Whatever happened to Comcast’s Xi4, Xi5 and Xi6 4K UHD set-top boxes?
Stephan Jukic – February 22, 2016
Since May of 2015, Comcast has been promising a new Xi4, then Xi5 and finally new Xi6 set-top box with 4K ultra HD content delivery services via the company’s Xfinity service, and yet to date we have yet to see a single one of these devices hit the market.
Originally, announced via websites like Cnet.com as an impending arrival for “later in 2015”, the Xi4 was supposed to be Comcast’s first 4K ultra HD-capable set-top box with access to new selections of 4K content from the mass media provider. Then in August of 2015, the tune changed yet again and we were promised the release of the same Xi4 set-top box for “later this year” (referring to late 2015)
Then in October of 2015, yet another bit of news appeared in which Comcast was again promising an upcoming launch to the Xi4 4K-capable set-top box –once again set to appear later in 2015—and follow that launch with the release of their also planned Xi6 HDR-capable 4K set-top box in 2016.
The supposed launch of either box was to be accompanied by subsequent access to:
“hundreds of titles to the Xfinity in UHD catalog and library, including films originally produced for IMAX® and other Giant Screen Theaters from K2 Communications and Havoc TV like The Ultimate Wave Tahiti, Antarctica, Rocky Mountain Express, Fighter Pilot and Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia.”
according to Comcast’s own mid to late 2015 press release regarding the Xi4 box in particular.
Then there was also considerable mention of the Xi5 set-top box for 2016, another device with 4K video access to the same content quoted above but also with the inclusion of HDR capacity. The Xi5 has been planned for a 2016 release since May of 2015 but then disappeared from the news in favor of discussion over the Xi4 for later in 2015 and the Xi6 in 2016.
Then, in January of this year, Comcast once again starts talking about their Xi boxes, but now with mention of a spring/summer 2016 release for the Xi5 (with HDR capability) and of a release of the even more advanced Xi6 slated for later in the summer of 2016, in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil.
As for the much earlier announced Xi4, it’s obviously still not here either, certainly never made an appearance in late 2015 and so far, the only news we do have from Comcast itself about the Xi4’s release date is a Twitter reply from the company to a customer inquiry about it in which Comcast states that the “Xi4 is currently in employee trials”, and explains that they will announce when it moves to “wide distribution”.
Bottom line so far though, despite mention of the Xi 4K (and HDR capable) set-top boxes since all the way back in May of 2015, we still haven’t seen even the Xi4 arrive, and now that this first box has been postponed by several months beyond its supposed original release date, all three devices are apparently, improbably slated for release within months or even weeks of each other in 2016!
Given all of this, we’re edging towards a bit of doubt in Comcast’s own promises about larger 4K content selection and their new platforms but maybe we can tentatively hope that we may actually see at least one of the Xi boxes emerge U.S market by mid to late 2016, especially given the current growing competition in the 4K set-top box landscape.
Currently, the only 4K content service on actual offer from Comcast is their rather limited Xfinity in UHD app available only through Samsung 4K ultra HD TVs and with a small selection of content. Xfinity TV subscribers with Samsung’s 4K UHD and SUHD 4K TVs can access the 4K entertainment at “no additional cost” according to Samsung.
We’ll be keeping an eye open for this and release any information we find as soon as it becomes available to us.
Story by 4k.com