Comcast's new set-top box moves DVR to the cloud
The new box, which doesn't have a hard drive for local storage, is part of an upgrade to the cable TV giant's X1 entertainment platform.
In its battle against the growing trend of cutting the cord, Comcast instead wants TV viewers to ditch the DVR.
The cable TV giant on Tuesday took the wraps off X2, an upgrade to its X1 entertainment platform, which includes a new compact set-top box that will store recorded programs in the cloud. The box doesn't even have a hard drive for local storage, resulting in a form factor three times smaller than conventional boxes, and 50 percent less power consumption.
Expected to be available to consumers later this year, the new set-top box also includes voice-activated control, allowing users to change TV channels or search for programming with spoken commands.
"The X1 Platform is an incredible example of what's possible with cloud innovation," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. "With the introduction of Web-based content to the platform today, and the promise of a faster and more integrated experience with X2, we're adding more functionality to each screen in a customer's home, and transforming our video product into a complete entertainment operating system."
The new box is part of a platform upgrade that stresses a number of enhancements over the current operating system, including an updated channel guide with personalized recommendations based on program viewing history and the ability to watch recorded content on multiple devices.
The new platform will also include Web-based content from Comcast's partners and integrate users' personal social-media accounts. Program listings will include viewer reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, while TV social-media site Zeebox will provide a live feed of which TV shows are generating buzz on Twitter.
The platform is part of Comcast's effort to discourage subscribers from defecting to online video streaming services. In the past decade, the cable TV industry has lost about 10 million subscribers, down from 66.9 million in 2001 to 56.4 million last year, according to market research firm SNL Kagan.
Comcast did not reveal pricing for the new set-top box. The X1 entertainment platform is currently available in only 12 U.S. markets, but it's not clear whether new markets will be added when X2 launches later this year.