Comcast Xfinity X1 Box In-Depth Review

Xfinity X1 Review-1

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

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.

DVR

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.

On Demand

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

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.

Universal Search

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.

Settings

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.

 

Comments

  1. Celena says

    Can you tell me if the cable box has an eSATA port on it? I have a DVR expander that I currently use with my Comcast box. Thanks

  2. JR says

    I just got a brand new X1 latest version fresh out of the box but menus & scrolling seem laggy so do you know how many cores are in the processor?

    • Warren Bowman says

      You will want to look into your signal in your home. Sometimes if you have cable splitters on your line and they are not the right kind it can affect signal quality and make things run slow on the box, internet, etc. Have comcast come out and check on it.

  3. Delman says

    Just got my X1, and it is extremely laggy, almoost unuasbly laggy. But I guess at some point I’ll get use to hitting a button on the remote, looking at the television to see if the button hit registered, and being excited that I can now hit the next button. Maybe my television watching habots will change since it now takes about 10 seconds to change the channel.

    • Warren Bowman says

      You may want to get the signal checked in your home. I know if you have splitters on your line and they are no the right kind your signal can be affected which can mean slow TV and slow internet. Give Comcast a call and have them check it out.

  4. RobH says

    Can you tell me more about the Ethernet port? I would like to provide a hard-wire internet connection to my Xbox One. Is that a possible use for that Ethernet port? Customer service says no, but I am unconvinced that they know what they are talking about.

  5. rob says

    stay clear of the x1…..nothing but problems. from reading various blogs, I’d be very suspect of any comments in support of the platform….gotta be careful these days w/re to whose being paid & whose actually being honest. IF the x1 worked as advertised, agreed in that it’d be a decent viable option when comparing it to the competition’s multi-room offerings. BUT…simply said, the x1 has been nothing short of disappointing. It has so many bugs..hang-ups….needing to consistently put thru the reboot process ..even the new gen remote that just came out w/the x1 unit….after >2 weeks the back light went out on us & we had to swap out the remote. Even the techs who’ve been out to “kick the tires” around for us to see if they can make any improvements say the platform was rushed to mrkt before it was ready. We even had a new cable line put in….the tech (not an independent/contractor tech mind you…I’m ref to actual comcast techs who’ve come out in comcast trucks) said that would surely take care of all the issues…..not!! Do yourself a huge favor….stay clear of all things x1…..& as for whenever they introduce the x2 system I’ve been reading about….I’d wait at least few mos til AFTER the x2 hits the mrkt & see what others are saying. In short, don’t be a comcast x1 or x2 guinea pig…..unless you don’t mind being frustrated & not receiving all that’s being advertised. On that note….I find comcasts newest ad campain here in nor cal an absolute joke….”x1, it just works”…..how dare they…..quite the audacity to come out w/such nonsense when they darn well know just how pathetically buggy this platform has consistently been for well over 2 yrs now. Shame on you comcast for rushing this platform to mrkt & then making claims for which are just simply untrue…..it does NOT work…as advertised & you’ve known it all along. Buyer be VERY aware!!.

  6. Robert Reichard says

    On my DVR box, I’m trying to get the “clock” to show what channel is on. I can’t find how to do this.
    On my non-DVR box, the clock does not display. I would guess that there is a single solution.

  7. Marilyn Mahoney says

    I just got the X1 platform installed a couple of days ago. Both of the remote boxes get so hot that I cannot touch them. Is this safe? I am an older person and not tech savvy. Please advise.

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