While 4K UHD TVs have been on shelves for years, content that will actually utilize all those bursting extra pixels has been hard to come by, to say the least. However, subscribers to Comcast’s Xfinity service may soon be able to see some 4K light at the end of the tunnel.
Comcast has announced its highly-anticipated 4K-compatible cable box will be released sometime this year. Titled the Xi4, the set-top box is the latest revision of the X1 platform from Comcast. The device initially popped up on the FCC database back in January. Though the report was heavily redacted, it did state that the box would come without a local hard drive. Instead, all DVR content would be sent to the cloud, something Comcast has been pushing heavily in the past few months.
“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 UHD and HDR programming on the biggest screen in the home,” said Matt Strauss, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Video Service for Comcast Cable, in a press release.
While the Xi4 is an exciting advancement for those who have already bought into the resolution of the future, there are still some roadblocks on the 4K highway.
First of all, even when the Xi4 actually premieres, it may not be readily available to all users in all areas. Comcast’s initial rollout of the X1 platform has been notoriously slow, and the system is still unavailable in some areas.
Secondly, even if you can lockdown an Xi4, broadcast content will take time to before it transitions to the new resolution en masse. You won’t be able to see how far LeBron’s hairline has receded as you watch the NBA Playoffs, for instance. However, Comcast claims users will be able to watch hundreds of Ultra HD programs, ranging from nature films like Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia to select TV shows from USA, SyFy and Starz such as Suits, Defiance and Outlander.
Comcast also announced the forthcoming release of another model in the X1 platform in 2016 that adds support for high dynamic range content, a feature designed to enhance contrast on board newer generation 4K UHD TVs.
Also of note, the new 4K UHD programming won’t cost consumers any more than customers are already paying, as far as service fees are concerned. We’ll update this story when an official launch date is confirmed, so stay tuned.