Over-the-air television is a big part of cord-cutting. It fills in the local holes that might be left behind. It's relatively inexpensive — the content is free, once you've got the hardware. And there are no services for which to register, no contracts to sign.
It's cheap. And it's pretty easy. And Amazon is about to make that already not-small industry huge , now that it's announced the Amazon Fire TV Recast . It's an over-the-air streaming box with either two tuners and a 500GB hard drive, or a four-tuner model with a 1TB hard drive. The former is $229, the latter is $279.
Why is this going to be such a big deal? Well, for a couple reasons.
First, it's Amazon
There's no getting around this. Anything Amazon decides to do is a big deal. It's been selling over-the-air antennas forever. It's been selling over-the-air streaming boxes from HDHomerun, Tablo and AirTV forever.
But that's not the same thing as Amazon selling an Amazon OTA streaming box. If you think those other three companies are having a bit of an "oh, shit!" moment, you're almost certainly right.
Amazon Fire TV Recast will get — and already has gotten — more promotion than HDHomerun, Tablo and AirTV ever would. It's hard to beat that.
And we've not even seen bundles yet. How long before we have a Fire TV Recast and a Fire TV Edition television sold side-by-side at a pretty deep discount?
It'll be a boon for antenna sales
Over-the-air antennas already are inexpensive — you can get a basic indoor antenna for something like $20 or $30. (They are, however, not necessarily the right antenna for you.) Amazon has an OTA box, and it's also going to sell you something to plug into it.
While it might not be on the product listing page just yet, you better believe that Amazon's going to be pushing antennas alongside the Fire TV Recast. Because the only thing better than selling a single product is selling a single product that also requires you to have another product.
Speaking of which, you can find our list of the best over-the-air antennas here.
It makes recording OTA TV extremely easy
Recording over-the-air television is either extremely easy, or extremely hard. HDHomerun is great, but most normal folks aren't going to set up a media server just to record something. Tablo is better, but most of its boxes still require you to bring your own hard drive. (And its one model with built-in storage is still pretty anemic.
Fire TV Recast does it right. Two models — you'll either get 500 gigabytes of storage for something like 75 hours of recording, or a full 1TB model for twice as much. (And also with four tuners.) All you'll hit to do is hit record.
Or, just tell Alexa to do it.
Better connections (hopefully)
We'll have to wait until we actually get to try this one out, but the prospect of the Fire TV Recast connecting directly to Fire TV devices to help alleviate any network-induced lag will be a very good thing. Again, real-world testing will prove just how fast things are. But that Amazon is taking latency seriously is a very good thing.
Plus, it'll automatically switch back to regular network operation if you want to watch while you're outside of your home. Very cool.
The bottom line
Really, though, it's that first point that truly will make the Fire TV Recast a big deal. This is Amazon's baby. OK, it's one of 12 Amazon babies birthed in this latest wave of Amazon hardware. But it's going to be a very important one going forward.
Amazon has a strong streaming game with Prime Video and Prime Video Channels. Now it's looking to sew up the over-the-air streaming game. We can't blame it at all, especially since it'll play back through Android and iOS devices. (And maybe one day it'll work through Roku or Apple TV or Android TV? We'll just have to see.)
It's not inexpensive. But it's also the sort of device that you could end up using every day, for a long, long time.
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