OTA-DVR AirTV Anywhere vs Amazon Recast

Discussion in 'Local Reception' started by lparsons21, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    I’ve got both these boxes and this is not meant as an all inclusive review, just some comparisons.

    On both boxes there is no charge for the Guide info.

    Amazon Recast:
    This works quite well but is limited to working with Amazon FireTV products. There is an app for iOS and Android devices but frankly it isn’t very good or useful. Its main reason for being is to set up the Recast.

    When this is set up, then on your FireTV device’s main screen you will have a new top menu selection “DVR”. This is where you deal with the Recast’s guide, dvr and so forth. It is all very straight forward. The Recast has very strong tuners compared to many other devices and TVs IMO.

    Video quality is very good but limited to 720p. Audio follows whatever the channel provides. IOW, if the channel is broadcasting with DD5.1, you will get it.

    Pricing on the 4 tuner version is $280, but as of today it has a sale for $200.

    AirTV Anywhere:
    This is AirTV’s latest version of their AirTV OTA DVR product line. This one has 4 tuners and a 1TB hard disk drive built in. It works within the SlingTV app and it does not require a subscription to SlingTV. The SlingTV app works on nearly all streaming TV devices though I have read that the AirTV OTA stuff does not work on versions on TVs. I have not confirmed that.

    Video quality isn’t specified anywhere but my observation is that it is at least 720p. And I have noticed that the video is better on a FireTV device than on AppleTV though the difference isn’t huge. The video is better than the Recast on the same device.

    Audio quality is as it is on the Recast device.

    One irritating thing is that there is no program search on the broadcast guide. AirTV is aware of the issue and claims to be working on this.

    Pricing is $199 direct from AirTV.

    But a better deal is through Sling! For $99 plus 3 months of Sling Orange or Sling Blue prepaid @$30/month. Total $189!

    IMO, the better deal and device is the AirTV Anywhere. Other than the lack of program search it works well, provides slightly better video and works with more devices. But either one is a good choice, just know that you are locked in to FireTV if you choose Recast.
     
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  2. grover517

    grover517 AllStar

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    Thanks for the overview between the two! I was wondering about a few things when I saw a write up a few days ago on the updated AirTV device and you answered at least a few of them for me.

    When I was preparing my transition to OTT/OTA, THE first and foremost consideration was giving the wife as much of a "cable" experience as I could in both ease of use and an integrated UI/Channel guide for both OTA and OTT. Given that, our preferred streaming services (at the time was PS Vue and Philo and is now YTTV and Philo), as well as already being locked into things like Prime and Alexa, the FireTV Cube/4K stick/Recast/Alexa combo was, and still is basically a no brainer in our instance. And I agree that there is much to be desired in the FireTV mobile app feature wise such as the ability to setup a recording when away from home, but we use it quite a bit to stream either local news or sporting events that are blacked out elsewhere when we are in our RV and away from our home area, or staying in a place where we don't have decent wifi and can use our unlimited data on our mobile phones. In either case, we cast it to our TV and it actually works pretty well for us in that sense.

    And with even as much time and effort as I have taken to provide the wife with as integrated a solution as I can, she still struggles at times with our FireTV setup. Not within the FireTV UI itself due to both her learning it over time as well as having Alexa to help, but because she still has to switch apps for certain things such as playing back OTT service DVR recordings or On demand rather than navigating the FireTV UI or Recast guide.

    I agree in the sense that the Recast could be a bit more "flexible" in the sense that it is limited to 2 streams at a time that are limited to 720p, it's tuners tend to not to filter out fringe stations very well and seem to be to touchy in it's notifications of a weak signal when the picture and sound are just fine, but in the end, for an OTA DVR that seems to be designed and targeted at the "plug and play" crowd who doesn't care about higher resolution pictures, etc, I think the Recast does what it was designed to do pretty well and sure has made my move away from DirecTV after 22 years, a lot less eventful than I expected.
     
  3. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    I’m subbed to a few OTT services also, but I’m using Prime Channels where I can. That way they are at least somewhat integrated into to Guide, at least for the live channels of those services.

    Unfortunately on all devices it just isn’t possible to integrate all of the services into one app/UI, or at least no one has found a way. Apple does a bit better in that regard in that for supported services it will show the Next in the strip inside their TV app. But to find a show you still have to go to the relevant app.
     
  4. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    I agree in the sense that the Recast could be a bit more "flexible" in the sense that it is limited to 2 streams at a time that are limited to 720p, it's tuners tend to not to filter out fringe stations very well and seem to be to touchy in it's notifications of a weak signal when the picture and sound are just fine, but in the end, for an OTA DVR that seems to be designed and targeted at the "plug and play" crowd who doesn't care about higher resolution pictures, etc, I think the Recast does what it was designed to do pretty well and sure has made my move away from DirecTV after 22 years, a lot less eventful than I expected.[/QUOTE]

    I noticed today that one of my local channels and its subchannels are a bit wonky, probably cloud cover issues. Recast deals with that better than the AirTV Anywhere box. Even though the Recast does complain about the signal, it goes ahead and works fine. The AirTV doesn’t complain because they don’t seem to have an error message set up for that, but the picture/sound breaks up a bit.
     
  5. scooper

    scooper Hall Of Fame

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    Can you speak to the recast working with Fire Tablets ?
     
  6. grover517

    grover517 AllStar

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    Having had a Recast for well over a year now, I guess I have just gotten used to it's quirks and either found tweaks to work around them or just have learned to "tune" them out. Having used OTA DVR's since my ReplayTV days, it baffles me how much has improved yet other things have seemed to regress.

    Simply by having FireTV and the Recast, it does tend to dictate which services/providers I gravitate to, which is what I suspect Amazon is hoping for and I also tend to subscribe longer term, to add on's thru Amazon as well. Although I may play with other devices, the WAF will prevent me from running multiple streaming devices on a regular basis. She has enough issues in just swtiching HDMI ports so she can play with her Switch. At least Alexa can do that for her so she doesn't have to grab a second remote! lol.

    I have both Philo and YTTV (used to use PSV). I have done at least a few trials for things like Starz, Showtime and Cinemax thru both services. In all instances, I was able to get those premium add on's to show up in the FireTV Guide with different levels of effort. In Philo's case, I simply had to refresh channels thru the FireTV Live TV settings. With YTTV, I had to completely sign out of YTTV on every device and then sign back in to get them into the FireTV Guide. And depending on the premium linear channel naming convention, determines how useful it might be for many since the FireTV guide is sorted alphabetically so things like 5 star Max are at the top of the YTTV section and Thriller Max is towards the bottom. For others like Showtime, Sho2, ShoExtreme, etc., they all get grouped together under "S" in the providers lineup section of the FireTV guide. Subscribing thru Channels, not only puts the premiums in their own FireTV guide sections, making it much easier to surf the linear premium channels but seems to provide better results when using Alexa, which helps with the WAF.

    Having had a Recast for well over a year now, I guess I have just gotten used to it's quirks and either found tweaks to work around them or just have learned to "tune" them out. Having used OTA DVR's since the ReplayTV days, it baffles me how much has improved yet other things have seemed to regress.
     
  7. grover517

    grover517 AllStar

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    I don't own a Fire Tablet but from what I have read, it should work both in home and out of home as long as the Tablet and Recast are registered to the same Amazon account. I think I remember something about having to be at least a certain version level Fire Tablet but don't hold me to that.

    Are you asking in the sense of prior purchase research or are you having issues with an existing setup?
     
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  8. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Sure, it is very minimalist! You have to use the FireTV app as far as I can tell and that app has to be used to set up the Recast.

    Other than that you can see what’s on live and play those, and you can see recordings and play those. You can’t set up a recording only view those already done.

    And you can use the app as remote though how well that works I don’t know as I’ve not tried it out.
     
  9. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    I have a Fire 8 of the current gen. The app works fine on it, though overall it is sluggish which is pretty much true of the Fire tablets in general. It does play the videos just fine though

    And I’m not sure about which generations of Fire tablets it will work with either. I know that the ad for the Recast claims it will work with all generations of FireTV devices.
     
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  10. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    After a few days with both the AirTV and Recast I’d have to say that which one is better is nearly a moot point. Both are good at what they do, both have their own quirks.

    Recast - If you are firmly in the FireTV family it makes the most sense to use the Recast. Since it is part of the whole FireTV system it is better integrated and offers local channel show search which the AirTV does not.

    AirTV - If you want to use something other than FireTV then the AirTV makes more sense because it works with the Sling app on almost all devices with the exception of a few TVs.

    IMO, with AirTV the app differences between Apple & Android devices are fairly minimal. Apple version allows for sorting either alphabetical or category, Android does not offer that. It is always by category.

    And on the AppleTV you can’t pick a day to look at the guide but you can on the Android versions.
     
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  11. grover517

    grover517 AllStar

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    Basically sounds as if the app is available on a device thru the corresponding app store, the "experience" is the same regardless of the device it's on. I have the app working on my Chromebook, the wife has it on her Samsung Tab S 4 and of course, we both have it running on our Galaxy Note's.
     
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  12. lparsons21

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    Yes it is the same experience. I used the iOS version when I set up my Recast. Other than as a quick test here at the house, I’ve not used the app for anything else.

    BTW, I didn’t mention this about AirTV and should have. If you use the other than AppleTV version you can’t sort the channels in the guide. Not even the iOS version does it.

    Also, if you also subscribe to SlingTV the guide can be huge and unwieldy. In the Sling app you can have favorites and some category versions of the guide which helps. But on the FireTV the Sling guide in their “live” and “DVR” menu doesn’t allow for that. And on the FireTV you can’t set a recording on Sling inside that guide though you can for Recast.
     
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  13. lparsons21

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    After having these two devices for a fair bit of time I’ve noticed some audio differences though I’m not exactly sure why.

    Recast audio is ‘cleaner’ in general than AirTV. Both seem to give DD5.1 or stereo depending on source material, but there are differences in how that’s handled.

    With AirTV you have to use the SlingTV app even if you tune a channel with FireTV’s live guide. Audio from that app is significantly louder and more front loaded than with Recast. This is even with Sling’s channels too though all Sling channels outside some premium add-ons are all only in stereo.

    Very noticeable on my Nakamichi 7.1.4 Atmos soundbar setup. The soundbar’s electronics will twiddle the audio to give surround effects and doesn’t handle whatever AirPlay/Sling is doing as well as it does with audio from Recast.
     
  14. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Does the synthesized audio do its inherent damage when the source material is DD5.1?

    It seems odd that any recording system would mess with the audio but maybe the AirPlay system converts it to stereo.
     
  15. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    I can only report what I hear and my ears are not the best in the world. The synthesized audio seems to do a very good job with 5.1 from most sources most of the time. There are occasions when it doesn’t but they are fairly rare.

    As to what the AirPlay and/or Sling app are doing with the audio, who knows? But with that combo being used on Roku Ultra, FireTV and AppleTV4K the audio is noticeably different between boxes, so they are doing something to the audio also. I’d love to be able to test Recast with the other boxes but it only works with FireTV.
     
  16. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Ok, did some twiddling around.

    On the Roku Ultra 2019 if I run the SlingTV app the reported audio for all channels and recordings is PCM. Not multi-channel, just PCM. Same for the AppleTV4K.

    Other apps show different audio as they should.

    On the FireTV I have audio set to ‘best available’. Running the Sling app shows the input to the soundbar as Dolby Digital Plus. Same thing shows on the ATT TV box.
     
  17. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    It would appear that the AirTV Player is trying to decode the audio internally. Is there a setting on the AirTV Player where it can be configured to send DD (or anything other than PCM) instead?

    PCM can send up to six channels but I wonder if Sling took some shortcuts and squished the sound.
     
  18. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    No, there isn’t any setting for audio. In fact, there isn’t much of any settings for anything!

    Yeah I know PCM can be multi-channel, the ATV4K will show when it gets PCM multi-channel. SlingTV isn’t doing that just 2-channel PCM. I don’t know if that app sends DD5.1 for the Premium add-on channels as I don’t sub to any of them via Sling.

    EDIT: It should be noted that the only live streaming service that does 5.1 is ATT’s various TV services. All the others are stereo and all have been complained about for that issue.
     
  19. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Given that the AirTV tuner does handle DD5.1, it must be the AirTV box that is decoding it and producing PCM. Transcoding streaming audio from bitstream to PCM wouldn't be an app-side thing.
     
  20. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Can’t argue with that as that appears to be exactly what they are doing.
     

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