Comcast Tees Up Multi-Room DVR for X1

Comcast confirmed that the MSO will soon add multi-room DVR capabilities to the X1, the MSO’s next-gen TV service that features a cloud-based user interface and is currently being offered on an HD-DVR made by Pace.

In this initial deployment scenario, the Pace XG1, an HD-DVR equipped with six tuners, will share content recorded to the DVR over the home coax network with the RNG150N, a non-DVR HD client set-top. Pace, Arris (via its acquisition of Motorola Home), and Cisco are among the known makers of the RNG150N.

Comcast “will be launching multi-room DVR capability to all existing X1 markets in June,” a spokeswoman said, but did not offer a precise launch date. Comcast already offers its Anyroom DVR service on its legacy video platform.

Comcast has deployed X1 in the following markets: Boston; Independence, Mo.; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Philadelphia;  New Jersey; Colorado; and systems serving a handful of California cities, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Fresno, Stockton, and Santa Barbara. Comcast expects to launch X1 to half its service areas by the end of June, and across its footprint by the end of 2013.

The MSO is targeting X1 primarily to new triple play customers, but has not yet revealed how many customers are on the new, IP-capable service. Comcast is expected to reveal more details about the next version of its cloud-based UI, internally called "X2," at next week's
Cable Show in Washington, D.C. 

Word of the multiroom DVR upgrade for the X1 service first showed up this week on the DSL Reports message board, with a post noting that the update will support a total of five tuners (four for DVR recording and one for watching live TV).

In May, Comcast SVP and GM of video services Marcien Jenckes wrote on the MSO’s blog that the MSO was preparing to active the fifth tuner on the X1 DVR and boost the number of program customers can record on the DVR from two to four. Comcast has yet to say when it will activate the XG1’s sixth tuner or how it intends to use it.   

At last year’s Cable Show, Comcast acknowledged that it would eventually bring the X1 user interface and whole-home DVR capabilities to the RNG150N, a box that uses a CableCARD and is equipped with Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) home networking capabilities. At the time, the MSO estimated that 7 million to 8 million RNG150s were already in the field.

The XG1/RNG150N combo is likely the precursor to a more advanced whole-home DVR scenario that will utilize Comcast’s Xi3, an all-IP HD client device that’s being made by multiple vendors, including Pace and Humax, that does not house a CableCARD slot. That set-up is expected to pair the Xi3 with a new line of gateways from Arris and other suppliers that can transcode live QAM video into IP streams that can be shipped to client devices on the home network.