Comcast’s First HDR Box in Employee Trials

Customer deployments of the ‘Xi5’ still targeted for later this year
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Comcast is currently testing the Xi5, the MSO’s first set-top box with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR), in employee trials and is still targeting customer deployments later this year.

The trials of the Xi5 are underway in a “few markets,” a company official said, but didn’t reveal those test sites.

Comcast showed off the Xi5, a device for its X1 platform, at the INTX in Boston, noting then that shipments were expected to get underway by July 4.

While those shipments are apparently going to employees first, they are getting out the door as corporate cousin, NBCUniversal, prepares to produce some content from the Summer Olympic Games in Rio in 4K and HDR. HDR is an emerging format that produces brighter, more colorful pixels and can be used to improve the pop of HD and 4K video.

Comcast, which plans to show off  HDR at some special screenings it will host during the Games, is also working on the Xi6, a device that will support both HDR and 4K.

Elsewhere, Comcast said it intends to rollout Xfinity Stream TV, its in-home IPTV skinny-bundle service that’s paired with a cloud DVR, across its footprint later this year or in early 2017.

That service, currently a mobile-first offering for cord-cutters and others that don’t want a full-freight pay TV service, is being tested in Chicago and the Greater Boston region, which includes eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

How Comcast markets and sells that offering could change or expand when it reaches the commercial deployment stage.

In an interview earlier this year, Matt Strauss, Comcast Cable’s executive vice president and general manager, video services, said Stream “is not really just about a skinny bundle.”

“In many respects, it's us looking at new ways at how we market, how we activate a video subscription, and, for instance, if you're a high-speed data customer and you are in one of the markets where we've deployed Stream you can instantly add Stream,” Strauss said. “It doesn’t require a truck roll, it doesn’t require additional equipment. We're able to instantly activate it for you.”

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