December 14, 2010, 11:25 AM — Comcast is testing a new set-top video box code-named Xcalibur that includes DVR capability, robust search capabilities and limited Web access, according to The Wall Street Journal. The new service will let users search for live, on demand and recorded television, offer social networking access, as well as a limited number of online videos. From the sound of it, Comcast is hoping to do what it always does: deliver preselected content to your television with limited user choice.
Although this time, Comcast will try this approach using a Web capable set-top box that appears to emulate features found in Google TV and the recently launched Boxee Box. The most obvious comparison between Google TV and Xcalibur is the robust search functions Comcast's set-top box would have. Google TV also lets users search across a variety of content sources including broadcast television listings, the Web, installed Google TV apps and even DVR recordings on select devices.
But the biggest difference between Google TV and what's been reported about Comcast's Xcalibur is Web access. The Journal says Xcalibur can access a "smattering of Web video" and supports "some basic connections to social networks to comment on television shows." It's not clear what that would mean in practice, but it appears that Comcast will only offer a dumbed-down version of the Internet through Xcalibur. Google TV, by comparison, lets you browse the complete Web, although whether you will be able to find any online content to watch using Google's set-top box is another question entirely.