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Xfinity TV Review—Cable without a Contract

Xfinity TV cable offers channel packages without contracts, but they cost a few extra bucks. Find out if it’s worth the price in our Xfinity review.

Our Rating
User Experience
4/5
Value
3/5
DVR
2/5
Monthly Cost
Starting at $49.99

Our Rating

Package Name PriceChannelsDVR Website
Digital Starter$49.99/mo.†140+ channels100 hoursView Package
Digital Preferred$59.99/mo.†220+ channels100 hoursView Package
Digital Premier$104.99/mo.†260+ channels100 hoursView Package
PriceChannelsDVR Website
$49.99/mo.†140+ channels100 hoursView Package
$59.99/mo.†220+ channels100 hoursView Package
$104.99/mo.†260+ channels100 hoursView Package

Eye IconXfinity Review

We love that Xfinity doesn’t require you to enter into a contract, but additional fees and less-than-great customer service are some things you’ll need to deal with.

Pros

  • No-contract options
  • Lots of on-demand titles to enjoy
  • Recorded videos available on the go with your smart device

Cons

  • DVR with only 64 HD hours
  • Expensive DVR and other hidden fees
  • Poor customer service

What is Xfinity?

Xfinity is a cable TV and internet provider. It’s one of the most popular cable providers out there.

As opposed to satellite TV or streaming services, cable depends on where you live. If you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance that Xfinity is your only cable option, and if that’s the case, we’ve got good news and bad news.

Read on to get more details on the pros and cons of Xfinity cable.

Xfinity pricing and packages

ChannelsPremium Channels1-yr. contract price*No-contract price*
Starter140+0 $49.99/mo.†$59.99/mo. See Plans
Preferred220+0 $59.99/mo.†$69.99/mo. See Plans
Premier260+20+ $104.99/mo.†$114.99/mo. See Plans
Date effective 8/27/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Price lasts for the first 12 months
†For the first twelve months with a one-year agreement.

Prices

Because prices and channels can change depending on your service area, the numbers above are the best we can give you. To get more specific information, you’ll need to speak to a (gulp) customer representative.

Don’t worry—you’ll probably get a helpful customer service agent that will lay out every detail of Xfinity’s service in your area. Just don’t be surprised if they try to sell you on it all.

If you compare Xfinity to DISH or DIRECTV service, you’ll pay around $10 less per month with Xfinity for comparable channel packages (assuming you opt for the year contract). Without the year agreement, you’ll pay around the same price you would for a two-year contract with DISH or DIRECTV—at least, before the hidden fees kick in.

Okay, so what will I actually pay for Xfinity?

Even though the base packages seem better than other satellite TV options due to low costs, be aware that hidden fees will add to the monthly bill.

There are DVR and HD fees that combine for an extra $19.95 a month (plus $9.95 for each additional receiver), plus broadcast and regional sports fees that combine for around $13 or $14 a month.

Before you ask, no, those fees are not included in the numbers above. Other cable and satellite services aren’t immune to hidden fees either, but Xfinity’s are on the pricier side.

Packages

You’ve got three Xfinity channel packages to choose from, and we’ll run through each so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Starter channel package—all the essentials

The Xfinity Starter package gets you over 140 channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, TNT, USA, and your local networks. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll miss out on a few extra sports channels like NBA TV, MLB TV, and the SEC Network. But overall, you’ll find most of the channels you want with the Starter package.

At $49.99 a month, this package compares well with other cable and satellite providers (especially before you add in hidden fees).

Preferred package—all the sports channels

With this package, you get everything in the Starter package plus another 80-ish channels on top of that. Xfinity should really think about changing its channel package names to something less vague because extra sports channels make all the difference here.

For an extra $10 a month, you’ll get the ESPNs missing from the Starter package (ESPNU, ESPNews), along with niche sports channels like the NFL Network, MLB TV, and NBA TV. If you’re a sports fan, it’s probably worth the extra $10 to get all that the Preferred package has to offer.

Premier package—all the premium channels

There’s a reason why the Premier package costs about double the package right below it. You’re getting a massive total of 260+ channels. But that’s not even the best part—you get premium channels like STARZ, HBO, and SHOWTIME too.

For this package to merit the price, you have to love all the premium channels. You don’t want to pay for SHOWTIME if all you really care about is watching Westworld and Game of Thrones (you’d be much better off just getting HBO NOW). Make sure you’re committed to the premium channel lifestyle before paying for all of them.

On-demand channels

Xfinity offers tons of on-demand content to binge-watch at your pleasure. Just know that you can’t get on-demand access for channels you don’t have in your subscription package. For example, if you don’t have Nickelodeon (Preferred package or above), you won’t get any of that channel’s shows on demand.

You can also download on-demand shows and movies via the Xfinity Stream app and watch them on the go without spending an ounce of data.

Xfinity channel add-ons

You can add on premium movie channels, sports packages, and international channels to any of the Xfinity packages you subscribe to.

Premium channels

Here are the premium channels and services you can add to your Xfinity account:

  • HBO
  • STARZ
  • SHOWTIME
  • CINEMAX
  • The Movie Channel
  • Netflix

Each subscription is the standard cost you’d pay with any other TV service. Besides Netflix, plan on each being right around the $15 range. That’s a bit expensive, but still. We give credit to Xfinity for allowing you to add on individual channels without having to subscribe to a more expensive channel package.

Sports packages

You know what every channel package needs? More sports channels. Here are some of the sports channels you can add to your subscription:

  • MLB Extra Innings Package
  • NHL Center Ice
  • beIN Sports
  • Golf Channel
  • NFL RedZone
  • ESPN Full Court
  • NBA League Pass

Granted, all of these channels will cost you extra on top of your base subscription, but it’s nice knowing you can have all your add-ons tied to the same account.

Check out the Xfinity add-ons page for more details. You might find yourself feeling a little impressed by all the sports channels and pay-per-view options.

International packages

Xfinity also offers lots of international packages to choose from. Here’s a rundown of all the included languages and global markets:

  • Arabic
  • Brazilian
  • Chinese
  • Filipino
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Israeli
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • South Asia
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese

After scanning through a few international packages, the offers seem to be pretty consistent with every language. For those looking for global channels, Xfinity will probably serve up what you want.

Check out the Xfinity add-ons page to get more details on which channels are included with each international package.

Xfinity equipment and features

Remote control

There are two different types of Xfinity remotes, the XR11 and the XR15, and both are very straightforward to use. Both remotes work with the Xfinity X1 cable box. There are some differences between the two, and you can pick whichever you like better.

Features included with both remotes:

  • Voice control (“turn on Arrested Development”)
  • Backlit keypad (watching movies in the dark is more fun anyway)
  • Aim Anywhere feature (change channels while doing yoga)
  • Regular TV input controls (change inputs, volume, etc.)

Let’s start with then newer XR15 remote. It feels more responsive, but it maintains the simplicity of the XR11. For example, we liked how the new All Power button turned off both the TV and the cable box at the same time. You won’t have a hard time finding the microphone button, located front and center (which made us use it more). Overall, the XR15 is just a sleeker, sexier remote.

But—the XR11 could be a better fit for older TV users because its more pronounced buttons with larger icons and text are easier to see. Of course, if none of that matters to you, just go with the XR15.

If you’re not into either remote, you can always download the Xfinity TV Remote app on your mobile device. You’ll always win the fight for the remote with this handy app.

Playback features and commercial skipping with Xfinity

LiveDVR
PausingYY
RewindingYY
Fast-forwardingNY

Xfinity’s DVR basically turns you into a time wizard. With it, you won’t have to deal with any annoying restrictions to pausing, rewinding, or fast forwarding your content. Well, okay—obviously, you can’t fast-forward live TV just yet. Unless you really are a time wizard?

As for on-demand content, you’ll need to suffer through those like everyone else.

X1 Xfinity DVR

Hours (HD)Automatic commercial skippingSimultaneous recordingsPrice
X1 DVR100 hoursN6$9.95

You get a brand spanking new X1 DVR when you sign up for Xfinity. At first glance, the overall storage isn’t the best we’ve seen, especially compared to powerful systems like DISH’s Hopper 3 that have closer to 500 hours of HD storage. It’s the same story with the simultaneous recordings. Other TV providers can double the amount of simultaneous streams.

So, in the grand scheme of DVR systems, Xfinity’s DVR isn’t the best out there. But the price point at $9.95 a month is definitely on the cheaper end of the spectrum, especially compared to Cox’s $19.99-a-month DVR.

So, you’re not getting the most DVR storage in the world with XFINITY, but you’re not paying a premium for it either.

Connecting multiple TVs to your DVR

Extra DevicePrice
Additional X1 cable box$9.95/mo.

For every TV you want to connect to your cable, you’ll need another X1 cable box.

Yeah, it’s annoying to add on to your monthly bill, but it’s worth it if you have another TV in your house that gets a lot of use. Other satellite and cable providers charge about the same for additional boxes, so you’re not grossly overpaying.

You can order multiple X1 cable boxes when you sign up for a subscription with Xfinity. If you already have a subscription and want to order more, you can chat with Xfinity support.

Xfinity Stream app

With your Xfinity subscription, you can stream on the go—but don’t get your hopes too high. After testing out the Stream app, we were left wanting.

For starters, we couldn’t record shows or watch ABC, CBS, NBC, or FOX unless we were connected to our home Wi-Fi. We get it’s important to prevent mass sharing of an Xfinity subscription, but when it comes at the cost of the user? We’re not a fan of that.

The Xfinity Stream app does have its streaming warts. You’ll miss out on a few channels that aren’t supported with the app, and expect flakey streaming quality.

Despite the occasional issues, it’s pretty cool you can watch TV on the go. If you’re ever stuck in the airport and want to watch something on ESPN, the Xfinity Stream app will have your back.

Not keen on burning through data by streaming live TV? No worries—you can download your DVR recorded content on your home Wi-Fi and catch up on shows in the wild. This is by far our favorite feature of the Xfinity Stream app.

The Xfinity app is free to download on whatever store you get your apps.

Xfinity user experience

If reliability tops your priority list when choosing a TV provider, then you’ll like Xfinity.

Where streaming services rely on your internet connection (which can be dodgy), your cable will work as long as there aren’t any outages. A storm would have to be blowing something fierce to create a cable outage.

Xfinity interface

Good news: You’ll find the navigating the interface is generally straightforward. You can hop from your guide to your DVR smoothly. You even get thumbnail images and details about every show appearing on your guide.

Bad news: The interface felt a tad laggy, especially when quickly scrolling through the guide. Also, the text isn’t the biggest, so be aware of that if reading from a distance challenges you.

Channel guide

As you can see, Xfinity has made a basic, straight-forward channel guide. No, it’s not very exciting, but it’s easy to use and gives you all the information you want. Just don’t be surprised when you’re trying to look for a channel and the system lags for a second.

DVR recordings

The DVR homescreen is basically the opposite of flashy, but it is indeed easy to use. When you navigate to your recordings, you’ll find a simple list organized by date. As you can tell, we’re fans of the Food Network.

Searching for a channel

Don’t feel like scanning through the guide to find something? Neither do we most of the time. Luckily, searching for a channel is really easy. You can just use the search function, and the system will pull up all the related options, whether it be live, on demand, or stored in your DVR recordings.

Once you find what you’re looking for, you’ll get an IMDB-like page that gives you Rotten Tomatoes scores, parental guides, and rental options if the system can’t find the content available in your TV package.

On-demand content

Does the on-demand interface look a little bit familiar? It probably should if you’re a Netflix subscriber.

When you go to the on-demand page, you’ll be greeted with lots of movies and shows (or in this case, Channing Tatum and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) you can watch. You can choose from movies, kids shows, different channels, music, and more.

Get a walkthrough of the Xfinity interface

Want to get a closer look at the interface? Take a look at this video and get a better idea of all the details.

Xfinity customer service

FYI: According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index for 2018, Xfinity received a 57 out of 100 rating for customer satisfaction.1
Compared to other TV providers like DISH (which scored a 67) and U-verse TV (which scored a 70), Xfinity isn’t looking too hot.

Xfinity customer support

During the course of this Xfinity review, we relied on customer support to answer some of our questions. We’ll be honest—it wasn’t great.

Just about every encounter we had with the support team ended with them trying to sell us something. And it was clear that the chat support team was much more of a sales tool than anything else. To be fair, most cable service support is all about selling you, but XFINITY felt a little more obvious.

Here’s a one-act play to give you an idea of what the customer chat service feels like:

HowtoWatch.com: Hi there, can you tell me more about the difference between the XR11 and XR15 remotes?

Xfinity: Sure, I will provide [an] answer for that. You can get either remote when subscribing to the Starter and above package.

HowtoWatch: Cool, but what’s the difference?

Xfinity: You will just need to choose the Starter package or above.

Cue an exhausted sigh, and you get the idea.

If you want to get something done, call Xfinity directly. Yes, you’ll likely get stuck on hold for an extended amount of time, but you’re much more likely to get a direct answer there than online.

Xfinity TV installation

You’ve got two options for Xfinity installation: do it yourself, or have someone else do it. Expect around $60 to have somebody come over and set it up for you.

Or pay $15 for a self-install kit and set it up yourself. We haven’t done it ourselves, but after reading through instructions, it doesn’t seem too difficult.

Our advice—if you’re not bundling your cable with internet, you can probably set it up yourself without too much trouble. It’s really just plugging things in and activating the service. Props to Xfinity for even making videos on self-installation to make the process easier.

Promotions

Promotions are always changing, and many of them depend on bundling your cable TV with your internet, but you can always check out the Xfinity deals page.

Xfinity bundles with TV and internet

Combine both your internet and your cable under the same provider, and you can get a better deal. Beats going with two different providers and paying more. Here’s a look at some of the bundles Xfinity currently offers:

Download speedChannelsPrice*Contract term
Up to 150 Mbps140+$49.99/mo.2 yrs. See Plans
Up to 150 Mbps220+$59.99/mo.2 yrs. See Plans
Up to 150 Mbps260+$104.99/mo.2 yrs. See Plans
*Price may change depending upon where you live

You also have the option to get any of those packages without a contract, but it’ll cost you an extra $10 a month on top of your bill. So, you’ve got to decide between your wallet and your TV freedom.

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Xfinity review summary

Xfinity gives you plenty of options to choose from, whether you want to enter a contract or not. Overall, the service works reliably, and the interface couldn’t be easier to navigate. Those are definitely solid pros in our book.

If Xfinity is Achilles, then the weak DVR would be its heel. Okay, maybe that’s dramatic, but the DVR (and the customer support) definitely sinks our Xfinity ranking by a star or two.

Xfinity review FAQ

Before you sign up for Xfinity, you’ll want all your questions answered. You’re in luck—that’s precisely what we’re here to do.

Can I watch TV on multiple devices simultaneously with Xfinity?

Indeed you can. You can use the Xfinity Stream app and watch live TV on your mobile and tablet devices. To watch Xfinity on extra TVs in your house, you’ll need to order extra cable boxes. They cost around $10 a month on top of your bill.

How much does Xfinity cost per month?

Well, the answer depends on what channel package you choose. Choose a channel package, check out our extra fees section above, and then you’ll get a good idea of what your monthly payment will look like.

What channels are on the basic Xfinity cable?

You get around 10 channels with the basic Xfinity TV package, mostly consisting of your local networks and a few extra channels.

How can I watch Xfinity online?

Xfinity has an app for that. Download the Xfinity Stream app on your smart device, log in with your account credentials, and you can start watching TV online.

Can you use Xfinity credentials to authenticate TV Everywhere apps?

You certainly can. If you have the channel in your subscription, you can access the corresponding app. For example, if you have HBO in your account, you can use HBO Go.

But you should know that you can access third-party apps only for channels you have in your package. For example, if you don’t subscribe to HBO with your DISH account, you can’t use the HBO Go app—but if you do, you can! It works the same with other channels like ESPN, TNT, and Syfy.

Here are the TV Everywhere apps that accept login credentials from Xfinity:

  • WATCH ABC
  • AMC
  • Bravo Now
  • BTN2GO
  • CNBC TV
  • DisneyNOW (includes Disney Junior and Disney XD)
  • E! Now
  • WATCH ESPN
  • FOX NOW
  • FOX Sports GO
  • Freeform GO
  • FX Now (includes FX, FXX, FXM - Fox Movies)
  • IFC
  • NAT GEO TV
  • NBC
  • NBCSN (includes Golf Channel and the Olympic Channel)
  • NCAA March Madness
  • Oxygen Now
  • SHOWTIME Anytime
  • Sundance TV
  • Syfy
  • Telemundo NOW
  • USA Network
  • WE tv

How to watch Netflix on Xfinity

Netflix will come automatically installed on your X1 cable box. All you need to do is navigate to the menu, select Netflix, and enter your account information. You’ll have access to Netflix just like you would on another device.

How to add channels to Xfinity TV

You’ve got two options for adding channels to your Xfinity subscription.

You can either upgrade your channel package to one with more channels or go with the add-ons route. Check out our add-on section above to learn about your different options.

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