Edges of HD screen not visible / cut off

The Problem

Ever since upgrading to an HD (High Definition) cable box, I have noticed that the edges of the screen seem to be cut off. This would manifest as the first letter or two of a name in the credits (usually at the opening of a show) being cut off, or being able to see only half a person at the edge of the screen. It became especially annoying when the scorebox on football games would be so cut off that the score was not visible.

This page contains the solution I found. It is an incredibly easy solution, involving a few simple clicks on my cable remote. The reason for this page is twofold:
  1. To show all the things that did not work, and
  2. because this incredibly simple answer is NOWHERE to be found on the Internet.
Seriously. I cannot for the life of me find a single web site, blog, post, page, comment, graphic, video or tweet that provides this simple answer.

Based on conversations with regular people, I suspect there are many who share this frustration.

I will speak specifically about KSTP Channel 5 in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, but the answer likely applies everywhere.

The Search

Even after figuring out the answer by happenstance, and understanding the very simple fix, I have been unable to find the answer anywhere on the Internet. I have searched my cable company web site, the web sites of the TV stations (I even emailed them but have received no response), Wikipedia, the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting, numerous tech and entertainment sites, etc. I searched Google with the very specific search terms (not quoted) "the edges of the screen are cut off" (multiple variations) and "how to watch KSTP channel 5 on cable TV in high definition in Minneapolis" and found nothing that came close to the answer. This was super frustrating. HD TV has been around for nearly 20 years now, and seems to have been standard - or at least commonplace - for ten years or more. This is obviously a common problem based on the number of people asking. Why does no one have the answer?

What Didn't Work

In searching for answers, I found many sites that confidently proclaimed they had the answer. I found sites that discussed overscan, aspect ratios, zoom, and multiple variations on these concepts. They talked about settings on the cable box and settings on the TV. For people watching on a computer screen they discussed graphics cards and other PC settings. None of these "solutions" came close to solving the problem, and there was no hint of the correct answer. Even tech support at my cable company had no clue.

The Solution

The solution is to understand that if you want to watch KSTP Channel 5 in high definition, you must watch something other than channel 5. When the cable companies refer to "HD channels" they are not referring to television stations that broadcast in high definition. They are referring to numbered channels that carry high definition signals. As it turns out, channel 5 - the numbered channel - does not carry an HD signal.

I had naively assumed that since KSTP Channel 5 kept hyping the fact that they were now broadcasting in HD while never, ever mentioning that you must watch a different channel in order to see in high definition what was being broadcast on channel 5, that simply connecting to an HD cable box would show me channel 5 in HD (how many decades have we been getting hyped about "Plug & Play?).

When I got my HD cable box, I just got a box with a remote and power cord. No instructions, no channel guide, just the hardware. Power, cable in, HDMI out, connect HDMI to TV, and I'm watching channel 5. Why would I think I had done anything wrong? I was watching channel 5. Why would I think I wasn't watching channel 5 in HD? I was even told "If you connect from an HD cable box to an HD TV with an HDMI cable, you're watching HD." But that is not true.

I have basic cable. Whenever I manually click above channel 23, I get a "Not Authorized" message. Clicking up into the 40s and 50s yields the same thing. Why would I bother clicking through 900+ more channels just to see if I get any of them? And why do I need a channel guide when I get only 20 or so channels in a narrow, low number range? Even if they had given me a channel guide, why would I have even bothered to look at it? I have basic cable with HD. I get a limited world of channels. My problem was that I could not see the edges of the screen (as it turns out, I was missing 25% of what was being broadcast), not that I was watching the wrong channel. I was getting the channel I wanted - channel 5. Again, why would it have even crossed my mind that that was a problem?

As it turns out, I need to watch channel 805 in order to see KSTP channel 5 in high definition.

This is a mind-numbingly simple fix. Why was I not told this? Why wasn't there a card with bold print indicating this? Why is this information not on KSTP.com? Or on comcast.net or xfinity.com? Or Wikipedia? Or anywhere?

Seriously, do your own search. Find this information anywhere on the Internet in a place that someone could actually find it. I dare you.

 © 1997-2022 Jeffrey W Baumann dba LinkedResources. All Rights Reserved. Last Updated December 28, 2021.