The new line of 2020 Fire TV Edition televisions come with a new remote that is backwards compatible with all past and present Fire TV Edition televisions made by Toshiba and Insignia. Among several differences, compared to the old remote, is a new “Recent” button. Here’s an overview of how the button works and the hidden menu that it opens.
The Recent button essentially gives you a way to get back to something you were previously doing on your Fire TV Edition television, without needing to press too many buttons or go back to the Home screen. Think of it as the modern equivalent to the “back-to-last-channel” button on older TV/cable box remotes. When you press the Recent button, a row of recently accessed items appears at the bottom of the screen. Select an item from the row and you jump directly to it. It’s identical to the Recent row on the Home screen, but using it is quicker because you don’t have to wait for the Home screen to load or scroll down the screen.
A nice touch of the Recent button, and the Recent row that it loads, is that it always has your 2nd most recent item selected by default, since the most recent item is the app/channel that you are currently viewing. This way you’re just 2 button presses away from the last thing you did, without needing to scroll right every time. It’s just one press to bring up the Recent row and another to select the default item in the 2nd slot. It would have been nice if holding down the Recent button acted as a shortcut to automatically take you to the last app/channel viewed, without even seeing the Recent row, but holding the button is just equivalent to pressing it.
One issue I ran into a few times is the Recent row not updating quick enough. If you hop into an app/channel and then press the Recent button within a few seconds, often times the item that is highlighted by default is the app that you are currently in, since the row hasn’t shifted over yet and the app/channel you’re in hasn’t moved to the 1st slot yet. Under normal use, where you spend a bit of time in each app, you won’t run into this.
The scenario I kept running into this quirk is when I was hopping back to an OTA channel to see if a block of commercials had ended. In the instances where the commercials hadn’t ended and I quickly pressed the Recent button to go back to an app, the app I last used wasn’t yet in the 2nd slot so I had to scroll one slot over. A minor quirk, but a quirk nonetheless.
Since I’m on the subject of disappointments, I would have much preferred that the Recent row brought up by the Recent button be an overlay that appeared on top of what is currently on the screen, instead of overtaking the entire screen as it currently does. If it acted like the TV settings menu, which appears anywhere on the right when you hold the Home button, it would feel much more seamless to jump from one app/channel to another. Incidentally, the Settings button (gear icon) on the new remote, which is another button not on the old remote, is equivalent to holding down the Home button and brings up the same TV settings menu on the right.
Despite the small quirks and personal preference, the new Recent button is a welcomed addition. While the number of buttons is getting a bit close to being excessive, the Recent button is worthy of a spot, especially since there is no other way to access the new Recent row that it brings up. I can also confirm that the new Channel Up/Down buttons do work within apps, like Sling TV, to flip channels, so they are not just for the built-in OTA tuner. If you’re thinking of upgrading your 2018 or 2019 Fire TV Edition television by Toshiba or Insignia, the new remote can be purchased for $29.99 on its own.