Connected Home Media Devices

Amazon Gets into the OTA DVR Game

Amazon Gets into the OTA DVR Game

Included in Amazon’s product announcements last week was news that Amazon is releasing a network-based OTA (over-the-air) DVR. Available in November, Amazon’s Fire TV Recast will record up to 75 or 150 hours of HD content on 2 or 4 tuners, respectively.

To date, network tuners have historically been marketed to hardcore hobbyist cordcutters. Brands like Tablo, HDHomeRun, and ChannelMaster have been selling products in this category for years. And, technically, this isn’t explicitly a cordcutter thing, since you can buy network tuners that work with cable systems—even encrypted cable. Amazon’s offering could dramatically disrupt these brands’ market, in fact, delivering its products before a very similar offering announced by SiliconDust at CES this year.

The “trick” with most network tuners is that you typically need to bring some of your own equipment—at the very least, a supported device that can play your live and recorded content. Tablo is probably best known for this model. In the case of Amazon’s offering, you’ll need an antenna (which they’ll bundle with your purchases for an additional, nominal fee) and either a Fire TV device, Echo Show, or Amazon’s free Fire TV app for iOS or Android.

Unlike everyone else’s offering, Amazon is not charging an additional fee. Companies typically require these fees for ongoing product improvements, maintenance, and guide data licensing fees.

Amazon is also integrating Alexa support. So with an Alexa-enabled device, you can control your experience with voice, including recording shows, viewing the guide, and more.

Amazon plans to ship the Fire TV Recast on November 14, 2018. The 2-tuner 75-hour version will cost about $230, while the 4-tuner 150-hour version will be $50 more at about $280. This is a lower overall cost, considering other providers’ service fees, than pretty much anyone else’s current offering. The most notable exception to this is SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun tuners and DVR software, which you can run on your PC.

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About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a digital technology consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.