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Television Software Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Why Do You Want a 'Smart TV'? 507

Reader kheldan questions the need for a Smart TV (edited for clarity): Yesterday we read about how Samsung is planning on 'upgrading' the firmware in its smart TVs so that it could inject ads into your video streams. This raises the question yet again: Why do you even need a 'smart TV' in the first place? We live in an age where media-center computers and DVRs are ubiquitous, and all your TV really needs to be is a high-def monitor to connect to these devices. Even many smartphones have HDMI connectivity, and a Raspberry Pi is inexpensive and can play 1080 content at full framerate. None of these devices are terribly expensive anymore, and the price jump from a non-smart TV to a smart TV makes it difficult to justify the expense. Also, remember previous articles posted on the subject of surveillance many of these smart TVs have been found guilty of. So I put it to you, denizens of Slashdot: Why does anyone really want a 'smart TV'?
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Ask Slashdot: Why Do You Want a 'Smart TV'?

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  • I don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coldsalmon ( 946941 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:31PM (#52225895)

    I don't even want a regular TV. I watch Netflix on a 25" monitor that I plug into a laptop.

    • This. While the Pi solution the writer posed would work, it won't have Netflix.

      • Re:I don't (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:40PM (#52226011) Homepage

        Didn't Google recently announce Android for Raspberry PI? If you could get those working together, you could use the Android Netflix app.

      • by gmack ( 197796 )

        Some of the Android media centers are cheaper than the Pi once you include the cost of the remote.

      • "While the Pi solution the writer posed would work, it won't have Netflix"

        And that's important why?

        I've been using KODI (more recently the TVMC image) with 1Channel, SALTS, Phoenix or Genesis on my RP for a long time and I watch all the Netflix content -- albeit I'm not burdened with a monthly subscription for doing so :-)

        If Netflix want to make a plug-in for KODI available I'll subscribe. If they don't then it's no skin off my nose but in the meantime I'm not switching to Android or a PC just to pay them

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I find that the combination of a 'dumb-with-DLNA' (2011 era) Samsung 40" + Chromecast 2nd gen is killer.

      • by Doke ( 23992 )

        I love my Chromecast for little things, like youtube videos. It's a little limiting for entire movies, mostly because I have to unlock my phone to pause.

        DLNA annoys me due to the transcoding cpu load on my server.

        • by Nutria ( 679911 )

          DLNA annoys me due to the transcoding cpu load on my server.

          Minidlna does no transcoding (it just feeds video files to whatever device asks for them), so I wonder if it's the "DLNA" part that's mandating the transcodes or some other "feature" of your media software.

          • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

            Some other "feature" - obviously he's playing back files that are NOT in a format supported by the client device. In which case - duh it's gonna transcode or you can't play it.

    • I don't even want a regular TV. I watch Netflix on a 25" monitor that I plug into a laptop.

      While there is nothing wrong with that, I personally prefer watching video on my 65" screen while sitting on a couch. Much more pleasant and comfortable, particularly if more than one person wants to watch which is pretty routine around my home. It's especially nice for movies with a significant other.

      That said, I really don't use any of the "smart" TV features. I really just want a huge monitor with inputs for video and sound. I don't even need a tuner since my TiVo handles that. Problem is that all

    • Re:I don't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @02:08PM (#52226917)

      Slashdot is obviously challenging us with a trick question. The correct answer is "You don't. You want to buy a dumb TV and let the "smart" reside in the boxes you attach to it, boxes that perform much better and can be more easily and cheaply upgraded in the future."

      Of course, Samsung and the TV industry masturbate to the idea of TV's being regularly upgraded like cellphones. They got addicted to all that phat cash they made when people moved from SD to HDTV and so now they're throwing everything at the wall to keep us constantly upgrading. It's why they're pushing so hard on 4K, even though you would need a HUGE screen (or be sitting VERY close to it) to even tell the difference between regular 1080p and 4K. Only idiots think they need a 42" 4K TV when the huge screen at their local movie theater is only 2K.

    • I don't even want a regular TV. I watch Netflix on a 25" monitor that I plug into a laptop.

      Ah, the single life. Still thinking like you are living out of the dorm. But for social engagements with your wife and kids, friends and family, you are going to need that big screen TV and the sound bar to match --- say hello to the pre-order Disney Blu Ray from Amazon Prime, and goodbye to the rip off from the Pirate Bay.

  • Simple: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Avarist ( 2453728 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:31PM (#52225897)
    I don't.
  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:33PM (#52225915)
    The link goes to the story yesterday on how Panasonic is stopping production of LCDs for TVs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:35PM (#52225935)

    I just bought a new TV over the weekend, so I have recent experience with shopping. When it comes to large screen 1080p or 4k monitors, I didn't see any in the stores that weren't "smart" in one way or another.

    That said - I have no use at all for those features excepting one... The set I bought can act as a Chromecast receiver (and it does so marvelously, I might add). I won't use any of the other apps on it since I already have other devices that run those apps and more perfectly well, but I am definitely happy with the ability to wirelessly cast to it because none of my existing devices had that capability.

    • by Higaran ( 835598 )
      Yes, and I also don't really see a price difference, you can get 4k smart tv's for$1000 in the 55 inch range, I see 1080 ones the same size maybe $100-200 less, and sometimes even more expensive.
    • There is no price difference. It's a selling point to get consumers who don't care about picture quality to actually buy a little nicer TV. Or at least it was, now it's a selling point brand vs. brand.

      Either way, I wouldn't use any of that. It's about as fun as using a cable box (and just as fast, too). I'll stick to my Roku.

  • And should I ever end up getting a TV that has the capability, I'll never connect it to the Internet (internet tomorrow :) ). I can manage my laptop/workstation/whatever device to make sure it has the patches it needs. I can't do that for a TV.

    Therefore, the only way a smart TV will be showing Netflix/Youtube/whatever is through a device that *I* have control over. Period.

  • App Store Wars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:36PM (#52225955)

    Consumers want a Roku/Fire/Mythbox/AppleTV-like function that lets them play video on their TV with a convenient UI. They don't especially want a smart TV, although boy wouldn't it be nice if we could eliminate a box... dream on.

    However TV makers, long under the knife of commodity bottom diving, would like to get a piece of the higher margin smart-device business. It is they who are forcing their lousy smartTV functions on us. We all know better: they are very slow, they end up being unsupported after a year, they rarely support all the apps that a user may want, and it takes 60s for your TV to "boot up" as a result of the cruft. They are forcing this crap on us in the hopes that we'll find it "good enough". It's not making them any money, so I expect it will eventually be dropped, I don't know anyone who bought a TV because of its "smart" functionality.

    • Consumers want a Roku/Fire/Mythbox/AppleTV-like function that lets them play video on their TV with a convenient UI.

      I had a MythTV box (2 analog tuners) for 9 years and it did everything I wanted. Unfortunately, Cox recently went "all digital" and I didn't want to have to deal with their (apparently) random employment of Copy-Once so I got a 4-tuner, 1-TB Tivo Bolt. It's actually pretty nice, but wish I had local system access so I could code up a few web pages and CGI scripts, like I did for MythTV. (sigh)

      • Basically your only choice is to get an HDMI video recorder and an illegal HDCP stripping device and have MythTV change channels on your cable box over IR (or firewire if that's still an option for remote control).

        If you put up an antenna (attic or even hidden on a wall behind the TV depending on where you are), you can get an HDHomerun and get the experience going again with HD local channels with no DRM.

    • Re:App Store Wars (Score:5, Interesting)

      by clarkn0va ( 807617 ) <apt@get.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @01:01PM (#52226283) Homepage

      I have a Smart TV that was given to me as payment of a debt. I like the TV, but after trying to get the smart features to work satisfactorily I ultimately gave up and plugged in my Roku.

      The tv's smart interface and all apps are dreadfully slow to respond. The Netflix UI is terribly dated in appearance and functionality, and the Plex app wouldn't connect to my plex servers. I sideloaded a plex app from the deveoloper and this was able to connect to my servers, but stopped functioning shortly thereafter. The Youtube app was slow and pairing it with an android device was always a crapshoot.

      The tv was missing a critical app for me, so the Roku purchase was inevitable, but the apps included with the smart tv are by no means a working substitute. If Samsung et al would actually provide a positive user experience with their smart suites then I would certainly be onboard. But in reality, much like SOHO router vendors who pathetically attempt to provide 'premium' features with their device firmware, tv vendors should stick to selling tvs.

      • Re:App Store Wars (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @01:21PM (#52226501) Homepage

        I basically had the exact opposite experience. I got a smart TV because that's basically all they were selling in the size I wanted with other specifications such as 3+ HDMI ports. I thought for sure I'd end up buying a Roku in less than a year because of all the comments similar to yours that people post.

        3 years later I still don't have a need for another device to be hooked up to my TV. It connects to Plex using DLNA, no specific app needed. Although there is a Plex app, I've never felt the need to download it. The Netflix and Youtube apps work well enough for my usage. The ability to stream videos directly from my tablet or phone is a big plus. It still gets updates every couple of months, so they are doing some stuff to keep it up to date. I haven't found any deficiencies with my Smart TV. It's an LG tv if anybody is wondering.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Or there's Samsung, whose "smart" tv puts up notices about changes to services you don't use in the middle of shows you're watching, and because it's built into the TV you can't do anything about it. Fortunately the backlight failed (common problem on Samsungs) so I replaced it with a "Roku TV" from Hitachi where the smart TV functions are on a HDMI dongle you can chuck out if you don't want it anymore. And in fact the Roku is a much better desktop box than any of the built in smartTV functions I've had

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why wouldn't you want a TV with SystemD and a fucking web browser that tells all your data to HQ. If you get a hard one when the TV fails to boot again thanks to PoetteringD or you want to pay ransom to the hackers of the TV company who made photos of you naked to not release them then smart TVs are something for you.

  • Netflix in 4k (Score:5, Informative)

    by IDreamInCode ( 672260 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:37PM (#52225961)
    As of right now, Netflix only plays in 4k directly on a smart TV or a few authorized media devices but no mention of a self made computer.
  • by linuxwrangler ( 582055 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:38PM (#52225979)

    I want a TV that specifically does NOT have those "smart" features.

    Putting a EULA-requiring TV with a camera, microphone and internet connection in the bedroom. What could possibly go wrong?

  • by ahziem ( 661857 )
    I want a simple way to stream Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon using one remote control, but I don't need any more features---web browser, ads, etc.
    • Roku. Universal Remote. You might have to get an IR remote for the Roku elsewhere to program the universal, since they don't ship with them anymore (they come with bluetooth remotes but still have IR receivers).

  • There's a space on the wall where the TV goes. 55" is too big. 48" is about right.
    So on walking into the store, there was exactly one TV available off the shelf with that size. It was a Samsung.

    If it was a dumb monitor, then that would have been simpler. The 'smart' features remain unused. The TV isn't plugged into the ethernet (but the ROKU is).

    I tried using the TV features a couple of times, but it comes across as a really, really bad attempt at a ROKU like thing. They add no value.

  • TV is soooooo 20th century.
  • Frankly the market for smart TVs are people who don't want other devices. For example someone looking to install a TV over a fireplace. Now you can hide the connections to a Bluray player, Roku, cable box, but that is a lot more trouble. However, long-term smart TVs are rarely worth it especially when it comes to software updates. It's worse than the smartphone market because with Android you could theoretically root it and install your own software. With TVs there isn't much you can do if the manufacturer
  • >> Why do you even need a 'smart TV' in the first place? We live in an age where media-center computers and DVRs are ubiquitous, and all your TV really needs to be is a high-def monitor to connect to these devices.

    The author seems to assume that we're talking about the big TVs in the living room or family room where you might have a separate audio setup. For other TVs in workout areas, kitchens and bedroom, the built-in speakers and "low cord-ness" of no separate media center or DVR is a big plus.
  • And I have one, the Fire TV stick. It serves my needs just fine. I wish Amazon were a little more competent but I can always just run Kodi if I don't like their client.

  • I don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:43PM (#52226067)

    I know it's weird but I just want this unitasking display that does ONE THING GOOD - Generates a purty picture with good resolution and color depth and supports the current HDMI standards and maybe displayport. I don't want or need to play angry birds on it or skype on it or any countless numbers of apps that I'll use my computer or iDevice to run and I certainly do NOT want it networked (unless you're going to allow me to update the HDMI controllers - which you guys never do anyway preferring to make me buy a whole new display)

    YOU. SELL. TVs!!!

    That's the extent of your access into my life!

  • The only processing I want my TV to do involves image artifact cleanup and frame rate smoothing (to prevent jarring pans and stuttery motion on a large TV where objects cross great distances between frames).

    If I want more, I have many devices of my own choosing and preference I can.connect. If I must view android on my TV I can use chrome cast. The overhead on price is a turnoff, and the built in hardware can't possibly keep up with how long I will have my TV, which is probably like 10 years. In 10 years I'

  • My CRT TV that I paid $200 for in 2005 is still working fine. May work well for another 20+ years. No reason to toss it into the junk box in the back of the closet.
  • Why a TV at all? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Archeopteryx ( 4648 ) * <benburch&pobox,com> on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:46PM (#52226103) Homepage

    A computer monitor makes a great dumb TV. I use a Raspberry Pi with one as a media center.

  • The only features I use on my Netcast-OS bearing, mid-2014 LG model is Netflix, Youtube, Spotify, PCT and DLNA casting. The problem is, I know at some point, only the later will keep working due to TV-side firmware upgrades deciding to no longer support the model, thus not even including the app. level cast protocol anymore.

    I think the new Vizio TVs and other Google Cast'able new products are going the right way in defining a long-term supportable framework across corporate interests. Why would I even consi

  • I think most people (myself included) don;t care about smart TVs. It didn't factor in at all the last time I replaced my TV (about a year ago). I did end up getting one, but that is because any TV that isn't super cheap is a smart TV. I do use the Netflix app on mine, but that is because I use Windows Media Center as my main TV control and support for the Netflix app for that has been dropped. If I couldn't use the TV app, I would have just used my PS4 instead, so it's not like it was a big deal for me. But

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:49PM (#52226137) Homepage

    It's a bit strange to me to ask the question, "Why do you want a smart-TV when you can just buy a Raspberry Pi?" Because then I'd need to figure out and set up a Raspberry Pi, obviously. It may be that it sounds to you like a fun project, but a lot of people don't want to go through that process. I don't want a media center computer, adding another device that I need to manage and update, I just want the simplest way to watch Netflix without worrying about yet another device.

    Now I'm playing the devil's advocate a little here. I have a Smart TV because the TV model I wanted at the time I was shopping for TVs came with those features. I don't use it, because I use an Apple TV (if I weren't in Apple's ecosystem for other reasons, I'd probably have gone with a Roku box). If there were a TV with a built-in Apple TV, I might buy that as a matter of simplification and convenience, but if I kept two separate devices, it would probably be so that I could upgrade the "smart" components without upgrading the screen. Still, if it were an option to have a TV with the Apple TV components integrated, I might go for that, just to make things really simple.

    All I want is to watch Netflix/Hulu. As long as it has that functionality, I want the simplest, easiest, most elegant, and most trouble-free method of doing that. I suspect that many people have a similar approach to the problem.

  • I want a smart tv so that I too can unknowingly contribute with a node in a botnet. In the expected life time of a TV the "smart" stuff will be relevant for at most 30% and it will be safe to put on the internet for 0-10%
  • I actively look for TVs without the smart functionality. That's getting harder and harder to find with the larger models.

  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:52PM (#52226177)
    With the "smart" built in there is no upgrade path. Once a manufacturer stops selling the model you have you are guaranteed to not be getting any firmware updates sans any class action. Right now you buy a TV and keep it until it dies or you decide on a bigger set. OEM's want a way to get you to upgrade quicker. Enter Smart TV's. It's like all the auto makers now adding WiFi to their cars. When LTE2 or whatever rolls out will you be able to upgrade that? Probably not.
  • But try to find a dumb one. I predict that in the near future it might even be more expensive to get a used TV that isn't infested with crapware than getting a new one that is.

    • If you don't give a smart tv your wifi credentials it is essentially a dumb tv. Just plug in a Chromecast or whatever to get streaming support.
  • Replacing my Roku when it becomes obsolete, or doesn't have a feature I want, that the new model has is easy and fairly inexpensive. (>$100) Having to replace my entire 50" TV for the same reason is lousy. It's many times more expensive, creates a ton more waste, and is just stupid because the screen still works just fine.

    The fact that the manufacturers will do invasive things like inject ads and siphon viewer data is icing on the BS cake.

  • While I like the Roku on my non-smart TV for my soon to be ex-wife she would rather have less boxes around the TV. In addition to less boxes, that means fewer remotes. For a non-techie sometimes even a Harmony remote is frustrating. Also if there are problems with the home network, it is one less device to manage and troubleshoot.
  • It's still a great TV... it's a 58" Plasma and still blows away LCD/LED TVs after 6 years.

    That said, an Android TV box with Kodi is fully replacing the AllShare functionality on the TV, as I have better control over closed captions/subtitles, no aspect ratio issues, h.265 support, and a lot more options moving ahead into the future. After all the years of dealing with the quirks of Samsung's DLNA support, I'm ready to move on to a richer, "smarter" experience.

    The threat of ads being inserted into my video s

  • To bad the cable co's just about killed tru2way.

    Now that was a good idea that got pushed to side and we got stuck with the iguide shit and still in use DCT-2000's.

  • Some of us bought Smart TV's back when that was the only realistic option to run something like Plex without needing four remotes and a list of a dozen buttons that have to be punched in some magic sequence to make it all work. I want one basic remote to control the whole thing, one usable user interface, and for everything to be nicely integrated. That ruled out a ton of hardware back in 2010-2012, and a lot of it since then too.

    Today, the AppleTV 4, with its Plex client and HDMI CEC capabilities, comes

  • That's being said, I just love when my "Smart" TV show me a popup, telling me that a 248MB patch is needed...
    (My "Smartass" tv is now disconnected).

  • Its more likely to ask why wouldn't you want a smart tv. Otherwise its one more device, two more wires, one more power brick wasting energy, one HDMI port used and extra complexity for non nerdy gadget types.

    The answer is because Smart TV UI's always suck (performance too) and that the tv manufacturers can be counted on to do stupid things no one ever asked for. Like including microphones and cameras (could easily be add-ons for the rare people who actually want it), and injecting ads into tv streams.

    Thes e

  • Smart for Who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DidgetMaster ( 2739009 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @01:13PM (#52226411) Homepage
    Everyone wants a 'smart' device until they realize that all the smart logic is designed to take control away from the user and give it to someone trying to sell you something. Your device (phone, tv, home security system, appliance, etc.) becomes an another avenue to push advertising at you or sign you up to some subscription service. That might be something you actually want. For the rest of us, it is just annoying chatter that we want to turn off.
  • Fewer Remotes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by burhop ( 2883223 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @01:15PM (#52226429)
    I mean, I have a remote for Roku, one for the TV, one for the cable box, one for the dedicated skype device, one for Bluray, one for the speakers and two not-as-universal-as-I-thought remotes. Sure, 4K on 60 inches with some apps was what I thought I wanted but being able to sit down and turn on Netflix with a single remote? Priceless.
  • I made the decision years ago. The TV in my house is a display device, not a content origination device..Keeping the TV as a single-purpose device makes it easier to upgrade and change the content origination devices in my setup.

    If a content origination device starts doing something stupid because of a software "upgrade," then that device is history.

    e.g., the AppleTV that was a part of my home entertainment system is now history because of the disaster that is AppleTV gen 4. What a buggy pile of goo

  • by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @01:17PM (#52226453) Homepage Journal

    Why? No extra box, limited headache, decent UI.

    All the other Smart stuff is pretty worthless IMHO.

    When are we going to get a decent UI that lets me watch whatever I have access to in a single UIX? Let me put Netflix, Amazon, Hulu credentials in and have a common interface. I know Amazon opened up some, but a wider standard would be idealtastic.

  • We have Smart Cars Smart Phones Smart TVs

    when are we going to get smart USERS???

  • It's hard to find a television with the same features (as a television alone) when comparing "smart" televisions with non-smart models, and the boot times have improved, along with the price difference. My solution is to just simply not allow it to network...by not plugging it in. Problem solved.
  • by Chewbacon ( 797801 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @01:23PM (#52226513)

    I always tell people not to spend the extra money because it's a "smart tv." I recently challenge myself to that assumption and bought a Samsung smart tv for the bedroom and I can say it still sucks. I suggest buying a Roku if you want plug and play streaming: Netflix, Amazon prime, slingtv, and it even talks to my media server running Serviio (plex works too).

    I will add my mother in law just bought an LG with their webos software and I was really surprised by it. It works pretty smoothly, close to my favored Roku.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal