I recently became a cord cutter. The cost of having a landline, internet and cable TV was getting ridiculous. I started looking at ways to reduce my monthly bills, and decided to join the millions of people who had cut the cord.
Many cord-cutters have Netflix and/or Amazon Prime to stream old TV shows and movies, but this leaves viewers without local TV channels and no network television. Sometimes you want to:
- Watch your local news
- Or watch a your local football team
- Or watch your favorite late night host
- Or watch Judge Judy rag on someone
There is a way to get local channels and network TV for FREE. And you don’t have to pay bizarre broadcast tv fees taxes. And that is with an old school “over-the-air” antenna. 90% of all Americans live in areas that can get 100% free network television over the airwaves. You can check the Free TV Reception Map very easily through this government website. This lets you see the free channels in your area via an interactive map.
There are basically two types of antennas you can use: A small indoor antenna; or a larger outdoor antenna.
Small antennas are relatively inexpensive, and are very easy to install. A popular and reliable indoor antenna, is a flat antenna that you mount on a wall or on the inside of a window.
Outdoor antennas can take on many shapes and forms. They usually have a very long range. Most are mounted on roofs, or in attics. Roof mounted antennas are very reliable.
Some of my friends are happily using flat antennas inside their homes. I personally opted for the roof mounted antenna. You can install this yourself if you have the skills (and are not afraid of heights). I am able to get 77 digital channels in my house … all for free, including: CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, CW, WGN, Antenna TV, Court TV, PBS, ME TV, Telemundo, Grit, Laff, Justice, Stadium TV, Heartland, and a whole lot more.
Now, you may want to record TV shows to watch later. You can’t do this with an antenna alone. You need some sort of DVR (digital video recorder). After a lot of research, I opted to purchase the the Amazon Fire TV Recast for my home. I figured today I would share with you my thoughts on this device, after using it for a few months.
The main reasons I opted for the Fire TV Recasts were:
- No subscription fees
- Plays very nicely Amazon Fire TV Sticks and Fire TV Cubes
- Can record 2 to 4 channels at once (depending on the model you buy)
- Streams TV via WiFi to other Fire TV Sticks and Fire TV Cubes in your home
- Records 720p
The Amazon Fire TV Recast is 7 inches wide, 7 inches deep and 3 inches tall. There are 4 ports on the back:
- Antenna Input – for your coax cable from the antenna
- Power Port – to power up the unit
- USB Port – Allows you to connect an external hard to expand your storage
- Ethernet Port – Gives you the option to connect “internet in” directly to your router instead of WiFi. (The Recast still broadcasts its outgoing signal via your local WiFi though).
An important note here is that you must use the Fire TV Recast with a Fire TV Stick or Fire TV Cube. It does not work with Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast.
Set up is simple, fast and painless. At least that was my experience. The steps are:
- Install a digital antenna for your Fire TV Recast.
- Plug your Fire TV Recast and power adapter into a power outlet.
- Open the Fire TV app and sign in to your Amazon account.
- Select New Device then Setup a Fire TV Recast.
- Follow the app instructions to connect to the Internet and complete device registration.
The Recast will then scan for channels. And you should be good to go!
Using Fire TV Recast
If you scroll down through the Fire TV Menu, you will find an “On Now” section. This shows you all the shows that are on now from your antenna.
There is also a “DVR” tab at the very top of the Home Screen. This will let you access your recorded videos, as well as your TV guide. Recent “over-the-air” channels you have watched will also show up on the top line of your home screen.
The Channel Guide will give you details about current TV shows and future TV shows. And can easily record shows from there.
Recording TV shows is easy peasy. Just hold down the “Record” button on your Fire TV Stick remote and say something like: “Record Judge Judy”. And your Fire TV Recast will record future episodes of Judge Judy.
Within the DVR settings, you can tell the Recast to record 5, 15, 20 or All Available episodes. You can set the Recording Preferences to be “All Episodes” or “New Episodes” as well. You can even set the DVR to record a few minutes early, and/or extend the recording a few minutes beyond the allotted time, up to 60 minutes (which is good for sporting events).
Final Thoughts on Fire TV Recast
I have been using this device for over 3 months and have been extremely happy with it. It works seamlessly with my Amazon Fire TV Stick and my Fire TV Cube.
The Fire TV Recast streams live and recorded TV throughout your home using your local WiFi, and it works wonderfully. I have 3 televisions in my house, and can watch over-the-air TV on all 3 of them. And none of them are hard-wired to the rooftop antenna.
The picture looks great on all devices. I am not noticing and picture degradation due on any devices.
There are no more monthly fees for Network Television! I am getting 77 channels all for free.
You can also take your shows with you with the Fire TV mobile app on compatible iOS and Android devices or Fire tablets.
There are two versions of the Recast. One has 2 tuners and can record 75 hours of TV. The other has 4 tuners and can record 150 hours of TV.
There are some downsides though to cutting the cord. You still don’t get channels you might really want. I used to watch a lot of ESPN. And my wife watched a lot of HGTV. You don’t get basic cable channels like that from an over-the-air antenna. You could sign up with ESPN+ to get ESPN back for $5/mo.
The Recast does not work with Apple TV, Roku or Google Chromecast. If you are set on using those streaming devices, you may want to look for a different DVR.
If you are looking for an over-the-air DVR, this works great, and I highly recommend the Fire TV Recast. It is very easy to use.
Of course, you are going to need buy a Fire TV Stick or a Fire TV Cube to use the Recast. And if you have multiple TV’s in your house, you are going to need multiple Fire TV Sticks. I offset these costs by cutting the cord. I am saving over $100/month by cord cutting. I will easily recoup my investment in just a few months. 😉