XFINITY X1 Review: Is the Upgrade Worth it?

In a competitive DVR market, Comcast’s signature device delivers a satisfying user experience both at home and on-the-go.

There are dozens of DVRs available for TV fans who want to save their favorite programs. Gone are the days of VHS recordings — today, you can store it all digitally. But with so many DVRs on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one. Between proprietary and 3rd party devices, how can you know which one is the best?

If you live in one of the 41 states where Comcast XFINITY is available, there’s a good chance that you already use their service. If that’s true, and you’re wondering which DVR to choose, then you’re in luck — the Comcast XFINITY X1 DVR is an excellent device that should satisfy the demands of all but the pickiest TV connoisseurs.

Reasons to Upgrade

Subscribing to XFINITY, but don’t have the X1 yet? You’re missing out!

Comcast’s default cable box is definitely outdated — especially in terms of its interface. You may not need all the new bells and whistles like recording and streaming that the X1 offers, but the X1’s interface system is a major improvement over what you have now. It’s easier than ever to find shows, so you can spend less time searching and more time watching!

There are plenty of other small reasons why the X1 is better than the old set-top box. It includes extra features like voice commands, sports stats, and apps that can help you plan your day and streamline your life. Not everyone may need these extras, but they can be a productive means of integrating your work and entertainment.

With the X1, your TV will be an even more central point of your home or living room. With the X1’s music apps and customizable screensaver, you can personalize your experience to match your home’s vibe. It’s a great way to liven up a room that would otherwise be dragged down by a big, empty screen.

Target audience

If you’re wondering who should pick up an X1, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Are you looking to get a DVR system?
  • Do you get your internet and TV from XFINITY?
  • Are you a fan of cloud storage systems?
  • Do you like having access to your entertainment on the go?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, then the XFINITY X1 is probably your best bet for a DVR system. It isn’t the best solution for everyone, but it still has a lot to offer — especially if you’re already an XFINITY subscriber.

How Does XFINITY X1 Stack Up?

The XFINITY X1 is hardly the only heavy-hitter on the DVR market. In fact, it’s not necessarily the top DVR that you can get.

Satellite providers DISH and DIRECTV offer proprietary DVR systems that are, in many ways, superior to the X1. DIRECTV’s Genie DVR has twice as much storage as the X1, while DISH’s Hopper 3 has four times as much. In other words, the X1 can record up to 60 hours of HD content— by comparison, the Genie can store nearly 120 hours, and the Hopper 3 saves a massive 240 hours.

Even so, 60 hours is still a lot of content. Even better, the X1 has a colossal selection of on-demand titles available for viewing. With over 163,000 shows and movies, XFINITY has a better selection than either of its competitors.

If storage is still an issue for you, there’s always the option of adding extra storage by means of an external hard drive. While it’s an additional expense, you’d be able to rest easy knowing that you can save pretty much everything you could want.

Features and User Experience

Nobody likes to waste their precious time combing through menus and typing on a TV remote. Thankfully, Comcast understands this and has crafted a user-friendly viewing experience with the X1. You’ll be able to find things to watch without much hassle — after all, isn’t TV time supposed to be relaxing?

X1 Experience

X1’s interface is aptly called the “X1 Experience.” It includes a straightforward guide that will help you navigate channels. It’s a better, more intuitive system than you might be used to. Instead of scrolling through the channels in numerical order, X1’s guide displays shows based on more descriptive information. That makes it quicker and easier to pull up something to watch. Plus, you’ll no longer need to memorize the numbers for each channel!

The X1 allows you to keep watching while you search for other programs. Again, this is a vast improvement over the old days of channel surfing. It makes for a seamless experience that’s hard not to enjoy.

If you have a hectic schedule or busy household, you’ll love the X1’s playback features. As with other DVRs, the X1 has functions that allow pausing and rewinding — just don’t change the channel! As long as you stay on the same station, you can rewind as far back as 60 minutes. Thanks to the X1, you can have much more control over when and how you watch.

The X1 Experience’s one major drawback is that it’s only available for one TV by default. If you want to add similar functions to other TVs in your house, it’ll cost you $10 extra for each set. Unfortunately, these extra devices don’t come with the playback control for live broadcasts. Nevertheless, they do provide the complete DVR experience in terms of watching recordings.


As you would expect from any DVR on the market today, the X1 is incredibly convenient for recording shows that you don’t want to miss. Perhaps its most useful recording feature is the ability to record shows two weeks before they premier. It’s a great feature for anyone who travels a lot, or for occasions where you know about an upcoming event that will cut into your TV time.

The X1 not only records individual episodes but it can also save entire seasons. That means that you can simply set it to record a specific show without needing to repeat the process week after week.

Unlike other DVRs, the X1 doesn’t only use physical storage to save your recordings. Instead, it uses a cloud system. The cloud has many advantages over traditional storage. If you or any family members are accident-prone, damaging your X1 won’t erase your shows. Since they’re stored on the cloud, you can pull them up again when you replace your device.

The cloud also gives you the ability to watch shows on devices other than your TV. You can use your phone, tablet, laptop, or PC to watch your recordings — with a few exceptions. Not all on-demand programs are available away from your TV, so make sure you check before you head out the door.


As every TV viewer knows, you’ll probably spend a lot of time with your remote. It’s an important part of the viewing experience. With that in mind, you probably want the easiest possible device in order to cut down on the time spent finding the right button.

XFINITY’s XR11 remote is a convenient controller that will get you binging on exciting programs in no time. Its best feature is its effective voice commands. If you’re skeptical about voice commands, it’s understandable — early systems were subpar, and continue to cause problems for many. XFINITY, however, has done an excellent job of delivering excellent control over your home theater.

Voice Commands

Comcast’s servers take your voice commands and use them to make all users’ commands more effective. You don’t necessarily need to be specific — even just quoting a film or TV show can be enough for the X1 to pull it up. So instead of searching for The Big Bang Theory, a simple “bazinga!” should suffice.

If you don’t have a standard American accent, don’t worry — the XR11 is good at picking up what you say, regardless of your accent. It’s a refreshing feature, especially if you’ve had trouble with similar systems in the past.

The XR11’s voice search isn’t perfect, however — though this is to be expected. Sometimes it’s not able to process more specific searches. In that case, you’ll have to start general and then resort to manual searching in order to find exactly what you’re looking for. On a more minor note, the voice control button could be easier to use. You have to hold it down the entire time you’re talking; otherwise your speech will be cut off. Ultimately, though, it’s a small detail that doesn’t detract much from an otherwise stellar experience.


For the more manually-inclined, the X1’s remote includes some convenient quick buttons that act as shortcuts.

  • The “A” button lets you tweak your settings, and also helps you learn more about the remote’s functions.
  • The “B” button pulls up a useful browser, allowing you to search for new shows without interrupting what you’re already watching.
  • The “C” button brings up a special sports application that lets you see more detailed information about the game you’re watching.
  • The “D” button lets you quickly erase recordings from your DVR library.

Other Devices

As mentioned above, one of the X1’s coolest features is the ability to take your shows with you wherever you go. Whether you’re sneaking a peek at the big game during work or catching up with your favorite characters on your commute, the X1 has you covered.

By registering your extra devices through email, you gain the ability to save and watch up to 10 recordings on each device. There are some limits, however — not all shows are available for viewing remotely. Thankfully, you can filter these out when deciding what to take with you. Even though your on-the-go options are limited, it’s unlikely that you’ll struggle to find shows to watch while you’re out and about.

Smart House

Tired of having to manually control your lights and thermostats? Ever wanted to lock or unlock your door with the press of a button? If this seems futuristic, it’s not — the house of the future is already here.

The X1 not only gives you power over your entertainment but it also gives you power over your own home! By using the XFINITY Home Secure App, you can integrate numerous automated home and security devices into one convenient interface. Features include the following:

  • Activating or deactivating your security system
  • Watching videos or images from security cameras
  • Locking or unlocking your doors
  • Switching lights on or off, or adjusting brightness
  • Changing the temperature via thermostats

It’s a great app for anyone who already has connected security devices. If you don’t have a setup like this, maybe the X1 will inspire you to take your home to the next level.

Other information

Before deciding on whether the X1 is the right DVR for you, there are a few extra details that might help you decide.

Fans of streaming services like Netflix and YouTube will be happy to know that the X1 has built-in support for these platforms. If you’re a Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or Vudu subscriber, you’re unfortunately out of luck. The X1 does not have support for these platforms, and it’s uncertain as to whether it ever will.

If you want to upgrade to the X1, you’ll also need to upgrade your cable package. XFINITY offers X1 Double Play and X1 Triple Play, either of which you’ll need in order to enjoy all the features that the X1 can deliver. Double Play includes TV service as well as internet, so if you haven’t combined those yet, now may be the time. Triple Play includes extra services in addition to TV and internet — it could be phone service or a home security setup.

The Verdict

Comcast’s XFINITY X1 DVR may not be the best DVR on the market, but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad — far from it. It’s a powerful, user-friendly device that lets you control your TV as well as your living space. Even better, it gives you a sense of mobility that other DVR systems lack. And if you’re already an XFINITY subscriber, it’s easy to add the X1 to your existing subscription.

The future of home entertainment is here, and the X1 gives you unprecedented power over your TV experience.

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