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post #12091 of 12103 Old 10-18-2015, 08:34 AM
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They've had 1080p stuff in VOD for a long time now.
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post #12092 of 12103 Old 10-18-2015, 09:42 PM
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Comcast HD changing to MPEG-4 compression

In case this has escaped one's notice, Comcast is currently in the process of changing the compression method for HD channels from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4. They are doing it in several regions at a time.

The potential advantages of MPEG-4 over MPEG-2 are:
  • Improved picture quality. (That is what Comcast is claiming, though it depends on just how much over-compression they do.)
  • A recording on the DVR will take less space. I have seen numbers like being able to store 2 to 3 times the amount of HD content (so if one could record up to 60 hours of HD content, if the channels have been changed to MPEG-4, it would be 120 to 180 hours of HD content).
  • It frees up cable bandwidth for DOCSIS 3.1 and much faster Internet speeds. (Comcast isn't outright advertising this one to the TV customers, but it is being mentioned in other places.)
  • It gives marketers a new buzzword. In this case, redeploying an HD channel with MPEG-4 is what Comcast advertising is calling "HD Enhanced", and what I am calling "the HD picture quality we should have been getting".

The disadvantages of going to MPEG-4 for HD are:
  • Old CPE (customer premises equipment, i.e., Comcast boxes in our homes and businesses) may have to be replaced if those CPEs don't decompress MPEG-4.
  • Incompatible customer equipment (such as some models of Tivo and other DVRs) may have to be upgraded or replaced.

Comcast is converting a few regions at a time. This is a list of areas that have already started the transition (courtesy of https://support.tivo.com/articles/Fe...Select-Markets):
Quote:
California

  • Central, CA
  • Fresno, CA
  • Sacramento, CA
Georgia

  • Augusta, GA
  • Atlanta, GA
Illinois

  • Champaign, IL
  • Chicago, IL
  • Springfield, IL
Indiana

  • South Bend, IN
Oregon

  • Portland, OR
Tennessee

  • Nashville, TN
Only HD channels are being moved to MPEG-4; the SD channels will continue on MPEG-2. If you do not have HD service (that is, you have SD-only service, or you watch exclusively SD channels), you will not be affected.

Also, I have seen conflicting information on whether local HD channels will remain MPEG-2 or will be recompressed using MPEG-4. (I have seen second-hand reports go both ways, but I haven't yet seen an official Comcast announcement clarifying this.)

There is already a lot of Comcast equipment in people's homes that can already handle MPEG-4: all X1 boxes, all RNG150 and RNG200 boxes, and there may be others. (The RNG* designation is Comcast's relabeling the front of the box, e.g., the HD DVR I have shows "RNG200N" on the faceplate, but the FCC sticker on the bottom identifies it as a Motorola DCX3501.)

This is what should be happening in an area that is currently being upgraded: if Comcast records show that you have an incompatible box, there should be a note in your monthly statement, and you should also receive a separate letter. The letter will also direct you to http://www.xfinity.com/hdenhanced (which appears to be a generic site since you can look at it without being logged in, and the date shown there doesn't seem to be tied to either your region nor to your account, and it doesn't really say anything that isn't already in the letter).

When the box swap is available in your area, channel 1995 should appear in your lineup. (Here in Salem, which is an hour's drive south of Portland, Oregon, channel 1995 is labeled "Enhanced Service Check".) When channel 1995 is active, if you tune each of the Comcast-provided HD box to 1995, it will check that box and either tell you "This set-top box is good to go!" or give you a message that the specific box needs replacing. If it needs replacing, self-install kits can be acquired for free (either by stopping at the Xfinity store or by requesting a box shipment) and the old box should be returned within 30 days. (Having an installer comes out will cost money.) Equipment swaps will be for similar-functioning equipment (e.g., an HD DTA for a MPEG-4-compatible HD DTA, or a HD DVR for a MPEG-4-capable HD DVR) and should not affect your monthly bill.

Note: Channel 1995 works only for Comcast-provided boxes; for third-party boxes (e.g., Tivo), this check won't work (e.g., screen goes blank) and you would have to consult the vendor to see if your box is compatible (e.g., the Tivo article I quoted from, which lists compatible and incompatible Tivo models after the section that lists the regions currently affected).

CableCARDs are compression-agnostic, it is up to the device they are plugged in to handle MPEG-4 compression, such as a Tivo, a CableCARD-ready TV, a tuner card in a PC. Again, Channel 1995 won't work and won't tell you whether or not the specific device is compatible unless the specific device is a Comcast-provided HD box. It wouldn't surprise me if there are some people on this forum who have a CableCARD in their TVs and find out that their TVs don't have the ability to decompress MPEG-4 so they end up having to buy or rent a box to continue watching shows in HD. (I don't think all CableCARD capable TVs also had MPEG-4 decoders.)

If you are in a Comcast area that is not currently switching over to MPEG-4 and channel 1995 is not available in your lineup, the equipment swap will not be available at that time.

Note: if you have a Comcast-rented HD DVR that is incompatible and thus will need a box swap, keep in mind the recordings and schedules in the DVR will not transfer over to the new box. Even if you had supplied an external disk for the DVR, the programs will not play if you connect that disk to another DVR. When my previous RNG200N HD DVR died, I did a mixture of Video-On-Demand, catch re-broadcasts, go to the networks' sites for online viewing of past episodes, and in a few cases there was no choice but to do without. With the equipment swap, at least one can attempt to catch up on at least the shows and movies that aren't available by other means to minimize what one permanently loses with the equipment swap. I have seen the suggestion that one could "play" various shows to a VCR or to a DVD recorder to save them, but my concern would be whether copy protection would be active on the output of the DVR and prevent the VCR or DVD recorder from recording that program.

My expectation is that when Comcast starts moving HD channels from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, it will be a few channels at a time, so those with incompatible equipment might notice a few HD channels becoming incompatible or unavailable, followed a few days or a week later by a few more HD channels unavailable, maybe over the course of 2 to 4 months. And, if one is using Comcast boxes, the channel numbers would probably remain mostly unchanged, even though behind the scenes the HD channels are probably moving from one QAM and subchannel number to another QAM and subchannel number. The cable boxes seem to be good at hiding these messy details, but some equipment might not be so good, e.g., a TV that has a CableCARD and can decode MPEG-4 may have to rescan to find new real channel / subchannel numbers of one's favorite channels, whether or not they maintain the original virtual channel numbers. I don't know how other equipment, such as Tivo, handle these messy details.

My very humble setup:
Spoiler!
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post #12093 of 12103 Old 11-14-2015, 01:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark12547 View Post
In case this has escaped one's notice, Comcast is currently in the process of changing the compression method for HD channels from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4. They are doing it in several regions at a time.

The potential advantages of MPEG-4 over MPEG-2 are:
  • Improved picture quality. (That is what Comcast is claiming, though it depends on just how much over-compression they do.)
  • A recording on the DVR will take less space. I have seen numbers like being able to store 2 to 3 times the amount of HD content (so if one could record up to 60 hours of HD content, if the channels have been changed to MPEG-4, it would be 120 to 180 hours of HD content).
  • It frees up cable bandwidth for DOCSIS 3.1 and much faster Internet speeds. (Comcast isn't outright advertising this one to the TV customers, but it is being mentioned in other places.)
  • It gives marketers a new buzzword. In this case, redeploying an HD channel with MPEG-4 is what Comcast advertising is calling "HD Enhanced", and what I am calling "the HD picture quality we should have been getting".

The disadvantages of going to MPEG-4 for HD are:
  • Old CPE (customer premises equipment, i.e., Comcast boxes in our homes and businesses) may have to be replaced if those CPEs don't decompress MPEG-4.
  • Incompatible customer equipment (such as some models of Tivo and other DVRs) may have to be upgraded or replaced.

Comcast is converting a few regions at a time. This is a list of areas that have already started the transition (courtesy of https://support.tivo.com/articles/Fe...Select-Markets):

Only HD channels are being moved to MPEG-4; the SD channels will continue on MPEG-2. If you do not have HD service (that is, you have SD-only service, or you watch exclusively SD channels), you will not be affected.

Also, I have seen conflicting information on whether local HD channels will remain MPEG-2 or will be recompressed using MPEG-4. (I have seen second-hand reports go both ways, but I haven't yet seen an official Comcast announcement clarifying this.)

There is already a lot of Comcast equipment in people's homes that can already handle MPEG-4: all X1 boxes, all RNG150 and RNG200 boxes, and there may be others. (The RNG* designation is Comcast's relabeling the front of the box, e.g., the HD DVR I have shows "RNG200N" on the faceplate, but the FCC sticker on the bottom identifies it as a Motorola DCX3501.)

This is what should be happening in an area that is currently being upgraded: if Comcast records show that you have an incompatible box, there should be a note in your monthly statement, and you should also receive a separate letter. The letter will also direct you to http://www.xfinity.com/hdenhanced (which appears to be a generic site since you can look at it without being logged in, and the date shown there doesn't seem to be tied to either your region nor to your account, and it doesn't really say anything that isn't already in the letter).

When the box swap is available in your area, channel 1995 should appear in your lineup. (Here in Salem, which is an hour's drive south of Portland, Oregon, channel 1995 is labeled "Enhanced Service Check".) When channel 1995 is active, if you tune each of the Comcast-provided HD box to 1995, it will check that box and either tell you "This set-top box is good to go!" or give you a message that the specific box needs replacing. If it needs replacing, self-install kits can be acquired for free (either by stopping at the Xfinity store or by requesting a box shipment) and the old box should be returned within 30 days. (Having an installer comes out will cost money.) Equipment swaps will be for similar-functioning equipment (e.g., an HD DTA for a MPEG-4-compatible HD DTA, or a HD DVR for a MPEG-4-capable HD DVR) and should not affect your monthly bill.

Note: Channel 1995 works only for Comcast-provided boxes; for third-party boxes (e.g., Tivo), this check won't work (e.g., screen goes blank) and you would have to consult the vendor to see if your box is compatible (e.g., the Tivo article I quoted from, which lists compatible and incompatible Tivo models after the section that lists the regions currently affected).

CableCARDs are compression-agnostic, it is up to the device they are plugged in to handle MPEG-4 compression, such as a Tivo, a CableCARD-ready TV, a tuner card in a PC. Again, Channel 1995 won't work and won't tell you whether or not the specific device is compatible unless the specific device is a Comcast-provided HD box. It wouldn't surprise me if there are some people on this forum who have a CableCARD in their TVs and find out that their TVs don't have the ability to decompress MPEG-4 so they end up having to buy or rent a box to continue watching shows in HD. (I don't think all CableCARD capable TVs also had MPEG-4 decoders.)

If you are in a Comcast area that is not currently switching over to MPEG-4 and channel 1995 is not available in your lineup, the equipment swap will not be available at that time.

Note: if you have a Comcast-rented HD DVR that is incompatible and thus will need a box swap, keep in mind the recordings and schedules in the DVR will not transfer over to the new box. Even if you had supplied an external disk for the DVR, the programs will not play if you connect that disk to another DVR. When my previous RNG200N HD DVR died, I did a mixture of Video-On-Demand, catch re-broadcasts, go to the networks' sites for online viewing of past episodes, and in a few cases there was no choice but to do without. With the equipment swap, at least one can attempt to catch up on at least the shows and movies that aren't available by other means to minimize what one permanently loses with the equipment swap. I have seen the suggestion that one could "play" various shows to a VCR or to a DVD recorder to save them, but my concern would be whether copy protection would be active on the output of the DVR and prevent the VCR or DVD recorder from recording that program.

My expectation is that when Comcast starts moving HD channels from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, it will be a few channels at a time, so those with incompatible equipment might notice a few HD channels becoming incompatible or unavailable, followed a few days or a week later by a few more HD channels unavailable, maybe over the course of 2 to 4 months. And, if one is using Comcast boxes, the channel numbers would probably remain mostly unchanged, even though behind the scenes the HD channels are probably moving from one QAM and subchannel number to another QAM and subchannel number. The cable boxes seem to be good at hiding these messy details, but some equipment might not be so good, e.g., a TV that has a CableCARD and can decode MPEG-4 may have to rescan to find new real channel / subchannel numbers of one's favorite channels, whether or not they maintain the original virtual channel numbers. I don't know how other equipment, such as Tivo, handle these messy details.
You can add Normal, IL to that list. I just got my letter today. As long as my Ceton ETH6 can handle it, I'll actually appreciate the change since it should take up less space per show. Though I'm not sure if the OTA equivalent channels will also switch to MPEG-4?
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post #12094 of 12103 Old 11-17-2015, 06:32 AM
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From a letter to the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority

As part of our ongoing commitment to keep you informed, we want to let you know that Comcast’s right to continue carrying YES Network will expire on November 17, 2015. We have been negotiating with YES Network’s majority owner, 21st Century Fox (“Fox”), but those negotiations have reached an impasse. Upon expiration, Comcast will lose its right to continue carrying YES Network under its existing carriage agreement and will have to remove the channel from our lineup.
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post #12095 of 12103 Unread 07-19-2016, 12:10 PM
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Odd that this specific thread gets so little participation. Time to create a separate forum for cable/sat providers instead of having them buried in what has essentially become a shows discusssion forum.

So my X1 box went out(power surge) and the guy didn't have the power supply with him, so he just swapped out the X1 box with what he said was an updated version. It only had HDMI and no component connections in the back. (sometimes, I like to use the component for my slingbox though these days I am using it very rarely as XFINITY has a go app).

The outages and glitches seem to have ironed out after a frustrating few months during the initial X1 rollout. Still no frame by frame advance which used to be part of the old pre-X1 XFINITY DVRs. That really sucks for sports.

I did notice that Snowpiercer looked better on my netflix streaming compared to ShowtimeHD. Also is it better to watch the on demand version of a movie compared to the live showing on a channel if pic and sound quality was a priority?

The Pandora app works well with the X1 box. Maybe Pandora should have a video version of their music service, otherwise it is not really suitable for use on your cable TV. They need to scrap those music choice channels though. Poor audio and just not useful enough.

ANything about HDR in the future?

I live in atlanta. Google fiber is coming to my area in the near future. I wonder how Google Fiber compares when it comes to delivering top notch pic quality.
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post #12096 of 12103 Unread 07-19-2016, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mantar View Post
Odd that this specific thread gets so little participation. Time to create a separate forum for cable/sat providers instead of having them buried in what has essentially become a shows discusssion forum.

So my X1 box went out(power surge) and the guy didn't have the power supply with him, so he just swapped out the X1 box with what he said was an updated version. It only had HDMI and no component connections in the back. (sometimes, I like to use the component for my slingbox though these days I am using it very rarely as XFINITY has a go app).

The outages and glitches seem to have ironed out after a frustrating few months during the initial X1 rollout. Still no frame by frame advance which used to be part of the old pre-X1 XFINITY DVRs. That really sucks for sports.

I did notice that Snowpiercer looked better on my netflix streaming compared to ShowtimeHD. Also is it better to watch the on demand version of a movie compared to the live showing on a channel if pic and sound quality was a priority?

The Pandora app works well with the X1 box. Maybe Pandora should have a video version of their music service, otherwise it is not really suitable for use on your cable TV. They need to scrap those music choice channels though. Poor audio and just not useful enough.

ANything about HDR in the future?

I live in atlanta. Google fiber is coming to my area in the near future. I wonder how Google Fiber compares when it comes to delivering top notch pic quality.
I think the reason this forum doesn't have any traffic is because there is a Comcast X1 forum.

I do't think Comcast CSR's post in THIS forum.

http://forums.xfinity.com/t5/X1/bd-p/X1

Robert
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post #12097 of 12103 Unread 07-20-2016, 06:45 AM
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Also, they haven't added new HD channels in forever.


There is more activity on DSLReports.

YOU ARE READING AVS FORUM

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post #12098 of 12103 Unread 07-20-2016, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertWy View Post
I think the reason this forum doesn't have any traffic is because there is a Comcast X1 forum.

I do't think Comcast CSR's post in THIS forum.

http://forums.xfinity.com/t5/X1/bd-p/X1
Robert, Under what heading is the "Comcast X1" forum? I can't find it on AVS?

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post #12099 of 12103 Unread 07-20-2016, 07:51 AM
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Robert, Under what heading is the "Comcast X1" forum? I can't find it on AVS?
He's talking about the one he linked, not any forum on AVS.
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post #12100 of 12103 Unread 07-20-2016, 03:43 PM
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Besides the Comcast X1 Forum there is an AVS Forum Xfinity X1 thread here: Official* Xfinity X1 STB Thread
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post #12101 of 12103 Unread 07-21-2016, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mantar View Post
Odd that this specific thread gets so little participation. Time to create a separate forum for cable/sat providers instead of having them buried in what has essentially become a shows discusssion forum.
The title of this forum is HDTV Programming, not satellite/cable/IPTV providers.

You can go here and get similar treatment (i.e., you won't see much activity):
http://www.avsforum.com/forum/45-loc...nfo-reception/

Specifically, this is the thread you want:
Atlanta, GA - Comcast
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post #12102 of 12103 Unread 07-21-2016, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post
The title of this forum is HDTV Programming, not satellite/cable/IPTV providers.

You can go here and get similar treatment (i.e., you won't see much activity):
http://www.avsforum.com/forum/45-loc...nfo-reception/

Specifically, this is the thread you want:
Atlanta, GA - Comcast
I have to wonder why this thread has over 12,000 posts in the HDTV Programming forum....

Bobby 

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post #12103 of 12103 Unread Today, 07:32 AM
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Doesn't change the fact that the forum is what it is and there's been little activity going on in this thread for years now. Go elsewhere for Comcast X1 issues.

Here's another place to start:
https://www.dslreports.com/forum/tvcomcast
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