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Help: Picture is fuzzy in wide shots, fine on closeups

Glee400Glee400 Posts: 6 ✭✭
edited January 12 in TV Equipment Jan 12, 2021
  • Wide shots of distant things or action shots look very fuzzy, but up close things are nice and sharp. For instance, a closeup of a person cooking is fine. A wide shot of a football game is fuzzy and indistinct. Any way to fix this? This happened when I switched the Charter Spectrum cable box from my mother-in-law's old 32" non-hd lcd TV, which had a nice clear picture, to a new 50" 4k TV. I wonder if there is some setting on the cable box that is still set up for a low-res TV, and that's why distance shots look fuzzy on the big screen? Anyone know what the problem might be? Do I need to reset the box in some way, or have it do something that will make it realize it now has an HD tv connected? I did change some settings already, explained below.
  • For background, when I hooked up the new 50" TV, the picture was stretched with text going off the edges and everything looked awful. I tweaked picture settings for the TV itself, but the problem remained. I realized I needed to look at settings for the cable box, and changed its video settings to the highest screen resolution (it had been set to the lowest), and selected "HD box on SDTV Aspect Ratio: Letterbox." Those changes fixed the problem of the screen being stretched and brought everything into sharper focus for close-up items, but distant shots and action shots still look awful and hard to watch.

Best Answer

  • SatchSatch Posts: 4,034 ✭✭✭✭
    Jan 12, 2021 Accepted Answer


    Welcome to the Community! To begin our inqiry into your question, we need to know the make and model of your cable box and the guide you have on it, as the Settings differ from guide to guide:

    To find your guide, Google Search, "What guide do I have?", Spectrum. You will be taken to a site where you can enter your street address and than you will see a link for the guides applicable to the boxes for your area.

    Some early things of note:

    For cable, do ALL of your TV picture settings through your cable box. The only TV settings that you would do through your TV remote would be things like color, brightness, black level, contrast.

    Your settings should not be on SD TV so the SD part of your post "HD box on SDTV Aspect Ratio:Letterbox." is wrong. You want to select HD box on HD TV.

    Settings adjusted through your cable TV remote control that comes with your cable box should be the following:

    Aspect ratio: 16x9


    Picture size: Stretch (Only Stretches the picture for NON-HD programs) OR select "Normal" Do not select "Zoom" it will crop off the top and bottom of the picture.

    Important- Make sure that you have a quality HDMI cable for your HD set. (They run about $20.) If you have Composite Cables, your HDTV settings will not work.) If you have Component Cables, you will have multiple wires connecting to and from the cable box.

    Try to reset your HD TV to factory defaults. Using your TV remote, (not the cable box remote), do a double check that the above picture settings are correct. SELECT PICTURE SIZE TO NORMAL using your TV remote, 16x9 Aspect Ratio and 1080i resolution, (or the highest that your TV supports.) You should change that "HD box on SD TV setting to HD, because you don't have an SD set. This could be one of the issues causing the problem. Reboot when finished.



  • Glee400Glee400 Posts: 6 ✭✭
    edited January 12 Jan 12, 2021

    Thanks! I will have to do this when I go back to her house. One problem is that there was no option other than HD box on SD Tv, there was no way to get it out of that stretched mode without checking that box. I'll get over there soon and see what I can figure out; if we can't fix it, I need to box up the 50" tv and take it back for a refund while it's still in the return period. It's possible it's just a problem with the TV, though I think there's a good chance it's the settings.

    I did the guide search but didn't see a place to enter her address. Logging into her account I can see that her cable box is a Motorola DCX3220E.

    Updated: I looked at the guide page again, her zip code was in there already, and the guide they showed that looked like hers is called Spectrum Guide.

  • SatchSatch Posts: 4,034 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 12 Jan 12, 2021


    Where did you buy the TV? If it is still under warranty, maybe they have a "Geek Squad" that can come out to see what is happening with the TV.. Also, make sure you have an HDMI Cable, none of this will work if you don't. I would recommend getting one from Best Buy or something, Don't get a bargain HDMI cable. Spend $20 and get one that is good.

    I would get a new HDMI cable, At least see that you already have an HDMI cable connected. Change that HD box on SD TV settings to HD box on HD TV..

    I have included a link that will help with 4K TV set up and settings:

    https://www.wired.com/2014/12/hdtv-setup/ Click on the Right Arrow on the right side of the page to see the full page. One thing that stood out for me at this link:

    If you want to dive deeper into your set’s settings right off the bat, go into the menus and locate the motion-handling settings. Every TV manufacturer has a different name for them---“Clear Motion Rate,” “Motionflow,” “Trumotion,” “SPS,” “AquoMotion,” and so on.


  • Glee400Glee400 Posts: 6 ✭✭
    edited January 12 Jan 12, 2021

    We got it at Walmart, ain't nobody coming out from there, lol. I do have an extended warranty, but it's just the kind of thing that if it breaks I can take it back for another. At this point, I think I need to make sure it's not a problem with the settings. If it's still crappy after I've tried everything I can think of, we'll take it back for a refund and be done with it, I guess. I'd prefer to see if I can sort it out and keep it, as taking it back means reboxing it and standing in line at walmart returns . That will be a hassle, not to mention we've been avoiding going into stores as much as possible due to the pandemic. I'd rather not have a long wait at a returns counter.

    It is connected via hdmi, can't remember what kind of cable we used. It may have been a cable that came with the box. But I have a drawer of spare cables of varying price ranges, so I'll pull some out and bring them with me.

    I don't recall motion-handling settings on the TV, but I'll look again. It had the basics of contrast, sharpness, brightness, etc, which I set following recs online. And though recs said Movie setting was best, Vivid actually looked better on her set. This is an Onn TV, a black friday special deal, so nothing fancy. BUT the fuzzy background doesn't really make sense even on a cheap set, so hopefully it's just the settings.

  • Glee400Glee400 Posts: 6 ✭✭
    edited January 13 Jan 13, 2021

    Is there any way a TV could cause a connected cable box to shut off? I doubt it and suspect the box itself is having issues, but wanted to check just in case.

    The picture seems to be sorted out, but the main issue now is her cable box started turning itself off on its own. It did this when I first set up the new tv, and it did it again while I was gone and she didn't know what to do so just couldn't watch tv. The solution seems to be to wait a few minutes and turn the box back on, but she's 82 and has no idea how to use even basic tech. No timers or auto-shutoff of any kind are set on the cable box itself, btw, I went through all the menus.

    If the problem persists, I'll return the box to Spectrum for a new one, but I was curious if it's at all possible something about the tv connecton could cause this?

  • SatchSatch Posts: 4,034 ✭✭✭✭
    Jan 13, 2021

    I will investigate this,

    Some cable box guides (and TV's) have a POWER SAVING SLEEP MODE, where the TV or cable box shuts off after about 4 hours of inactivity on the same channel. But you said you went through all the menus so, not sure..

    Have you checked to make sure Sleep mode is turned off using the remote control that came with the TV? How did you solve the blurry picture issue?


  • Glee400Glee400 Posts: 6 ✭✭
    Jan 14, 2021

    The power-saving sleep mode was not on, that was one of the menus I went through. The picture actually looked better when I went back before I did anything. One thing I noticed was when I checked the channel she normally watches football on, it wasn't as bad as I remembered, but still not as good as it should be. But then I flipped to football on espn and it looked better there, so I think there's just not a good feed on the other channel. The picture doesn't look outstanding on some things, but not as terrible as it did when I first hooked up the tv. No idea why. I also rebooted the cable box, but not sure if that made the difference.

  • SatchSatch Posts: 4,034 ✭✭✭✭
    Jan 14, 2021

    Keep us posted on everything!

    How much did you pay for this TV? I wonder if it being on the low price side might affect picture quality? (If that is the case.) How much time do you have left on the warranty? If the TV turns of phantomly again, and you know the power to the box has remained on, you might want to consider a better set. Return this thing if this happens again.. I have had Samsung TV's for several years, recommended by my engineering and tech guys, they are great! What brand is this TV? Hope it's not a Samsung! (LOL)


  • Glee400Glee400 Posts: 6 ✭✭
    Jan 16, 2021

    The TV was $128. It's not the TV that turns itself off, it's the cable box that turns itself off. That only started (as far as I know) since we hooked it to the new tv via hdmi, which is why I was wondering if there's any scenario where a tv with problems could actually make the cable box shut off.

    I have until early feb. to get a refund, and then a 3-year warranty from wal-mart. I haven't talked to the MIL in the past few days about the TV, as I got so frustrated last time trying to explain to her what to do if the cable box shuts itself off. I'll probably ask her today or tomorrow if she's had more problems.

  • SatchSatch Posts: 4,034 ✭✭✭✭
    Jan 17, 2021

    Is the cable box still doing the auto shut off?

    How about the motion clarity on the TV?

    The Walmart people are not the "Sharpest knives in the drawer" trying to explain technology to them. But you already know this! LOL!. I wouldn't go through the frustration of trying to explain to them what is going on with the TV. If it gets to the point where you have to return the set and get a different one, Just say, "The picture is fuzzy and settings changes don't help." For $128. man, this is something out of a cracker jack box. Would you be able to afford a nicer set for your Mom? To get something nice, you will need to spend about $400-$500. I recommend looking at Samsungs. These little cheepy sets can be cause more trouble than the "deal" that they are worth.. Thanks for clarifying that this is a box issue with the phantom on/off turn off behavior.

    If the box is still turning itself off randomly and settings are not affecting this behavior, I would say swap the box. I would suggest getting a tech out just to make sure that the TV turning itself off is not a problem with the HDMI cable connection or the wall outlet or signals. You don't want to get a new TV or box and have the same thing happen again. A tech can do more. Get a truck roll just to make sure things are OK. Have him test your signals and drop line.

    He can replace the box if needed. Thanks for the details about the TV. I am sure that many of our community members will feel the same way and would recommend similar options.


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