Comcast’s Xfinity X1 TV service is the cable company’s latest entertainment offering. TV and Internet packages vary with your area from how many channels are offered and what speeds of Internet. I picked up their X1 Starter Double Play service for Internet and TV.
The Internet package I chose was the 75Mbps tier and I use my own modem and router to reduce costs. Testing the Internet speed has consistently measured around 50 Mbps.
Since I am using my own hardware for the Internet, I wanted to focus more on the TV experience and what was involved. I used the self-install kit and it arrived at my door a couple of days later. Unboxing the Xfinity package, two receivers and a pack for additional coaxial cables and splitters came along. I ordered the X1 Digital Service and the X1 HD Service for a second TV. I meant to order the DVR, so I had to work with customer support to switch to the X1 Cloud DVR and they sent the new hardware to me and they refunded the shipping cost.
Unboxing the X1 Digital Service, the contents were pretty predictable. It included the receiver, remote, power cable, coax cables, coax splitters, and an HDMI cable in addition to the user guides.
The front of the device is minimalist with only the power light in the right corner.
The back allows for your standard connections such as coaxial, RCA, HDMI, optical audio, and ethernet. Connections were a breeze and for my setup, they had provided all of the needed cables.
Two identical remotes were shipped with the receivers. It is useful and works as a universal remote for the TV and audio receiver. A neat feature of the remote allows pressing the microphone button in order to issue voice commands to Xfinity. This was (and still is) very handy getting around the menus and guides since I am not familiar with the channel numbers yet. I can say ‘Watch NBC’ and it will turn to the local NBC broadcast or ‘record Elementrary’ and it brings up the record options for the series Elementary.
The X1 HD Service was very small and made for a compact package on the entertainment center. The box is about the size of two decks of playing cards. It came with the remote, the power cable, HDMI, and coax cables.
The front is similiarly minimalist with a power light and power button on top.
The rear allows for fewer options with coax in/out, HDMI, and the power slot.
After I connected the devices, I was trying to setup my recordings for regular season shows. The record button did not do anything but I was able to get to the record options through the voice commands. Unfortunately, it resulted in an error when I tried to save the recording. I found out that the X1 Digital Service did not have local DVR functionality. Instead they rely on a wide variety of on-demand shows in order to cover any shows you missed. Since I might be a season behind on some series and streaming rules are weird (available 8 days after broadcast?), I wanted to get the traditional local DVR. This was made apparent after missing a show’s first 10 minutes and having to wait for it to become available on-demand. Working with customer support, I ordered a replacement DVR.
The DVR arrived. It is not as compact as the other boxes and the front is not as minimalist. It actually includes a digital clock on the front as well!
I did run into a problem when first connecting the DVR where the X1 Digital Service receiver had previously been. Calling into customer support and reading them the error code, they insisted it meant a signal problem. I had previously used the other receiver in the exact spot with no problems and even ran an app on the box that measured signal strength as excellent. I was transferred to a second tier and they insisted on scheduling a technician to come visit the house, which would be 6 days later.
The error code, XRE-10000, I was able to find with a little more Googling, was a billing issue and not a signal issue. I was paying for two receivers but was trying to activate a third. I used Comcast’s live chat support and explained the situation. They disabled the box that was being replaced and I was able to activate the box within minutes. I did not have to wait until the next Saturday and a technician visit.
The back of the DVR offered a lot of connection options with coax, RCA, optical audio out, and HDMI.
Once I got all of the connections made and the boxes activated, which was as easy as confirming my phone number and setting up the language options, I was able to watch TV and view the guide. The picture has been great. Apps on the box allow Pandora, photos, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, sport scores, and others. The voice remote is an added convenience and the navigation has been intuitive.
My main complaint is an inconvenience at most. The guide will show you all channels and there is not a way to narrow it to only the channels that you subscribe to. I worked around this by favoriting all of the channels that I receive and using the Favorite filter of the Guide to find what is available to me. Other than that, I have enjoyed the service and look forward to not losing signal to rain attenuation as I would with strong storms using DirecTV.