Review of Spectrum’s new Xumo streaming box with Cloud DVR: How to use + cost breakdown

I reported in October that Charter Spectrum had introduced a new device called Xumo, which can replace your existing cable box — including live TV — and also stream programming from platforms such at Netflix, Hulu, Peacock and more.

To use Xumo, you need to be a Spectrum cable TV subscriber and a Spectrum internet customer.

Currently, most Spectrum customers get cable TV access through what’s called a “set top box,” or cable receiver box. Those boxes get you access to all of the Spectrum shows you subscribe to and serve as a DVR hard drive, for those who subscribe to that service.

Which is better?

Spectrum offered me a Xumo unit to test, and I have been using it for the past six weeks or so.

I’ve used the traditional cable boxes with hard drive DVRs for years, in combination with either Roku, Amazon Fire Stick or SmartTV for streaming, so I was curious to see how the Xumo compared.

Here is an account of my experience with the Xumo box, plus some tips for making the switch from set-top box to Xumo, a breakdown of pros and cons, and the cost of Xumo versus the traditional receiver and DVR services.

Setting up Xumo for Spectrum service

I got Xumo in the mail, which is an option for all, to save yourself a trip to the Spectrum store. Right out of the box it was easy to install. The first thing I noticed (and loved) is that it’s very small, so it has a smaller footprint on your TV stand.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • You will need to download the My Spectrum app onto your smartphone, tablet or computer, and be logged in with the app readily available when you start to hook up your Xumo.

  • You will need a TV with an HDMI port in the back (all TVs made in the past 10 or so years have these).

There are instructions in the box which are easy to follow. I plugged it into the back of the TV and into a power source, then turned on the TV and used the remote to select the input option corresponding to the HDMI port. (It may say HDMI on the screen or it might say “stream box,” which is what mine says. For the rest of this article, I’ll refer to this option as “stream box.”)

A remote comes with Xumo, so you’ll follow the instructions on the screen to pair the remote to the Xumo (mine seemed to do this pretty instantly) and connect to your home’s wifi.

After pairing the remote, you just follow the instructions on screen to finish the set up.

Note: After going through the setup process, at first I couldn’t get the TV to recognize the Xumo. I unplugged the Xumo and the TV and plugged them both back in and that fixed it.

The remote for a Spectrum Xumo device, December 2023.
The remote for a Spectrum Xumo device, December 2023.

Xumo: The remote

The Xumo remote is a much more simplified version of the Spectrum cable box remote you might be accustomed to. For instance, you won’t see buttons for “record” or “last channel.”

You’ll use the “wheel” in the center of the remote to navigate the screen, with the center button acting as “enter” and also “play” and “pause.” The back arrow button below the wheel takes you back to a previous screen.

As mentioned above, the remote should automatically pair with your TV and operate the volume controls, as well as turning the TV on and off.

The power button in the top right corner of the remote is supposed to turn on your TV and your Xumo at the same time. The input button is on the upper left corner. This is where you’ll navigate to the “stream box” / HDMI option.

Note: This is the one significant hiccup I’ve had with Xumo: The remote doesn’t always turn on both the TV and Xumo device. Occasionally, both units will appear to be on, but when “stream box” is selected through input, the screen remains blank. When this happens, I try turning it off and on a few times and if that doesn’t work, I unplug my TV and the Xumo and plug them back in. After that, everything will work fine for a couple of weeks. It could be something going on with my TV (a Vizio Smart TV, maybe five years old) because unplugging the TV seems to help.

Charter’s Spectrum cable company introduces XUMO, a new box that replaces your current set-top cable box and gives you access to streaming sites.
Charter’s Spectrum cable company introduces XUMO, a new box that replaces your current set-top cable box and gives you access to streaming sites.

Voice command: The remote also has a voice command option, which I tried a couple of times. It worked well to move around within Xumo — for example I could ask it to open the Spectrum app, or the Peacock app, but while watching a show it couldn’t pause, stop or rewind. Also, when I asked it to “play Monk” it did go to Peacock and start “Monk,” but it started with the first episode of the series, it did not pick up in the episode I had just been watching. You may have to be really specific with it.

Xumo: Watching live TV via Spectrum app

With Xumo, you’re not going to watch live TV through “cable,” you’re going to be watching live through the Spectrum app — which you may already be familiar with if you’ve watched the Spectrum app through your Roku or on an iPad.

So let’s get there.

Once you’re on the Xumo “home” screen — the screen that shows up when you turn your TV on and select “stream box” — you’ll use the navigation wheel on the remote to move around and choose what you’d like to watch.

You’ll see pre-loaded apps for Netflix, Peacock and other streamers (you’ll need accounts and passwords to watch most of those), and you should also see an app for Spectrum.

Click down to select the Spectrum app. (Note: You should automatically be logged into your Spectrum account during setup, but if not, log in.)

On-screen TV guide: Likely, the app will open on the Spectrum News channel. You can press the right side of the navigation wheel on the remote to open an on-screen guide, or TV schedule, and then press up, down, left or right to navigate the schedule.

As with the old cable remote, you can also key in a channel number and go straight to that channel.

Xumo: Record using Cloud DVR

There is a DVR option through Xumo and it uses the cloud, so no more losing everything in your DVR because of a hard drive malfunction or cable box switch.

If you signed up for Cloud DVR (cDVR) service, you can click on a show while browsing the guide and a “record” button should appear. If you’re watching a show live, you can press “up” on the remote’s navigation wheel to make the “record” button appear.

Recorded shows go into My Library, which you should see listed along the top of the Spectrum app screen.

(Note: When you’re in the Xumo Home screen, which is different from the Spectrum App, you might see something called My List. This is where you save favorite shows. If you watch shows from My List, you’re watching On Demand or shows from streaming platforms.)

There are two cDVR options: cDVR and cDVR Plus.

With cDVR Plus, you can record up to 100 shows at once (reminder: it’s two shows at once on a traditional cable box) and recordings are saved for a maximum of one year after recorded.

With cDVR, you can record up to 50 live shows at once and the recordings are saved for a maximum of 90 days.

With both options, you can watch the recordings from anywhere using the Spectrum app (on your iPad, for instance). With the set-top box, you have to watch the shows on that connected TV.

Note: I did have a hiccup using the cDVR service, but it was because it had not been added to my account. I spent about a week thinking I was watching shows on my DVR when I was actually watching shows On Demand (a My Library vs. My List mix-up). If you have trouble finding that “record” button on-screen when watching a show, check with Spectrum to verify that you’re actually signed up for the service.

Xumo: Watch other streaming services

I had been using SmartTV (and before that, Amazon Fire Stick; and before that, Roku) to watch streaming services, but with Xumo, you won’t need those.

Pretty much every app you might want is pre-loaded onto Xumo, and you’ll just need to sign into those apps once.

The sign-in process was easier than I expected. I put off signing in to all my accounts because I figured I’d need to hunt down passwords I had not entered in ages. But that wasn’t my experience. Each app prompted me to aim my smartphone camera at the screen’s QR Code to go to a website. That website opened with an authorization and I was automatically logged in.

Spectrum Xumo cost vs. traditional cable box

The Xumo box itself costs $5 per month or you can buy it outright for $60.

The downside to buying it outright is if the box malfunctions, you’ll have to pay for a new one. If you’re paying by month, broken boxes are replaced by Spectrum.

Currently, for comparison, the Spectrum cable receiver box is $10.99 per month.

Yearly cost: Cable box: $132 vs Xumo: $60

Cloud DVR Pricing aside, it’s just a better service, in every way. But here’s the breakdown with price:


  • Record up to 50 live shows at once

  • Save recordings up to 90 days

  • Cost: $4.99 per month

cDVR Plus

  • Record up to 100 live shows at once

  • Save recordings for up to one year

  • Cost: $9.99 per month

If you’re using the set-top box/cable receiver box, you’re paying $12.99 per month for single DVR service or $19.99 to $39.99 per month for multiple DVR service.

Yearly cost: Cable box DVR: $156-$480 vs. Xumo: $60-$120

Note: Your other cable TV package rates are the same. The costs above are just a comparison of equipment costs and DVR costs.

Bottom line: Set-top box vs. Xumo

After testing the Xumo for six weeks — with the hiccups with the remote and getting Cloud DVR to show up on my account — I eventually trudged down to the Spectrum store and ... turned in my old cable box.

Even with the hiccups I mentioned, Xumo is just a better product and it’s a little cheaper, and cheaper is not something you usually hear when talking about cable, satellite or streaming TV services.

Unfortunately, a quirk with my account, which is a bulk account through my HOA, keeps me from qualifying for the $4.99 Cloud DVR, which I would have opted for over DVR Plus. But honestly, the streaming is so seamlessly integrated into the Xumo system that I can foresee a time when I might just cancel the DVR altogether and use streaming and On Demand.

Is it perfect? No. And I’ve only had it for six weeks or so, so I can’t say how reliable it is. The cable boxes, on the other hand, at least the many, many ones I’ve had the misfortune to lease, have been very problematic. So I’m good taking my chances with Xumo.