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Comcast/Xfinity Video Setup

Updated December 8, 2015: Charter subscribers report success with similar hardware and technique

If you subscribe to Comcast/Xfinity cable TV service, chances are you have a set top box from the company connected to your television using an HDMI cable. Too many times I've encountered these boxes in a misconfigured state that negatively affected picture quality. Given how expensive a year's worth of HD cable TV service costs, it's worth spending 5-minutes checking some basic settings in that box's 'hidden' menu.

Note: this information applies to regular Comcast/Xfinity set top boxes and not the newer X1 hardware.

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For this operation, you will need the Comcast/Xfinity remote control and the remote control for your TV. If you haven't already, easily configure your Comcast/Xfinity remote to control your TV and other home theater gear!

Step #1
Turn your TV ON and make sure the Comcast/Xfinity box is OFF.

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Step #2
Press the MENU button on the Comcast/Xfinity remote.

At this point, the front of the set top box should display the current video aspect ratio (16:9 or 4:3).

The TV screen should now display the 'hidden' setup menu.

If for some reason the TV Type setting is anything other than 16:9, change it to 16:9 to match the shape of widescreen televisions. Next, I would verify the settings under the Additional HDMI Settings menu.

The configuration pictured above is my recommended setup for all modern HD and UHD televisions. Next, Return to Main Menu and configure HDMI/YPbPr Output to Native or 1080i.

The Native output setting passes the video signal to the TV unaltered. Use of the Native setting enables a sub-menu of Native Mode Settings that needs some attention.

In the menu pictured above, select all video formats that the TV supports. Most modern televisions will accept all of the above listed video formats, but some TVs balk at receiving a 480i video signal over HDMI (leave unchecked if this is the case). An alternative to using the set top box's Native video mode is to configure it for 1080i output. Use of the 1080i output option will have the set top box convert all standard and high definition channels into the 1080i video format. The 1080i format is the maximum resolution currently used by broadcasters, and today's TVs are quite good at processing this video format resulting in terrific picture quality. Not only does 1080i convert almost perfectly into the 1080p format, a 1080i signal containing content originally captured at 24 frames-per-second (most movies and primetime TV shows) is easily processed to recreate the source material's natural film-like look.

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Step #3
You are done! Press the Comcast/Xfinity remote's Menu button again to exit. If you decided to use the box's Native video mode, confirm that your TV is configured to eliminate overscan with 720p and 1080i channels. Often, a TV's overscan setting (aka Picture Size) is custom for all video formats so eliminating overscan with 1080i channels like NBC and PBS doesn't automatically eliminate overscan with 720p channels like Fox and ESPN.

For more information about TV settings related to optimal picture quality, I've created a short video that will help clarify what needs to be done.

Reader Comments (14)

This doesn't seem to work for Xfinity X1 systems. There is no Menu button on the X1 remote, and I couldn't find any other button that would display a hidden setup menu.

December 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMark Hanley

Do I still do all this if my tv is only 720p capable?

Hi David! Many 720p resolution TVs accept a variety of video formats (often up to 1080p60 or higher). So, I'd say at least check the set top box's setup and see if it supports all of the video formats that Native mode output would provide.

December 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Are the instructions for the Comcast/Xfinity remote (pictured) above the same for the NEW 2016 Xfinity XR11 remote II received earlier this year?

July 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterD

Wow! This is great :-) We cut the cord a couple of years ago, but decided to re-up with Comcast to get the Olympics. We've got a fancy tv, but it looked awful, with stretched out fat people. When I switched it to 4:3 so they weren't stretched, it looked like SD, not HD, all fuzzy.

I followed these instructions, and it's magic! I've got sharp HD, with the right aspect ratio!

Woo hoo!

July 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDD

It's not working with mine. TV on, box off, I tried pressing menu on the remote and the box, I got no response.

March 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Thank you so much! Worked like a charm on Xfinity Arris box and Samsung tv.

June 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Wilson

Turn off cable box, press the guide button then set TV type to 16:9
HDMI/ypbpr outlet to 1080i and 4:3 overide to stretch. If the desired affect is not to your taste then set values to your liking. Press the power button to power on the cable box and check to see if this solves the problem. If your screen resolution is incorrect then go back and tweak the settings to suit your needs. These settings worked for me and will hopefully for you as well.

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCharles S.

The Guide button brought up the options for me instead of the Menu button. Thanks for the guide!

February 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNico

I've tried to do this several ways and nothing works...My Comcast Box is Model PR150BNM It has no display for me to see the aspects on. My screen on wide shows black lines above and below the screen and everyone is short and fat. If I change to Normal then it is a square in the middle and has black all the way around...

May 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJudy Graham

This doesn't work. My Xfinity/Menu button turns the X1 cable box back on. The box never says whether I'm getting 16:9 or 4:3. My problem is I have an SD TV and I am getting a zoomed-in picture - like Xfinity wants to feed HD into my SD set. It all comes in zoomed-in. I used to be able to go to the on-screen channel guide and click on the number of the channel I wanted (like CNN) and the display would bounce back to SD, but today for the first time, this isn't happening. I have a tech stopping by tomorrow. Comcast has received a number of calls about this problem today but the company doesn't seem to know how to solve it.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBill

I am having the same resolution problem with my comcast xfinity box. It was fine but recently got same zoomed in picture on my older 480p SD set.
Tried many times to switch from 16:9 to 4:3. The menu says its 4:3, but its not. The box seems to not want to output nothing but a 1080 hd signal.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjeff

This worked well for me. I had to remember to turn on the AV receiver as it sits between the Comcast box and the TV. Sure enough, my box somehow got 'flipped' to 4:3 ratio and when I set to 16 (again) everything worked well.

March 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCWendt

That's cool how easy it is to setup and program the remote. I have a DVR so I doubt there is a box that small for DVR.

March 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSammy

"so eliminating overscan with 1080i channels like NBC and PBS doesn't automatically eliminate overscan with 720p channels like Fox and ESPN."

Can you please explain this statement a little further? I am setting up a Samsung TV and I'm getting weird screen stretching/cutoff on the 1080i channels when the 720p channels are perfect. I don't see any kind of overscan setting on the Samsung TV I'm working with.

May 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSeattleSounder

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