Xfinity xFi Pod Review 2022
We spent hundreds of hours testing out the xFi Pods—here’s what you need to know before you buy them.
Are you having problems getting a consistent Wi-Fi signal with your Xfinity xFi Gateway? Xfinity’s xFi Pods ($119.99 for one Pod, $199.99 for two) are mesh Wi-Fi extenders that expand the range of your xFi Gateway.
The xFi Pods are hamstrung by their limited compatibility since you can use them only with an xFi Gateway. But for xFi Gateway owners, the Pods’ performance and price make them a decent addition to your home internet setup if you’re willing to work through their finicky installation process.
Xfinity xFi Pod pros and cons
- Affordable mesh Wi-Fi system
- Easy to install
- Requires and Xfinity Gateway and internet plan
- Struggles at longer ranges
- Only supports Wi-Fi 5
Xfinity xFi Pods setup
To install the Pods, you simply have to plug each unit—which is roughly the size of a night-light—into a power outlet. Xfinity suggests using one Pod for multi-story homes with around four bedrooms and two Pods for larger homes with more than five beds.
After you install a Pod, the Xfinity mobile app makes the rest of the setup process a breeze. You’ll use the Xfinity app to pair the Pod to your xFi Gateway, and the app has an extensive setup wizard that walks you through the connection process.
Considering how technical Wi-Fi equipment can be, we’re always on board when hardware makers help out less tech-savvy users who can’t keep their IP address and MAC address straight.
You can also use the Pod’s two Ethernet ports—which are a standard feature among mesh systems—to hardwire a device like a TV or printer to your network. The Pod’s Ethernet support is a nice add-on, since you’ll get slightly faster speeds over Ethernet compared to Wi-Fi, and you can also connect older devices without Wi-Fi to your network.
How do xFi Pods work?
Before we get into our testing results, let’s go over what you should and shouldn’t expect from the xFi Pods. You won’t need them if you’re in a studio apartment, but if you’re in a larger multi-story home with shoddy Wi-Fi coverage upstairs or in the basement, you could benefit from a Pod.
One of the reasons the xFi Pods can create this extra Wi-Fi coverage is its tri-band support. Tri-band Wi-Fi devices have two 5 GHz bands and a 2.4 GHz band, while dual-band devices have a 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band. In plain English, this means that the xFi delivers more consistent download speeds compared to dual-band devices.
Dual-band mesh devices have to sacrifice some bandwidth to stay connected to other mesh units and your router. But tri-band devices dedicate one radio for managing this behind-the-scenes maintenance and use the remaining bands for your Wi-Fi network’s devices.
When it comes to download speeds, the xFi Pods—like with any mesh Wi-Fi system—come with some compromises. Mesh Wi-Fi systems extend your Gateway’s Wi-Fi range, but they sacrifice a little bit of speed in the process.
According to Xfinity, the Pods hit a maximum transfer speed of 500 Mbps in lab testing. If your Xfinity internet plan is faster than 500 Mbps, you’ll be losing a lot of bandwidth with a Pod. Plus, your real-world Wi-Fi speeds can be affected by factors ranging from glass windows to your local network traffic.
Xfinity xFi Pods performance
To see how the xFi Pods held up in real-world conditions, our intrepid managing editor Mike Strayer installed a single Pod in a 1,200-square-foot home. As part of our testing, we measured his download performance from three locations:
- Test Spot #1: A room that was next to the xFi Pod.
- Test Spot #2: On a balcony three rooms away from the xFi through a closed sliding glass door.
- Test Spot #3: In the basement, two floors down from the xFi.
|Location||Average download speed (without xFi Pods)||Average download speed (with xFi Pods)|
|Test Spot #1 (closest)||133.9 Mbps||321.3 Mbps|
|Test Spot #2 (on balcony)||115.1 Mbps||97.6 Mbps|
|Test Spot #3 (in basement)||138.4 Mbps||133.3 Mbps|
Like Wesley Snipes in Blade, the xFi Pods excelled in close quarters, but they wish they could leap like Wesley Snipes in White Men Can’t Jump.
Ironically for a mesh extender, the Pods worked best in our short-distance test and nearly tripled our download speeds. With our second test, glass windows are notorious Wi-Fi killers and the Pods couldn’t stand up to the combo of being farther away from Mike and having to pass through the glass door.
The narrow speed gap on our third test showed the xFi’s range limits. At two floors away, we didn’t see any improvement in download speeds from the Pod. If you’re trying to extend Xfinity Wi-Fi coverage throughout a multi-story home, you’ll likely need to buy two Pods.
Part of this inconsistency can be chalked up to the limitations of mesh Wi-Fi systems. Mesh systems work, but they have many of the same strengths and weaknesses as Wi-Fi routers. If you’re trying to get a signal out to your garage or attic, a mesh Wi-Fi system won’t solve your Wi-Fi problems right out of the box.
In practice, this means that the xFi Pods are easy to set up, but getting the most out of them will be a different story.
Xfinity xFi Pods vs. the competition
Mesh Wi-Fi systems come in every shape and size these days, but the Xfinity Pods hold up surprisingly well against competing mesh devices.
|Service||Price||Wi-Fi standard||Band support||Wi-Fi capacity||Number of devices||Details|
|Xfinity xFi Pods||$199.99 ($119.99 for one)||Wi-Fi 5||Tri-band||AC3000||2||Learn about Xfinity xFi|
|TP-Link Deco X90||$379.99*||Wi-Fi 6||Tri-band||AX6600||2||View on Amazon|
|Google Wi-Fi||$179.99*||Wi-Fi 5||Dual-band||AC1200||3||View on Amazon|
Data effective as of publish date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Amazon.com prices as of 4/4/2022 11:00 MST). See full disclaimer.
For starters, it’s rare to see a tri-band support on a mesh device for less than $200. At the xFi’s price point, your options will usually be limited to dual-band mesh devices, and you’ll have to spend at least $300 to get tri-band support.
Instead of having to rent the xFi Pods, you can buy them outright ($119.99 for one, $199.99 for two) from Xfinity. ISPs rarely give up rental fee opportunities, so being able to buy the Pods instead of paying a few bucks monthly until the end of time is a nice change of pace for Xfinity.
That said, we wished the xFi Pods supported Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 5 still provides decent home internet performance, but even Xfinity’s xFi Gateways have moved onto Wi-Fi 6.
Mixing and matching a Wi-Fi 6 xFi Gateway with a Wi-Fi 5 xFi Pod is never a great idea if you want to get the most out of your internet connection. In practice, your internet connection will still work in areas covered by the xFi Pod, but your download speeds may be less reliable compared to areas of your home with Wi-Fi 6 coverage.
Plus, you won’t be able to use the Pods if you’re not an Xfinity customer with an xFi Gateway. They won’t work with non-Xfinity routers and if you leave Xfinity, your Pods will become pricey paperweights. But the Gateway supports other mesh Wi-Fi devices, so the Pod’s incompatibility issues thankfully aren’t a two-way street.
Considering the xFi Pod’s excellent price and specifications, it’s a bummer that Xfinity locked them into its hardware ecosystem. If Xfinity ever made them available to non-Xfinity customers, they’d easily land among the better mesh Wi-Fi options on the market. (Xfinity, you’re leaving money on the table! Call us!)
Xfinity’s choice to restrict the xFi Pods to xFi Gateway owners means that our recommendation comes with a few qualifiers.
The xFi Pods’ long-range performance can be inconsistent, and you’ll likely need to move the Pods around to find the best installation spot. And when any mesh Wi-Fi device will work with the Gateway, why would you want to be locked into Xfinity’s hardware ecosystem?
But at the same time, the xFi Pods’ great specifications and price are their biggest draw. If you’re an xFi Gateway owner and you’re willing to sacrifice some compatibility for convenience, the xFi Pods are an affordable way to easily extend your Gateway’s coverage throughout your home.
We spent more than a week testing out the Pods with an xFi Gateway to see how they stood up during daily use. We also tested the xFi Pods throughout a 1,200-square-foot home to examine their range-extending capabilities.
For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.
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