Comcastic: Having the Xfinity X1 Installed and Living to Tell About It

Categories: Tech

comcast-apollo13.jpg
If even these guys couldn't help me, Houston, I did have a problem.
I have Comcast at my house. I know, I know. It wasn't my first choice, but it was all I could have at my previous abode and I like CSN Houston. Plus, I'm a masochist.

For the most part, my Comcast service has been solid since I bought a new house and moved last summer. I don't complain too much, so maybe that's it, or maybe it is actually decent. Whatever the case, I rarely have to deal with customer support, so that's good, I guess.

Since Xfinity took over programming for Comcast's television division, there have been marked improvements in technology as well. The X1 is the latest of those changes, a significantly upgraded DVR set-top box with improved menus and an app-like interface that has received rave reviews from geeks who write about such things. It doesn't cost any more per month, but allows the recording of four shows at once and the playback of those shows on any of the satellite boxes you can scatter around your home. You can even talk into an app and it obeys you like freaking Hal, but without the attitude and the "Now, I'm going to kill you, Dave" thing.

I was on the road to a brand-new experience in TV watching that was wholly different from me parked on my ass on the sofa watching DVR'ed episodes of Game of Thrones. Now I also watch those shows from my guest bedroom! To quote The Jeffersons, "Movin' on uuup!"

This sounded like a great idea...until I had to get it installed.

According to the person who signed me up for this magical new platform, the install normally takes about three hours. Seemed reasonable enough given that the setup procedures for these boxes are so complicated; it wouldn't shock me if Gary Sinise's character from Apollo 13 showed up to help with the reboot sequence.

Comcast hires independent contractors to do installs. For the most part, this is good because it means they don't work directly for a monolithic, blood-sucking corporation. On the other hand, it's hard to know exactly what you will get when they show up. In my case, I got lucky. My installer was a nice guy and seemed to be good at his gig.

After installing a signal booster in my attic (or maybe an FBI listening device), he asked, "Where do you want your main DVR boxes and your three satellite boxes?" At the risk of over-referencing Apollo 13, "Gentlemen, I think we just had our glitch for the mission." See, I only needed two extra boxes. That really is a gluttonous number of cable boxes, but how am I supposed to enjoy watching reality shows comfortably if I can't have a damn box out by my swimming pool? What is this, the dark ages?

One call to customer service by my personal Ken Mattingly -- Sinise's character's name; try to keep up -- and all was resolved, or so I hoped.

During the install, my Internet was down. I couldn't do any work or surf porn or anything. I just had to sit there and try not to bother Ken too much while he was working. What did people do before the Internet? Read? Pfft.

The main DVR box installed, Ken was zooming along toward completion when the first satellite box wouldn't boot up properly. He called customer service -- the same number we peons call, ironically -- and spent nearly an hour trying to figure it out. Ken was frustrated. I was frustrated. The WORLD was frustrated.

Finally, the line went dead. "They hung up on me!" Ken said, startled.


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17 comments
jtdiver27
jtdiver27

Today we "upgraded" to an X1 DVR from Xfinity here in Connecticut. A few early complaints though I'm sure I'll find more after using it a bit: 

1- the box is LOUD, as if something is spinning in it. Loud enough to be annoying when I sit 10 feet away from it. 

2- there is no ability to click PAUSE and go frame-by-frame. The Pause and Play button are now one in the same. I used that feature a lot on previous DVRs, including Tivos, especially watching sporting events. Not having this brings us back 15 years. 

3- the "look and feel" of the design now has a black background with white font in a smaller, thinner verdana style. With such low contrast this is very difficult to read from more than 10 feet. 

As with many other digital properties we're living in a world of bad design. This is especially true with new "responsive" website interfaces. I'm sure whomever the designers of this new X1 DVR and remote where young and hip, but like most others they lose sight of the basic function of what the device is meant to do. Very few care about or use all the features it provides (oh wow I can go to Facebook on it!), what's lost here is the UTILITY of the device. Classic FORM over FUNCTION example where the designers are not users of the product they're designing. /soapbox

If anyone is considering "upgrading" to one of these X1's I would NOT recommend you do it. Wait until the next version comes out (or if they keep the same designers wait for 4 or 5 new versions).



jbr1040
jbr1040

Comcast is a terrible service provider. The X1 box (which I had replaced three times) is a complete piece of technical garbage. What they anticipated doing and what they ended up providing are two different things entirely. Many of the features do not work and the input and output connections are already outdated. In addition, anyone how is a serious audiophile will be continually at odds with ground loop issuses which cannot be (100%) resolved (even with a ground loop isolator). Comcast is old technology and has the worst customer service of all providors.  rRecently, after years with Comcast, I switched to AT&T and rid my house of all Comcast wiring. The result was a far better picture and no more audio issues (due to AT&T using Cat 5 instead of Coax).  I could not be happier. Hopefully, at some point, all TV will be pushed through the net and we will enjoy channels from throughout the world and enter a modern state of entertainment. In addition, finally  the narrative has begun to possibly eliminate these badly overpriced packages and  allow for the consumer to choose just the channels they wish to receive. I would not return to Comcast under any condition, they are simply out of touch with their customer base. When their equipment fails and you are down for two or three days (and after you most likely have spent over an hour on the phone with them trying to reset and reboot the X1 box -- yes the X1 box requires rebooting when it hangs up),   or you later find out that the modem they installed had a recall that they never told you about, you will waive goodbye to this badly managed and ran company.

38manny
38manny

sonnykohler

Hopefully someone will be home for your installation.  I would be worried about what I would find when I got home.  Why would you worry about closing your account in 2016? Sounds like you've had some luck with Comcast, in 2016 you move to Europe they don't offer service there, you cancel your service. I also get the being charged for equipment I don't have.  They are still billing me for equipment I don't have and on the same bill they show a credit for the same amount, Pending Investigation.  I wonder what's going to happen when they decided they don't have it and I must?  You would think they would have figured it out by now, I've been a customer for over 15 years.


Now I am moving into month 2 and I am having some of the same issues that thomassugarbrown mentioned below.  Comcast can't figure out if it's the remote or the service. 


When I use the fast forward option and hit play when its where I want it, it either freezes, or keeps going.  When it finally stops on its own, I have to use the rewind function to get back where I wanted. 


The other interesting thing I am now encountering is when I go to my recordings or on demand, I get an error message that says

"I programming I have chosen is not currently available" then I am bounced to channel 2, not the channel I was watching prior to.   


Very interesting.  Still no luck getting my Blueray Players to work with the new Comcast X1 equipment.  It's frustrating that they had no problem unplugging it all without saying anything to me and now all they tell me is that it's not there responsibility because it's not their equipment.

sonnykohler
sonnykohler

This was great.  I am having X1 installed tomorrow at my house (I won't be home thankfully, but my impatient, non-techy, agoraphobic other half will be (hee... hee... :)).

Let's hope my experience isn't such a disaster as this, but, after all, it is Comcast.  I've been with them well over a decade now and sometimes it's like herding cats to get anything done.

On my last move, it took them 2 weeks to figure out that I didn't owe them $1000 for the boxes that their own tech had taken from my old house to my new and installed (same city) before they would reactivate my service.

Comcast says it prides itself on its "Customer Service".  While I don't usually have issues with them (although some of those installers really should go back to the S&M studios they came from), occassionally you do end up in one of the lower rings of Hell when dealing with them.

My worry is, what on earth am I going to have to go through in 2016 when I need to terminate my service after all this time when I move to Europe.

Frankly, I'm slightly frightened already.  :)

38manny
38manny

I'm in Atlanta and recently "upgraded" to the new X1 box.  I haven't figured up why they call it an upgrade.  I just figured out how to use my older DVR box and "converters" on my TV's.  


I was told having the X1 system would be cheaper and easier to operate.  It costs more monthly and Its been over a month and I still trying to figure it out.


When I select the "Guide", the font is so small I can't read it.  So I downloaded the guide on my smartphone so that I can use my smartphone to look things up and then use the number key pad to change the channel.  That REALLY SUX.


The guy that did the installation was actually very knowledgeable, however when I asked him about the fonts, he said it was a simple fix, I just had to call " CUSTOMER SERVICE " which of course I know that's a play on words, as if they really provide any service.  After almost an hour on the phone, being transferred 3 times I was told:


"Do you have any idea how many customers call about the fonts?  Some think its too small some think its too large, we will never be able to make everyone happy".  


I asked if there was a way I could change it on my own TV's, especially the bedrooms, which I can't read at all.  It appears its an option at the top of the TV screen, his response was simple, " NO". 


I asked about my DVR and Blue ray players that the tech said he wasn't unable to install because they weren't Comcast equipment, his recommendation was for me to read the owners manual.  I mentioned that he had no problem pulling all the plugs leaving them disconnected without my knowledge.  As of yet, I still can't use my DVR or blue ray players.  He threw all the cables that he didn't use behind my TV, which I didn't find until after he left.  


The customer service person offered to send a tech out and quickly reminded me that I would be charged for another visit.  I said NO

maxk1947
maxk1947

Ladies and Gentlemen - what can you expect from an outfit that can't figure out how to adjust their on-line TV listings in a timely manner when there's a Daylight Savings change?  Have any of you experienced a change in an Xfinity application that a) was a useful improvement and b) worked the first time?  Every time they "improve" an interface, I find that they have removed something I valued.

thomasugabrown
thomasugabrown

Is this where we blog about Xfinity X1 ?  My X1 locks up every few hours.  I cannot record just a minute of a show, and save it forever; instead, I must record now just the whole entire show.  The options for stopping recording are so limited that nearly every recording cuts off the end of one show and starts at end of the show before the 1 am supposedly recording.


I have no Favorites button any longer, either.  I used to have FAV and start any station number, hit FAV and go right through my FAV.


I programmed all my FAV.  I have a double left-side button which takes me to FAV starting with channel I am on.  I press FAV and then have no option to go through the channels.  Just look at part of a name for a show, and choose amongst those.  No watch each FAV by hitting FAV and then FAV.  In addition, after a few minutes X1 defaults to NON-FAV, in other words, all channels.


Let me get this straight ?  I program all my FAV channels, and then I want to revert to DEFAULT on X1 to just EVERY BLOOMING CHANNEL ?


Huh ?


Does your X1 not lock up on you ?  You have to get up.  Unplug the power from the DVR and power again.  Wait 10 minutes for it to boot-up again.


Press Record, and it locks up.


Press any button, it just locks up.


You cannot sit there and tell me your X1 does not lock up.


Sure it does.


Miserable poorly conceived, not mature service.


I asked 350 million of us in the U.S., how many have X1 ?  600,000 Comcast advises.


Charges you $ 2.50 change of service.

Charges you $ 99 install, guy comes out disconnects all my phones, all my TV.

Calls Comcast, waits 20 minutes and they reset my box.


I can do that.


Have a self-install. Will not let me take home. And, do myself.


Cannot see the remote at night.


Call Comcast, again.


Sorry, you will NEVER get a back lit remote X1.


Excuse me ?


You wiped out all the features of my Comcast DVR and stick me with this crud service, X1 ?


I hate X1.


I send my paycheck to Comcast, every month.


Been doing that, forever.


I hate X1.


And, what's up with these bloody X1 ratings ?


You watch a movie you live for.  23 % and 39 %.


What's that ?


Where are the 2-Star, 3-Star, 4-Star ratings ?


You have no control to program the cable modem, as on all previous Comcast service.


The screens - heavy graphics, and where are the controls ?


They're not there.


Anyone who likes this, NEVER learned how to use Comcast's previous DVR and remote.


This service is horrendous.


There is no SWAP BUTTON.  Cannot watch 1 show, hit swap and watch another.  Hit swap, going back to 1st show, and hit back-up.  Before X1, I could watch 2 football games same time like this.  Never watch any commercials and never miss single second either game.


X1


X zero more apt.


When is X 2 ?

cox.alexisn
cox.alexisn

You describe my pain all so well. Watch your bill! They'll sneak in a bunch of charges. I was charged over $250 for my install. Whettttttt?

greenejns
greenejns

Just had the CC tech out to do install.  When he walked in with two different kinds of boxes, I asked what the new boxes could do that the old ones couldn't.  He explained all the perks.  Sounded great.  Then I asked the question I should have asked first:  "What can the old boxes do that new ones can't?"  AHA!!  The new X1's cannot freeze, pause or rewind live TV.  Then got this confirmed by two supervisors.  No more pausing to pee or stir the pasta.  No more pausing to listening to my kids' "Dad this is really important" stories.   Like the main post, pausing and rw are features I use much more than being able to record four shows at once or verbally ask my remote control to find that episode of Game of Thrones where Kalisa is naked or orders the dragons to attack the overlord.  So, I cancelled my "upgrade" and will be very happy with my antiquated two year old technology.  Until of course, Comcast fixes those pause and rewind glitches, then I'll be happy to join the rest of the tech nerds in speaking to my remote control.

pleased
pleased

Comcast must have messed up on my installation.  It went without a hitch and works exactly as described.  Weird.

thehomelessguy
thehomelessguy

Doing better than me. I tried to have comcast cable and internet installed at my new house. The installer showed up (an hour late) then went and looked at the utility pole in my neighbor's yard. Problem is my neighbor's don't take care of their property and have kudzu all over the ultility pole. Comcast installer claimed he couldn't get access to the pole and that it is the city's job to clean it up. City claims it is Centerpoints. Centerpoint claims it is Comcast's responsibility. Comcast claimed they would sort this out a week ago, still waiting for an answer despite numerous phone calls on my part.

jeeterbug
jeeterbug

believe the credits when you actually SEE them applied on your bill.  often times the reps tell you 1 thing on the phone but it's never relayed to the billing dept.  your story confirmed to me that I don't miss dealing w/crapcast or whatever name they want to do business under these days.  if something happens w/my uverse, I will go back to rabbit ears and the internet only for my tv viewing.  I miss the availability local sports, but from the sounds of it, I haven't missed much honestly. 

johnnyboy729
johnnyboy729

Charged me twice for a single installation.  Hours of calls later, was reimbursed.  Also, after drilling the hole in my wall for the new jack, did not clean up the mess.  Just a sloppy run business, and currently looking for a new internet-only provider if anyone has decent suggestions.

attloathe1
attloathe1

This was my experience exactly.  But isn't it fantastic once it is working?!  

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Concash strikes again, not a week goes by I don't have issues with mine, and my installation was late as well..

38manny
38manny

@greenejns 

I am also having several issues with my X1 service.  I noticed you mentioned that the New X1's can't freeze, mine freezes all the time. 


Pause and rewind live TV, that I am able to do.  I have learned it's easier if you choose to record it to begin with, then you can rewind all the way back to the beginning.  When the show is over, I then have to delete it.  Sounds crazy that we have to find these back doors to make it work. 


I am also able to pause live TV during a show


I agree that they have illuminated features that make sense, like the pause, fast forward etc al that we can record 4 shows.  Really?  I am sure that there are some people that watch that much TV that they would record 4 shows and watch a 5th.  That's 25 hours of TV just Monday though Friday, you're going to have to miss Saturday and some of Sunday just to watch what you've recorded.  It hardly makes sense.


Regarding speaking into your remote, it's actually to your smartphone.  I am not a nerd by any mean, however, because I can't read the guide that the new X1 has, the font's are so many. I seriously can't read them.  I commented on the response I got from Comcast:

"Some people think it's too small some people think it's too large, we can't make everybody happy"

That's when they told me about the app I could download to my phone, Really? You can't make the X1 options work like their supposed to?  I was told that using my smartphone was the only option at this time, so I had to download the app to that I could see the guide and speak the commands.  It's a good thing I don't have kids in the house, if so would they all have to download the app?


Comcast is simply making it difficult without considering the customer. 

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