Comcast Finally Explains Why There Are there No Comcast 4K HDR Set-top Boxes Yet

by on March 22, 2017

Stephan Jukic – March 22, 2017

Comcast just keeps moving its goalposts forward on the supposed 4K resolution we were supposed to expect from the Company. After years spent teasing consumers with claims of imminent releases of 4K HDR set-top boxes and related developments, the telecoms giant has suddenly made a public about-turn and admitted that it’s deliberately delaying set-top releases until the 4K content landscape becomes clearer. Thus we now have a reason for why supposed 4K boxes like the Xi4, Xi5 and Xi6, which many have been waiting for since way back, never emerged.


In comments made during the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies summit in Denver, Colorado recently, Joshua Seiden, executive director at Comcast Innovation Labs explained that the rapid evolution of 4K ultra HD content in combination with high dynamic range developments has made his company decide to slow down on their upcoming developments and deployments, at least until key technologies are more established.

One example of this is an idea to release set-top boxes with both 4K and HDR display capacity in time for the Summer Olympics in 2016. This plan was then completely shelved in order to let the standards for 10-bit HEVC and others become more concrete.

Then there’s the case of HDR, which is still something of a mess in the world of consumer display and content mastering standards. At this point, some fairly stable standardization has been reached in the form of HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats for content devices, TVs and actual HDR 4K content itself but even between these two HDR formats, the picture is far from set in stone. Now, even newer formats like HLG and the Technicolor HDR standard are entering the picture, with each having its own TV manufacturer supporters and even detractors.

HDR also happens to be quite new but despite emerging seriously on the consumer market in only the last 18 to 20 months, it has grown exponentially in terms of its presence and importance to any decent 4K UHD TV release or ultra HD content production. Thus, in Comcast’s defense on this, waiting for the HDR picture to clarify in the midst of such a meteoric rise in importance hasn’t necessarily been imprudent.

The company does however recognize the crucial importance of HDR and Seiden affirmed this by stating that “4K for us will always go with HDR”.

Comcast's only 4K service so far is the Xfinity UHD movie Sampler for some 4K TVs

Comcast’s only 4K service so far is the Xfinity UHD movie Sampler for some 4K TVs

What Comcast does want to do soon is deploy set-top boxes that feature both 4K and HDR standards of the most widespread and consumer-friendly kind, and it wants to deploy these in conjunction with the 10-bit HEVC 4K video compression standard as well.

All of this sounds great but it also has placed the company far in the back rankings of importance in an industry where 4K content is much more dominated by OTT providers that mostly deliver streaming video options and have made themselves the go-to choices among consumers for serious, interesting 4K HDR entertainment sources.

Given how rapidly sales of 4K TVs and even HDR 4K TVs are exploding, Comcast has more reason than ever before to finish up with the indecisiveness it has shown up to now.

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  • Ed B
    March 23, 2017 at 10:38 am

    4K UHD???
    They can’t even do Full 1080p.
    Most Cable TV broadcasts are either 1080i or 720p.
    Cable TV’s top concern is how to raise your Bill.


  • SS
    March 27, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Even their 1080i and 720p looks compressed and blocky as hell…if cable could even get to the level of over-the-air 1080i I would be happy. HDR? Yeah right.


    • comcast is evil
      April 28, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      very true. its pathetic.


    • Alvin Ham
      June 6, 2017 at 12:21 am

      I love Comcast but I have to admit u are very accurate. I was telling my wife even though Comcast is a bigger company, the picture quality in hd is better with directv. She really didn’t care as long as she can see Steve Harvey. Att bought directv which is all well and good but it’s taking forever for them to get faster internet in my area I was paying close to 120 dollars for 24mbps. so I went with Comcast soley for the internet and got 150mbps for 160. The directv dvr genie is 1 tb the Comcast representative told my the X1 dvr is 500 gig and I can’t add an external hard drive to it. I watch tv a lot and it filled up in two weeks. So if I can get directv satellite tv and Comcast internet and receive a discount I’ll do it but having separate services cost more money so I went with Comcast for their internet that may be the best thing about their company every channel I watch on directv is in hd but some of the premium channels aren’t in hd with Comcast and thats just what I noticed they’re probably more and it may just be the area I’m in but at the end of the day it sucks because if I’m missing certain hd channels I know I won’t have many 4k channels I have a Samsung k series curved 4k tv I saw where I can download the ultra hd sampler and as soon as I downloaded it I knew right away why it’s called an ultra hd sampler it only has 4 shows which is superstore suits power and outlander when I first signed in I watched power and noticed it only has 4 episodes plus I’ve seen every episode of power like 50 times so I turned away and watched superstore and it only has 4 so it’s exactly what it says it is it’s a sampler. It gave me a sample of what’s to come meanwhile Netflix is booming with 4k orange is the new black new season starts Friday. I’m texting too much the moral of the story is if I don’t have as many hd channels as directv I don’t see how I can get as much 4k as directv and directv has a 4k genie right now while I’m stuck with 4 shows to watch Comcast even has movies I can purchase through my x1 box some of those can be 4k I know for a fact Logan can I got the 4k blu ray so Comcast if u see this text get it together before Verizon tries to expand or att brings the gigabit internet to most areas


  • Verne Arase
    January 20, 2018 at 7:28 am

    It’s as laughable as cell providers and Qualcomm making noises about gigabit cell service.

    Until they vastly improve their backhaul bandwidth, what’s available at the distribution point is meaningless.


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