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Comcast Trialing ‘XG2’ Device

Comcast has begun to test the XG2, a new gateway for its cloud-based X1 platform that lacks a local DVR.

Comcast isn’t commenting on XG2, where it’s being tested, nor supplying any info on what specific features and capabilities that will grace it, but the device is referenced here in a customer forum that compares and contrasts devices for X1.  The section on the XG2, labeled as a “non-DVR” for X1, cites two suppliers – Samsung and Pace, the U.K.-based set-top maker that’s being acquired by Arris – and mentions that the model is “currently limited to select trial markets.”

Some customers are also posting that they have received emails from Comcast about receiving the XG2.

Speculation about the XG2 has been swirling for months as the mysterious model passed through the FCC, and a rendering of it from Cisco Systems (Technicolor is buying Cisco’s set-top unit) also appeared on the Web (see image above).

Though Comcast is keeping a lid on XG2, a person familiar with it said it’s a “headed” gateway, meaning it will have video rendering capabilities and connect directly to a TV (versus coming “headless” gateways that will route video to other set-top clients and devices on the home network). Previous FCC documents have also shown the XG2 to be a hybrid QAM/IP device equipped with a CableCARD, along with integrated WiFi, Bluetooth and ZigBee radios.

Though the XG2 doesn’t have a local DVR, an SD card that carries the “Xfinity Instant Replay” label will likely be used to buffer video so viewers can pause, rewind and fast-forward through recently-viewed TV programming. There’s also speculation that the XG2 would be a perfect candidate for Comcast’s new Cloud DVR service. The Comcast X1 feature comparison chart also points out that the XG2 will allow for the pausing and rewinding of live TV (up to 60 minutes), will support RF-based remote controls and the new X1 voice remote, as well as all the X1 apps.

The message boards are also filled with other info and speculation on the device.

One user, “ComcastAndrew” who is listed as an “official employee,” points out that the XG2 “looks close to an Xi3 but with composite and  HDMI outputs and digital audio output.” The Xi3 is a tunerless, IP-only HD client device designed to work in tandem with the XG1 HD-DVR.

While the XG2 might be considered as another companion device, it appears to be a higher-powered gateway-class unit that has its own tuners (perhaps four, according to a comment on this DSL Reports message board), with some suggesting that it could likewise be a suitable replacement for the RGN150, an IP-capable, non-DVR set-top that does not support all of X1’s features.  It’s also possible that the XG2 could work  in tandem with Xi3 clients in a multi-room set-ups for customers who do not want a DVR.

Comcast hasn’t announced how many customers on X1, but it has been accelerating the rollout – the MSO is now deploying about 30,000 X1 boxes per day, up from previous daily run-rates of between15,000 to 20,000. Nearly one-third of Comcast’s triple-play customers are now on X1.