Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR Is Humongous (and not very good)

I finally took possession of an Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR... and, boy, is it is massive.

I assume Amazon went with off-the-shelf components to get to market quickly and, should they find success in this space, invest more resources in a smarter, custom design for v2… much as they did in utilizing the Blackberry Playbook reference design for their first Fire tablet.

Both AFTVNews and competitor Silicon Dust have cracked open the Recast DVR and confirmed a humongo reference board and tons of empty space … to presumably help dissipate heat. For comparison, here’s the Recast DVR next to the incoming 2-tuner, 1TB HDHomeRun Scribe OTA DVR. Ouch?

Sadly, the Recast’s physical size is not all all indicative of supersize capabilities. It’s a seriously incomplete product. Probably fine for live antenna television streamed to Fire TV hardware and smartphones, but anyone coming from any other DVR solution will be sorely disappointed with its inferior feature set. Tablo, Channels, TiVo are well-rounded, mature solutions — each of them is superior to Recast at the moment, assuming you can stomach the service fees.

11 thoughts on “Amazon Fire TV Recast DVR Is Humongous (and not very good)”

  1. I assume they’ll continue to iterate on the software front, but I certainly can’t recommend at this point. The pricing is great, as is no on-going service fees. Hopefully the product rapidly improves.

  2. I was definitely disappointed by the FTV Cube for the first few days too, but I can’t imagine that they can work out BIG BUGS in just a couple days on something like this. Glad that I cancelled my order, something gave me the ol’ gut feeling…

  3. I have a very different opinion of the Recast. I think it’s a great 1.0 product and feel some of the shortcomings can be tweaked with software upgrades. It worked well out of the box and integrated into all five of my TVs that have Firesticks. I love that the OTA channels are incorporated into the Fire TV interface (although there’s room for improvement here). One interface and one remote for all my TV viewing. Even works with my Echo Dot. Super simple to setup. The DVR box can be placed anywhere within WiFi range and conveniently placed close to the antenna. Who cares if the box is a little big? It really isn’t that much bigger than other DVR boxes with built in hard drives. I’ve owned Tablos, TiVos, and Air TV boxes and while some are smaller some also require a separate external drive. I’ve been a TiVo guy for 10 years and love my TiVo Roamio DVR but I think the Recast is a going to be a great competitor and I’m already recommended it to my cord cutting friends.

  4. “Tablo, Channels, TiVo are well-rounded, mature solutions”

    Tablo: $4.99/mo
    Channels: $8.00/mo
    TiVo Bolt OTA: $6.99/mo
    Fire Recast: $0/mo

  5. @Van Loggins
    I’ll be trying to upgrade the drive shortly. (I run AFTVnews.) I expect it to work because it seems to be just an EXT3 formatted drive with nothing on it but the recording files. I’m working on an article about pulling recordings off of the drive right now. Once that’s done, I’m going to try to swap in a different drive to see what happens.

  6. Ben, the box size was surprising and is indicative of a rushed product (which lines up with the software capabilities that I’d characterize as less than 1.0) or cutting costs (which lines up with Ish’s point). However, I’m certainly glad you’re satisfied and in practical terms a larger box for a network tuner isn’t such a big deal.

    For comparison, above you can see the Recast next to the incoming HDHomeRun Scribe – the difference is significant. However, the Scribe doesn’t transcode which requires a separate or different processor and a larger enclosure for heat dissipation considerations, including potentially a fan. At the Twitter link below, you can see a more apples-to-apples comparison of the Recast next to a 4-tuner Tablo DVR with an internal 1TB drive.

    https://twitter.com/davezatz/status/1098703855519522816

    Ish, yep, I noted the fee-free element of the Recast. It’s extremely compelling. However, Amazon the company is almost as large as the Recast enclosure ;) and can subsidize those guide fees unlike the smaller, competitors – for comparison, Channels is two independent developers. Not that that matters to most customers, just putting it out their for scale context. All the ones you mentioned also offer somewhat discounted annual plans. For me, I’d recommend paying a bit more until Recast improves and expands the offering. I’ll probably hang onto mine, assuming better things are coming, but write it off as a business expense – which is certainly is in this condition.

  7. @Ish Kabibel: Or, get a TiVo Bolt annual subscription at $69.99/year or a Lifetime subscription at $249.99 (those in the know go Lifetime). Or, if you want lower pricing, get a TiVo Roamio OTA refurb. (new condition, and possibly even new, as mine seemed to be) at $349.99 *including* a Lifetime subscription.

  8. Sadly, Romario OTA doesn’t natively transcode and stream to phones, tablets, (and Fire TV in a few months) as the Bolt does. But, yeah, they had some great deals on that one.

  9. Good point, Dave (I don’t do out-of-home streaming)–need to get a TiVo Stream to add out-of-home streaming to the Roamio OTA (the Bolt OTA has the streaming capability baked in). Although an extra item (and cost), it could be fine to buy a TiVo Stream, except that: TiVo–inexplicably–has stopped making/selling them, and one has to go to eBay and Craigslist.

  10. I looked at the Recast when it was launched, at it felt like it was being rushed to catch the Christmas selling season. The fact it held the recordings it had made ‘captive’ meant it was a non-starter for me. Particularly hard to understand since they were OTA broadcasts in the first place. If folks are working on releasing those recordings from captivity, I’ll take another look.

    Though frankly, I don’t ‘need’ one, HDHomeRun/Channels and TiVo/kmttg feeding Plex more than covers what our family wants.

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