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slomobile1
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22 Messages

Fri, Aug 18, 2017 9:00 PM

non HD channels shrunken

In early July 2017, apparently our 2 XG1-A boxes received an update because I noticed a new "notifications" menu item.  At that time, the way SD content was displayed changed.  

Most channels below 650 and a few above, had large black borders on all 4 sides.  The picture(in correct aspect ratio) was shrunken to the center ~60% of the screen.  No combination of changing X1 zoom, X1 resolution, TV zoom, TV resolution, TV input type, swapping in a different TV(3 models from 2 different mfrs), swapping X1 box for new, would result in simultaneous display of both the correct aspect ratio and fewer than 4 black borders.  If full zoom was applied, on both TV and X1, the picture would stretch horizontally eliminating the vertical borders but the aspect ratio was now off making everyone look short and fat, plus the guide and all HD channels were stretched off screen.  Phone support couldn't do anything but follow their script and send out an in home tech.  The Tech tried all the same things I did, proper signal levels, verified correct display of HD channels and correct display of a very few SD channels with fullscreen 4:3 content which the box actually output in 480i, which my TVs recognized and scaled properly.  The majority of problem channels without HD in their name were sent to the TV in whatever resolution was selected in the X1 box. That means the black bars were encoded in the content sent to the TV, not created by the TV.  He concurred with my opinion that the content was being broadcast incorrectly.  In the past week the problem has spread to even more channels, including premium channels wich previously had HD versions such as HBO extreme.

 

My working theory is that the original content was widescreen format.  During the update, something went wrong and fullscreen formatted letterbox feeds were broadcast instead of the native widescreen.  This added horizontal bars at a loss of effective picture resolution.  

The content, originally widescreen, now converted to fullscreen letterbox, must now be sent to a widescreen TV, so the new box firmware "fixes" the apparent missmatch by adding pillarbox bars, resulting in 4 black borders and horrible picture quality.  

If that is actually the case, the problem must be widespread.  It cannot just be my house.

 

So the tech could not fix it.  He said call back in a few weeks if it still isn't working.  It got worse, I called, got disconnected 4 times, suffered through the same scripts and same refresh/reset with each operator before they finally scheduled a supervisor visit for Sunday.  So before he comes, I wanted to gather some information and see if we can find a solution now so we can both be with our families on sunday instead of banging our heads against a wall.  Has anyone else experienced this, has anyone found a solution?  The Xfinity troubleshooting flowchart addresses about 4 common problems and doesn't work at all if your issue is "other".  We pay too much for this programming to get a fuzzy 32" picture on a 55" screen.  If we cannot get it fixed soon, our next stop is each one of the networks who's content is being mangled.  Perhaps they can get to the bottom of it.

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Official Employee

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6.7K Messages

4 y ago

Hello @slomobile1. I have not heard any news, or received any notifications from our multiple resources, indicating there is an issue with the broadcast. We have not received a mass of reports about this either. Did the field tech who visited your home try with a different box?

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Official Employee

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6.7K Messages

4 y ago

Wow that is very interesting! Did the technician mention any RF signal issue when he visited? 

 

I have the tools to check the diagnostics of the X1 main box and also the performance of the node/plant in your area. I can take a look at the readings now, if you'll send me a private message with your full name, service address, and account number, so I can access your account. 

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slomobile1

Frequent Visitor

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22 Messages

4 y ago

Yes, he did try a new shrinkwrapped box.  The result was the same.

 

The only thing I can think of that may be unique to my situation is frequent, prolonged(7 years now unresolved), but intermittent noise and signal dropouts on the incoming line.  Instances of noise are distinct from signal level dropouts because when low signal level occurs, the red icon displays on TV and all services(TV, phone, internet up and down) are affected.  The noise only affects upload channels.  Signal level icon remains green, internet speed tests show 160Mb/s down and 0.5Mb/s up, people cannot hear me on the phone, new TV channel freezes after a few secunds, guide is very slow, and most remote functions take severaI seconds or do not respond at all.  I have had electricians, in home techs, and line maintenance techs confirm that the noise is not coming from my home.  The noise was seen on an instrument by a line maintenance tech over a year ago at my pole and several poles upstream from me, but I have no way of knowing what further work was done to the line.

 

That signal noise is the reason I have and pay for 2 seperate DVR units each month.  The noise disrupts the moca connection between DVR and slave box so that watching recorded programs on the slave box is very often impossible.  This way, at least I always have some locally recorded content that is watchable.

slomobile1

Frequent Visitor

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22 Messages

4 y ago

There have been several technician visits, each new tech is convinced that the problem is something else so they often undo each others work.  I do remember one tech that watched his iPad as I attempted to make a phone call and the result he said was a large number of plant faults.  That was about a year ago.  Each technician checks signal levels when they come.  Sometimes the level is too high, sometimes too low.  So we have had several rounds of adding distribution amp to the attic, then a different tech removing it and using splitters to just the 2 active TVs and gateway.  That is how it is now, no active amps in the home.  The newest addition is a new burried drop that cut the ~450ft run from the pole down to about 100ft.  That worked great for about 2 weeks till there was a storm and we are now back to same old dropouts, especially when there is windy weather, or hot weather after a rain.

We have brief 1-2 second power outages(sometimes longer) about weekly, so I have all TVs, phones(except for cordless extension chargers), and Comcast equipment connected to 1500VA online pure sine UPS units from APC.  I have noticed that during these outages, even though all of our equipment stays on, we loose cable tv, internet and phone.  That is the situation those rather expensive devices were supposed to resolve.  I don't know if that is relavent to the problem at hand, but a phone tech once suggested that that was the root of our issues, so I disconnected them for 2 weeks with no change of symptoms.  I just mention it for completeness and wonder if maybe your plant has been affected by the same outages and accompanying spikes.

Edit:  I just recalled that the line tech(again a year ago now) said that he has had a number of problems in the neighborhood on my specific node, but not surrounding areas.  A different tech more recently, but at least a month ago told me vaguely that there are plans to "redo" this whole area sometime in the future.  I've talked to my neighbors and they were also experiencing several intractable problems, but strangely, they are all different from mine, such as variable audio volume, which I do not have.  Last I've heard from them, their problems have been adequately resolved.

Official Employee

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6.7K Messages

4 y ago

Thanks for sending the private message over. I've responded. 

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slomobile1

Frequent Visitor

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22 Messages

4 y ago

Thank you for the diagnostics.  Hopefully we will know soon what is going on.  Here are some example pictures to help describe the problem.  This is the same program "Maze Runner: The Scorch trials" airing at the same time, with the same settings 16:9 1080 60p, zoom: none on channel 1834 CinemaxLA displaying the problem, and 1820 MaxHD displaying properly.  As a control, I watched both channels with the Xfinity stream app and they both looked proper and identical to each other.  Also, on the same TV, selected Restart on the messed up channel so that the same program plays on demand.  It plays in HD and fills the screen properly, so the only issue is with channels currently airing in SD, which makes up the majority of the channel lineup, and many programs that cannot be seen anywhere else.

 HDHDSDSD

Regular Visitor

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3 Messages

4 y ago

I started to experience the exact same issue this week on Cape Cod. Tv is fine on hd channels but the X1 DVR and remote box shrink the sd channels. I have made no changes. All worked fine for several years prior. Any thoughts or help would be appreciated. 

slomobile1

Frequent Visitor

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22 Messages

4 y ago

It is not a TV settings issue.  The TV settings have not changed, but the X1 software has, and this new behavior showed up at the same time.  I watch SD channels because I paid for them.  I paid for them because Comcast forces us to do so as a prerequisite to paying for the HD channels.  As a matter of principle I refuse to be ripped off.  But that is getting harder to do when the "Gold Problem Solver" solution is to just accept it.

slomobile1

Frequent Visitor

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22 Messages

4 y ago

Thank you Pauld99648 for confirming that this issue exists in multiple markets.  I visited Cape Cod for a conference a couple years ago.  You have a beautiful community there.  My experience is the same as yours, worked fine for several years but changed recently.  

 

The tech that came today is not a supervisor.  He is the same guy as the last 2 visits.  A very good guy, but not someone with any pull.  He could not resolve it or think of anyone within Comcast that he could refer the issue to for resolution.  He confirmed that SD channels are displayed this way on X1 boxes throughout the Memphis market.  He said again, it is NOT a TV setting problem.  It is a recent development.  As far as he knew, it was not an issue on older, non X1 equipment that have a 4:3 override setting available.  And finally, he was not aware of any plans to do anything about it, nor should I expect that to change.  To manage my expectations, he told me that out of roughly 900 nodes(those black boxes on the feeder lines)in the market, about 600 were "red" and they are not likely to be fixed any time soon.  He could not comment on the situation in other parts of the country.  

 

He said that during his training, he was on a call for the same issue, shrunken SD channels.  The trainer with him on the call told the customer that "that is just the way it is.  All SD programs appear smaller than HD programs."  So this is the new normal?  I do not accept that, but it does explain why complaints aren't being heard.  They are being neutralized at the source, and Comcast has an internal communication problem.  

 

All modern TVs have the ability to scale a SD signal up to fit the screen properly, provided they are actually sent a 480 SD signal.  However, the new behavior of the X1 box appears to be to pad the 480p or 480i signal with enough black border to fill the X1 box output resolution.  This is dumb.  It should just send whatever original network signal is present out to the TV and allow the TV and the user to choose how it should be scaled, stretched, or not.  As the old boxes did.  Instead, the X1 box chooses to mangle the network content.  I believe this was probably an unintended consequence of a recent X1 firmware update.  So, if anyone can reach a comcast engineer, please forward this to them so they can begin to address it. 

 

So it seems the issue in the title of this thread is not related to the other signal problems I am having.  Those are still ongoing and were confirmed as "a significant intermittent fluctuation of Upstream Receive Power reported from all of your devices" by  ComcastJoeTru who suggested "At this point, the best way we can reach a true resolution is to report this issue as chronic and send out a senior field technician to inspect the signal issue."  the tech today confirmed that his notes do describe a chronic issue.  So does anyone know how to get a  "senior field technician" to actually show up?  When I call, all they want to do is walk me through a refresh for the 100th time and whatever the person on the phone promises, the person that shows up never has any authority.  I was only able to speak to a very kind line technician last year because I treed him up his ladder at a roadside pole.

slomobile1

Frequent Visitor

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22 Messages

4 y ago

RickGr4, thanks for checking.  Yes, I am definitely on the correct HDMI input.  The same problem appears using analog RCA jacks and RF modulator.  As I said, the problem cropped up the same time as the X1 software update that introduced the notifications bubble menu option under the Xfinity button.  Perhaps that update has not propagated to your box yet.

FYI, on the About XFINITY TV screen, my box reads;

Release version:                 xappl-XRE.77P5

XRE Server Version: 1.77.05 08/01/2017 16:34

XRE Protocol Version:      2.8.0

Receiver: Native Version: 2.12.0

STB Timestamp:              Sat Aug 5 03:55:03 2017

eCM MAC:                       witheld

STB Version:                   MX011AN_2.12p2s1_PROD_sey

Device ID:                       witheld

Device Name:                 witheld

Environment:                  c5-sd

Made with love in Philadelphia

slomobile1

Frequent Visitor

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22 Messages

4 y ago

My TV briefly displays the input signal format each time it changes.  Prior to this change, selecting a SD channel on the X1 box would display 480p or 480i.  Now, regardless of channel, the signal format doesn't change.  It is always the format selected on the X1 box.  In this case 1920x1080 / 60p into HDMI2 on a Samsung un55d7000lfxza with current firmware made January 2012.  If you can think of any TV setting that would cause the image above, tell me what it is and I will gladly change it.  FYI, SD channels look exactly the same on Sony Bravia, insignia, 2017 model Samsung, and on the TVs at the Comcast store.

Regular Visitor

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3 Messages

4 y ago

Thanks for the response. I can confirm this change occurred the same day the update including the notification software was pushed by Comcast. All hdmi settings are correct. As I mentioned everything was working fine 12 hours previous. I am reluctant to waste time with service calls if I can be doing something else. I will keep you appraised if anything changes. 

slomobile1

Frequent Visitor

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22 Messages

4 y ago

No human from Comcast has contacted me since the tech visit yesterday, but there is at least a sign that someone is working on it.  I was watching channel 1862 TMCXe today in its shrunken form when all of my Comcast services went completely out for an hour.  When they came back, the picture filled the entire screen.  However, it appeared that I was only seeing the upper left portion of the picture.  The picture was about 4 times too big and overflowing my screen, but reasonably clear.  That lasted a bit under 10 minutes, cut out again for 3, then back on the way it started, shrunken.  That has been followed by several brief glitches and screen freezes as if someone were reconnecting cables.

 

I don't know what that was, perhaps a fraction of a 4k signal cropped down to 1080p?  It ain't working, but its something.

Regular Visitor

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3 Messages

4 y ago

Unfortunately ok am starting the dance after a long chat with a rep who went thru the std checklist even though I tried to provide info to preempt the video display drill and the reset the box again etc. Now I am waiting for a future tech visit. Hate to doubt it but will play along. 

ComcastZach

Official Employee

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11.1K Messages

4 y ago

slomobile1 and Pauld99648 -- Does this occur on all of your X1 boxes? 

I am an Official Comcast Employee.
Official Employees are from multiple teams within Comcast: CARE, Product, Leadership. We ask that you post publicly so people with similar questions may benefit from the conversation.
Was your question answered? Mark the post as Best Answer!tick

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