If you are currently getting your cable TV from Time Warner Cable or Comcast using a Scientific Atlanta 8300 cable box, then you have an HD cable box that can do a lot more than its default settings. Out of the box, the cable box is […]

Cable Box

If you are currently getting your cable TV from Time Warner Cable or Comcast using a Scientific Atlanta 8300 cable box, then you have an HD cable box that can do a lot more than its default settings. Out of the box, the cable box is set to pull video at a handful of resolutions (480p and 720p), but with a few minor hacks you can really trick out its capability. Here’s how:

ButtonsStep 1: Turn off the power to the box and hold down the “Guide” and “Info” buttons at the same time.

Upon holding the buttons down, you’ll be brought to a page that welcomes you to the set-up and asks you if you’d like to proceed.

FirstStep 2: Press the yellow “A” key on your remote to proceed with configuration.

This will take you to a new screen that allows you to configure the box via “Easy Mode” or “Advanced Mode.” I’ve used both and the only real option here is “Advanced.”

Screen 2Step 3: Press the blue “B” key on your remote to enter the “Advanced Mode” menu.

If you’re following this guide and you’re using an HD box to do it, you’re likely viewing shows on a 16:9 screen.

Screen 3Step 4: Choose the “Wide-Screen Mode” option by pressing the blue “B” button on your remote.

Next, the set-up will show a screen that explains the procedure. It basically says that it will run through screen resolutions. If you can see an image on the screen, your HDTV is capable of viewing video at that resolution and you should select it.

If the screen is black, you won’t be able to view it and you shouldn’t select it. For example, if you have a 720p/1080i HDTV, you won’t be able to view any content in 1080p, although you won’t have to worry about that on cable shows just yet.

Screen 4Step 5: Start running through your the resolutions.

At this point, the operation becomes quite self-explanatory. Start with the lowest resolution (480i) and start testing each with the blue “B” key. If you can see the screen, select it and move on. If not, your HDTV doesn’t support that resolution.

Screen 5Step 6: Complete the set up by pressing the “Exit” button.

Now that you have found all of the resolutions your box can pump through your HDTV, you’re ready to go.

Screen 6

Believe it or not, this actually works quite well. After configuring each of my HDTVs, the picture quality noticeably better, all due to my box’s ability to show video without conversion. I have very few complaints.

One thing to watch out for, though: Once you set this up, the cable box will need to switch resolutions to match the source signal. Because of this, your HDTV screen will blink through black with each channel change. This is not an issue and will not harm your screen.

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who covers everything from Google to HDTVs. He currently writes for over 15 popular technology publications, including CNET’s Digital Home, InformationWeek and Future Publishing in the UK.

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  1. I have Cablevision in NY and just picked up the same box last week. In the installation guide they show you how to run through this procedure after you hook up all the cables. Not sure why the other companies using the same box don’t point it out.

  2. Any tips for improvments on other boxes? I have a Motorola DTC6416III with Cox Cable.


    1. Press thees buttons on your remote. Cable, power, menu.
      The box must be on when you start this. You can set your hd system there.

  3. don, i too am on long island, NY with Cablevision and just got the box. thanks for the advice.

    what’s amazing to me is that savvy consumers have no clue that they need to use special cable connections and reset their TV.

    Much obliged! It looks great.


  4. i held down the 2 buttons and nothing happens…i tried it with the box on and off…any suggestions?

  5. This is great – I’ll give it a shot as soon as I get home!



  6. Hey Sahu,

    Try unplugging the box from the outlet and plugging it back in after about 30 seconds. Once rebooted, press both the buttons with the power off. Let me know if that works.


    1. Don,

      I as well am having issues with changing these settings on my cable box. I have tried with the box on/off as well as after I unplugged it.

  7. No luck on a Time Warner SA 8300HD. I unplugged from the wall for 30 seconds as well…let it boot up…then tried the 2 buttons. Nothing happens. Anyone else with Time Warner experience this? Perhaps the lock out this setup.

  8. I have this box on Time Warner in NYC. I can already choose from 1080i, 720p and 480p with the built-in settings so I’m not sure how useful this hack is. I only enable 1080i and have the box upscale. I’ve noticed that after power outages this setting seems to reset itself and all formats are enabled. This means a flicker when switching between SD and HD channels as my TV has to do the scaling.


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