FireTV/Recast looks to be the answer for us

Discussion in 'Internet Streaming Services' started by grover517, Jun 18, 2019.

  1. grover517

    grover517 AllStar

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    Sep 29, 2007
    With ATT's decision to no longer allow us to perform temporary address changes while vacationing for a few months in our RV each year, after 20+ years with D*, it literally was the "last straw" for both myself and my wife. There have been other issues for a long time that we have had with D*, even before ATT came along but ATT has simply found a way to push us over the edge and force us to look for another option that works better for us, and hopefully less expensive. We just can't justify paying what we do for something that just doesn't meet our needs any longer.

    I was all but ready to just switch to Dish but decided to do a bit more poking around to see if "cutting the cord" would be an option for us. As a 40+ year computer tech, I have to admit I never really gave it much thought but decided to do my due diligence in researching it a bit more just to see if it had reached the point where it really could be an option for us. My biggest concern was whether we would have to "tolerate" a few glitches here and there or worse yet, having to make large changes in the way we watch TV. I can deal with such things but the DW wants stuff to "just work". Truthfully, I am surprised she has put up with D* as long as she has.

    After talking with the DW, I was tasked with looking at various options to "cut the cord" so to speak. During my research, I had a few benchmarks to meet to get the DW to sign off on the switch from a more "traditional" service such as D*, Dish, Comcast, etc.

    1. With most of our viewing being OTA/Network, I must be able to record OTA stations. We already have a rooftop antenna array that served as a backup for D* during rain/snow and receive over 40 stations from 3 different DMA's.
    2. Try and find a solution that offered all the "cable" channels that we both currently record/watch.
    3. Whatever the "solution" was, it must provide substantial "monthly" savings. Initial hardware costs are not a problem. With Premier, we are over 200.00/mo. for D*.
    4. It can't be anything that is run by ATT since part of the reason for switching is to get away from ATT altogether. We just moved our landline phone number to an old cell phone last month so D* is our last remaining ATT connection other than HBO.
    5. Able to be moved back and forth between our summer and winter locations.
    6. At least 4 tuner DVR.
    7. If possible, a combined channel guide vs. jumping between TV, apps, etc. to make "channel surfing" the old fashioned way still an option.
    8, If possible, NO COMMITMENTS.

    I researched a few different options but at the end of it all, a Fire TV and Recast setup seemed to be the only real solution that checked all the boxes. The only "unknown" was the operation, reliability, and functionality of it all once setup. No monthly fees for the channel guide data, we already have Amazon Prime and Alexa enabled devices in the house, OTA recording solution (Recast) and it was currently on sale. I also liked the fact that I could simply put the Recast unit in our basement close to where our rooftop antenna array enters the house and the Recast as well as each FireTV stick simply connecting to our home wifi network with everything "out of sight" made the DW extremely happy.

    Moving on to which streaming services to try out, I quickly found out that the DW likes at least a few of the Viacom channels, which are only carried by a few services and my sports networks (BTN, CBSSN, NBCSN, FS1, ESPN) by others. Since DirecTV Now is NOT or will EVER be an option for us when we leave D* (not if), this left YouTube TV or a combination of Hulu TV/Playstation Vue (my sports channels) and Philo (her Viacom channels). Since YouTube TV is not currently supported on FireTV (heard it's coming soon though), we started with Hulu and Philo. That lasted a total of 2 days! First, the DW quickly discovered that although Philo integrated their listings into the FireTV Recast channel guide, Hulu Live did not. I was also a bit ticked off that after only 2 days of my 7 day "free" trial, Hulu had already billed me for a month of service! I then discovered that PS Vue also supported and integrated into the Recast channel guide so we cancelled Hulu and signed up for a trial of PS Vue. The only downside right now in regards to the Recast channel guide is that for the OTA stations, there are no channel numbers and some locals are listed by "network affiliation" where others are sorted by call signs. This tends to scatter channels and sub channels throughout the channel guide alphabetically instead of numerically. According to Amazon, they are working on adding the channel numbers to the OTA stations so they sort a bit better. But the guide does group the listings by "source" (Recast, PS Vue, Philo) so it's a bit better than nothing at all and with Alexa, you can say "Tune to Channel 6", or Tune to "CBS" which defaults to the "-1" channel for those commands so it works just fine that way. This means the the data to add the channel numbers must be there, they just have to integrated it into the visual guide. Getting to the guide does require a few more "clicks" since there isn't a dedicated button on the remote but you can also tell Alexa to open it up. Picture quality is fine for us and we have no need for regional sports networks or things like Sunday Ticket. She rarely watches sports and I prefer college over pro so these services more than meet our needs.

    As for the premium channels we have with D* (HBO, Cinemax, etc.) as part of our Premier pkg. we are still evaluating on whether we really need them at all anymore. Between already having Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as well as having our entire DVD/Bluray collection available via Vudu (about 300 titles) and ALL of it available in the same interface, the DW is so overwhelmed at the current possibilities I think we will just go without those for a while but can always add them in later if we want to. Add to the fact that she can now also add CBS All Access during Big Brother season to get the live stream and watch it on our TV instead of her laptop and then simply cancel it afterwards, I think it's going to have to be a pretty major issue in performance or operation to get her to give it up now.

    Even if I add the premiums back on (HBO Go, etc.), we are still about 100.00/mo. less than with D*, without them we are almost 150.00/mo less. And with about 350.00 in up front costs for the Recast and 4 Fire TV sticks with no more monthly "guide" fees, it was an easy choice and the savings will pay for the hardware needed in the matter of 2-3 months.

    Add to that, no more rain fade. No more local station disputes. Our internet rarely if ever goes out at either location and even if it does, we can either just watch OTA or recorded shows until it comes back on or stream and cast the stream from our phones/tablets/laptops to our TV via our cell hot spots where we have unlimited data. No "boxes" ANYWHERE in sight. Entire setup other than the antenna coax connection to the Recast is wireless and with both our home and RV networks with the same SSID and passwords, it all will move back and forth seamslessly. Easily upgraded/expanded at our whim with no contract renewals. Whole home capabilities. 30 sec. skip/ff commercials on OTA recorded content as well as pause/rewind live TV. Integrates with her Amazon Prime Video and Music seamlessly. Use Alexa for just about everything. Able to add other services and cancel them as desired (no more commitments/ETF's). But above all of that, I think the one thing that sold it all to her was being able to have it ALL on ANY TV in our house (even the older Plasma "dumb" TV we have in our BR) and have an all in one integrated, common interface with the same remote anywhere in the house or RV tells me that I think I found our solution and our days with D* might actually be coming to an end. I will be suspending our D* account next week just before our billing date which also gives here a bit more time to get accustomed to the Fire TV setup. But unless something major comes up in the next week or two, I suspect I will be making the call to cancel D*. The only downside I can see is her liking the Fire TV setup so much that finding a way to get the remote out of her hands will be a full time job.
     
  2. NYDutch

    NYDutch DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Install the FireTV app on your phone and you can have your own remote to play with. ;)
     
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  3. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Embrace the Fire TV equipment. Best "bang for your buck" devices out there. Once you get used to voice commands you won't need more remotes.

    Rich
     
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  4. vfourmax

    vfourmax New Member

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    Dec 22, 2018
    The only hold back for me as far as the recast was the OTA is received as a 1080 signal and the recast only outputs a maximum of 720p to the tv. There are other OTA dvr options in the same up front equipment price range that will output the recorded material at its original 1080 resolution which to me was important as I did not want the video resolution downgrade..
     
  5. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Good for you! That would bother me too.

    Rich
     
  6. grover517

    grover517 AllStar

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    720p for us works just fine. My CBS and NBC locals broadcast in 1080i/30fps but ABC and Fox broadcast in 720p/60fps which is what the Recast does so the Recast isn't converting everything. Regardless of all that, between not viewing on larger 4k TV's nor having 20/20 sight any longer, "we" (aka: the wife) can't tell the difference between DirecTV and Recast/FireTV streams so the differences between what the Recast outputs and the other choices such as Tivo, HDHomeRun or Tablo never really came into the "picture" (pun intended). My biggest hurdle/consideration was the "wife acceptance factor" above all else, who is enamored with Alexa already and having integration with Alexa was a biggie to get her to even consider cutting the cord. That was followed closely by how much we saved over DirecTV which in our case was about 160.00/month AFTER subscribing to a couple streaming services to get "her channels", a completely wireless setup (portability between home and RV), no "visible" set top boxes or cords (the wife hates them) and an "all in one" channel guide to "surf" the old fashioned way which the Recast does with PS Vue (my sports) and Philo (her channels) So when the comparisons were all done, "we" chose FireTV Recast. Happy wife, Happy life! LOL.
     
    Rich likes this.
  7. mjwagner

    mjwagner Icon

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    I would take good 720p over 1080i. Actually I honestly don’t think I would be able to tell the difference. 1080p is a different story but I didn’t think their was much, if any, OTA 1080p broadcast content.
     
  8. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    720p only annoys me when watching baseball or football games. The closeups are outrageously good and make me wonder how 2160p could be any better. The long shots of the field are what bothers me and I think the games that came over in 1080i had slightly better PQ on the long shots. When YES switched from 1080i to 720p some of us noticed the change and commented on it at the time.

    Rich
     
  9. harperhometheater

    harperhometheater Legend

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    Aug 30, 2012
    1080i and 1080p have the same spatial resolution and the same native pixel resolution. If you start with a 1080i signal, all you need is a deinterlacer that works the way to should and it will be indistinguishable from 1080p.

    There are no OTA 1080p broadcasts.
     

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