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January 09, 2019

FireTVStick Thrashes at&t’s DIRECTV

We save $170/month although it’s technically not cord-cutting, it’s dish-breaking. Note that most of the now-scrapped device below are from DIRECTV.

The losers (so yesterday):

Dish Directtv stuff

And the winners!

Antenna Fire stuff




The antenna is 11.5x11.5 inches. It is facing towards Mt. Mansfield seven miles away where local transmitters are located. It “sees” through the wall and a couple of other walls behind it no problem. Unlike the satellite dish, it is not bothered by rain or snow (and I don’t have to scrape accumulated snow off it). Ones like it cost about $20.

The 7x7x3 inch box on the credenza is a FireTV Recast from Amazon. It’s a DVR which records the over-the-air stuff the antenna receives. The $220 version has 2 receivers (2 shows recorded at once) and 75 hours of storage; the $260 model has 4 receivers and 150 hours of storage. Shows on the Recast are available from any of our TVs and it is also the gateway through which our TVs see live broadcasts.

Although the antenna is plugged into the Recast, there are no wired connections between the box and the TVs which access it. The TVs have FireTVSticks (little box on the right sitting on the Recast) plugged into their HDMI ports. The FireTVSticks communicate with the Recast over your home WiFi network. If you have multiple networks in your home, all the devices need to be on the same network; but they do a pretty good job of finding each other. I had to have one chat with tech support because the software on my first stick had not updated.

The FireTVSticks ($50 dollars with the remote pictured next to it) are useful on their own. They allow a TV into which they are plugged to use the internet to access entertainment services like Amazon Prime (of course), Netflix, Hulu etc., which you need to have subscription to. There are sports apps (subscription required) for the NFL and major league baseball. FireTVSticks support free apps which allow you to watch cable news shows like Fox or CNN; however, you won’t get access to full episodes on the news channels unless you have a cable TV or some other kind of subscription. You can buy a subscription from service like Hulu or DIRECTV Now; we have a subscription to Xfinity (Comcast) at our summer place so that allows us to watch full episodes at our Stowe home where we’ve just broken the dish.

There’s a free FireTV mobile app so we will be able to see stuff which is live or saved on the DVR when we’re traveling.

We were already paying for Xfinity at the vacation home (need it for internet), Netflix, and Amazon Prime so there are no new monthly charges to offset what we saved by canceling DIRECTV. We still have access to everything we used to watch – PBS and local news over the air as well as CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox. Over the air quality – now digital – is better than cable or satellite. Entertainment from Netflix and Prime and of course Victoria recorded over the air from PBS. Fox News through the app although it’s buggy. (Yes, to the horror of many of my friends I watch some of Fox News; balances PBS and BBC since I don’t believe that there is or ever will be such a thing as “unbiased” news.)

The remote is an Alex Voice Remote. You can push the button and tell her what you want to do (like skip forward) or watch or you can use the buttons on the remote itself. Allegedly she is only listening when you hold down the microphone button. You can also use the FireTV app as a remote or Alexa, herself. In that case you would just walk into a room and tell Alexa what you want the TV to do. But Alexa and I are no longer on speaking terms and she’s only allowed to listen when I unmute her so just as easy to use the remote.

No question Amazon enabled us to break the dish. I do wonder who will disrupt Amazon when.

See also:

A Tale of Two Antennas – The Cord Cutting Saga Continued

Alexa: The End of a Great Relationship


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