Xfinity Setup

I got my Comcast Xfinity cable TV service a couple of weeks ago. The TV package is pretty stripped down, but includes maybe 10 decent cable channels plus broadcast. With Dish I had a DVR and had added an external 2 terabyte hard drive to store more recordings, so I wanted to do the same with the new box if possible. But first, there were some interface challenges with Comcast. Dish had a pretty good interface. You could set up custom channel lists, so that when you went to the program guide, you would see only the channels you wanted and as you changed channels up and down, it stayed within that list until you changed to a different list. Xfinity doesn’t seem to have that, but you can get to a list of favorites with a couple of clicks, just not as convenient as just one click. Also it isn’t as easy to scroll through channels in the guide since it stops at an ad every 4 channels. Since I don’t get 95% of the channels, why would they have the guide force me to scroll through all of those? Even if I use channel up and down, I have to go through all of the channels. It’s a terrible interface.

But the biggest complaint was that during playback of recorded shows, it was horrible trying to skip commercials. The Dish remote had a button that would skip 30 seconds ahead and make quick work of commercials, even if there were 10 of them (which sometimes there are). On my programmable remote I actually wore out that button. Eventually I started using Dish’s remote which was set up to control the TV, DVD player, and home theater. So I wasn’t using my JP1 remote anymore and in fact, couldn’t hook it up to my computer anyway since the cable connected to a parallel port and my current computers don’t have that. Meanwhile, the new Xfinity remote could control the TV volume and power, but that was it. And there was no 30-second skip. You could fast forward over a commercial, but by clicking fast forward once, the speed was barely faster than normal speed. If you click fast forward again, it goes blindingly fast and you overrun the commercials, then have to back up, and it’s just terrible. I thought maybe there was a way to set things up to enable commercial skipping and quickly found instructions for how to enable a hidden 30-second skip on the remote. But my remote would only do a commercial skip if it was controlling a newer X1 box instead of the older Motorola box I have. But the old silver remote that those boxes originally came with could also do a commercial skip. It could be programmed into the remote by holding Setup and pressing a 4-digit code. That sounds familiar, kind of like my JP1 remote. In fact, the silver Comcast remote is a JP1 remote! It has the the six pin connector in the battery compartment and everything, though I don’t think it can learn from another remote. And it could control two other devices, making it a little more like the Dish remote (though it could do three other devices).

So I needed one of those remotes. I think you can ask for one from Comcast (and they will ship one to you for a fee), but I found one for $1 on Amazon plus $6 shipping, so I just did that and got it yesterday. The first thing I did was program that commercial skip in there and it worked great! Then I tried to enter the 4-digit code for my Sony TV and was getting nowhere. I found some help that told me how to reset the remote to Xfinity settings and then really reset the remote to factory settings. After a long time I figured out there were two different Xfinity silver remotes made, one with a gray OK button and one with a red one. I got the red one, which requires 5-digit codes, but the last 4 digits are the same and the first digit is 0 for cable, 1 for TV, and 2 for Aux. So eventually I got that figured out and the TV and DVD player can be controlled, but only after clearing out the memory of the remote, including the cable box setting. So I had to find the code for the Motorola box, which is 1376, or 01376. Now it is pretty much perfect.

I don’t have the hard drive hooked up yet. The Motorola box uses a eSATA port and my hard drive is USB. Rather than try to find an external eSATA hard drive, I was able to find a hard drive enclosure for $26 that has an eSATA port and then I paid $5 for an eSATA cable, which is on the way. I should be able to get the hard drive out of the external USB hard drive enclosure and put it in the new enclosure. Meanwhile after only a couple of weeks, the internal hard drive is already 25% full.

So I’m out about $40 so far that I wasn’t planning on spending, but I should have a pretty good setup at least for the next year.

6 thoughts on “Xfinity Setup

  1. Got the hard drive enclosure. It looks neat, but is not well thought out. You slide the drive down over the SATA connections inside, but there is nothing to hold the hard drive in place. I was able to get the hard drive out of my old USB enclosure and put it in this one, but it didn’t work. I think it wasn’t seated correctly. So while I was fiddling with trying to get it seated in there correctly, the edge of the hard drive slid over the circuit board and sheared a capacitor off of the circuit board. Now the enclosure won’t power up at all, so I am sending it back, I guess for another one, because there aren’t many eSATA enclosures out there.

  2. I sent the enclosure I broke back and got a refund as soon as I dropped it off at the UPS store. Then I bought another one, saving a few dollars by getting one used from an Amazon third party seller with no history. After the expected arrival date passed without it showing up, I checked up the seller and they now had 0% positive reviews from 12 sellers saying they gave a bogus tracking number, item never arrived, and they don’t answer emails. So I used the online tools to ask for a refund, then after three days without a response from the seller, Amazon let me ask for my money back from Amazon, which I got immediately since I used a gift card balance (would have been a couple of weeks otherwise).

    Because Amazon charges shipping, I went to eBay and ordered another one for the same price but free shipping which arrived yesterday. I got the hard drive installed and hooked it up. The cable box asked if I wanted to format it and then immediately said it was ready to use, but the percent full only dropped from 66% to 50% and it should be like 15%. So I don’t know if it was formatted to 2 TB like it should have been, but we’ll see.

  3. Figured out the mystery of the missing hard drive capacity. By mistake I put a 160 GB hard drive from my old desktop computer in the enclosure instead of the 2,000 GB hard drive I was using with Dish. So I swapped the hard drives out and now the percent full is only 16%, which is right about what I guessed it should be. With Dish, I had to transfer shows to the external drive and then access the external drive separately from the internal one. Xfinity is much better and the new capacity is added in seamlessly. I don’t even know which shows are on the external drive and which are on the external. Also, Xfinity puts shows in folders (all episodes of a show go in a folder which it creates automatically) which makes it easier than with Dish which just had a long list of shows to scroll through one by one.

  4. Do you have an external eSATA drive connected to your Xfinity X1 DVR? I’ve tried everything and can’t get the X1 DVR to recognize the drive. The drive I have is a Fantom G-Force USB 3.0 / eSATA 2TB drive from Amazon. Thx!

  5. After a couple of weeks with the hard drive recording shows, I was having some trouble with the internet and unplugged the modem and router. I don’t think I reset them other than that, but the Xfinity box reformatted the hard drive and I lost all of the recordings I had, which wasn’t that many. I have been careful not to mess with the modem any further, but have had some power outages and it has never reset the hard drive again. I would lose a lot more shows if it reset now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *