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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 21, 2014

Comcast Expands Xfinity X1 DVR Rollout

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

No. 1 U.S. cable MSO Comcast (News - Alert) is continuing the rollout of its X1 cloud-based interactive television interface, with a launch across the Keystone Region. New triple-play customers in western, central and northeastern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and portions of West Virginia and Maryland will have access to the next-gen platform.

X1 integrates Comcast’s collection of video with social media features and interactive apps. It includes a modern user interface that enables one-click access to programs and a highly visual guide to entertainment options and related information. It also offers recommendations based on search input and previously watched shows and movies. Users can search simultaneously across live TV, Xfinity on-demand and DVR recordings – and see the last nine programs watched across all services.

"The X1 Platform is a huge leap forward for us and transforms traditional television viewing into an entirely new entertainment experience," said Jim Samaha, senior vice president of Comcast's Keystone Region. "X1 uses cloud-based technology to make the TV smarter, richer and more personalized, and allows us to deliver new features to our customers faster than ever."

The DVR has the ability to record up to four shows while watching another, and to watch DVR recordings from any room in the house.

In terms of apps, X1 offers social integration, and an expanding selection of tailored-for-TV apps, including traffic, weather, stocks, voicemail and a sports app to track multiple games at once and check the latest scores and schedules while watching another show. X1 also includes a selection of Web-based apps, including Facebook and Pandora.

Meanwhile, the X1 Remote App lets customers use motions and voice commands to control their TVs with their Apple (News - Alert) and Android handheld devices. For example, customers can use voice commands to navigate the guide and search for content; and swipe their iPhones to page through the interactive TV guide and program personalized short-cuts and favorites. More on the innovations of Comcast and its features can be found at the ITEXPO – taking place in Miami, Florida from January 28-31 – where Comcast will be an exhibitor.

Comcast is steadily rolling out the platform but hasn’t released numbers for the uptake of the X1 yet. CFO Michael Angelakis (News - Alert) did say in September at an investor’s conference that Comcast was connecting about 10,000 X1 customers per day but that the rollout has gone a little slower than it originally had hoped.

At the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s (NCTA (News - Alert)) annual Cable Show last summer, CEO Brian Roberts unveiled the X2 platform, which would set Comcast up for streaming DVR content to set-top boxes, tablets, smartphones and other IP-connected connected devices from the cloud. It also dovetails with a cloud DVR service, which the MSO is testing in the Boston and Philadelphia markets. X2 was set to start deployments before the end of 2013 but so far, it hasn’t launched. Angelakis however said that the 2014 Winter Olympics will be “an interesting time for X2,” so we could see some launches and promotions around the Games, which are set to start on February 7 in Sochi, Russia.

X2 will also work with Comcast’s planned Xi3 (News - Alert), an all-IP, cloud-based HD set-top box that lacks an internal hard drive. The MSO said that it will process signals four times faster than a traditional set-top box, while consuming one-third the space and half the power.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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