Xfinity Flex Review: Comcast’s Free Streaming Device

Xfinity Flex Review

What is Xfinity Flex?

Xfinity Flex is a streaming TV device provided free of charge for XFINITY internet-only customers. It streams TV shows and movies-on-demand, as well as some live content. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video streaming customers can access their subscriptions on their TVs through this Comcast device.

It also allows Xfinity customers to use their TVs to control other Xfinity services such as parental controls for the Internet and home security (if they are using Xfinity Home).

How can I get Xfinity Flex?

You must be an Internet Xfinity subscriber to access Xfinity Flex. This device is not available on the open market and is not compatible with any internet service other than Comcast.

Contact Xfinity or log into your Xfinity account to request a Flex device for your account.

Why is it free?

Presumably, Xfinity offers Flex as a way to keep you out of competing streaming devices like the Roku or Amazon Fire. And in the process, Comcast keeps customers in its content ecosystem, so you’ll be more inclined to rent movies, subscribe to HBO, or even opt for additional Xfinity services like cable TV or home security.

It’s also a great way to promote NBCUniversal-related content like the new Peacock streaming network.

What’s preinstalled on the device? 

The good news is that many of the popular streaming features are already loaded onto the device. When you turn on your Flex device, you immediately have access to the following:

  1. Peacock (free access)
  2. Pluto TV (free access)
  3. HBO (subscription required)
  4. Netflix (subscription required)
  5. Amazon Prime Video (subscription required)
  6. Hulu (subscription required)
  7. CBS All-Access (subscription required)
  8. Xumo (free access)
  9. TV tubes (free access)

You can also stream music with Flex using popular services like Pandora, iHeart Radio, YouTube, and Amazon Music.

The bad news is, you’re out of luck if you prefer a streaming service that hasn’t been pre-loaded on your Flex device. Xfinity keeps the ecosystem locked down for its partner streaming apps: you can’t download a third-party service like in a more customizable app. So, for example, you won’t be able to watch YouTube TV or Sling TV.

3 Things about Device

1 It was very easy to set up

The Xfinity Flex setup process was painless. The assembly took me less than two minutes.

There are only four items in the box:

Xfinity Flex Unbox
Only four items are in the box
  1. Flexible receiver
  2. Remote control by voice commands
  3. Charger
  4. HDMI cord

Setup is Easy

  1. Connect the power adapter to the back of the Flex receiver.
  2. Connect the HDMI cable to the back of the Flex receiver.
  3. Plug the power adapter into a nearby outlet.
  4. Connect the HDMI cable to your TV.
  5. Turn on the Flex receiver using the remote control.

Since the device is already paired with your Xfinity Internet account, Flex automatically connects to your Xfinity Wi-Fi home network. This significantly reduces setup time.

2 Peacock is included in the price.

This can be the main benefit of Flex. NBCUniversal, which is also owned by Xfinity parent company Comcast. It offers a live and on-demand streaming video subscription service called Peacock. It will be available to customers with any streaming device starting July 2020, but it will be free for Xfinity customers who use a Flex device. The regular price for the Peacock subscription tier is $ 4.99 per month.

3 Flex fulfills many functions when connected to the Xfinity ecosystem

Xfinity customers will find that you can do more with Flex than just broadcast TV.

Xfinity Flex Functions
Flex fulfills many functions when connected to the Xfinity ecosystem

If you rent the XFi Xfinity as a router and Wi-Fi device, you can personalize your Wi-Fi network with the Flex Remote. It gives you access to information such as how much data you’ve used, what time of day you use the Internet most often, as well as an analysis of usage on each device that you can track and restrict using parental controls.

Xfinity subscribers who pay for home security through Xfinity Home can use Flex to control and monitor settings through their TVs. And with the remote control using voice commands, you can invoke these functions relatively easily.

You can also access your local weather forecast and featured news from the Xfinity Flex menu screen.

3 things about Xfinity Flex that were pretty lousy

1 It lacks the most popular streaming apps.

While Xfinity Flex allows you to sign in to some of the major streaming subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu, it does not allow third party streaming TV subscriptions.

2 You cannot add any additional video streaming services

At the time of this writing, there was no way to access these streaming services through Xfinity Flex. Compared to a Roku device or Amazon Fire TV, this is a major drawback. Both of them allow you to add apps for many of the most popular streaming services.

3 The remote is a little awkward

Xfinity Flex Remote
Take a look. Left to right: Roku Premiere, Amazon Fire TV Stick, TiVo Stream 4K, and Xfinity Flex remote.

As you can see, the size difference is noticeable. The Flex remote is much closer in appearance to a traditional cable or satellite TV remote.

The functionality is probably also closer to the classic “box receiver” remote control. While there are some minor differences, the Xfinity Flex remote feels and functions a lot like the remote you get with the Xfinity X1 cable TV service.

Bottom line

If you’re already an Internet-only Xfinity subscriber, it’s worth giving Flex a try as there is no financial commitment. You may find that you like it. And you may find that free access to the Peacock subscription tier is worth keeping Flex on one of your TVs.

For most streaming consumers, this won’t work if you want to replace your Roku, Amazon Fire, or Apple streaming product.

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