Viewing 4K via Comcast Cable - What You Need to Know

COMCAST cable offers 4K viewing - But the selection is limited

Comcast Logo with XG1v4 Cable Box
Comcast Logo with XG1v4 Cable Box. Images provided by Comcast 

If you own a 4K Ultra HD TV, and are Comcast Xfinity cable subscriber, or are thinking about it. Here is how you can access 4K video content using Comcast.

4K via Comcast

Comcast's 4K offerings are available in all markets where Comcast has a license to operate.

In order to view 4K via Comcast, you need:

  • A subscription to the Xfinity cable and internet service.
  • A commitment to rent/lease the Comcast Xfinity XG1v4 (or higher) 4K-compatible cable box.
  • A compatible 4K Ultra HD TV - It is important to point out that 4K access, up until recently was only available on select LG and Samsung 4K Ultra HD TVs via a UHD Sampler App, but Comcast has since retired the app and, if subscribers have the required XG1v4 (or higher) cable box, almost all 4K Ultra HD TVs should be compatible - If you have questions regarding compatibility of your TV, contact Comcast Support.

Once you have committed to subscribe and renting the box, you will have the ability to access 4K content offered by Comcast from two content sources:

  • Netflix: Netflix 4K content is delivered through the internet via streaming and requires a fast internet connection in the same fashion as you would through a standalone or plug-in media streamer or through a compatible 4K Ultra HD smart TV. The programming selection is the same as you would get through those options. Access also requires that you have to set up a separate Netflix account an pay the appropriate Netflix subscription fee exclusive of any fees you pay for your Comcast plan.
  • Comcast Xfinity's in-house on-demand service: Via on-demand, subscribers can select from a very limited amount of films and TVs shows that are periodically made available, as well as special events which may be presented on a delayed basis, instead of a live broadcast, such as the Olympics and other high-profile sporting events. 4K programming is rotated in and out on an intermittent basis, so if you notice something you would like to watch - it is best to watch it ASAP as it may not be available for an extended period of time.

    The XG1v4 Box

    Here are the core features of the required XG1v4 Box:

    • 4K and HDR (HDR10) compatible. The XG1v4 is also compatible with SD and HD  programming.
    • Six Tuners Built-in for flexible viewing and recording options.
    • 500GB Hard Drive for temporary storage of recorded videos (recording in 4K supported).
    • One HDMI output for video/audio connection to TVs and home theater receivers. It is important to point out the box does not have any component or composite video outputs, nor does it have any additional digital optical/coaxial or RCA analog audio output options.
    • NOTE: The XG1v4 also has 1 HDMI input - However, it is not active, so it can't be used as a pass-through connection for additional HDMI devices. This has resulted in both puzzlement and anger with some Comcast subscribers, who would like this feature to be enabled for its designed purpose.
    • One RF cable input and One RF cable output. 4K cannot be accessed via the RF output. Refer to slides 9 and 10 in our Home Theater Connection Gallery for RF cable examples.
    • Ethernet port for connection to a network router that provides access to Netflix and any other Internet-based features available or required via Comcast.
    • Bluetooth support allows users to stream audio through the box from compatible devices (such as a smartphone), as well as the box being able to stream music to compatible Bluetooth headphones or speakers (only one device at a time).

    The XG1v4 is not available for self-installation, an installer house call is required.

    The Bottom Line

    Ever since 4K Ultra HD TVs were introduced, availability and sales have steadily increased with the corresponding trend toward affordable pricing. This has resulted in millions of consumers having and using these sets. However, while sets are plentiful and affordable, the pace of 4K content delivery for viewing has lagged behind demand.

    While 4K content via streaming from services such as Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, and others, as well as Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has increased steadily, 4K TV broadcasting is still a way away. Also, while DirecTV and Dish Network offer limited 4K content via satellite, getting 4K over cable is almost non-existent. Comcast is the only major cable provider offering limited 4K content access.

    Stay tuned as this story develops!