Comcast Unlocks 6th Tuner in X1 DVRs

Comcast confirmed that it is in the process of freeing up the sixth tuner in most X1-powered DVRs, a move that will give subscribers the ability to record one additional TV show or movie at the same time.

Word of the decision popped up this week on the X1 consumer forum.

“Starting today, July 8, most X1 DVR customers will be able to record more shows simultaneously -- up to six shows depending on which X1 DVR they have in the their home,” it said noting that one model, the Pace-made XG1v1, is unchanged for now, but will be updated soon. Some X1 subs “may not see the six tuners for several days until their firmware is updated,” the post explained. 

With the update, subs with affected XG1s (HD-DVRs with whole-home networking capabilities), will no longer have a dedicated tuner for live TV, meaning they can now record up to six shows simultaneously via one device.

Or record many, many more, in some specific situations. 

Last year, Comcast began to test a new X1 DVR configuration (subscription required), that allows subs to record up to 15 shows at the same time by combining the storage and tuning capabilities of three X1 HD-DVRs.  The freeing up of the sixth tuner, a Comcast official said, would technically enable customers who are involved in those market trials to record up to 18 shows at the same time. 

Whether any customers would need to record that many shows at once is, of course, up for debate. But the move would seem to give Comcast some DVR bragging rights, as it enables it to move past Cablevision Systems, which currently lets network DVR subs record up to 15 shows at once, and will expand Comcast's lead on Verizon FiOS, whose new Quantum TV offering allows customers to record up to 12 shows at once by tying together the functions of two Arris-made Verizon Media Servers (VMSs).

The additional sixth tuner might also come in handy as Comcast expands the deployment of the Xi3, an IP-only HD client that works in tandem with the XG1 HD-DVR as part of a whole-home solution.

Comcast has also been expanding the reach of X1’s cloud DVR product, which currently supports 500 Gigabytes of storage and the ability to record four shows at once, and lets users  download/“check out” DVR recordings for offline viewing on mobile devices.