The Definitive Review of the Xfinity® X1 from Comcast
Does the Xfinity X1’s DVR transform TV?
Xfinity X1 vs. the Competition
Xfinity X1 vs. the Competition
Data effective as of 3/9/2018.
Xfinity by Comcast claims the X1 DVR will “change the way you experience TV.” We dug in to the details of this Comcast cloud DVR to determine if that was truth or just hype. What we found was a little bit of both.
So, if you want easy-to-use mobile access to your shows and don’t mind settling for a little less storage space, check to see if Xfinity is available in your area. Enter your zip code below to see all your local providers.
What is the X1 Cloud DVR?
The X1 platform is Comcast’s latest cable box and DVR upgrade. You may have heard of the X2, but technically that’s just a software upgrade to the same system still officially called X1.
- User interface
- Voice-controllable remote
- Cloud DVR library
The X1 employs one main DVR box and optional add-on cable boxes that allow you to watch recorded programs on multiple TVs throughout your home.
You can access all your X1 TV content from your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone as well. This level of convenience gives the X1 enough of an edge to keep us interested despite its limited storage.
The X1 Features and Specs
The X1 DVR comes in three different models, but each one has the same user interface and records your shows the same way. Which one you get depends on what your region has in stock when you order. Here’s a look at the different models and the features they share:
ARRIS and Pace XG1v3
X1 Primary Features
- Voice remote
- Integrated Netflix
- 6 simultaneous recordings
- 500 GB of storage
- Integrated sports app
- Cloud DVR access
- Cable In
- Cable Out
- L/R Audio Out (RCA)
- Digital Audio Out (Optical)
- Composite Video (RCA)
- HDMI In
- HDMI Out
- e-SATA (External)
Connecting your DVR with an HDMI port is easy, but if you have an older TV that doesn’t have HDMI, setup can be a bit more complicated. To troubleshoot these issues or find a port that could work for an older TV, check out our TV port guide.
The X1 Hardware
Some X1 features stand out, like the X1 voice remote, while others are DVR standard. Let’s take a closer look at each part of this system to see what the X1 DVR can do.
The X1 Voice Remote
The X1 User Interface
We’ve highlighted the hardware, so let’s move on to the software. Here’s what you can expect from the X1’s user interface.
The biggest changes on the new X1 platform are the on-screen guides and menus. The design was obviously influenced by online streaming services, but Xfinity expanded on those ideas to create an all-encompassing user experience.
The design is sleek but can be a little slow at times. You’ll notice more lag if you don’t keep the system updated regularly. Some people don’t like the size of the font, but it’s not an issue for everyone.
The system displays network logos for each channel, which makes finding the channel you want easy. But perhaps the best thing about the new guide is that the program you’re watching keeps playing in a small window no matter where you go in the menu.
Finding a Show
Gone are the days of scrolling through screen after screen of titles you don’t care about while the same, boring on-demand promo plays on loop. Now you can just enter the title you’re looking for, and the X1 system will find all the possible options for that program, whether it’s playing on live TV, available on demand, or stored in your DVR recordings. You can narrow your search further by selecting specific filtering categories.
Once you’ve got your list of results, you can choose your program. When you select your program, X1 brings up an info screen similar to what you would find on IMDb.com. It lists information about the movie or TV show, including the cast. You can then navigate this info screen and select items from it.
So, if you search for “Ghostbusters,” you can then select “Bill Murray,” and the X1 will show you a list of movies and TV shows with Bill Murray in them. Exploring these sorts of searching options alone could provide hours of entertainment.
Watching a Series
When you finish watching a TV show on demand, the X1 system will ask if you want to watch the next episode. With the old system, you had to go through all the menus to find the show again and then find the correct episode. The convenience added by this small change is a huge improvement.
Another great feature of the user interface is the “Last” function. It doesn’t just take you to the last live program you were watching—it brings up a list of the last nine programs you were watching, regardless of if the shows were live, on demand, or DVR recordings.
One of the best updates available in the newer X1 systems is the integration of Netflix, the streaming provider that holds the key to our 4K HD entertainment wishes. You can get a peek at what that looks like below:
The Xfinity X1 DVR lets you record up to six shows at once from anywhere in your home. This works by employing one master DVR and additional cable boxes that interconnect throughout your house. Then you can control your DVR from any room with a TV connected to an X1 box.
With the X1, you can start and stop recordings, access recorded and on-demand programs, and even start a show in one room and finish it in another.
Unlike traditional DVRs, the X1 Cloud DVR stores all your recorded programs on cloud technology, not on a hard disk inside the machine. The trade-off for all that space is that when you watch recorded programs, you’re technically streaming them, so you’ll need an internet connection. If you’re worried about buffering, download your shows ahead of time to watch later.
Going over your storage limit means the X1 will start recording over your old shows. Don’t worry—you can protect specific shows from this rule or check your deleted shows to recover them.
If storage is a determining factor for you, the DVR for any other major TV provider has more storage than X1’s mediocre 500 GB. To get the most storage, go with the Hopper 3 from DISH, which offers up to 2 TB (500 hours) of HD storage.
To keep your X1 in peak condition, make sure it maintains a constant internet connection. Xfinity updates the software in the early morning hours, when most people aren’t watching TV.
If your system is turned off when the updates come through, they’ll be backlogged for later. That means the system will run slower when you turn it back on because part of its bandwidth will be downloading the updates it missed. To avoid this trouble, leave your system on and don’t postpone your restarts for more than one or two nights.
Viewing Experiences Summary
With the X1, you’re not just choosing a DVR, you’re also choosing a TV provider. Here’s what you need to know about the viewing experience with Xfinity and its X1 DVR.
X1 really shines with its highly customizable user interface. The viewing experience is nearly seamless. You can bounce from Netflix to your favorite game to the latest episode of Game of Thrones, and never miss a beat. To top it all off, the X1 entertainment platform is especially agile on mobile devices.
The innovations on the Xfinity X1 platform from Comcast make it easy to jump from one device to another to watch all your favorite shows from wherever you are.
The X1 Apps
- Xfinity Stream for Android, Amazon, and iOS devices lets you watch live TV and Xfinity On Demand on your device, and X1 customers can even download or stream X1 Cloud DVR recordings.
- Xfinity TV Remote for Android and iOS devices allows you to turn your smartphone into a voice-remote control.
Unfortunately, neither app lets you schedule DVR recordings, so you’ll have to set your shows to record before you leave. That’s a bummer if you learn about cool new shows while you’re out and about, but you can always take care of your DVR scheduling when you’re at home.
The X1 has fifteen apps, which might seem like a lot, but that’s fairly thin in this post-Roku world. Especially with one app that exists solely to give you your daily horoscope, it seems like there’s plenty Xfinity could do to bulk up its lineup.
Summary of X1 TV Apps
- Easy Pair: Tool to connect your phone or computer to a compatible TV
- Horoscopes: Zodiac horoscopes for today and tomorrow
- iHeartRadio: Over 800 live radio stations
- Pandora: Radio stations based on your personal music preferences
- Photos: Viewing tool that connects to your Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr albums
- Netflix: One of the biggest TV streaming platforms
- Sports: Filter for available games and list of current standings
- Stocks: Tracker for your stocks and what’s trending
- Tips and Tricks for X1: Database for X1 DVR questions and answers
- Traffic: Map with traffic alerts for your area
- Voicemail: Gateway to voicemails on your Xfinity Voice phone
- Watchable: Search-and-watch tool for popular online videos.
- Weather: Current and extended weather forecasts
- Xfinity xFi: Management tool for your in-home WiFi
- Xfinity My Account App: All the information on your Xfinity account
While a few of the apps are cool, especially Netflix and the sports app, the inclusion of most X1 apps seems more like pandering than providing useful features. Rather than make a bunch of apps for simple tasks, Comcast should have just incorporated a web browser into the system to let people access the sites they want to use.
X1: The Verdict
The X1 is an agile DVR, and while the seamless integration is exciting, the lack of storage is a real issue. However, while many competitors have more storage and simultaneous recordings, the X1 gets the job done for a reasonable price.
If you want to know more about other TV options, enter your zip code below to find your local providers.
For more reviews on DVRs and TV equipment, visit our equipment review section.
Rachel has spent the past two years at CableTV.com writing articles that demystify hidden fees, DVRs, sound systems, and more. She makes door-to-door DISH and DIRECTV salespeople uncomfortable with her in-depth questions—but if that’s what it takes to get you the best TV experience, she’s happy to do it. In addition to writing for CableTV.com, Rachel’s work has been featured on Today.com, TechGuySmartBuy.com, HowtoWatch.com, and SatelliteInternet.com.