Tips on setting up the Xfinity X1 cable box

If you are getting up and running with Comcast's latest Xfinity X1 cable box, there are some settings to look at before you can kick back and bask in the glow of your new cable service.

I've been living with the Xfinity X1 box for about a week now and have some tips to disseminate regarding setting up the device. Before getting into the X1's settings, I would first direct you to a code to program a 30-second skip button on the XR2 remote that comes with the X1 box.

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Now, onto some settings to investigate and tweak on the X1 box itself. To access settings, press the Xfinity button on your remote and arrow over to the gear icon from the top row of menu options.

In the first section, Device Settings, there are a few items to consider. The first section under Device Settings is labeled Video Display, which has two settings to adjust the video output. If you have an HDTV, and odds are you do if you have the X1 box and are reading this blog post, then you'll want to make sure zoom is off. Any magnification of the screen image results in a degradation of video quality. For the other setting here, Output resolution, make sure it is set to the resolution that matches that of your HDTV.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Next, go to the Audio section of Device Settings. Here, you can select either Stereo or Surrounds for Audio mode. If you use your TV's speakers or have only two speakers connected to your TV, you'll likely want to choose Stereo. I have a center-channel speaker in addition to two stereo speakers, so I chose Surround and noticed an improvement in the audio output, as the center channel was used to pipe out most dialogue and effects.

Matt Elliott/CNET

The third setting I recommend you tweak is under Device Lights. Here, you can adjust the brightness of the clock and power button on the front of the X1 box, both of which were blindingly bright when my box was installed. The power light and clock light each has its own brightness control, and you can lower each or turn each off entirely.

Next, back out of the Device Settings area and choose Preferences. Here, you'll find two sections: General and Notifications.

Matt Elliott/CNET

In the General section, the top item is Auto-tune to HD channels. If you have an HDTV, make sure this setting is turned on if your installer doesn't do it for you. With this setting enabled, if you turn to Channel 2, the box will know you have HD capabilities and will instead turn the channel to 802 or whatever the HD version of Channel 2 is in your area.

Additionally, you can change the font size in the General section, but I find the default Medium setting works best, at least on my 40-inch HDTV. You can also turn off Display Info Pop-ups, which are enabled by default. You'll find these either helpful or distracting. When you are browsing the channel guide and stop the cursor on a listing for about 1.5 seconds, a pop-window appears with more information about the program, saving you from having to hit the Info button to see an episode summary and whether it's new or a repeat. You do get a more-detailed episode summary by pressing Info than what's displayed on the pop-up window.

In the Notifications section, you can turn off Caller ID notifications, which are enabled by default. I like my TV telling me who is calling, so I can make an informed decision about whether to get my butt off the couch to answer the phone, but perhaps you find such intrusions untoward. There is also a line for text message notifications, but it doesn't seem fully baked, not to mention the fact that my home phone does not received text messages.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Lastly, you'll want to check in on the last section of the Settings screen, titled About, from time to time. It includes a bunch of long codes and version numbers for your service and receiver that you won't care about, but it also includes a button to update the firmware. And as a bonus, it tells you how much juice you have left on the batteries in your remote.

X1 subscribers, please let me know in the comments below if I've missed any settings you've tweaked to improve your cable television experience.

 

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