Comcast Launches X1 Control Platform; Lots Of Cool Wrinkles
SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) — The original X-1 was the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound.
Michigan customers of Comcast Corp. may feel a little like Chuck Yeagers of cable TV when they get their hands on the Xfinity X1 Platform to control their video entertainment systems.
Simply put, X1 is a quantum leap from Xfinity’s previous control systems — maybe a leap and a half.
“This is the world’s first entertainment system that’s cloud based,” said Comcast product manager Sean T. Downey, who demonstrated the system to journalists Tuesday.
X1 takes advantage of Comcast’s high-speed data rates and the remote storage technologies commonly referred to as the cloud to offer entirely new capabilities for Comcast cable TV users — starting with a much more informative, sophisticated programming grid.
Program grids now feature detailed program descriptions and original program graphics, and users can switch around the grid from station to station and time to time as fast as their fingers can move a cursor. There’s also sophisticated search by title, genre, actor — and comprehensive filmography and actor biographies.
Other advantages include:
* Speedy access to 100,000 On Demand titles — 90 percent of which are free — in a library that also features vastly improved on-screen graphics.
* Personalized “more like this” movie and TV show recommendations.
* Movie rating content from the website Rotten Tomatoes.
* An improved digital video recorder with 500 gigabytes of storage that allows users to record up to four programs at once — while watching a fifth.
* Remote controls that communicate with the cable box by radio frequency as well as infrared light — allowing users with high-end home video installations to hide the cable box behind cabinetry or walls.
* A mind-blowing array of customized apps, including weather forecasts and radar maps anywhere in the country, traffic reports anywhere in the country, major league sports scores and running statistics of games anywhere in the country — all available virtually instantly.
* Fun apps like a horoscope and the ability to share what you’re watching directly to social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
* A Pandora app that allows users to link their TV to their favorite Pandora online radio stations.
* An Apple app that allows users to turn their iOS devices (iPads and iPhones) into extra remote controls with voice command (an Android equivalent is in development).
* Caller ID that pops up on the TV screen for users who have Comcast phone service, and on-screen playback of voice mail messages.
Comcast doesn’t offer a wireless cable box like rival AT&T U-verse does — but Downey insisted that’s a feature that doesn’t matter.
“I would never let my kids take a $2,000 TV out to the basketball court so they can take potshots at it, or let them put it by the pool,” Downey said of AT&T recent wireless cable box advertising. “The cable box still needs power. That’s not wireless. The TV still needs power. That’s not wireless. It just looks great in a TV commercial.”
Downey and Lisa Kocsis – LeCureux senior director of project management engineering at Comcast, both said returning AT&T customers to Comcast have told them the wireless cable box feature was little used.
Downey and Kocsis said customers can order the X1 platform now, and will pay the same price as they now pay for multi-room DVR capability.
More at http://www.comcast.com/x1.