Thank you, that was helpful.
What I believe you are saying is that AFD information is being ignored by our X1 boxes on SD channels which are not local.
AFD for the ATSC DTV transition
A concerted effort on the part of US broadcasters to broadcast AFD began in 2008 in preparation for the US DTV transition which occurred on June 12, 2009.
After the DTV transition, 4:3 versions of programming are not available directly from a large percentage of US broadcasters. Cable and satellite providers down-convert 16:9 HD feeds from these broadcasters to generate the 4:3 SD versions for their SD viewers. The most common forms of down-conversion are letterbox or center-cut (cropping off the left and right sides of the 16:9 image to fit into the 4:3 raster).
Some US broadcasters transmit AFD with their HD DTV signals in order to maintain control over how SD viewers will receive their programming. With AFD included in these signals, cable and satellite providers are able to dynamically control whether HD content is to be either letterbox or center-cut for their SD viewers. However, there are cases where pay-TV providers completely disregard AFD instructions and for instance, present a 4:3 picture with widescreen elements cut off to assuage user complaints about letterboxing, on standard 4:3 sets (for instance for a secondary-market station available only in standard definition on a provider on the claim that an HD signal exists for the provider's 'primary' station for a network), to the displeasure of broadcasters.
Without AFD, either a fixed letterbox or center-cut will be required on a station-by-station basis. A fixed letterbox will result in an undesirable windowbox (i.e., a combination of letterbox and pillarbox, also called "postage stamp") effect on SD originated programming. A fixed center-cut will result in loss of important picture content on certain HD content (e.g., an HD sports broadcast containing score graphics formatted for 16:9 display).
This is a guide for broadcasters and providers, how to fix the problem. https://www.nab.org/documents/resources/slidesMiller.pdf
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It may seem like a small group because every time we report it we get **** like you with no hands on knowledge assuming the problem is something else and dissmissing it as user error. That is unacceptable. RickGr4 please do not reply to this thread again, you are not helpful.
I did hire audio/video professionals many times, Comcast technicians. They have confirmed multiple times, after being in my home for hours, contacting supervisors and peers, that the problem is NOT a TV configuration issue. For what its worth, I was a Best Buy repair technician for 5 years prior to Herf college of engineering for engineering technology degree. I have actually written image scaling firmware in the past. If none of us could get it to work with the equipment in our hands, what makes you qualified to presume you know better?
That is rhetorical. I've read your profile, I know you THINK you know what you are talking about, but that illustrates the problem. Repair efforts just stop there and no one actually does anything about it.
In case anyone wonders why this matters to me, I have a young child and a spinal injury that limits the kinds of things I can do with him. Watching TV is one of the things we can do together. He loves watching Disney Junior with me. For me to watch that "postage stamp" in the center of a largely unused screen, knowing it isn't right, it was fine before, having my knowledge of the cause of the problem, but relying on people that don't understand to fix it is frustrating. Watching TV should be relaxing, this is frustrating, bottom line.
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There has finally been some movement on this issue one channel at a time after escalating at Comcast Business technical support. They are aware of this thread, so please post any channels that continue to show black bars on all 4 sides all the time. For example, in the Memphis market channel 200 Disney Junior, which has no HD alternative here, is still shrunken with black bars all 4 sides all the time regardless of the channel displaying 4:3 content or 16:9 content.
To recap, almost 5 months out now, this problem has been reported several ways and escalated several times but remains unresolved.
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As you quoted in your question, they are XG1-A boxes. The TVs are all 16:9 physical format with maximum 1080 60P resolution. I have tried all combinations of resolution available on the cable boxes(480i, 720p, 1080p) and the TVs automatically adjust and indicate they are receiving that selected resolution. Also tried analog connection with same results. No available mode displays SD channels correctly. Black bars on top, bottom, left, and right.
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Every time I get the same unhelpful advice I get more angry at Comcast. I took the time to write a very detailed description of the problem with pictures. The least you could do as a Comcast employee is to read it. If you had read it, you would see that I tried every combination of screen size adjustment and none would fix the problem. The problem is with Comcast equipment. FIX IT!
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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.
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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.
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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
Made with love in Philadelphia
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I am a long time customer of comcast that would have used the B button if I knew what its function was. When I first got this remote, the letter buttons had no function at all. So they silently added functionality, then silently took it away because few used it.
Well, few knew about it. If a button on something you handle every day has no function, why would you ever push it again? See the problem? And now you have reintroduced the problem by giving the button NULL function again, which will poison any research on whatever new function it gets. The only people that will discover the new function are those that stumble upon it(few), unless the feature is promoted in advertising, screensaver announcements, and in guide messages for quite some time.
The current alternate means of achieving similar functionallity fail because they do not satisfy the primary use case. The primary use case, is to immediately respond to programming advertisements without missing the current show. An acceptable alternative for previous B button functionality would be to display a list of the most recently viewed programming advertisements with options for each to set recording, or set reminder. However it must be acompanied by a simultaneous clear view of the current show, because often the person with the remote is not the only viewer. The one with the remote is concerned about catching that new show before they forget about it. The rest of the people in the room are just concerned about not missing a critical moment in the show they are watching. This function would benefit users, network advertisers, and Comcast by being the first to innovate. Please consider it.
The current alternatives, namely; right arrow button and background darkness level fail for these reasons.
Right arrow button, displays clear program view, but does not allow finding future programs which is the primary purpose of the guide, planning future viewing.
Background darkness level allows finding future programs, but does not offer a clear program view. It could be satisfactory if the darkness level could be adjusted down to 0(transparent) so that a person could actually see the program behind the text of the guide. Humans have a remarkable ability to interpret text with several obscured letters, which would occasionally happen with transparent guide background. But that is preferable to missing critical plot points in the current show. Two or three additional levels between current 1 and '0' would be useful, while a few levels between current 11(opaque) and 1 would not be missed. While the entire screen picture provided by this solution would be preferred by many, others prefer a completely unobstructed view of the current show regardless of display size.
I see no downside to implementing both the improved background darkness levels and the above described auto programming search as a replacement for either former B button functionality or the right arrow mini guide which is practically useless.
The mini guide suffers as channel lineup grows: where the programming you want to see is very unlikely to be numerically close to your current channel number.
I put quite a bit of effort into these comments, so I would appreciate any feedback from fellow customers, or Comcast execs that might see this.
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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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