During a recent keynote address, Brian Roberts, Chairman & CEO of Comcast Corporation, delivered a staggering demonstration of mega broadband speed, a new mini-sized cable box, and a slick, super intuitive TV menu interface dubbed X2.
Roberts, while being interviewed by CNBC’s Becky Quick, was asked whether there was a need for Gigabit broadband. Roberts responded, “I hope so!” And with that, kicked off a demo presentation by showing a blazing download of a 4 Gigabyte file of a 4K TV clip. The download bar was moving so quickly and on screen for such a short period of time, it was barely possible to take a picture. He then switched the demo screen to a speed test and revealed the speed he was utilizing to download through the cable network was over 3 Gbps. It was an impressive display to say the least.
After Roberts highlighed the role cable plays as a technology innovator, he discussed how big of a game changer cloud computing will be to home entertainment and TV. He declared the winning companies will be the ones who can integrate across all platforms and all screens. And with that punctuation, shifted to reveal the XI3, an all-new cable device that is four-times faster, three-times smaller, and uses 50 percent less energy than current models. This tiny box takes full advantage of cloud computing – the menu interface, for example, is not locally stored on the box. Among other things, this will allow for faster, better product updates.
Next up was Roberts’ announcement of X2, an all-new user interface focused on personalizing the TV experience. The unquestionably attractive design packed an impressive amount of data on screen while remaining clean and simple. Roberts showed off how multiple menu screens allowed for endless customizable options. Users can create a custom menu just for kids, or for sports fans, or even a menu that shows only new releases.
Roberts then previewed the new On-Demand features of X2. Perhaps most impressive was how new search functions allow users to search by any category or random content permutation (Roberts searched for movies about basketball) and the system not only displays what’s available through Comcast, but what matches the search criteria in web videos. It was a seamless integration of all digital content in one place.
Finally, Roberts dove into the new remote control. Smaller, sleeker, and with fewer buttons, the remote featured a keypad similar to a telephone (with letters corresponding to numbers) allowing the user to search by channel number or title. Most notable was the “Voice” button. Performing similarly to Apple’s “Siri”, the voice control button delivered a hands-free search demonstration without a hiccup. And the voice feature worked two ways. Not only can users speak their selections, but the system offered a feature where it talks back, giving cues and instructions for menu navigation– a feature especially important to users with disabilities.
Beyond the impressive speed stats and clean user interfaces of this next-gen cable TV and broadband demo was an overarching theme of openness. By creating an integrated experience across all platforms on all devices and encouraging a wide range of content types and sources, Roberts was introducing not just the future tech of cable, but also the spirit of cable – open, creative, innovative, and very, very fast.