On May 6, 2015, Comcast issued a press release saying it would launch a 4K-enabled set-top later in the year. The company said the box would permit 4K TV owners to watch hundreds of titles in the format, including shows from Syfy and the USA Network, which are owned by Comcast.
“We are committed to providing the highest-quality entertainment experiences across platforms and our next-generation set-top boxes deliver on that promise — providing our customers with (4K) and HDR programming on the biggest screen in the home,” Matt Strauss, Comcast’s executive vice president for video service, stated in the release.
However, Comcast did not launch the 4K box, known as the Xi4, in 2015 or 2016. The cable op later said it would launch a different 4K set-top, known as the Xi5, by July 2016 in time for the Summer Olympics, but it didn’t deliver on that promise, either.
If you’re not confused yet, Comcast said it would introduce yet another 4K box — in 2017. The newest entry would be called the Xi6, following the Xi4 and Xi5 which no one has apparently ever seen outside of an exhibit hall.
But guess what? Comcast didn’t launch the Xi6, either.
So where, oh where, is my Comcast 4K TV? Will Comcast ever offer a set-top that will permit video subscribers to watch shows and movies in the new picture format?
Light Reading yesterday shed some light on the mystery. The web site quotes Joshua Seiden, Comcast’s executive director of its Innovation Labs, as saying the cable operator has been waiting to integrate HDR (High Dynamic Range) into its 4K set-tops.
HDR 4K purports to offer more vivid and realistic colors than standard 4K, but it’s a greater technical challenge to include HDR in set-tops and programs. Consequently, the delay in Comcast’s rollout of 4K set-tops, says Seiden.
“4K for us will always go with HDR,” Seiden recently told an industry conference, according to Light Reading.
He added that Comcast hopes to introduce 4K set-tops with HDR in…2017.
Unless, of course, it doesn’t.
— Phillip Swann