September 24, 2021
Comcast is upping its hardware play, launching a branded wireless streaming device, the XiOne, and offering TVs running its own software, dubbed XClass in the U.S. The cable giant plans to make XiOne its branded global platform. Comcast describes XiOne as a plug-and-play device with faster processing, more memory and a voice-activated remote. It supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, Wi-Fi 6, 4K UHD and HDR. XiOne boxes are currently available in Italy and Germany to some subscribers of Sky Q, which Comcast owns. Comcast has begun introducing the devices in the U.S. to customers using older boxes.
The XiOne “is part of Comcast’s larger hardware strategy to own ‘input A’ on TV sets for both its Internet and video customers across the globe — and better compete against the likes of Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast,” Variety writes. On a related note, Comcast has been working with Walmart and Hisense on the branded XClass TVs, which could ship as early as this year.
“We’re looking at smart TVs on a global basis, and we’re wondering: Can we bring our tech stack, or certain capabilities in aggregation, to consumers who are relying more and more on smart TVs?” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said at last year’s Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference.
Roku and Fire TV have each deployed their software stacks in partnered TV sets, and Amazon recently released its own line of Fire TVs. Comcast’s 43- and 50-inch XClass TVs will run Comcast’s OS, which is installed on set-top boxes and the Xfinity Flex streaming box. The XClass remote will have shortcut buttons for Netflix, Peacock, Amazon Prime and YouTube, according to The Verge.
Comcast subsidiary Sky TV in the UK “is reportedly planning to launch smart TVs of its own,” though it’s not yet clear which OS those TVs will run. Sky launched an Internet-delivered version of Sky Q in Germany, meaning customers no longer need a cable subscription or satellite reception to receive the service.
The Verge ponders when Sky will make IP available in the UK, noting “Sky is planning a launch event on October 7th, when it’s teasing that ‘something magical is coming.’”