Migrating to Amazon Recast from TiVo

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Charles R, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. Dec 3, 2019 #1 of 51
    Charles R

    Charles R Active Member

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    Introduction

    With no overriding logic I decided to give Amazon Recast a tryout and see if I prefer it over TiVo. In my case a Roamio TE4 with blocked guide ads ($199 with Lifetime) and a Amazon Recast ($179 / Fire TV 4K free). This post will be more of a log versus a review with miscellaneous updates. To a large degree the swap process is routed in the bad taste from ads and change for the sake of change... something different. For the time being I'll be running both in parallel with day to day usage almost exclusively the Recast. After a month or so I'll either sell the TiVo or return the Recast.

    Installation

    I believe you need the Fire TV app (and Amazon account) to install the Recast and I happen to have a Fire tablet collecting dust. More than likely if I didn't have the tablet and Fire TV 4K sitting around I wouldn't have bother with the Recast as realistically I don't expect it to outperform TiVo in any measurably way based on my usage.

    I split my OTA antenna signal and was happy to see TiVo was still receiving the channels I record. The Recast couldn't be simpler to hookup. OTA signal, network cable (in my case) and power. My tablet is rather under-powered however installation was very quick with only scanning for OTA channels taking a few minutes. Once installed you can view live TV and recordings via the tablet but not much more as far as I know such as scheduling recordings or re-configuring the Recast.

    At this point I woke up the Fire TV 4K and it already had the DVR option on the menu bar. The DVR interface plays out very similar to the others so how you feel about the interface will carry over. You get On Now, My Recordings and DVR Manager columns. The first thing I did was go into DVR Manager/DVR Settings/Channel Management and hide all of the channels I don't view (26) and setup Favorites (7) that I do view. Signal strength I was good to go. Finally I went to DVR Manager/DVR Settings/Live TV Sources/Fire TV Recast/Default Recordings Options where you set Start/End buffers and Recording Preference (new episodes in my case). Under DVR Manager is also Channel Guide, Scheduled Recordings and Recording Priority.

    You can play around and find a few other options however that's about it. You're ready to watch TV.

    I only have a few hours of usage and I'll update the below as I become more acquainted with its in and outs... my likes and dislikes.

    Daily Usage

    • As mentioned above you can hide channels so they don't appear in the guide
    • Forwarding through the guide (especially one day at a time) it will buffer
    • Skip forward (30 seconds) and backwards (10 seconds) is fairly smooth (not particularly fast) and it will buffer multiple presses of the remote (which is very nice)
    • For scheduling I have only clicked on the show in the guide and selected Record Series - no Alexa or whatnot at this point in time - it won't allow you to view guide data prior to "now"
    • Even though the interface is rather primitive and feature lacking streaming on a "cheap" Fire tablet works great. Effortlessly streams and connecting my Bluetooth headphones was painless.

    Video/Audio

    • Noticed (or should I say my wife) the occasional lip sync issue - skip backwards might get you in sync
    • Rare buffering in the image - might be my weak WiFi - most often a recording will ramp up the quality as it begins
    • Flipping back and forth between the Recast and TiVo I think...
    • - Recast has a higher contrast ratio (gives the image a little more pop)
    • - 720p channels look more detailed on the Recast - I suspect a little more image processing, the above mentioned contrast and possibly some (mild) edge enhancement
    • - 1080i channels look very similar
    • On rare occasions I would "spot" a possible encoding issue - overall the image never felt as "solid" as TiVo
    • Recast upscales the image to 4K and I use naive on TiVo so the TV is doing the upscaling (LG OLED set) so it's hard to draw any actual conclusions here

    General Notes

    • Recast can only stream (play) to two devices concurrently
    • Recast won't clip recordings (cut-off buffer before/after) to record either the same or different channel
    • One advantage is I can use my Bluetooth headphones with OTA since the Fire TV 4K supports such
    • There is no undelete recordings
    • If you reset Fire TV 4K back to factory settings you reset a few of the Recast configurations such as favorite/hidden channels however your scheduled recordings are retained

    Initial Reaction

    Going in I was worried about image quality and lack of AutoSkip. At this point I think image quality won't play a part in the decision. Skip forward is smoother than I guessed so it helps a little bit against AutoSkip. Also a big chunk of my viewing is done via chase play where AutoSkip doesn't come into play anyway.

    Until I spend some serious time with the Recast I don't think it's fair to address the two interfaces. However I can say most of the time the Recast takes a second (or three) to buffer live TV or a recording

    Conclusion

    After two weeks the Recast has been returned. I'll miss its concept but not its execution. Going in I was always leaning towards the Recast... I wanted something new. However in virtually every category I was giving up more than I was getting in return and finally I ran across the straw that broke the Recast's back. I could have perhaps worked past the issue but there were simply too many others to the point it wasn't as effortless and as smooth as TiVo's experience.

    The last straw was reception strength. My PBS station turned iffy. Fine most of the time with a solid "Good" rating however on occasion it would breakup or even lose signal completely. For years it's never been an issue with TiVo.

    I was up for re-aiming the antenna which was a microcosm of the differences between the two. The Recast offers a few categories such as Poor and Good where TiVo provides a numeric readout which allows you to actually fine tune the signal. After numerous attempts (using TiVo) I couldn't improve the attic antenna's signal strength and I'm not willing to try an amp - I did try removing the splitter. If that was the only issue I would have sadly there are many more I couldn't overlook or change.

    For my usage outside of support for (Bluetooth) headphones and an integrated interface the entire experience wasn't as "slick" and generally lacking just enough features and or performance it wasn't as enjoyable. For lack of a better description it always felt you were attempting to use a streamer as a DVR. If they release new hardware and or software I'd gladly give it another attempt.

    All of the above is my experience and may have little or no value for someone else's use case.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
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  2. Dec 3, 2019 #2 of 51
    jtdon99

    jtdon99 Member

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    I got a 4 tuner Recast the day they went down to $179 so I have a few more days of use than you. I am getting use to using it and have mostly the same experience you do, expect I haven't had any buffering issues and I get much better channel reception and channel count than my Bolt. Like you I feel the interface has a long way to go and I miss auto skip. I use a Fire TV Stick and since it has Alexa you can give commands like "skip 3 minutes" and speed up the skip process. I dumped Spectrum a few months ago & I use OTA, Prime, Philo & Hulu. The DVR guide intergrates the Philo guide with the OTA channels, which I like. Looking forward to following your experiences.
     
  3. Dec 3, 2019 #3 of 51
    Donbadabon

    Donbadabon Bored TCF Club

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    Can you compare the signal strength on the same channel on both devices? Are there any signal strength differences between the Recast and the TiVo?
     
  4. Dec 3, 2019 #4 of 51
    Donbadabon

    Donbadabon Bored TCF Club

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    Can you compare the signal strength on the same channel on both devices? Are there any signal strength differences between the Recast and the TiVo?
     
  5. Dec 3, 2019 #5 of 51
    Adam C.

    Adam C. Active Member

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    All the channels on my Recast just say "Good" for signal strength. Signals are very strong in my area so I don't know if this is the highest indicator or not. As far as I can tell there is no numerical signal strength on the Recast unless it is in some hidden menu.

    Overall I'm pretty happy with the Recast. The Fire TV mobile app could use some improvement though. Streaming works great, which is obviously most important. But there is no guide, you can't schedule future recordings, and there is no way to customize the channels that show up. So you have to scroll through an entire list to find the channel you want to watch.
     
  6. Dec 3, 2019 #6 of 51
    Charles R

    Charles R Active Member

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    Same here. I have had only one semi-iffy channel with the TiVo and since my last tweak in the attic it has been fine.

    Yeah - the app feels half-baked Alpha at best... nowhere near Beta.

    I'm more or less lost regarding audio. My receiver does DD+ fine and at times I have seen the Fire TV 4K use it - via the receiver's info screen. However most of the time when I check the receiver states Stereo input regardless of the setting I use.
     
  7. Dec 5, 2019 #7 of 51
    Charles R

    Charles R Active Member

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    From my testing scheduling four recordings with a one minute Stop Recording buffer and then attempting to schedule a recording (directly afterwards) on one of the channels already being recorded or one that isn't Recast insists on cancelling one of the prior recordings. I did this all live via the guide so I don't know if it would be handled any differently via Scheduled Recordings but I'm guessing not.

    Bottom line it won't clip recordings. I have set up my recordings without any overages and already lost a bit of one series (Survivor).
     
  8. Dec 7, 2019 #8 of 51
    TeamPace

    TeamPace Active Member

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    I’ve had TiVo for over 10 yr, always OTA. Bought a Recast when they first came out and have both systems set up. I still find the TiVo my main DVR for personal use but the Fire TV recast is pretty decent. As a hobby I help friends cut the cord. I’ve now switched from recommending TiVo OTA to the Fire TV/Recast system for cord cutting. It’s so much simpler (and cheaper) to set up Recast, that people Are much more open to the cost and ease of set up. It’s also nice that they can have their local channels and streaming apps all in one interface and control with just one remote. Recast still needs some refinement and features such as auto skip for commercials but I’m hopeful those things will be added. The Fire TV app needs improved such as a guide and ability to set up recordings but the out of home streaming is pretty reliable. Much better than TiVo (I have a stream and it just doesn’t work well). If they continue to improve Recast it will be the system to beat. As to picture quality Recast only streams in 720P but the PQ looks about the same to me. Another limitation of the Recast is it only allows two streams at once. So for larger households with many TVs and family members that could be a problem.
     
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  9. Dec 8, 2019 #9 of 51
    Charles R

    Charles R Active Member

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    As a pure DVR I think TiVo has a fairly decent lead. Its user experience is simply slicker and offers more features. Image wise outside of the rare breakup in fast motion portions of the image I often favor the Recast. I find myself migrating to online content more and more and since with the Recast the OTA experience generally is the same as online what it lacks (compared to TiVo) doesn't bother me much.

    If I was new to OTA I'd buy the Recast based on the price and online integration. Having TiVo ($199 Lifetime) I can't really justify switching at least logically... however I am leaning that way largely for just something different.
     
  10. jtdon99

    jtdon99 Member

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    One thing that has not been mentioned in this topic is the heat & noise issues with the Bolt. I believe the fan in a Bolt is 50mm and noisy. The fan in a Recast is 80mm (2 1/2 x larger in area) and runs at 17 dB. The Recast to barely warm to the touch. While the Tivo has a much superior interface I decided not to reward Tivo for making a lower quality product and charging more for it all the while taking away features that customers want. I too miss autoskip but I do not miss the fees Tivo charges or their failure to listen to their customers. Add to that I no longer need the slow mini's on my other tvs and the much bigger selection of streaming options that run much faster.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
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  11. Charles R

    Charles R Active Member

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    I have only used up to Roamio TiVos and their fan noise have varied quite a lot. I believe they have had different vendors. For the most part the hard drive has been the determining factor as to how loud they are. In my case the Recast is installed in one of the unfinished areas and as such noise isn't an issue.

    For me they appear pretty equal hardware wise. And while the Recasst might be a better bargain I don't feel the TiVo is overly priced.

    I have always purchased Lifetime and when replacing TiVo units sold them off for little out of the pocket cost or even a small profit (after upgrading the drive). To me you have to judge the item for what it is/does and what's best for you. And from what I have been reading Amazon hasn't exactly been listening to their users.
     
  12. Pokemon_Dad

    Pokemon_Dad Ruler of Unown UI

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    My Bolt fan developed a clicking noise very quickly, so I replaced it with a stock model fan. I still found that too noisy even when working properly, so I replaced it with a Noiseblocker BlackSilentFan XS-2. You're right, 50 mm is simply small and noisy, no way around it. The case design makes it all worse. Previous TiVo models were quiet enough for bedrooms, but the Bolt had to be banished to the server closet, and at this point I've retired it from service.

    The Recast may be in need of some software updates, but at least it's a good hardware design. Having said that, it's too limited for our needs so I've been running Channels DVR on an NAS serving Fire TV apps, in anticipation of dropping TiVo and cable when our Roamio Pro goes kaput here.
     
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  13. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    I guess I'm a fortunate one: my Bolt box is at around the same noise level as my Roamio box (maybe a trifle quieter?), meaning low, and I don't hear it in a non-large bedroom. (Am now at 2-1/2 years.)
     
  14. Adam C.

    Adam C. Active Member

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    I have a Roamio OTA and the only time I can hear any fan noise is if I do a hard reset by unplugging it. Once it is fully booted I don't hear any noticeable noise.
     
  15. Pokemon_Dad

    Pokemon_Dad Ruler of Unown UI

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    I'm happy for you. You're not alone, but unfortunately for TiVo there are still far too many complaints about noise in the Bolt compared to previous models. Whether the cause is problems in only some production runs, or just a difference in a percentage of customers' ears, the Bolt has a bad rep.

    This being a Recast thread, I've continued my Bolt story with an update here: How reliable are the Bolts?
     
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  16. Charles R

    Charles R Active Member

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    With all the reports about bad guide data with TiVo so far I haven't been impressed with the Recast. Sunday night it listed Shark Tank with a description of last weeks' airing. Last week I thought they said it would return in January so I was pretty sure it was off. Sure enough something else aired and TiVo had it listed accurately.
     
  17. TeamPace

    TeamPace Active Member

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    As far as only purchasing the primary unit I would agree that the price difference isn’t a big factor. But when it comes to a whole house system the cost difference is substantial.

    Two of the recent systems that I set up, one was five TVs and the other was seven. Those numbers are becoming quite common as TV prices are so low these days. Building a system like that for TiVo is very expensive. At least now with the WiFi adapter available you don’t have to hardwire Ethernet or use Moca but With the cost of each Mini at $180 plus another $60 for the WiFi adapter that’s $240 per TV vs $40 for a Firestick. And the Firestick can do so much more than the Mini that in most cases they would want some kind of streaming device on each TV regardless.

    In explaining cord cutting options to people they’re willing to consider the cost of a recast system but I quickly lose them if I start giving them figures for a whole house TiVo system. For the seven TV house TiVo costs would have been $1840 plus taxes bringing it to around two grand. The Recast/FireTv system at full retail would have been $569 plus tax. And with Black Friday pricing it was only $324 plus tax. Pretty significant in my book!
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
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  18. Adam C.

    Adam C. Active Member

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    This is spot on. Since setting up my Recast I can now stream to my extra TV's in my basement and kitchen. I don't use either of those TV's that much so I could not possibly justify spending $180 on each Mini for those TVs. I was able to get Fire Sticks on sale for $25 last week and now both TVs are watchable for 50 bucks total.
     
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  19. Charles R

    Charles R Active Member

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    Personally, based on my usage (almost an entire week :)) I would be rather hesitant to install Recast in so many locations. At one location I can (up to now) live with its minor issues. If I was to use it on a heavier basis I'm pretty sure frustration would set in (not that it hasn't to some degree already). Items such as lip-sync, buffering (beginning of streams/randomly) and image breakup - largely to encoding issues I'm guessing. Along with a somewhat clumsy interface leaves me wanting.

    For the last week I have been using the Recast exclusively and on several occasions my wife (who simply views the shows) has stated she prefers TiVo. Such as when lip-sync is clearly an issue. One time she stated perhaps TiVo is worth more... how much would you save... I think she was about ready to make up the difference. :)

    I'm not even addressing features such as clipping recordings. That feature alone might have me returning the Recast and with a large installation it probably would really come into play. Oh and how about you can only view two streams among seven TVs!?
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
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  20. Adam C.

    Adam C. Active Member

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    I have not had any of those issues with my Recast. It sounds to me like you have network issues in your home rather than an issue with the Recast itself.
     
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