I live in a mystical, mysterious section of the world referred to simply as “Boston” by the townspeople. In this strange land, we have but one option for cable TV – we call it “Comcast” – yet whispers of newfangled fusions of technology and entertainment from the likes of Verizon (“the FiOS”) and AT&T (“the U-verse”) have been relayed to us by outsiders brave enough to visit our homes, temporarily blinded by the bright blue and yellow hues emanating from our old-timey cable box interfaces. I have, for years, assumed that said interface was designed as an end-of-the-year project at one of America’s fine technical schools and gifted to Comcast on a whim.
Yet the years passed by, and still the old-timey, bright yellow and blue interface never changed.
In late 2010, we heard whispers that newfangled fusions of technology and entertainment were being tested by none other than Comcast itself: Xcalibur was its name.
And today, Comcast has officially announced “X1” – formerly known as Xcalibur – a system “using cloud servers on Comcast’s network that allow Comcast to integrate interactive, customized apps and social media features with its traditional video services to create an entirely new television experience,” says the company.
The short version is that it finally looks like an interface you’d expect in 2012. Here’s a peek:
I’m getting a whiff of the latest Google TV interface design, which may have to do with the heavy reliance on blacks and grays, but I’m happy with anything as long as it’s not what we lowly Comcast subscribers have been dealing with for what feels like forever.
The new interface will roll out in Boston “in the coming weeks” but will require “a new hybrid DVR set-top box” and “will be available to new Xfinity Triple Play with HD/DVR service customers at no additional cost.” That seems to indicate that I’ll have to pay for it in one way or another, so here’s to hoping it’s just a marginal increase.
And I’m not going to hold my breath for Comcast to include access to any outside service that could threaten its business model; even though it’ll pack “tailored-for-TV features such as customized social networking and music, radio, sports, traffic and weather apps,” I’m willing to bet there’s not much hope for Netflix, Amazon Video or other services like that.
Comcast also announced “Project Dayview” to corral information from several of its services – TV, Internet and phone – into one interface accessible from your TV, computer, tablet and smartphone. “It surfaces up-to-date alerts, appointments, texts, e-mails, voicemails and DVR data; and even a customer’s Xfinity home alarm system status, lights, thermostat/room temperatures, and security video feed, accessible on any screen,” says Comcast.
Here’s a look:
Project Dayview will being rolling out “later this year,” though a more precise timeframe hasn’t been announced.