Did Amazon Jump the Shark with the Fire TV Recast?


Amazon is set to release a new product on November 14, 2018: the Fire TV Recast. This device mimics a DVR, but falls short on capabilities. For all its shortcomings, it is still priced over $200. Is this the device that finally gets us to say that Amazon has jumped the shark?

To no one’s surprise, Amazon had its annual new product announcement, which included several additions or updates to its Echo and Fire TV lines. Among those announcements was the introduction to the Fire TV Recast, a device that allows for recording of live TV; basically a DVR with an Amazon product name. But wait. That’s not entirely accurate because this new Amazon device doesn’t quite have the functionality of a DVR. In fact, it seems like a clumsy, complicated way to deliver entertainment to audiences. To be honest, it feels like a step in the wrong direction. Hear me out.

First, I’ll give you a quick rundown of the new product. It’s priced at approx. $230. For your money, you get just the Recast device. The Recast does not require any monthly fees, and lets you “watch and record over-the-air TV at home or on-the-go with a Fire TV, Echo Show, or compatible mobile device.” You can record two shows at once – but only if you have two tuners. You can store up to 75 hours of programming that is recorded in HD.

 They that all sounds pretty good, right? Status quo and whatnot. But wait, there’s more.

Of course, the device doesn’t operate alone. You also have to have an HD antenna (sold separately) and a Fire TV streaming device or an Echo Show (the one with a video screen). Without a Fire TV or compatible Alexa-enabled device, you won’t be able to use your voice to search for things to watch, or to give recording commands. So, in addition to the $230 for the Recast, you will also need to spend, at a minimum, $50 for an Echo Dot and around $30 for an HD antenna.

Before you spend all that money, you probably want to consider that you will only be able to use the Recast to record shows from network TV. So, channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW are fair game, but all of your cable and premium channels are excluded.

If I have to set up and connect three separate devices, and still can’t record anything on cable, I’m not so sure that I’m ready to cut my cable cord yet. I actually just subscribe to cable, then use the channel’s apps to watch all of their content on demand. It’s not a perfect system, but, in my opinion, it is better than using the limited-as-hell Recast.

I think this is a miss for Amazon. Instead, I wish they’d put a bigger focus on building partnerships that make cable and premium programming available through apps, as part of Amazon Prime or as a specially-priced add-on for Prime members.  

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Jeff is a tinkerer. He loves gadgets, but usually waits until the reviews are out before buying something. He loves the DIY projects, and loves help setting things up too. Some of his favorite products and services may not be the most well known, but he loves his custom solution.