By using a streaming device, whether it's a Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku or Chromecast, it provides easy access to Netflix or similar streaming services. Open the corresponding application, or give a voice command and start transmitting in a few seconds.
But what happens when you want to watch live, local programming over the air (OTA) like local news or the latest Law and order? You have to change the entries.
It's not like changing the tickets is a lot of work, but it's a drawback. That not only means keeping the remote control of your TV to change the OTA channels, but changing to the input of your antenna lacks any kind of programming guide and, most importantly, lacks DVR functionality.
That's where Amazon's Fire TV recast comes in. The recast is a small black box with up to four tuners and spaces for up to 150 hours of recorded content that transmits your local OTA programming directly to a Fire TV or mobile device.
As well: Review of Amazon Fire TV Recast: one of the best companions of the cable cutter so far CNET
Which means that, instead of bouncing between the inputs, you can see the likes of NBC or CBS without leaving the Fire TV interface.
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I have been using a Refund for the past few weeks, and I must say: it is the best OTA DVR that I have used. But there is a trap, because of course there is.
The two Fire TV Revast models look the same, and the interns are the main difference. The $ 230 model comes with a 500GB hard drive and two tuners, which allow two programs to be recorded at the same time. The $ 280 model comes with a 1TB hard drive and four tuners, allowing four programs to be recorded at the same time.
On the back of the recast there is a TV antenna input, a USB port, an Ethernet port and the power connector. There is also a button that is used during configuration, and as far as I can tell, that is its sole purpose. The entire box is black, with a smooth top, where you will find an Amazon logo.
An introduction guide, a power adapter and the recast are included in the box. However, you will need more than that to get the recast setting and you're done.
To use the recast version, you will need an OTA antenna, a Fire TV or Echo Show product, and a Fire tablet, Android device or iOS device with the Fire TV application installed. Make sure you're signed in to the application with the same Amazon account that you use with your Fire TV.
And there is the trap. The recast does not currently work with any other transmission device. You can not use an Apple TV or Roku, for example. For those who already use Fire TV as their main transmission device, it is not a problem. But for those who do not, it is potentially useless even for considering the recast version.
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The initial configuration takes only a few minutes after deciding where you want to place it. The recast does not need to be near a TV, there is no direct connection between the box and your TV. Instead, you want to have it in a place with a strong Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection, keeping in mind that you will need to have an antenna connected to Recast, ideally in a place that has a good reception.
After connecting the recast, the application helps you connect to your Wi-Fi or recognize an Ethernet connection if you are using one.
Next, the Fire TV application guides you through the process, using your location and the range of your antenna (usually in the box if you're not sure) to determine which is the best side of your house to set up Recast. For me, the closest transmission tower is in the northwest of me, and that's exactly where I was instructed to install the antenna: the northwest side of my house. Ideally, the antenna you install is in a window to get the best performance. Finally, the recast looks for channels and, after a few minutes, provides you with a list of all OTA channels detected.
As for the configuration on a Fire TV device, there was none at my end. I just had to turn on my TV Fire TV Edition and immediately started watching local channels in the Now In section of the Fire TV interface.
When all was said and done, it took about 10 minutes to unpack and configure Fire TV Revast.
To view the schedule from the recast, you can open the Guide or see the On section now on the Fire TV home screen.
The content that is displayed in the Now section is prioritized by the channels you have marked as favorites. Nestled on the left side of the On Now section, there is a shortcut to the Fire TV Guide, which offers up to two weeks of future programming. The guide looks a lot like a guide you would see in Xfinity, with channels and time slots set in a grid.
As far as I can tell, there is not a way to remove a channel from the guide. The recast identified more than 25 local broadcast channels, but I only want to access five of them. It would be good to eliminate the additional channels from the guide, instead of avoiding the omission by marking the channels as favorites.
Essentially, the recast version is transmitting the OTA programming through my home network to Fire TV. The first time I accessed each channel, there was a loading time of five to 10 seconds. Since then, there has been no buffering or loading when selecting a channel or quickly changing between channels.
In summary, the experience of watching OTA channels through recasting is identical in quality to directly connecting an antenna to my television. You turn to a channel, start playing and you do not have to worry about anything else.
I have used similar products in the past, AirTV and HDHomeRun, which suffered frequent buffers and long loading times.
A side effect of using Recast is that I was able to remove the antenna that we had connected to our TV, freeing the clutter on our TV stand. In addition, we can now get local programming on a television in our basement, where otherwise a TV antenna simply would not have reception.
Naturally, watching live television is just one of the benefits of the Refundido. The other, and probably the biggest attraction for consumers, is the DVR functionality.
Every time you start watching a channel from the recast, the DVR starts recording what you are watching. Do you miss a play in the football game? Rewind and watch it again. Does the phone ring during your favorite show? Press pause on the remote control and continue after you have finished.
The DVR has its own menu on the Fire TV interface, which details the programs you have recorded, as well as the settings for future recordings. Creating a recording requires that Alexa be told to record a program (Alexa, record Meet the press) or by finding the program in the Guide and pressing the menu button on the remote control followed by recording. You will be asked if you want to record only one instance of the program or all new presentations.
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It is also possible to transmit content from recast, live and recorded, using the Fire TV application on a mobile device.
Alexa can handle requests to pause a program, tune to a channel or display the TV Guide, either through a connected Echo device or the Alexa Remote Voice Control. My children especially enjoy telling Alexa to "tune into PBS" in the morning before going to school.
However, I would like to be able to tell Alexa to "turn on the soccer game". During the last couple of weekends, I tried several variations of that command "tune in to the game of the Chiefs", for example, only for a number of Fire TV applications to come back as a result of the search.
Amazon's Fire TV Refast only works. It's a cliché slogan that is usually mumbled about Apple products, but it's applicable here. It is easy to configure and works perfectly with Amazon products. But continuing to depend on Amazon products is something that not everyone will want to deal with, and that is understandable.