Last weekend I lost a few hours trying to get closed caption to display with my Comcast DVR connected to my TV with an HDMI cable. I like to temporarily turn on captions when trying to figure out what someone said, or if there's a lot of background noise. But the closed captions button on my TVs remote did not seem to work.
Here's a quick cheat sheet for enabling closed captions on the Comcast DVR manufactured by Motorola (picture). You can use either the buttons on the remote, or on the front of the DVR:
- Turn on your TV
- Turn off the DVR
- Press the Menu button, on the Comcast remote (or on the Comcast box)
- You will see the USER SETTING screen on your TV
- Move down to the CLOSED CAPTIONS entry using the arrow buttons
- Press the right-arrow to switch between ENABLED and DISABLED
- Press the Menu button
- Turn on the DVR
The problem was not with my TV or the DVR. The problem is that HDMI and component connections cannot carry closed captions for the TV to decode. This was the first time I've connected a TV using HDMI or component cables, so I never ran into this closed caption issue before. If you connect any device (Comcast's DVR, Tivo, etc) by HDMI/component, you must use that device's menu to decode the closed captions — your TV's closed caption button will never show captions when connected this way. You can read more about this limitation of HDMI and component on the HDTV interoperability issues section on the main Wikipedia page for closed captions.
I called Comcast to get help, and talked with a support person who tried very hard, and ultimately directed me to the "hidden" setup menu on the DVR to enable closed captions (see above). But it was pretty bumpy, and Comcast never said that it was a limitation of HDMI/component.
Also, the Comcast DVR makes it very hard to quickly toggle captions on/off, because you must turn off the DVR every time you want to change the setting. My guess is that the DVR engineers assumed that only deaf people would want captions, and leave them on all the time.