Watch out Roku, Comcast and Charter’s new streaming box is out – and it actually looks good

Xumo streaming box
(Image credit: Comcast / Charter)

It's taken a year to arrive but Xumo, the streaming box from Charter and Comcast, is here – and it looks pretty good. The Xumo Stream Box is a one-box system for Spectrum customers, with Xfinity customers also getting it in the near future. 

The device is powered by Comcast's Entertainment Operating System and according to Charter's wonderfully named Rich DiGeronimo, president of product and technology, it's "streaming simplified, bringing a live TV experience together with all the top apps". The box delivers search across multiple apps as well as recommended content from a range of subscriptions, both paid for and ad-supported.

Like a lot of the best streaming devices, the on-board apps include Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Peacock, Pluto, Prime Video, Tubi, Xumo Play and more, but the first thing you'll see is live TV. 

Xumo: leading with live

The star here as far as Charter and Comcast are concerned is the live TV you're subscribed to, and that's what you'll see first: Spectrum TV, Xfinity Stream or Xumo Play. That TV can be combined in playlists with shows and movies from your apps too, and you can have different Favorite lists for different household members. 

If the interface looks familiar that's because it is: the same Entertainment OS is already in Sky Glass and Sky Stream, from the UK TV service Sky. So we know it works and that it works well: this isn't some shonky proprietary OS cooked up in a back room by people who don't know what they're doing. As we noted in our Sky Glass review, "it's kinda cosy" – we like the interface and the recommendation system, and that's a reason to be excited about Xumo too. It looks a lot like Android TV too, and that's no bad thing: it means you're going to feel at home straight away.

Although this is a Charter / Comcast collaboration, each firm is doing things slightly differently. If you're a new Charter Spectrum video customer you can get a Xumo for free for the first year. Additional boxes are $60 up-front or $5 per month. But Comcast is going to be pushing the box to new internet subscribers rather than TV ones, with a launch in the next couple of months. There will be other devices too, including Xumo TVs. 

From what we've seen so far this all looks very impressive, but of course it's how it performs that really matters: the hardware needs to be powerful enough to run the software smoothly, because if you've ever used an underpowered TV streamer you'll be vividly aware of how frustrating a slow or laggy device can be. Here's hoping the hardware has the necessary horsepower. 

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.