We got a Comcast Xfinity X1 DVR installed in order to utilize their accessible talking TV guide feature. Well, this digital video recorder (DVR) in now nearly completely accessible to blind and vision impaired users; a capability which we appreciate the most out of all its plethora of television viewing features.
However, in addition to the talking guide, the X1 DVR is state-of-the-art in terms of time-shift television watching. It allows recording of up to four different shows at the same time while you watch a fifth.
Benefits, Pros, Features, and Advantages of the Xfinity X1 DVR
Onscreen program guide. All television stations included in the customer’s current subscription package can be listed onscreen, in a grid, that also displays the current show for each station as well as upcoming shows.
Extensive help documentation. Also, detailed help and how-to information can be pulled up on your TV screen.
Exemplary video and sound. Since DVRs record audio and video in digital format, and since this unit features top-of-the-line D to A converters, you won’t be able to tell whether you’re watching a live or recorded show.
In-home program streaming. Supports streaming of recorded and live shows to your mobile devices through your home network. Xfinity apps tor streaming from and controlling this DVR with your phones and iPads are available. However, we’ve not gotten this feature to work as of yet.
External switching power supply. Powered by a 12-volt, 3-amp power adapter, with positive tip connector.
Front panel indicators. As pictured above, moving from left to right across the front, we find a bright digital clock, remote (lights up when the DVR is receiving commands from the remote control), data, record (illuminates when the DVR is currently recording a program), and the power button at the far right (lights up as a bright blue ring when the DVR is powered up). Usually you want to leave the DVR on at all times, so it doesn’t miss recording any programs
Back panel ports. Cable in and out to TV F connectors, NTSC video output, HDMI out to TV, two HDMI inputs, optical digital audio output, two USB ports, an Ethernet connection, a single eSATA port, M-card port, and the power connector.
Full-featured remote control. The Xfinity remote is the “cockpit” on the X1 DVR. You need it to actuate practically all DVR functions including TV tuning, program recording, pausing, fast advancing and rewinding, and deleting. Don’t lose this, make sure you have plenty of double A (AA) batteries around for it, and obtain one or two spare remotes just in case you our your kids misplaces one. See our Comcast Xfinity XR2 U2 Remote Review for more details.
Record up to four programs at the same time. This DVR can record content from up to four different channels simultaneously, as well as allow you to watch a fifth on your television.
Supports the accessible talking TV guide. Se our Comcast Accessible Talking TV Guide Review post for our experiences with this first-of-its-kind service.
Subscription cable provider service. Generally DVRs are tightly coupled to the cable providers and subscription services they host. So you can’t simply plug a Comcast DVR into an Atlantic Broadband cable outlet and expect it to work. This DVR is supplied as part of Comcast’s X1 DVR entertainment packages.
Runs the X1 entertainment operating system. Can be updated automatically without user intervention, which should reduce the implementation time for new features as they’re rolled out.
Advanced program search feature. Advanced yes, but simple to use. You can ask for a listing, for example, of all programs currently airing, that feature the words, “love you,” in their titles. Or, you can ask for all current and future shows in the guide, that star Barbara Eden. Then you can choose to watch, record, or schedule a future recording of one or more of these shows. You also can search through programs recorded on your DVR, and all these can be done from one place.
Records top 100 TV shows automatically. You can then watch these at your leisure. Further, these recordings only use free space on your DVR, and will be deleted if space is needed for shows that you’ve specifically requested to be recorded. In essence, this is a way to better utilize DVR free hard drive space, without losing it.
External storage option to increase DVR recording time. Accepts certain eSATA external storage options (hard or solid state drives). Internal storage can save up to 60 hours of HD programming and 300 hours of SD (standard definition) content.
Restore previously deleted shows. If you decide after deleting a program that you’d like to watch it, you can undelete it. Convenient feature when multiple people share the same DVR.
Automatic deletion of old programs. Can be set to delete previously watched programs, or old programs that haven’t yet been watched, in order to free up hard drive space for new recordings.
Cons, Disadvantages, Limitations, and Problems
Installation and ongoing subscription fees. We paid $49.99 to have our Xfinity DVR installed in November, 2014. We also must pay a monthly DVR service subscription fee of $10.
Sometimes hesitant control response. Normally, the DVR responds immediately to button presses from the XR2 remote. But sometimes, response is several seconds slower. A more consistent response time would be great.
No audible progress indications during fast forward and reverse. When using the rewind (<<) and fast forward (>>) buttons to quickly move through a program you’re watching, this DVR completely mutes the audio. So you can only SEE where you are in the show during these operations, but not HEAR where you are. Big problem for vision-impaired and blind users, who must guess how long to hold down the button to skip past the commercials. We’d suggest that, as is done with numerous ebook reading machines, that future DVR releases support fast forward and rewind audio for the blind. Or, when the talking guide is enabled, that percentage-complete announcements be made while fast advancing or fast reviewing through shows.
The X1 Xfinity DVR virtually replicates units from Tivo, Scientific Atlanta, et al, in terms of number of essential DVR features, the I/O ports offered, and overall satisfactory performance. Of course however, the DVR itself is only as good as the infrastructure that supports it, and based on our experience so far, the Comcast cable television infrastructure helps make this DVR shine. It’s a winner. We’d rate the DVR and X1 Xfinity service at 92 out of 100, because once you’ve tried a DVR, you’ll probably never want to revisit a VCR.
- 2015-12-16: Added more appropriate tags.
- 2015-10-06: Added appropriate tags.
- 2015-09-07: Updated tags.
- 2015-01-21: Added disadvantage that you can’t hear what’s going on, on the screen, during fast forward and fast reverse functions.
- 2015-01-13: Initial publication.