The X1 platform from Comcast XFINITY lives up to the hype as one of the coolest pieces of set-top technology to date. Features like intuitive voice control, cloud storage, and universal searching for live TV, On Demand programming, DVR recordings, AND Netflix make the X1 more convenient than your average receiver. It also merges home services like TV, internet, and phone.
- TV on your schedule
- Catch your favorite shows whenever you want
- Voice control
- Search across multiple devices
- Requires bundling TV + internet
- Rewinding/fast-forwarding causes lag
- Voice control not foolproof
- Installation is not free
Do we recommend the XFINITY X1 platform? YES.
For anyone who watches TV on a regular basis, or for those who don’t adhere to a strict TV time schedule, it frees up many concerns regarding TV and makes the experience an overall pleasure rather than a nuisance. Although it’s not perfect, it’s great for the majority of the TV crowd.
What’s the X1 Platform?
XFINITY’s X1 Entertainment Operating System is an interactive platform that combines universal search results from live TV, Comcast’s On Demand programming, and DVR recordings, in addition to personalized recommendations, apps, and even Netflix. It’s Comcast’s best offering—their chance to show off some cutting-edge technology that will help shape industry standards.
The X1, at its most basic level, is the receiver for your digital cable signal. It’s your cable box
The X1, at its most basic level, is the receiver for your digital cable signal. It’s your cable box, or in other words, it’s how you get television programming from Comcast.
It displays a visual directory (or channel guide) that allows you to select shows based on titles and descriptions instead of channel surfing by the numbers. It provides showtimes and other information like episode summaries, parental guidance ratings, release dates, and cast and crew credits.
The app-like interface searches universally, so you don’t have to check multiple sources for what you want to watch; type a few letters and the suggestions will conveniently appear. The X1 also learns your preferences and displays your top 100 programs, allowing you to get straight into your favorite shows.
In my experience, Comcast’s interface and equipment have always been clunky and problematic. Not so with the X1—the interface glides along easily and is very reminiscent of an app on a fresh device. It displays selections quickly, and the menu makes sense (even to my aging parents who recently upgraded). The ability to search for various terms (channels, actors, directors, genres, etc.) is intuitive enough for the average person to find what he or she wants without much hassle.
See if Comcast has the channels you want here.
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The following markets do not have access to the X1 Cloud DVR service as of this writing: Michigan (including the Detroit Metro Area); Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN; and Independence, MO.
How does the XFINITY X1 compare to DISH’s Hopper or DIRECTV’s Genie?
|XFINITY X1||DISH Hopper 3 w/Sling||DIRECTV Genie|
|Storage capacity||500 GB||2 TB||1 TB|
|Voice remote control||Yes||Yes||Yes (with app)|
|On Demand Titles||163,000+||93,000+||41,000+|
|Manage DVR anywhere||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Download to device||Yes||Yes||Yes|
How does the X1 work?
Beyond supplying your programming, the X1 also operates as your DVR, allowing you to record a single show or an entire series up to two weeks in advance, with the option to manage your recording schedules online via the XFINITY TV Go website or the XFINITY TV app. You can access all your TV content from your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
The DVR (digital video recorder) portion of the X1 lets you record and watch up to six shows at once. With 500 GB of storage, you should be okay to record entire series of shows in HD without constant maintenance (or you can always record in Standard Definition to save space).
With the help of the XFINITY TV app, the DVR is easy to control and pretty convenient.
The DVR aspect also allows you to control time: you can pause and rewind live TV up to 60 minutes. This is where the X1 could improve the most. When navigating through a show with rewind/fast-forward, it was a glitchy and required some guesswork to compensate for the lag. It’s not clear whether having a lot more bandwidth would eliminate the lag; it’s also possible that this is just the current level of streaming capability. We hope this feature improves with updates.
If you’ve never had a DVR, it’s amazing how stress-free it makes staying on top of watching your favorite shows. My family usually gathers Sunday Night for Game of Thrones, but with vastly different schedules, we take advantage of the 60 minute window you can pause live TV, assuming you forgot to record in the first place. You can schedule recordings in advance and record entire seasons.
With the help of the XFINITY TV app, the DVR is easy to control and pretty convenient. You may also download programming from the X1 Cloud to your device via Wi-Fi or mobile network, so you can watch it anywhere without an internet connection.
Find out more about bundling TV and internet together to get X1’s DVR features here.
You will need to activate your device and add it to your XFINITY TV account from Comcast’s website. You need to have the Cloud DVR rate code added to your account—call Comcast’s billing department to activate it There is no charge for the Cloud DVR rate code).
What makes the X1 special?
The power of your voice
The coolest feature of the Comcast XFINITY X1 platform is its universal voice control remote. With the press of a button, you can simply say what you want to watch and have the X1 suggest programming. For example, with the Olympics coming up, you can search for certain countries or sports to hop between events—simply say “USA Track and Field” or “Brazilian swimming” to save time. Whether searching by show title, director or actor names, network, or movie genre, you can find what you’re looking for in a variety of ways. Voice control may not work quite like Siri or Cortana (you can’t search the web with it or have it do math calculations), but it is great for accessing your shows quickly.
It’s important to note that voice control isn’t foolproof: when I tried “NBA finals,” no search results came up, but the simplified “NBA” ended up working. While some searches may be a little nuanced for the speech recognition to pick up, at other times it operated better than we expected. When searching for the show Reign, the screen displayed “Rain” and searched for results with that spelling in the title, but still found The CW show about Mary, Queen of Scots. If you’re having trouble with voice search, simplify your command or think of alternate keywords.
XFINITY X1 voice remote specifications
- Voice control:
- Search for shows or movies.
- See what’s on now.
- Find your favorite team, actor, or artists.
- Aim anywhere:
- No direct line of sight needed
- Backlit keypad:
- Makes it easy to see
Phone it in
Speaking of using your voice—your phone will become even more useful. The X1 platform actually allows you to stream video straight from your phone. It’s similar to using FaceTime or Skype, but it’s beamed to your DVR so you and your family and friends can stay connected in another convenient way. Sick for your son’s soccer game? Watch it from your living room. Drop a knife on your foot and can’t make it to the arts festival? No problem, shop like an elitist snob from home. Even down to finding out if you need milk from the grocery store while the kids are watching a movie, this phone to video streaming service could find a lot of uses.
Although other providers also have VoIP (Voice over IP, a fancy way of saying “using your internet as a phone line”), we haven’t seen any other cable box integrate your smartphone and TV quite like this.
Is it worth it to upgrade to the XFINITY X1?
New customers should definitely seek out a Double Play or Triple Play package if they’re going with Comcast for TV. Based on user reviews, it seems as if most existing customers faced an upgrade fee of $20 per month, which is a pretty average rate for other companies’ DVRs with far fewer features. It’s definitely worth the money.
Ready to get the XFINITY X1? Check out these offers.
XFINITY X1 FAQs:
Can the XFINITY X1 stream Netflix directly?
Comcast has made a deal with Netflix that will allow users to log in and stream directly from the X1. This will extend the universal search function to include Netflix titles in late 2016.
What is required for the X1 platform?
You need at least a TV + Internet Double Play Package in order to get the X1. You may also get the X1 with a Triple Play Package.
Installation costs will run $14.99 for the self-install kit and $89.99 for a professional installation.
For phone integration, it is also required that you have a Digital Voice Modem, which Comcast leases for $10 per month.
Does the X1 have to be hooked up to the internet to work?
Yes: if the X1 box is offline, it simply displays an error message. Although the X1 has an internal hard drive, you must have a data connection to access any programming.
Still have questions? Click here for more info on the X1’s specs.