Comcast mulls selling HDR-capable Xi5 at retail

BOSTON -- As it continues to try to distance itself from the leased set-top business, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is considering making its upcoming Xi5 box available for retail sale, a company rep told FierceCable.

It's unclear if the device would be sold just through Comcast's Xfinity Stores, or if it would be distributed to other retail channels, like say, Best Buy. It's also uncertain what the price point would be.

The Xi5 is a next-generation set-top for Comcast's cloud-based X1 video platform. It's a diminutive IP client device, supporting High Dynamic Range (HDR), but not 4K/UltraHD. It contains no hard drive.

The Xi5, which is currently being tested in Comcast employee homes, is set for wider deployment this summer, in time for Comcast's NBCUniversal division to broadcast the Rio Olympics' Opening Ceremonies in 4K and HDR.

Comcast said the Xi6 — which is capable of both 4K and HDR — will roll out within 12 months of the Xi5's deployment. 

While at the INTX trade show to simultaneously show off native integration of X1 into Roku devices and Samsung smart TVs, Comcast is distancing itself from the leased set-top business, which has been targeted for renewed regulation by the FCC. 

At a Monday INTX press conference, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts made a point of showing off the slim-sized Xi5 chassis, attempting to message the point that while the pay-TV set-top isn't gone, it's presence is shrinking.

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