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Comcast’s Xfinity online service gets poor review

In one of the first comprehensive reviews of Comcast’s Fancast Xfinity TV service, the Web site GigaOm has found “significant issues with the authentication process and actual content library.”

To authenticate with the service, GigaOm said viewers have to download and install a client application on their personal computers that phones home to Comcast to confirm the owner is a subscriber and to figure out what content he or she has access to. GigOm said the process should be seamless “but in practice it involves a number of steps that could keep subscribers from being able to use the service.”

After the many hassles of being authorized, the GigaOm reviewer said he spent 45 minutes on the phone with a Comcast customer service rep. The final solution was to clear all cookies, delete all Comcast Access applications, restart the browser and reinstall everything.

Then, each time after it was working, the service made the reviewer do the reinstallation again and again. Once logged on to the service, the review said only a small portion of the 12,000 video programs in the library are premium content.

“The initial iteration of Xfinity seems half-baked, both in terms of content available and user experience — and the authentication process is just plain painful,” GigaOm said. “ A somewhat tech-savvy user … might have the patience to clear cookies and reinstall the plug-in to get the service working every time, but your average user won’t.”