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Xfinity TV app comes to Roku boxes in new beta test

Could Comcast kill the cable box?

Using the app is free during the beta trial, but for now the app can only be used if you're also paying for a Comcast set-top box.

Decider's demo of the app earlier today found it to be an able and almost fully functional replacement for the Xfinity X1 set-top box that is used by nearly half of Comcast cable subscribers, and the new app for Roku is consciously created to mimic the X1's user interface and features. Initially, the app will be available on Roku TV models and all Roku players released in the last few years, including the Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Streaming Stick (model 3600), Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, Roku Ultra, Roku 4 (model 4400), Roku 3 (model 4230 and 4200), and Roku 2 (model 4210). In another FAQ answer, Comcast says you'll only be able to use its Roku app if you have "Xfinity Internet service [and] have at least one Comcast-provided TV box".

What else do I need?

If you can see the Xfinity app there, you can download and install it. Xfinity TV for Roku requires firmware version 7.5 or greater. Additional outlet charges are now billed at $7.45 per month, on top of the $9.95 customers pay for the set-top box rental.

Charging a cable box rental fee isn't new territory for Comcast, as they already charge customers $9.95 a month to rent one.

Comcast says it wanted to get the app out into the public so that early adopters can "try it out and give us feedback" and "help us make some final tweaks" before launch. Those charges may also rankle Comcast subscribers who see no practical reason to pay extra for programming on their Roku that doesn't cost extra on the almost identical Xfinity TV smartphone and tablet apps.

Comcast considers this consumption as feeding off its managed network and customers aren't eating into their data caps.

There's also a possibility the bean counters at Comcast will decide the outlet charge should be lower for a Roku box. Comcast has just released an app that lets subscribers ditch that equipment - kind of. Most of the Xfinity features you're used to will be present, but there are a few restrictions while the app is still in beta. What it lacks, however, is the ability to rent or purchase content, and play a customer's previously bought content. In addition to live TV and VOD, viewers can store DVR recordings in the cloud and stream them any time.

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