Overview of the new Recent button on the 2020 Fire TV Edition Remote

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.

  1. Timothy Priddy says:

    And it doesn’t have the back/home/menu to above the d-pad. That might be worth $29 alone.

    • Haha, yup! That is definitely worth it alone for me, since I’m constantly switching between Fire TV box/cube/stick remotes and Fire TV Edition remotes. I’m always accidentally hitting the wrong button on the old remote with the back/home/menu above the d-pad.

      • Ujn Hunter says:

        That’s why I was having trouble with my remote last night when finally setting up my 55″ Fire TV from Black Friday… I kept trying to hit Back, but was instinctually pressing the wrong button… now I know why!

        It’s weird, I supposedly have the 2020 Fire TV model as confirmed on the box, and a June 2020 Manufacture date on the TV, but I have the old remote, guess I just missed the switchover seeing this is an August article… :| Going to have to bite the bullet and buy this newer remote though, as the Settings button (I didn’t realize I could hold down home, I kept going back to the home page and scrolling to settings… doh!) and the Recent button (as well as the Back/Home buttons being below the Circle are must haves for me as well.

        Sidenote: Has anyone figured out how to launch a different App from the dedicated App buttons? I don’t use Hulu or HBO, but I do use Disney+ and Plex for instance… Perhaps it’s just as easy (maybe it’s not easy to do this though…) as Sideloading said Apps after changing their package names to the Hulu/HBO package names? Is that even possible? I’d love for my 5 y/o to just be able to hit the HBO button for instance to turn the TV on to Disney+.

        • That’s too bad that you got the old remote. I’ve been meaning to try changing the package name to something else to see if the buttons can be tricked, but even if it works, it’ll be a hassle for people because it means they would now have to manually update the app and change the name each time.

          • Ujn Hunter says:

            Yes, it would be a bit of a hassle, but you’d only ever “have” to update it if the old version broke… I hate “auto-updates” personally, so if it works and it ain’t broke… why fix it? I especially despise heinous auto-updates that just update to switch the location of buttons or menu items… ugh… If you get it working… I’d for sure use it.

          • Ujn Hunter says:

            Had a brainstorm in the shower this morning (all my good song ideas seem to happen there…) and what if you made an Auto-Launcher App that used the package name of Hulu (the App that matches the Button that you don’t want to use) and launched Disney+ App (the App you want to use), so the App that you want to keep can update itself like normal and you’d never have to keep patching the package name and manually updating, because you’d only ever install the “fake package” Auto-Launcher App that shouldn’t ever need updating (unless something breaks with the App you intend to launch)? Hope this makes sense…

          • How funny, I had the same exact idea over the weekend! I just finished getting it working and I’m writing the article about it right now. I came back to your comment to link to it from the article and I’m now seeing we both had the same idea. The article and apps will be up soon, stay tuned.

  2. Mike Lamp says:

    Is the new remote backwards compatible with the Element fire TV edition televisions?

  3. lello says:

    You cant buy this and use it on a normal Fire TV Cube (2019)..? that would be great. That recent apps button function execution probably isnt in the underlying general device Fire OS though, would be great if it was though.

  4. Ian Dawson says:

    You used to be able to do this just by holding down the home button. No idea why they did away with that functionality.

  5. TechyChris says:

    I was hoping that Amazon would abandon the whole recents row, or at least give us the ability to turn it off…personally I find it incredibly annoying. By the looks of it Amazon is “all in” on controlling this aspect of the FTV…oh well.

  6. Tim Shillinger says:

    On 8/9/20 I purchased a Insignia 50″ Fire TV edition television from Best Buy. It did not have this newest Remote Control with the “settings” and “Recent” button. Thank you for this post. I returned the TV within Best Buy’s 15 day return period.

    Also, this Insignia TV only had like 4 Gb of RAM ??
    I bought the first Fire TV edition television that came out (Element brand) back in 2017. The Element TV has 12 Gb RAM. So, 3 years ago Element put 3 times the RAM in the TV. Seems like Insignia is going backwards !!

    Elias, I have read your reviews of the 2020 Insignia and Toshiba Fire TV’s and you do not mention RAM ?? What is up with that ?

    This matters for “pausing” and how far back I can rewind when watching OTA channels, as the OTA channels appears to stream thru the RAM, so the more RAM, the farther back one can rewind.

    My Element TV has SD and USB slots. I used a 32Gb micro SD (in full size adapter) in SD slot and the Element TV would use that 32Gb and give me much more REWIND capacity when watching OTA channels.
    This 2020 Insignia does not have the SD slot. Does Toshiba have SD slot ? And inserting a 128Gb USB thumb drive in the USB slot of the Insignia TV did not improve REWIND capacity.

    3 reasons I was very Happy when the Element TV came out in 2017:

    1. Fire TV OS integrated into the TV.
    2. I love watching OTA channels.
    3. Pause and REWIND Live OTA channels. Important to me !
    (Actually, I was hoping they would integrate full DVR into a TV,
    but then they came out w/Recast, so I went with that).

    Elias, could you update your 2020 Insignia and Toshiba Fire TV edition reviews with RAM info ? Also, does Toshiba have SD card slot, like my 2017 Element does ? I want to get the 2020 Toshiba, if the TV is not going backwards with RAM capacity, or no way to upgrade RAM. I understand minimizing RAM as a raw material to maintain the great prices on these TV’s, but then give the consumer the slot options to add USB/RAM capacity locally.

    Thank you for your great work, Elias !

    • I’ve deleted your other identical comment in a different post. Please don’t copy and paste the same comment in multiple places.

      You are confusing RAM with Data Storage, but even then your numbers are wrong. For OTA rewind capabilities, it’s available Data Storage that matters, not RAM.

      The 2017 Element TVs had 3GB of RAM and 16GB of data storage. The 2018-2020 Toshiba and Insignia 4K TVs have 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. I have not reviewed these TVs, but it seems like you’re referring to my announcement post when these TVs first became available. I did list how much RAM and Data Storage these TVs have in that post.

      Unlike the Element TVs, which had an SD card slot that could be used to increase the OTA rewind capability, the Toshiba and Insignia TVs only have a USB port for media access, so they have a fixed OTA rewind amount based on how much free Data Storage you have on the TV. It’s a shame that Toshiba/Insignia decided not to have that feature, but maybe they figured people who wanted large rewind capabilities would buy a Fire TV Recast, which does work with the Fire TV Edition televisions. The Fire TV Recast didn’t exist when the Element TVs came out.

  7. Mary S Acito says:

    How do you get rid of an information screen that’s over the program? No exit button! So far the only way I’ve found is to go “home” and click on the program I’m watching. Clunky at best.

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