Comcast has done an overhaul in the way they present television and entertainment to the consumer. A year ago we got our first look at the Comcast X1 box running the new Xfinity X1 platform. I’ve personally been using the X1 for about a year now and it’s time I give you my full review of the Xfinity X1 and the X1 Platform.
Let’s start with the hardware. It’s a simple but sleek average size cable box that will fit on most TV stands. The front has a clock which I really like having and missed when i switch to a TiVo a few years ago. There is an LED indicators on the front for messages and when the DVR is recording. The power button has a USB port below and a green LED ring around it letting you know the power is on. You can hit the button to put the box in a standby state which then the light will go off if you’re annoyed by it sleeping at night. However Comcast does recommend keeping the X1 box on for as long as possible as it sends constant updates throughout the night to the box and when you turn it off it won’t receive these updates and when you do turn it back on you’ll experience some slowness while it tries to catch up.
The back of the X1 has a ton of ports with 3 HDMI ports, USB, eSata, component, composite, 2 coaxial ports and ethernet. This allows for different configurations depending on your setup. I haven’t tested all of them yet but it’s good to know that their is enough connections to have Comcast setup your X1 in your home theater the way you want to.
Internally there is a multi-core processor, 500 GB of storage and 5 TV tuners, 4 for recording and one for live TV. The remote looks complicated but an easy to use remote that will connect to your TV for basic power, volume and input controls. You can also download the Xfinity TV app to you iOS or Android device to control your X1 box. You can flip through the TV guide and On Demand and set your box to record or watch instantly. There is voice control as well (iOS only as of now). So to sum it up the hardware is more than adequate for the most important part that we will get into next which is the software.
Xfinity X1 Platform Is An Evolution In Presenting TV Entertainment
The X1 Platform is a multi layer systems of software and services that gives you a ton of options and control on how and where you watch your content. In this review we’ll be focused on the set-top box. The X1 interface is a simple grey interface that sections your DVR in to 4 main categories, Guide, DVR, On Demand, Apps. While each are separate they do cross over each other in a good way to present content to you.
Guide is your TV guide to see all what’s on TV. It’s got the layout that most of us are familar with. When you highlight at item it will give you a preview of metadata about the content. Hitting the OK button on the remote will jump to that channel (if the program is currently on). You’ll see a logo of either the TV station or the program that is currently on and the time shift bar which allows you to go up to 4X rewind, 4X Fast Forward and slow motion. these controls work smooth and get the job done. Hitting the left arrow will bring up a quick TV guide and will put live TV is a medium window on the left of it. You’ll also notice the time and temperature on the bottom right. You’ll always see this anywhere you go in the menu to give you quick glance to time and temperature which are two important pieces of information.
Now if you hit the Last button instead of going right back to the last channel it brings the last 10 channels, DVR and On Demand content you have watch. This is a cool multitask approach to jump back to content quickly and one of my favorite features to use.
Going back into the guide if you hit info button on a show or movie you’ll get more information about the content like content rating, synopsis, rotten tomatoes review info (if a movie), actors and actresses in the show or movie, share to a connected Facebook or Twitter account etc. From this menu is where you can setup to record the content and record a series if you want to and set the series settings to your liking. You’ll also see season information, future episodes and what’s available on demand. You cans also change get more information about the actors and even see more content that they are in specifically in. You can see related content and more. The Guide is simple but expansive giving you tons of information in an easy to digest way.
The DVR section is a easy DVR manager that holds all of your recorded shows, let’s you view and edit your schedule, recover deleted show and priority manage which shows get recorded if there is a conflict. With 5 tuners and the ability to record 4 shows at once you usually won’t run into too many conflicts. There isn’t too much to say here for the DVR other then it’s straight forward and easy to use.
The On Demand section is a one stop shop for instant access to TV, Movies and more. The guide is mixed with free, subscription and paid content. It’s broken down into as many categories as you can think of. There is new content added constantly. The access to the content is really instant as load times are minimal and almost not noticeable at all. You can also switch between on demand, live TV and DVR recordings on the fly without missing a beat. It’s rather seamless and that’s the way it should be. I’ve been able to jump between on demand, live TV and recording 4 shows at the same time and the X1 platform doesn’t skip a beat.
Apps are there but they are on a bit on the light side. You have Weather, Traffic, Facebook, Xfinity Voicemail, Sports and Pandora. All work well and give simple functionality although I would like to seem a bit more out of them and some more apps available. My favorite of the bunch is the Sports app.
When you open that up you’ll be able to get a quick summary of the latest games happening from NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL and NCAA. It shows scores and gives play-by-play. This will be great for fantasy sports players that want to watch one game while keep track of other games going on at the same time. It can be access from anywhere on the X1 by just tapping the C button on the remote.
The X1 has universal search which lets you search for any TV show, movie, event and actor across all the Xfinity’s entertainment channels. There is an on-screen keyboard but you can also use T9 entry on the remote to search. It’s pretty fast and generally pick up what you’re looking for within a few letters typed in. One you have found what you’re looking for it brings you to the same options that I explained in the Guide section. This works great and good for just searching for what you want.
The settings options give you a ton of detail control over the X1 box. You can change your video and audio settings, extensive parental controls and check specific device information. This info is better shown in the video review so check there to see.
Is the X1 Platform good? Is it worth getting?
Without a doubt the X1 Box and the X1 Platform is absolutely worth getting if its available in your area. Which is currently an issue since its limited right now to Triple Play customers in about 12 markets. There are plans for Comcast to change this and expand this out to more users but no time tablet on it. This platform really does provide a one stop for all your entertainment needs.
Is the X1 better than Netflix or Hulu?
Well for those services while they are similar they answer to a different customer. I think if your main source of content is still cable TV then the X1 is worth getting over other subscription services.
Is Xfinity X1 better than Tivo?
Right now without a doubt it is and this is coming from a long time TiVo user. The software is smoother, usability is better and the entire experience overall is better. If you are looking to switch then I would suggest so.
I’ve enjoyed using the X1 Box and look forward to more updates and added features as they come. If you want one service to serve all needs then getting on the X1 Platform is the way to go.