Comcast Adds Live TV Buffering To All-IP ‘Xi3’ Box

Comcast confirmed that it has pushed an update to its “Xi3” client devices that enables the all-IP boxes to buffer as much as 25 minutes of live TV.

Comcast added that capability last month to currently-deployed Xi3s and will be offering it in all Xi3 models shipped to customers from here on out, an MSO spokesperson said. The Xi3, which does not support a local hard drive for DVR functionality (it can access recordings off of the primary XG1 HD-DVR and is expected to support Comcast’s new cloud DVR), buffers live TV via integrated SD (Secure Digital) memory card that carries the “Xfinity Instant Replay” label. The ability to pause live TV on the Xi3 has been high on customer wish lists, according to this thread on the Comcast X1 customer forum.

That feature, which lets Xi3 users rewind, fast-forward and pause recently viewed live TV programming, will apparently also grace a new “XG2” gateway that’s under development, and possibly on the Xi4, a smaller, next-gen version of the Xi3. A Samsung-made XG2 and a Cisco-made Xi4  recently passed through the FCC.

Comcast started to deploy the Xi3 in select markets last fall, noting then that the plan was to make the product “widely available across our footprint” in the first or second quarter of 2015.

The HDMI-connected Xi3 is designed to be a more elegant, non-DVR companion to the primary X1 HD-DVR, able to support the full slate of X1 apps. By comparison, Comcast’s initial batch of non-DVRs (the Pace and Samsung RNG150N) that work in tandem with the X1 HD-DVR and support the MSO's new cloud-based user interface, do not let users pause and rewind live TV. Those RNG-class boxes also support only a subset of X1 apps. This page compares and contrasts the current lineup of equipment, including set-tops and remotes, for X1. 

Comcast has deployed more than 5 million X1 boxes so far.