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Xfinity Flex Review 2021: Free Is Free, but Is It Good?

We think the Xfinity (a.k.a. Comcast) streaming device is good for newbie cord-cutters. Read on to find out why.

Free device with Xfinity internet service
  • Free Peacock Premium subscription
  • Voice remote
  • Up to 4K UHD
  • Fast, easy installation and setup

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

What is Xfinity Flex?

Xfinity Flex is a free 4K streaming device and streaming service available to Xfinity internet-only customers.

Unlike most cable, satellite, and streaming TV services, Flex doesn’t require a channel subscription. It relies on free TV (and music and movie) apps, Xfinity’s vast on-demand library, a handful of free channels, and subscription services like HBO® Max.

Although the Flex’s user interface could be slightly cleaner compared to competitors like the Google Chromecast and Roku Express, the device’s $0.00 price tag makes it a zero-commitment option and a great value for your home TV.

Xfinity Flex pros and cons

Pros

  • Affordability (it’s free)
  • Free Peacock Premium
  • Voice search across apps
  • Up to 4K UHD
  • Fast, easy installation and setup

Cons

  • No way to add or remove apps
  • No DVR
  • Commercials

To get started, Xfinity customers can simply request a free Flex set-top box, perform the five-minute install/activation process, and start watching.

But other devices offer much more for a relatively small initial investment, making them flexier than Flex. (And, since Flex is available only to Xfinity’s internet-only customers, it’s not available on other devices).

Xfinity Flex vs. the competition

Price Download apps Storage Voice search Video quality Details
Free

Up to 4K UHD Get Flex
$39.99*

8 GB internal

(Alexa integration)
Up to 1080p HD View on Amazon
$49.99*

8 GB internal

(Alexa integration)
Up to 4K UHD View on Amazon
$29.99*

Up to 1080p HD View on Amazon
$24.99*

Up to 1080p HD View on Amazon
$34.00*

Up to 4K UHD View on Amazon
$39.00*

Up to 4K UHD View on Amazon
$69.99*

Up to 4K UHD View on Amazon

*Amazon.com Price (as of 5/18/21 at 2:38 PM MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links.
† to Xfinity internet-only customers.

The Flex device and service are a nice way to aggregate movie and TV apps in one spot. But so much of Flex’s content has unskippable commercials. And you can’t add/remove apps—Flex gets more apps only when Xfinity adds them.

We feel like Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K and Prime Video service ($5.99–$12.99 a month) give you a more complete streaming experience for not much money.

Amazon’s stick gives you many of the same apps and features as Flex, including 4K support, smart home integration, and voice search. But the Fire TV Stick has HDR support, and it allows you to add/remove apps. And Prime Video’s on-demand library is bigger and better than Flex’s—with no commercials.

It’s the same when you compare Xfinity Flex vs. Roku devices. Only Roku doesn’t have a comparable streaming service. But that’s okay because Roku devices support Prime Video, too.

But the Xfinity Flex really is free, and free rules if you’re on a budget. A lot of people will be happy to get that much TV for free, and with a sweet voice remote. So let’s buck conventional wisdom and look this gift horse right in the mouth. Maybe it’ll surprise us.

What you get with Xfinity Flex

Flex’s No. 1 perk is its price—both the device and service are free. It also has other redeeming qualities.

Stuff we like

  • Low, low price (free)
  • 4K UHD support
  • Huge on-demand catalog
  • Voice search across apps
  • Easy plug-and-play install
  • Free Peacock Premium
  • Integrated paid streaming apps (Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, and more)
  • Lighted voice remote that also controls TV
  • Ability to rent or purchase movies and shows
  • Smart home integration (requires Xfinity Home subscription)
  • Ability to cancel and return anytime

What about the Xfinity Stream app?

Because Xfinity Flex is for internet-only customers, Xfinity’s TV streaming app is limited to cable TV subscribers who use the Xfinity X1.

What you don’t get with Xfinity Flex

Flex aggregates content that is already free. Many other devices support Pluto, Xumo, Tubi, and many of the other apps on Flex. And we’ve already mentioned how you can’t add or remove apps on Flex. But, as you’ll see from the list below, there’s more missing from Flex.

Stuff we wish Flex included

  • Local channels
  • A better way to sort “Free to Me” results
  • A way to add or remove apps
  • Internal storage or micro SD/USB slot
  • DVR
  • Commercial skipping
  • Ability to use existing credentials for premium-channel apps

About that last item: If you already subscribe to EPIX, HBO®, CINEMAX®, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ® online, you can’t use your existing credentials to sign into them. You have to cancel your current service and resubscribe through Comcast/Xfinity. What the flex, Flex?!

How to get local channels with Xfinity Flex

Local broadcast channels are free, but you can’t get them with Flex. You know how you can get them? Buy an over-the-air (OTA) antenna. We like the Mohu Leaf. It’ll pick up all free stations in a 50-mile radius.

For more information, check out our guide to OTA TV or our review of the best TV antennas on the market.

Xfinity Flex apps

Live TV streaming channels and services

Much of Flex’s live TV content comes from the free livestreaming services Pluto and Xumo, each of which delivers 100+ live TV channels. It’s all ad-supported content, though, so don’t expect to be able to skip commercials.

Flex is up and running with a handful of free live TV apps and some apps that feature tons of on-demand content. And going forward, Flex users won’t have to pay the $5 monthly fee for Peacock Premium.

  • Peacock Premium
  • Pluto
  • Tubi
  • Xumo

Alternate streams

You wanna see what else is out there before going with Xfinity Flex or Amazon Prime Video? Be our guest. Check out CableTV.com’s guides to the best streaming services.

On-demand streaming apps

Here are some of the on-demand streaming apps Flex currently supports. Several of these (denoted by ‡) require a separate paid subscription, so the main benefit of them being on Flex is to have free Flex content and your favorite paid streaming services in one place.

  • Amazon Prime Video‡
  • Paramount+‡
  • Cheddar News
  • ESPN3
  • FilmRise
  • HBO Max‡
  • Hulu‡
  • Movies Anywhere
  • Netflix‡
  • Peacock Premium
  • SHOWTIME®‡
  • STARZ®‡
  • YouTube

Other streaming apps (games, music, etc.)

You can also listen to music on Flex with the following apps. Some may require a separate subscription for premium features.

    • Amazon Music
    • iHeart Radio
    • NPR One
      • Pandora
      • Spotify
      • XITE

Xfinity Flex equipment, installation, and specs

Our Flex unit arrived in five days. Inside the box were the Xfinity Xi6 TV box, Xfinity XR15 voice remote, an HDMI cable, and a power cable.

Installation and activation are a breeze. Plug Flex in, power it on, answer a few easy questions, connect to Wi-Fi*, and pair the remote. We were ready to roll in less than 10 minutes—15 if you count the time it took to sign in to Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube.

(*If you’re using a rented Xfinity Gateway modem, it’ll connect automatically—no need to enter your password.)

Xfinity Flex specs

      • Price: Free to Xfinity internet-only customers
      • Size: 5” x 5” x 1”
      • Video: Up to 4K UHD
      • Audio: Dolby Atmos
      • Storage: None
      • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac
      • Remote: XR15 Voice Remote

Xfinity Flex user experience and channel guide

In spite of its simple setup, Flex doesn’t have the smoothest user experience.

Flex has three guides—one for Xfinity (for premium channels) and one each for Pluto and Xumo. They’re the standard grids with separate tabs for live and on-demand programming, as well as some filtering options.

At first, it’s a little weird to switch between all of these guides and on-demand menus. Also, “Free to Me” isn’t as handy as it tries to be.

The Xfinity guide on Flex is a standard grid and shows only premium channels and a few of Flex’s freebies.

The Pluto guide on Xfinity Flex includes tabs for Live TV and On Demand, plus a category menu for filtering.

Xumo’s guide on Xfinity Flex is similar to Pluto’s, but with fewer filtering options.

The real headache comes when you’re trying to find on-demand content. Like a lot of streaming services, the on-demand guide is all carousel menus and tiles. Flex struggles to present its cornucopia of content, even when you can sort it every which way (alphabetically, by app/genre/new/popularity/service and more).

You’d think that “Free to Me” would simplify things. Nope. Remember, most of Flex’s content (Pluto, Xumo, Tubi, Xfinity on-demand, etc.) is free. All you’re doing here is filtering out rental/purchase-only titles. And if you’ve connected any of your subscription services (Prime Video, Netflix, etc.), you’ll have even more free stuff to sort through.

Marking favorites helps narrow things down. But we had trouble finding the on-screen favorites menu. The XR15 voice remote came in handy here (keyword: “favorites”).

Xfinity Flex’s on-demand guide: “Free to Me” has a lot of content to sort through.

Start flexing today

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Xfinity Flex remote user experience

The remote control is one area where Flex stomps the Fire Stick. Flex’s XR15 remote fits nicely in your hand, and we love the feel of the soft, rubber, backlit buttons. And the voice search feature is incredibly accurate—it hasn’t misunderstood one of our commands yet and searches across all of Flex’s apps.

The XR15 X1 remote will also control your TV’s power, volume, channel selection, and inputs. If it could adjust the TV’s settings, we’d happily make it our main clicker.

Side note: The XR15’s “Aim Anywhere” technology means you can point the remote at your bellybutton, your cat, or the mail carrier, and the signal will still reach your device.

Killer clicker: Xfinity Flex with the XR15 Voice Remote.

Xfinity Flex video quality and interface

Free doesn’t mean a thing if the picture quality sucks. Fortunately, Xfinity Flex can handle all resolutions up to 4K UHD with HDR. But what you see depends on the quality of the movie or show you’re watching on the streaming device.

We watched a mix of standard definition (SD) and high-def (HD) content. Everything looked how you’d expect, and we didn’t encounter any problems.

UHF as streamed on Xfinity Flex. “I dunno . . . What do you think of Flex?”

Xfinity Flex home page.

As for the interface, it’s a little different from other streaming services.

The onscreen controls don’t include rewind, fast-forward, 10-second jump back/forward options, or pause. You get an info/status bar with a channel up/down button and that’s about it.

We get it: free means watching commercials. But Xfinity could compromise and include a modest 20-hour cloud DVR that’d allow rewind/fast-forward/pause functions—just not during ad breaks.

Final take: Is Xfinity Flex good?

Free is free—to complain too much about Flex and its frustrations would be silly. If you’re an Xfinity internet-only customer, you have nothing to lose by using Flex.

And if your budget is tight, and you have an Xfinity internet-TV bundle, you could go Xfinity internet-only and watch TV on the Flex box while you weigh your TV options.

That said, while the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Prime Video, and Roku devices aren’t free, they’re supremely affordable and will give you a more complete and satisfying streaming experience than Flex.

Xfinity Flex FAQ

What is the Xfinity Flex box?

Xfinity Flex is a streaming box and service that is free to Xfinity internet-only customers. If you’re interested in Flex, enter your zip code below to see if Xfinity internet is available in your area.

Please enter a valid zip code.

Does Xfinity Flex have Hulu?

Yes, the Xfinity Flex box has the basic, on-demand version of Hulu, but you will need a separate Hulu subscription to watch it.

How do I get Xfinity Flex?

If you are already an Xfinity internet-only customer you can request Xfinity Flex here. If not, check out our Xfinity internet review to get started.

Is Xfinity Flex worth it?

Free is almost always worth it. Xfinity Flex is a free 4K-enabled streaming device and service that gives you access to 200+ live channels and 10,000+ on-demand movies and shows. It has a clunky interface, and you’ll have to watch commercials, but free is free.

Can I use Xfinity Flex with my own modem?

You can absolutely use Xfinity Flex with your modem but if you don’t have one yet or are looking to upgrade you can check out our recommendations for the best compatible Xfinity modems. When Xfinity first announced Flex, the provider required you to lease a modem from them. They’ve since dropped that requirement.

Can you use Xfinity Flex on a computer?

Xfinity Flex is a streaming device and service for your TV, so it can’t be accessed on a computer.

How is Xfinity Flex different from X1?

Xfinity Flex is a streaming device and streaming service that’s free to Xfinity internet customers. You don’t subscribe to a channel package with Flex, and there is no DVR service.

Xfinity X1 is the fancy DVR/receiver that comes with your Xfinity cable TV service. For more about Xfinity TV service, read our review.

I have a Roku/Fire TV/smart TV. Why should I get Xfinity Flex?

You don’t need Xfinity Flex if you already have a Roku, Fire TV, or smart TV. These devices do all of the same things that Flex does, but with more features and functionality.

If I cancel Xfinity Flex, will I lose my internet service?

You will not lose your internet service if you cancel Xfinity Flex. But you will have to return your Flex device to Xfinity.

Is there an Xfinity Flex remote app?

No, but you can watch select Flex on-demand content with the Xfinity Stream app. Also, if your Xfinity Flex is not working, troubleshooting is available through the Xfinity My Account app.

Does Xfinity Flex have Disney+?

No, Xfinity Flex does not currently support the Disney+ app. But you can still subscribe to Disney+ and watch it on another device.

Does Xfinity Flex support 4K?

Xfinity Flex does have 4K support, but there’s not a lot of 4K content available via Flex. But you can play your rented or purchased 4K content with Flex.

What channels are on Xfinity Flex?

Xfinity Flex’s channels include NBC News NOW, Funny or Die, and Slow TV. The Flex’s free channels come from Xumo and Pluto, which have more than 100 free channels.

Does the Xfinity Flex box turn off?

You can turn off your Xfinity Flex box.

  1. Press the Xfinity button on your remote.
  2. Open up Settings and go to Device Settings
  3. Open Power Preferences.
  4. Click Power Down Now to turn off your Flex box.

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