a direct WiFi connection to the Fire TV device when it determines that a direct connection is superior to your home network.
In addition to watching through a Fire TV device, the Fire TV Recast is compatible with both generations of Echo Shows, as well as mobile phones and tablets. You’ll be able to bring up live streams of channels or start watching recorded content on all compatible devices. In the case of mobile devices, watching live and recorded content works from outside your home from anywhere.
Through Fire TV devices, the interface used is nearly identical to that of Fire TV Edition televisions. With a Fire TV Recast configured on the network, an “On Now” row will appear on the Fire TV home screen highlighting programming that is currently airing. A full grid channel program guide will be available with 2 weeks of free program data. Unlike most DVRs and networked tuners on the market, the Fire TV Recast does not have a monthly subscription fee of any kind. All you ever pay is the cost of the hardware. You do not need to be a Prime members either.
Finding content to watch will feel right at home for Fire TV owners because OTA programming integrates into the Fire TV’s Alexa voice search. When searching for a show, results for live and upcoming antenna broadcasts will be listed alongside streaming options. Alexa integration with the Fire TV Recast also includes being able to tune to specific channels or shows by voice, as well as scheduling recordings by voice. This works through both Fire TV devices and Echo Shows. Watching, scheduling, and managing recordings can all be done through the Fire TV’s main interface in a new DVR section.
The Fire TV Recast is available to pre-order today for $229.99 for the 2-tuner 500GB model and for $279.99 for the 4-tuner 1TB model. It has a USB port on the back, but Amazon says this cannot be used for adding additional external storage. It’s meant to be a convenient power source for HD antennas that have USB powered signal amplifiers, like the AmazonBasics 50 Mile Range Indoor TV Antenna, which would can be added to the order of a Fire TV Recast for a discounted price of $24.99.