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Cable/Video

Comcast Offers Peek at X2

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is quietly offering up a sneak preview of its new, much-anticipated X2 user interface to a select portion of its video customer base.

As reported in the user forums on DSLReports, and then on the news site itself, Comcast is making a beta version of its latest, cloud-based IP video program guide available to some X1 users with a few key strokes (9-2-9-2) on the TV remote.

Early response to the new guide is largely positive. Commenters say X2 is smoother and faster than the previous guide experience, and that the user interface (UI) includes enhancements like larger print, more poster art, and background image transparency options. Features like the new recommendation engine and cloud DVR support are not yet enabled.

Along with the new features, X2 beta testers are also encountering a few bugs. There appears to be some initial loss of functionality around the DVR, a frozen screen issue when users jump between apps and live TV programming, and a time zone error for subscribers in the Midwest. Users are cataloguing mishaps under the assumption that Comcast will address known issues before any official X2 launch.

During a demo of X2 at The Cable Show in June, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts emphasized the importance of personalization and a multi-platform TV experience. "If you don't have your products on every platform, you're missing a whole generation," Roberts declared. He described the X2 guide by saying, "It's about personalization and getting you there faster. The whole look and feel is to be easy, personable, fast, and fun. And I think we're just scratching the surface." (See Comcast Tightens Its Cloud Embrace.)

So far, Comcast has rolled out its X1 IP video platform to well over half of its customer footprint. The company is expected to start launching X2 before the end of the year. (See Comcast Hits Gas Pedal on X1.)

— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable

KBode 10/3/2013 | 10:26:52 AM
Re: January Launch Overall impressions seem quite positive, with users in particular noting that the X2 seems much faster and responsive. Not too surprisingly not many of the features and apps are buggy or don't work since this is obviously still being tested, but if I were Comcast I'd be pleased with the responses I've seen. Excitement seems on par with the user excitement surrounding Verizon's set top GUI advancements. Carrier GUI updates was a sector few consumers got excited about a few years back (and still don't for operators for which improvements aren't a priority).
msilbey 10/3/2013 | 10:23:56 AM
Re: January Launch Yes, from reading your forum reports, it looks like Comcast is pushing out a rolling update to block X2. Hope they at least take advantage of the free feedback in the meantime...
KBode 10/3/2013 | 7:52:06 AM
January Launch Someone informed me that after that report went up, Comcast began blocking the functionality as expected.

I was under the impression the X2 was a new hardware revision; I didn't realize it was a software update. I'll be curious to see the cloud DVR storage functionality at work.

A Comcast insider tells me that they're looking at January for a broader launch of the X2 in many markets.
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