Comcast is taking on the likes of Roku and Amazon Fire TV with its own 4K HDR streaming box, though it has some strings attached.
The streaming box, which is part of a new service called Xfinity Flex, provides access to the same apps that Comcast offers on its X1 cable boxes, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Tubi, Pluto TV, and Cheddar. It also supports Comcast’s home automation and security features. The only thing missing is the actual cable service, though Comcast says it’ll soon offer easy upgrades through the streaming box without any additional hardware.
The biggest caveat, of course, is the rental fee, which in less than a year becomes more expensive than buying a Roku Streaming Stick or Amazon Fire TV Stick outright. Also, Xfinity Flex is only available to Comcast’s internet customers, and it doesn’t offer access to competing live TV streaming services such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, or PlayStation Vue. If there’s a redeeming factor here, it’s the inclusion of Xfinity’s unified TV guide and voice remote, which by most accounts are pretty nice. Even nicer, though, would be a device that didn’t require rental fees and didn’t box customers into Comcast’s live TV bundle.