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4K/8K Video

Comcast Plans 4K & HDR Set-tops

CHICAGO -- INTX -- While some in the industry may still be deciding between 4K and High-Dynamic Range (HDR) TV strategies, Comcast has laid out a product roadmap that covers both.

Following the launch of its 4K app for Samsung Corp. TVs last year, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) unveiled plans at the Internet & Television Expo (INTX) for a new Xi4 Ultra High-Definition set-top, and the introduction of 4K UHD service on the X1 platform. Not content to stop there, however, the company also promised to launch an advanced Xi5 HDR set-top next year.

On the box front, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filings revealed not long ago that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has developed a set-top for Xfinity under the ID number Xi4v1-C. That product looks to be at least one model in Comcast's new 4K set-top portfolio. Current X1 boxes are sourced from Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Pace Micro Technology , two companies that hope to be one before the end of the calendar year. (See New Set-Tops for Comcast, Charter and Arris to Acquire Pace for $2.1B.)

There's no detail yet on the planned Xi5 box, but the purpose of HDR is to deliver brighter, more vivid TV imagery. Some believe that HDR is likely to have a bigger effect on the viewing experience than 4K TV because the upgrade will be apparent to consumers even on smaller displays. Getting the full effect of UHD television requires a very large screen TV.

As for service, Comcast said it will add hundreds of new titles to its 4K library this year, including IMAX-ready films produced by K2 Communications and Havoc TV. Those movies will sit by side with TV shows produced in 4K, including select programming from the Syfy channel, USA Network and Starz. Comcast noted that subscribers will be able to create personalized playlists from the UHD library, allowing them to "enjoy unlimited virtual 4K linear channels."

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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