Comcast is rolling out its HDR-ready Xi5 set-top box on July 4th

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Comcast is rolling out its HDR-ready Xi5 set-top box before it rolls out 4K
Digital Trends By Kristofer Wouk
May 19, 2016 11:37 AM

Comcast is rolling out its HDR-ready Xi5 set-top box before it rolls out 4K

Comcast plans to launch its HDR-ready Xi5 set-top box on July 4, just in time for NBCUniversal's coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will feature some content airing in HDR.

With more and more TVs being sold that feature support for HDR (High Dynamic Range), which offers increased contrast and better color, there is a clear need for more content in that format. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon offer a handful of titles supporting the new technology, and now Comcast is preparing to release a set-top box that will allow customers to watch the 2016 Summer Olympics — or at least part of them — in HDR.

Comcast plans to ship its first HDR-ready box, the Xi5, on July 4, company executive vice president and chief technology officer Tom Werner told Multichannel News at the Internet & Television Expo (INTX). This means the box will be released just in time for the Rio Olympics, for which NBCUniversal will produce some HDR coverage.

Comcast will also showcase some additional HDR content during the games to give customers and idea of what to expect from the box. While customers may own HDR TVs, they may not know just how much they’re capable of. Werner says he personally is more excited about HDR than 4K, saying that upconverted 1080p content looks fine on its own, but HDR makes it “noticeably better.”

The Xi5 is the latest box Comcast is rolling out to customers of its X1 platform, and the first model to support HDR. Another model, the Xi6, is also in the works, offering 4K in addition to HDR support, but it’s telling that Comcast is shipping HDR earlier than 4K.

Related: Looking forward to Starz shows in HDR? Better look online first

Comcast isn’t the only company talking about its HDR plans at INTX. Ray Milius, Starz executive vice president of programming and operations, said that the company is pursuing HDR, but will likely debut the technology on its over-the-top (OTT) services. The company doesn’t have an exact timeline for when HDR will arrive, and it isn’t yet clear if HDR will appear before or after mass-market 4K from the company, but it certainly seems to be gaining momentum.

By Stephanie Topacio Long — April 20, 2016

Leasing a set-top box has long seemed like a necessary evil for cable subscribers, but an announcement from Comcast today indicates that the practice may be on the way to becoming a relic of the past. The cable conglomerate will bring its Xfinity app to Roku devices and Samsung TVs as part of its new Xfinity TV Partner Program, and it plans to work with additional manufacturers moving forward.

If you’re an Xfinity subscriber, this will mark a big change. Using a Roku device or Samsung smart TV, you’ll be able to take advantage of your Xfinity TV cable service without the additional (and arguably unnecessary) costs of renting a Comcast set-top box. What’s more, you’ll still get the Xfinity TV guide, live and on demand programming, and, perhaps most important, cloud DVR recording.

With the FCC working to give cable subscribers more alternatives to costly cable boxes, it has been evident that a push for change has been coming. Comcast, however, seems to be looking to adapt on its own terms. In the company’s announcement, Mark Hess, Comcast Cable’s senior vice president of business and industry affairs, made sure to make a case against the FCC’s proposal, calling it “far-reaching” and “unnecessary.”

“The FCC’s proposed set-top box mandate threatens to undermine this highly-dynamic marketplace, create substantial costs and consumer harms, and will take years to develop — only to be likely outdated by the time it reaches the marketplace — all in an effort to achieve what apps are already delivering for consumers,” said Hess.

The Xfinity TV Partner Program will leverage the open HTML5 standard, allowing consumer electronics companies to implement the app. “We are providing a common framework to make it easy for TV and other device manufacturers to bring our Xfinity TV Partner App to customers on their devices,” said Hess.

The FCC, however, seems less convinced that this is a perfect solution. “While we do not know all of the details of this announcement, it appears to offer only a proprietary, Comcast-controlled user interface and seems to allow only Comcast content on different devices, rather than allowing those devices to integrate or search across Comcast content as well as other content consumers subscribe to,” said the FCC in a statement.

The discussion won’t end with today’s announcement of the new Comcast program, but in the meantime, at least, it seems to bring us a step closer to a future without the need for cable boxes.


Offline DCI forum

Comcast is rolling out its HDR-ready Xi5 set-top box on July 4th
Re: Comcast is rolling out its HDR-ready Xi5 set-top box on July 4th
« Reply #1 on: Mon June 06, 2016, 03:54:57 AM »
Comcast’s 4K/HDR Plans Are Getting `Whacky’
June 1st, 2016 · No Comments · 2160p, 4K Flat Panel, Cable TV, Connected TVs, Digital Media Receivers, DVR, HDMI, HDR, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, Test Equipment, UHD (4K) Media Players, UHDTV, Wireless HD


Trying to get a handle on what’s going on with Comcast’s plans to launch 4K Ultra HD video and high dynamic range (HDR) content as part of its regular TV service offerings is a bit like playing a game of Whack-A-Mole.

Executives with the giant Cable Multi System Operator (MSO) have made repeated statements about plans for 4K Ultra HD supporting set-top boxes, like the Xi4, which was due last year, and was to offer supporting movie streaming like the service it currently provides through a streaming app on certain Samsung 4K Ultra HDTVs. But the Xi4 has yet to appear.

The Xi4 was to have been followed by the Xi5 (pictured at top), which is a wirelessly connected client for the company’s XB6 multi-service gigabit wireless gateway that will also support the MSO’s Xfinity Home service, according to a report by Multichannel News. At the recent INTX Show in Boston came word from Comcast executives that the Xi5 is now slated to arrive on July 4, 2016.

But the device apparently will launch with HDR-supporting programming either without or before supporting 4K Ultra HD resolution. Comcast has said very little officially on its plan.

At initial launch, the Xi5 will be available in limited markets with plans to roll out more broadly in the coming months.

Read more on Comcast’s changing 4k/HDR plans after the jump:

According to reports, a sample range of content is planned to give customers better insight into the new benefits HDR has to offer images, including a wider range of contrast from nearly perfect black to bright whites. So far, no one has offered HDR content with programming below 4K Ultra HD resolution, although it is certainly possible.

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According to  Multichannel News, Comcast sees greater value in HDR than in 4K Ultra HD alone, although 4K UHD is still in the company’s delivery plan.

Eventually, Comcast plans to launch its ultimate set-top box solution called the Xi6, which will bring the best of 4K Ultra HD and HDR together through the cable service. The original target introduction date of the Xi6 was reportedly to have been before the Summer Olympics, but the plan has now changed to next year.

NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast, will be televising Olympic coverage this year, and plans have been announced to record some portion of the games, including the opening ceremonies, in 4K Ultra HD with HDR. Understandably, being one of the first multichannel video service providers to carry 4K Ultra HD/HDR coverage of the event would have been a significant opportunity for Comcast and the new technology and the 4K UHD industry.

According to Multichannel News, the company has said it plans 4K Ultra HD tests of the event for a couple of hours a day, including the opening ceremonies, and will also be shooting it in HDR with Dolby Atmos sound.

Get your mallets ready, it looks like Whack-A-Mole will be a new Olympic sport.

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