Among Amazon’s next wave of connected devices is the Fire TV Recast. The Recast is a network tuner and DVR similar to the Tablo OTA DVR. The Recast comes in two configurations: a $229.99 2 tuner, 500 GB/75 hour model and a $279.99 4 tuner, 1 TB/150 hour model.
The Good: There’s lots to like about the Recast. For starters, there is no monthly service fee for the program guide. Cord cutters hate monthly fees, and Lifetime service adds $150 to the cost of a Tablo TV DVR. The included storage is sufficient for time shifting and casual collection. The Recast can be controlled with an Alexa device. Alexa can search for shows, change over-the-air TV channels, control playback, plus browse, schedule, cancel, and delete recordings.
According to AFTNews.com, the Fire TV Recast supports Dolby 5.1 surround sound, both for live channel viewing and for recordings. Again, according to AFTNews.com, the Recast stores content as unprotected raw MPEG-2 video files in their native resolution and streams the raw MPEG-2 video files transcoded to H.264 with a maximum resolution of 1440×720 at 60 frames per second.
The Bad: This device can only be used with Amazon streamers. If you have other devices in your home, you will need another network tuner.
Storage cannot be expanded. For those who like to archive movies or binge watch television, 150 hours is not a long time. One season of Chicago Fire would use a sixth of the 1TB model’s storage.
You can only have one Recaster per Amazon account and can only watch live or recoded programs on two devices simultaneously. (note: AFTNews.com disputes this, “I explicitly asked Amazon about that exact thing and they explicitly told me that 4 recordings AND 2 pre-recorded viewing streams are possible simultaneously on the 4-tuner model (2 recordings and 2 pre-recorded viewing streams simultaneously for the 2-tuner model). Tuners are NOT used to view pre-recorded videos.”)
The Ugly: Amazon collects information relating to your use of over-the-air TV content which may include the name of the channel watched, the name of the program watched, and the duration.
The Competition: Recaster’s main competition is the Tablo OTA DVR. The four tuner OTA DVR costs $219.99, but requires a usb disk for storage. A 1TB WD Passport cost $49.99. To enable a premium guide and remote access, you must pay for service. Lifetime service is $149.99. So, the 4 tuner 1TB Tablo OTA DVR with Lifetime Service will cost $419.97 — a $139.98 more than the $279.99 4 tuner 1TB Recaster.
The Lifetime subscription is per account not device, so, as you add or replace DVRs, that cost falls. You can add as many DVRs to your network as your wallet (wife) allows.
The Tablo OTA DVR works with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Xiaomi MiBox (Android TV), Nvidia Shield (Android TV), and Xbox One.
Tablo’s DVR supports 8TB USB disks and third party apps enable download of recordings for playback on unconnected devices.
The Verdict: This device is perfect for someone interested in streaming OTA to a limited number of Amazon devices in and out of their home. The plug and play approach will appeal to those who do not want to deal with the complexity of plugging in a USB disk but are comfortable managing a wireless network (assuming such a demographic exists).
That said, given the limitations of this device, I believe most people would be better served by an open box four tuner Tablo TV and a 2TB Western Digital Passbook with Lifetime service for $360 — doubling the storage and increasing compatibility for $80.