An Overview of Comcast X1 Cloud DVR

by Aeyne Schriber on January 24, 2015 in Comcast,TV Everywhere

More and more subscribers to cable television services are choosing to cut the cord in favor of other more cost effective options. Comcast recently unveiled a solution that encourages its customers to retain their cable service subscription.

In an effort to retain its television subscribers, Comcast recently rolled out the X1 Cloud DVR which is designed to enhance the capability of content consumption from any device. Comcast customers can download content for use on a plane while offline or stream any content that is stored on the X1 DVR to any device that has an Internet connection. This allows Comcast to leverage the power of a home DVR with consumer desire for TV Everywhere.

What is the Comcast X1 DVR with Cloud Technology?

The Comcast X1 DVR with cloud technology represents Comcast’s initial foray into the TV Everywhere market and is designed to add value to your existing Comcast cable television subscription. In addition to being able to enjoy home entertainment, the X1 DVR also increases the accessibility and portability of television content.

When you are at home, you can convert your mobile device into a television by streaming programs On Demand from the Comcast Xfinity catalog to your mobile device, in addition to the complete channel line-up included with your Comcast subscription.

All you need to do is download the Xfinity TV app to your mobile device and then access the entertainment via the Web Portal. In the portal, you can view a list of DVR recordings you created on the X1 DVR and begin to download or stream programming. This turns any screen in or outside of your home into a television regardless if it is your smartphone, tablet PC, laptop, desktop, or conventional flat screen television.

Comcast X1 DVR Design

The X1 DVR sports a brand new design with aesthetics that are free of the clunky and bulky design of the previous DVR devices. The new X1 DVR is accompanied by a smaller remote control with a set-top box that is designed with a thinner profile and new sleek black finish.

The remote control is designed with fewer buttons without sacrificing functionality. Comcast was able to accomplish this by collecting consumer data that demonstrates what remote control buttons are used most frequently. The traditional recording button was retained since it proved to be popular. Plus, most of the remote control buttons have been placed within reach of your thumb with improved ergonomics to enable a more comfortable fit in the palm of your hand. The remote control does not require a direct line of sight to the DVR in order to function properly.

On-Screen Features

In addition to the revamped design of the DVR and remote control, Comcast has also brought the onscreen and DVR performance up to date. Some of the new features include:

New Interface: The main screen interface has been completely updated to be more user friendly. Instead of having to navigate through multiple screens, a single click provides you with access to a multitude of entertainment options.

Customization: The X1 DVR provides a host of new apps that allow you to customize your viewing experience. The apps include but are not limited to weather, social networking, traffic information, music, and much more. This type of design is to make the cable television experience feel more like browsing the Internet.

Improved Menus: The menus and program guide have been enhanced with icons to make searching for titles and content easier. The grid for the program guide has been enhanced to make viewing the guide more pleasant. When you begin searching for content, images automatically appear to display the content. The images are similar to those you see on video streaming sites such as Hulu Plus and Netflix.

Better Search Functions: The search functions on the new interface provide you with programming recommendations based on the past history of searches. Additionally, the search includes instant play, a unified feature which allows you to quickly find specific titles you are looking for, and an Advanced Search function that allows you to locate titles according favorite actors. Within this feature is also an intuitive recommendation function which operates on an intricate algorithm. This allows you to search recommended programs while watching the current one and record four other programs simultaneously.

Larger Storage Capacity: The X1 DVR boasts a larger storage capacity of 500 GB which is as much as five times more than the traditional DVR that is capable of storing up to 120 GB of content.

Versatile Sports Features: If you are a sports fanatic, there is a new menu you can use to keep track of the scores for multiple leagues. If you are watching an existing sports event, you can keep track of what is going on with other events thanks to the convenient side menu that allows you to get the latest status on other sporting events.

Recording: The X1 DVR allows you to record up to fifteen different programs simultaneously. The number of shows that can be recorded depend upon the plan you choose.

X1 in the Cloud: The X1 DVR is compatible with cloud technologies which means you can access DVR programming regardless of where you are. The cloud-based services allow you to stream recordings from any location by accessing the DVR using the mobile app. The Dedicated Portal is designed for viewing on your computer and provides you with a location for controlling the X1 DVR in your home.

The following video goes into more detail regarding the X1 DVR cloud technologies.

The X1 DVR service has also been designed with fewer bugs than in the past. Because the DVR receiver has cloud technology, the device can update itself using an Internet connection. The end result is fewer glitches and less instances where it is necessary to contact customer service. The updates thus far have demonstrated a track record for efficiency and to date, there have been no interruptions in service while the updates are being performed.

Tests have shown that the performance of the X1 DVR features is very positive with very little problems with bugs. In order to take advantage of the features included in the X1 DVR, it is important to mention you must subscribe to other Comcast services such as Internet connectivity, telephone, and cable services. This means if you decide to keep your other services such as those with Verizon, you will need to juggle multiple services and service bills. The good news is that Comcast offers special bundles and deals for combining services.

Comcast X1 for Mobile

If you are going to be using your mobile devices with the X1 DVR, Comcast offers an X1 app that works with your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The apps offer tools that allow you to use touch screen gestures to control the online guide on the X1 DVR.

For example, using the X1 app, you can simply swipe across the screen on your mobile device to easily navigate through the program guide on your television screen. Additionally, you can customize the features by setting up Favorites and Shortcuts to features you use on a frequent basis, including the ability to pause On Demand programming simply by shaking your device.

Other app features include the ability to control your television using voice commands. The commands allow you to easily search for programs, change channels, search recommendations, and much more. The X1 app also allows you to work with social media tools, control the DVR remotely, organize content, and personalize the user experience.

For visual learners, here is a video for using the X1 services on a tablet.

X1 DVR Installation

The X1 DVR is relatively easy to install and setup and comes with a Quick Start Guide and User Guide. The Quick Start Guide provides you with a quick and easy to follow guide for setting up the device and getting started.

When you first open the box, you will find the DVR unit, User Guides, and legal documents, in addition to an account information card, remote control with two batteries included, HDMI cable, coaxial cable, and power cord. The Quick Start Guide then walks you through three easy steps to establishing the DVR connection.

The three steps involve a visual representation of how to connect the coaxial cable, HDMI cable and configuration, and power cord. Once you have done this, the DVR will proceed to boot up which takes about ten minutes.

The Account Information card will help you to complete the activation which is accomplished by powering on the television, setting it to the appropriate channel in the User Guide, and then following the onscreen messaging to complete the activation. To finish the process, you will also be walked through programming the remote control.

A Word on the Data Usage Cap and One-Time Fees

As we mentioned earlier in this article, you must subscribe to other Comcast services to take advantage of the X1 cloud-based DVR features. If you subscribe to the Internet service, it is important for you to be aware that Comcast uses the Internet service as a tool for discouraging its customers from disconnecting the cable altogether. Comcast achieves this by place a cap on the amount of data you are allowed to consume on its broadband network.

If you stream a lot of content from the Internet, then you know it can take a large amount of bandwidth to effectively stream the content. By making you pay for the amount of data you consume, this results in discouraging customers from cutting the cable cord.

As the result of a trial run during 2014, Comcast launched two trials to test its strategies for capping data usage. As part of the trial run, Comcast set the data cap at 250 GB per month with the possibility of increasing the limit to 300 GB per month. The company also set a fee of $10 for every 50 GB that exceeds the data cap.

Additionally, existing Comcast customers received an alert that they will be billed a one-time fee from anywhere from $49.99 to $99 to upgrade to the X1 platform. Comcast claims the fee is to improve customer services, as well as develop new X1 features which include the voice command capability we discussed earlier, new widgets, personalization features, social media tools, and more.

Comcast recently acknowledged that the one-time fee is for existing customers only. The fee is one of several options offered to customers that are interested in upgrading to the X1 platform. The customers that want to upgrade can get the upgrade fee waived if they choose to upgrade to the double or triple play bundles.

Although the one-time upgrade fee applies to the current video-only customers who wish to upgrade to the X1 platform, the fee can apply to existing double and triple play customers. In this case, the fee can be applied to Comcast bundle customers who wish to upgrade to the X1 platform but prefer not to upgrade to a different bundle or service package.

Conclusion

Overall, the X1 DVR represents the best value that Comcast has offered to date with features that provide more bang for the buck. The company currently offers X1 across all of its markets, in addition to introducing new customers to the next generation cloud interface. Comcast has also been in the process of moving existing X1 customers to the new cloud-based interface and platform. This is currently known as its X2 project.

Upgrading to X1 also requires the installation of a new DVR device. The X1 DVR is powered with hybrid QAM/IP which provides multichannel DVR capability and high definition six tuner DVR which is sourced from Arris and Pace, key communications technology enterprises that specialize in the engineering of broadband networks.

Overall, the introduction of the X1 cloud-based DVR has fueled customer demand for this type of service and represents a game changer for Comcast services. Whether or not it represents a viable solution for all customers remains to be seen. At the very least, it may be worth looking into if you are considering upgrading your services to a more versatile and functional solution.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joseph April 15, 2015 at 5:49 am

You forgot to mention that Comcast charges an extra fee to use the cloud even if you have an x1 dvr.

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