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XFINITY

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Comcast’s Xfinity is an ideal platform for you to watch, stream and consume content. It is amongst the US’s most popular live TV, on-demand streaming network with over 26 million subscribers. With Xfinity, you can watch live-tv or on-demand content and also record the shows via DVR. It is one of the hottest TV networks in the US boasting of 200+ channels which cover content ranging from live sports to news and kid’s content.

Many people have posted queries regarding the confusion surrounding Xfinity products. Most people who are searching for a cord-cutting alternative often ask about the Xfinity Flex while others just want to talk about X1. So, if you are not well-versed with these, I think we should clear that first. There are two main offerings: X1 and Flex.

Xfinity X1

X1 allows you to watch live TV and stream apps together. It is the most complete package on Xfinity. You can schedule recordings, stream and download DVR recordings at any time. With X1 you can search everything at once and can also customize with YouTube, Prime Video and Netflix. Moreover, you can even listen to Pandora, Amazon Music, NPR, and iHeartRadio.

It has a lot of amazing features such as voice commands, sports stats and other information such as news, weather, traffic, photos, voicemail, stocks and even horoscopes. Sure, these might come off as too much for me but that’s not the case with everyone.

The latest series of Xfinity’s X1 boxes come with a receiver box and DVR which links to not just your television or the internet but also with your computer, tablets, phones and home security.

Flex

Flex is built on the same platform as X1. It is not a cable service but rather a streaming alternative with a slim bundle. As a result of which, you can’t enjoy an expansive content library as compared X1 but you can still make the most of the top channels. It is a 4K-capable set-top box that has competent features such as RF remote control, voice-activation and is good enough for video and music programming.

As part of Xfinity Home, Flex can help monitor and control the home network. Its interface can be displayed on the TV. It can incorporate smart-home features on your television which includes features such as video streaming through security cameras along with additional features such as the thermostat and smart lighting to name a few.

History

Xfinity is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation introduced in the year 2010. It was established with the goal of marketing cable television, telephone, internet, and wireless services across the country. Within a decade, it became one of the top service providers and by 2011 it became the largest cable internet service provider in the US. During that period, it served almost 40% of the markets in the US. As of 2018, Comcast has 26.5 million customers.

Capitalizing on an opportunity

Comcast began its journey in 1996 when it helped found @Home Network. Under this banner, internet service was sold through Comcast’s cable lines. Later @Home merged with Excite and in 2002, the company called for bankruptcy. It was during this time that Comcast moved the existing user base of 950,000 to their own network.

Launch of X1

In May 2012, Comcast launched X1 – a new software and hardware platform for its television services. It’s an all-inclusive service that offers extensive support for integrating your internet, television and home security in one place. By the end of 2013, Xfinity X1 was made available across the United States.

Launch of Xfinity Mobile

After the success of Xfinity X1, Comcast rolled out Xfinity Mobile in April 2017. It is a wireless carrier band which surpassed 1 million lines in about 2 years. Xfinity Mobile makes use of a 4G LTE network to access 18 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. Xfinity operates as MVNO which helps it to leverage its Verizon Wireless Network.

Design

Xfinity’s website is very well-designed. There’s a lot of thought behind the graphics and everything on the website is harmonious. The black and white contrast is present on all the pages and each element flows really well with banners complementing the menus and the inside pages. On the homepage, you get two menus – one is the header and the other is the general menu. Header Menu features options such as Shop, My Account, Support, My Xfinity and Comcast Business. General Menu features options such as Internet, TV & Streaming, Mobile, Home Security, Home Phones and Deals.

What I like the most about this design is that the general support has been separated from its services which allows the services to pop up more. In most of the websites, I’ve seen that the support and my account access is made available via a drop-down menu on the right. Thus, Xfinity’s homepage came as a breath of fresh air.

Since we’re focused on TV & Streaming prowess, let’s discuss that. As you hover on that menu, you get several options which include: Overview, X1 TV, Flex Streaming, Channel Lineup, Add-on Channels, and Latino. If you click on any of these pages, you’ll be taken to a dedicated page that highlights that particular service. For instance, I clicked on X1 TV and I entered a new page that highlighted X1 TV’s USPs and features such as – DVR, 4K Ultra HD, Movies on Demand, streaming and music in one place to name a few.

The element I loved the most on the entire website was the differentiation between X1 and Flex. Even a layman with no information about the service can understand the difference between the two services. You can easily make out that both the services are the same except Flex doesn’t offer live broadcast and cable networks, Xfinity Cloud DVR or Sports Zone app with live scores and stats. Rest everything is similar in both the services.

Content

Anything you wish to watch on a Cable TV but not everything is served via streaming. Similar is the case with Comcast’s X1 and Flex. With X1 you get the entire package whereas with Flex you get a narrow package that is tailor-made for your content requirement.

Xfinity X1 TV offers over 200 channels with half of them being HD channels. However, Flex doesn’t support Hulu, Disney, CBS All Access and ESPN linear channels. Thus, the availability of content differs vastly between X1 and Flex. I’ve already explained the difference between the live TV content availability and Cloud DVR capabilities.

With Xfinity X1 TV and Flex, you can subscribe to additional services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and even Hulu (only for X1), which presents you an opportunity to expand the content library. Since, X1 also provides access to Disney, Hulu, and CBS All Access, you can watch a wide range of live channels and on-demand content which can range from epic Marvel movies to Hulu Originals.

Xfinity Stream on Demand

Xfinity stream offers up to 20,000 programs which makes it the most mouthwatering option in the on-demand category. The number is at least four times higher than any of its closest competitors. Not only do you get quantity but quality. Since the content is available on-demand, you don’t have to record it which is a huge plus as it saves your DVR space.

Desktop/Mobile experience

Xfinity’s X1 displays a visual guide which helps you to choose titles by reading the descriptions. The TV guide features ratings, release dates, cast details and other crucial information. If you’re streaming via the Xfinity Stream app, you’ll still have a responsive app that functions great. I didn’t find any nagging issues while testing the app.

Before I move towards the compatibility, I do want to point out that there are many services offered under Xfinity. So, if you want to receive these for more than one TV, you are required to pay the additional cost. There are extra charges for additional installation and DVR functionality. Having said that, let’s learn about a few important points:

Recording with Xfinity X1

Shows can be previewed and recordings can be scheduled up to two weeks before the premiere. You can do this from any device. Also, you can use the X1 box to record either a single episode or an entire series. You can record up to 60 hours in HD and up to 300 hours in SD quality. If you want to record more, I’d suggest you go for an additional hard drive with 1 TB Storage.

Compatibility

Xfinity supports Roku, iPhone/iPad, Web Browsers and Android Phones only. It’s not compatible with Android TV, Gaming consoles such as XBOX and PlayStation, Amazon Fire TV, Nintendo, Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Samsung Smart TV.

Plans & Pricing

As mentioned earlier each of the services has a different price tag which differs from region to region. Nonetheless, on a broader level, these can be bifurcated into three plans – Digital Starter, Digital Preferred, and Digital Premier. – Digital Starter: Costs $49.99 and offers 140+ channels – Digital Preferred: Costs $59.99 and offers 220+ channels – Digital Premier: Costs $104.99 and offers 260+ channels

Suggestions I have for Xfinity

I don’t really understand why Xfinity is putting all its eggs in the X1 basket when Flex is supposed to be the service that would hatch in the near future. I’d like for them to pay attention to turning Flex into a powerhouse and focus on their customer service – which if judged by user rating is quite bizarre.

Conclusion

Xfinity with its wide range of services aims to be an AT&T alternative in your home. I’m sure the company wants to compete with DirecTV and is actually doing so on a streaming level. Is it better than DirecTV? I’ll leave that up to you.

Likes & Hates:
Plethora of viewing options
Best on-demand content library
Great streaming capabilities
Flex has a lot of potential
Lack of compatibility
Programming guide is confusing at times
Some functions feel beta
Additional fee for individual installation