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'Connected' TVs Mostly Used Just Like the Unconnected Kind 217

Posted by timothy
from the hi-fi-jumprope dept.
antdude writes "The National Purchase Diary (NPD) Group Blog reports that 'Internet Connected TVs Are Used To Watch TV, And That's About All — The Internet connected high definition television (HDTV) screen has so far failed to break beyond the bounds of its TV-centric heritage, with little use for the big screen beyond the obligatory video services. But the connection is being used to provide access to a far wider variety of alternative sources for video content. The latest NPD Connected Intelligence Application & Convergence report highlights that nearly six out of ten consumers who own a connected HDTV are accessing Over-the-Top video services through the device.' (Seen on DSL reports.)" Wired's headline on a story based on the same information puts things more bluntly: "No One Uses Smart TV Internet Because It Sucks."
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'Connected' TVs Mostly Used Just Like the Unconnected Kind

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 27, 2012 @05:40PM (#42406615)

    I have one of these TVs, and one major problem is that each manufacturer is trying to create a captive audience for their own variety of apps.

    As a result, the number of apps available is pathetic, and almost all boil down to TV stations vanity apps

    • by rikkards (98006) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @05:45PM (#42406651) Journal

      Yep, I just got a Sony and I tried it out and it can't hold a candle against XBMC. The interface is clunky and slow which I have heard as well about it with Samsung. Now if Samsung was smart they would be using Android instead...

      • by NIK282000 (737852) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @05:51PM (#42406683) Homepage Journal

        TVs should be a display and that's it. Give it the brain to decode HDMI signals and the tuner for over the air digital but that should be it. Every time a manufacturer tries to put more then that in their TV it just makes it worse. I spent a day at best buy looking at TVs this month, not a single internet enabled had an interface that doesn't make you want to rip out all your hair. Added features shouldn't break the main ones.

        • by nschubach (922175) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @05:58PM (#42406729) Journal

          I kind of wish that there was a recess in the back of the TV or more "behind the screen" PCs that mount on the VESA pins (or between if you wall mount it) that had a simple 12v power supply and HDMI port. This way you can buy "smart" modules or a PC that mounts on the back of the set to give you the "smart" feature set. Leave the TV up to the task of getting and displaying a signal to the best of it's ability (like you said.) If you ever need to update the "smart" part of the TV, you wouldn't have to replace the whole set. I have a 1080p monitor in my living room that has lasted far longer than the media PC I have connected to it.

          • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

            Most of the TVs I have owned have a recess for cables that has been the home for first and second generation Apple TVs, and a Roku. Keep trying to finish a project with a BeagleBone that would go in the spot on a smaller TV, but it is a low priority project. Raspberry Pi or one of the little USB stick computers would work fine though...

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by olsmeister (1488789)
            90% of people wouldn't want to screw around with that. When they spend all that money on a TV, they expect it to do cool stuff, out of the box. If you tell them they need to buy something else, they're going to think you're trying to screw them over. Now that $80 HDMI cable, though, that they'd probably buy.
            • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @06:26PM (#42406939) Homepage Journal

              90% of people wouldn't want to screw around with that. When they spend all that money on a TV, they expect it to do cool stuff, out of the box.

              OK, we all know the 90% is a number you pulled straight from the depths of your ass, but you do still make a valid point, so I'll go ahead and ask:
              Really? Since when?

              To wit - I was born in the mid 1980's, and it has always been my expectation that my TV is nothing more than a display screen, which only shows me 'cool stuff' from the devices I physically connect to it.

              Then again, I've never spent more than maybe $350 on a television (hooray pawnshops and demo units!), so I'm guessing this is a YMMV situation.

              • I'd venture a guess that one of the main reasons that most smart TVs are used as plain TVs is because the people that bought them don't even know they are smart. Thus, they can't go through the rationale the GP proposed.

                Altough, they can go through a similar one: "This is the top of line TV, it must be good", that coupled with the fact that all top of the line TVs are smart makes them favor buying smart TVs... But not at the expense of add-ons. They just probably don't want add-ons.

            • by scot4875 (542869)

              90% of people wouldn't want to screw around with that. When they spend all that money on a TV, they expect it to do cool stuff, out of the box.

              It's particularly amusing that you make this unfounded assertion in a story about how nobody who buys smart TVs uses them do do any of the 'cool stuff' that they're capable of.

              --Jeremy

              • by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:06PM (#42407199)

                I bought a car expecting it to go real fast. The reality is that regardless of whether or not it can go real fast, I rarely drive much above the speed limit anyway. I bought a Wii expecting to use it to exercise. The reality is I sit on the couch and play games with wrist flicks. People buy based on expectations, not how they'll actually use it.

              • by Nutria (679911)

                Exactly. TVs in living rooms are just not the place to be sending tweets from.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I kind of wish that there was a recess in the back of the TV or more "behind the screen" PCs that mount on the VESA pins (or between if you wall mount it) that had a simple 12v power supply and HDMI port.

            Step 1: Right angle HDMI connector of the proper right angle (left or right, who cares which is which, buy one on eBay with a picture.)
            Step 2: Plug in gumstick android machine, install XBMC
            Step 3: Profit!

            You can mount stuff to the VESA mount, but there's not any good reason to sell that because you can't sell it to people who can't wall mount and the computers are getting so small that they don't even need mounting, the connector can withstand enough force to hold them in.

          • by Phroggy (441)

            Have you looked at the AppleTV [apple.com]?

          • by jackbird (721605)

            Isn't that a fair description of a cable box/DVR?

        • by isorox (205688)

          TVs should be a display and that's it. Give it the brain to decode HDMI signals and the tuner for over the air digital but that should be it.

          You've said two incompatible things there. Wither you want your tv to just have a baseband hdmi input or 10, or you want it to receive a data stream and decide it. Dvbt, dvbc, ts over ip, doesn't matter.

          You presumably want a way of displaying what channels are in your stream, without tuning in manually and selecting a pid.

          Fundamentally what's the difference between watching a dvb stream over the air, and watching a Netflix program?

        • by GIL_Dude (850471)
          I agree with you on that. I have one of these "Smart TVs" (in my case an LG). I've had it for 5 months now. It has gotten 4 "software updates" that nobody from LG will document or give a change log for so we have no idea what is being added, removed, or fixed. After 4 months, it began randomly rebooting. Sometimes it would work through most of a soccer or football game - other times it would reboot almost every 15 minutes. Had to have the main board replaced (under warranty thankfully). It does have some ap
        • by Kjella (173770)

          That was my idea as well, I saw what an uncle of mine spent on a fancy new smart TV, I was thinking "so... this is like a TV + a $99 AppleTV in one, except it is less flexible and costs way more". Personally I got myself a dumb TV, no 3D, apparently no buzzword-compliance because it was on a huge going-out sale but it's a 60" LCD. For one my fiber company has a smart set top box, I have a PC hooked up and for some reason I thought I could use an AppleTV and I recently got a Wii U that can browse the Interne

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        I barely use XMBC any more because of my Panasonic smart TV's built in media player that copes with almost everything I throw at it. The only other feature of XMBC I used to use was YouTube (for things like movie trailers, instructional videos, documentaries etc.) which the TV also has.

        On top of that it has a pretty good iPlayer client, which XBMC was lacking last time I checked.

        The only time I boot XMBC is for the 0.1% of videos that the TV can't play itself and because for some inexplicable and stupid rea

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @05:54PM (#42406703) Journal
      Did they really need a study for this? Why would someone use their 52" TV for twitter or Facebook when they have a tablet or laptop already?
      • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @06:11PM (#42406843)

        What is surprising is that you can't connect to Amazon or Netflix on some of the units despite being "smart." They have their own video store and other such nonsense.

        • by adolf (21054)

          What is surprising is that you can't connect to Amazon or Netflix on some of the units despite being "smart."

          All of the "smart" BFTs I've installed recently had a big, fat Netflix button right on the remote.

          I've never used it (indeed, we make a point of not connecting the television to the network), but it's there...

        • Buying a TV without Netflix support was recently classified as a form of mental illness which can be treated by forcing the patient to watch nothing but political ads for 8 hours straight. After that point the cured patient is unable to hear the name Comcast without recoiling in terror and bursting into tears. Patients are reported to lead much fuller and happier lives thereafter.

          I have purchased two TVs (one 55" and one 65") in the last few years. Required features: Netflix, DLNA, not Sony.
      • My kids do 13/16 and they love it on the big screen though a HTPC. They have laptop and Samsung phones but they prefer to sit there and use the TV as a computer. If there was an 10 Foot UI linux distro the TV would get way more computer time usage between watching HULU/Netlix/Cracle, playing games/STEAM and watching video from websites.

    • by TWX (665546)
      We built an XBMC box for out TV, and we found that our Blu-ray player can also connect to a bunch of services like slacker radio, crackle, youtube, NPR, and the like.

      It works fairly well actually.
    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @06:07PM (#42406819)

      Sort of. I have a Samsung Smart TV, and while they definitely have their flavor of apps only available for their TV, that's not really the main problem. The main problem is that the apps that do exist are slow, have a terrible interface, and are filled with bugs. For example: for the first 6 months or so, the Netflix app kept losing my login information. I was this close to just not watching Netflix on the TV anymore, and just go back either jerry-rigging it onto the TV via an extra-long DVI/HDMI cable or to just watch it on my laptop.

      But yes, the Smart TVs are absolutely retarded and a waste of money (or at least, the Internet connectivity aspect is). They need to fix the following problems:
      * no useful apps available outside of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus..
      * requirements to use specific and approved USB cameras or widgets.
      * Buggy apps.
      * Very slow responsiveness.
      * Terrible, terrible interface.

      The solutions:
      * Swallow your pride. Go Google Play Store or iTunes.
      * Invest into the connectivity, and throw some real processing power onto it.
      * Release a smartphone app that allows you to use its interfaces (voice recognition, touchscreen) to control the action on-screen.
      * Make the USB-connectivity more robust, and accept standard webcams, gizmos and widgets.

      Until then, I will consider Smart TVs a waste of time.

      Oh, and fair warning, dear TV makers: this isn't rocket science, and if Apple is indeed working on an Apple TV, it WILL eat your lunch. Because they will get it right, and people will fall over themselves to get a well-thought out, easy to use, pretty TV that integrates into the Apple eco-system.

      • by mcrbids (148650)

        Apple TV has existed for quite some time now. [apple.com] Despite this, it has yet to become much of a success. Apple probably makes some money on it, but it's just not getting all that much reach. Its integration with an ipad is pretty slick. There's also Google TV [bestbuy.com] which is embedded into other players.

        So far, the winner for the alternative TV seems to be gaming devices, like Xbox or PS3.

        • by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:07PM (#42407205)

          Windows Media Center on Win7 with XBox360's as extenders and a HDHomeRun Prime on the server for cable is pretty much the best thing there is on the planet for this stuff.

          • by Dan667 (564390)
            personally, I like MythTV even better. It will even skip commercials without even needing to press a remote button.
        • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:18PM (#42407283) Journal
          Rumors from some pretty good sources suggest Apple is working on a new TV that will be somewhat different than that product. It will change TV the way the iPhone changed smartphones.
          • by Kaenneth (82978) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:23PM (#42407335) Homepage Journal

            " It will change TV the way the iPhone changed smartphones."

            I am filled with so much sarcasm right now, I literally can't decide which snide comment to make.

            • by schnell (163007) <<me> <at> <schnell.net>> on Thursday December 27, 2012 @09:52PM (#42408169) Homepage

              Snark if you want, but as someone who worked in the industry at the time I can tell you when Apple first showed off the iPhone in January 2007 it changed damn near everything (or at least it did when the other OEMs and carriers realized to their horror that people were actually buying the damned things). Full touchscreen-based UI, functional web browser, no carrier software deck and WAP store, real music player functionality and good video viewing, multitouch, visual voicemail ... It all seems old hat now but if you don't remember what it was like, go pick up a contemporary BlackBerry or Windows Mobile 6 phone and tell me if it doesn't just beat the shit out of it in terms of usability.

              you can hate Apple for what they have become, but you cannot dismiss how that original iPhone changed the wireless landscape. If they can do the same for TVs, it could be very very interesting.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:15PM (#42407267) Homepage

        no useful apps available outside of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus..

        + iPlayer and YouTube. Those apps alone are worth their weight in gold.

        requirements to use specific and approved USB cameras or widgets.

        I'm afraid that unless you want your TV to run Windows you are probably going to be SOL on that one, since no manufacturer is going to try and support every random ultra low-cost craptastic webcam chipset with a custom driver when they can just sell you one of their own. If the fault lies anywhere it is with the USB standard for not defining a standard driver-neutral webcam interface.

        Very slow responsiveness.

        Try Panasonic TVs. The higher end models have dual core CPUs and are pretty responsive. You get what you pay for.

        Release a smartphone app that allows you to use its interfaces (voice recognition, touchscreen) to control the action on-screen.

        Already exists [google.com], works pretty well.

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          Most USB devices work with linux drivers. Most smart TVs are running linux. My guess is that the TV manufacturers put extra effort into removeing a lot of the functionality so that they could skimp on hardware.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          requirements to use specific and approved USB cameras or widgets.

          I'm afraid that unless you want your TV to run Windows you are probably going to be SOL on that one, since no manufacturer is going to try and support every random ultra low-cost craptastic webcam chipset with a custom driver when they can just sell you one of their own. If the fault lies anywhere it is with the USB standard for not defining a standard driver-neutral webcam interface

          I beg your pardon, what was that again? [wikipedia.org]

          It really only makes sense to offer a TV with nothing, Android with access to the Play store, or an iPhone dock. That's it.

      • by Cederic (9623)

        * no useful apps available outside of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus..

        I use the DLNA capability on my Samsung Smart TV, which is useful. More often than that I watch films on LoveFilm, which has always worked perfectly. I could use Netflix but I've been using Lovefilm for longer than Netflix has been available in this country.

        I use the iPlayer from time to time, which also works fine.

        I'll admit that I tend not to use the rest of the apps much. But having built in wifi means I can stream directly to the TV from the iPlayer or Lovefilm servers, very simply and with HD quality.

    • by hey! (33014)

      Plus, you have all the problems of a computer, because these TVs *are* computers. I have a Vizio which takes forever to boot up. It's currently out of service because of a problem with the logic board, which needs replacing.

    • My parents have one of them. The Netflix app is nice, but no better or worse than watching Netflix via the Wii. Most other apps are just too clunky to use with the remote control. If they allowed motion sensing like the Wiimote, they'd be a lot more useful. As it is, it's a lot like trying to use modern UIs with just the keyboard and no keyboard shortcuts... it's doable, just a whole lot of tab-tab-tab to get where you want to go.

    • by rtkluttz (244325) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:26PM (#42407349) Homepage

      I would go a step further with that statement... the reason it sucks SO badly is that they try to create revenue streams because they falsly believe they have a captive audience. Hulu is free on a computer, but hulu plus blocks some shows depending on your device. WTF??? I'll just hook my computer to my TV and bypass your damn cripple ware. Stop trying to lock me in and give me value that makes me WANT to stay.

    • Looks like, yet again, we need to wait for google to step in with Android TV or whatever and save us all. How can companies be so blind to the obvious when all the world knows what will work? 10 to 20 years from now you'll hear Sony and everyone else bitching that Google and Valve rule everything they do... how dare they take over the entire market by giving the customers what they want?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the failed MSN TV debacle. People (for the most part) don't want to surf the net on their set top boxes.

  • 300 different online video apps, no clue how to find the TV show or movie I want to watch. And when I do find it, no way to tell it to look for it free first (before amazon hits me up for $6 to rent it).

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      I don't even have a cable/antenna connection on my smart TV. I just have connected a laptop in the garage to it and I watch my torrented series and movies on it, so it's just a smart monitor. I just use the remote to switch it on and to switch on 3D for the movies requiring it.

      I got a keyboard which lights up when I come near it so that I can type in the dark and a large touchpad for the couch.

  • by Synerg1y (2169962) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @05:49PM (#42406667)
    When you expand a TV's capabilities outwards far enough what do you get?

    A PC? A mini-PC? aka a computer.
    Right now they act more like an embedded machine with preset apps & software limitations.
    They'd have to have an app market & flash based storage for one, but let's think even more (head hurt? not really),
    I can use my TV as a monitor making it a computer and the latest FF & IE > anything on that Sony for web browsing + I get a USB keyboard (I already own) to use, that kind of helps. The same goes for the rest of the apps including netflix, which I have a big red button for on my remote, the PC version is more stable, faster, and overall better.

    I don't use my TV as a monitor however, so I appreciate the netflix button and the amazon video app all over wifi, can't say I use a whole lot besides that, but the webcam & bluetooth might have some uses every once in a blue moon.

    My point is a TV should remain a TV, I'd rather pay for a better image processor than a crappy browser, but if they were to try and make them smarter, they'd have to follow the cell phone's evolution into a smartphone and add similar features in regards to UI design & customization.
    • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @06:06PM (#42406809)

      I utterly agree with your sentiment.

      The concept of "Smart" TVs is a marketing concept gone terribly wrong. Yes, the technology is here to allow us to do some wonderful things with the internet and through apps, but until a TV can do better than a PC as far as the internet is concerned, or better than a media player than is connected to it, or better than the media server that is connected to that, then why on earth would I want my TV to do any of it?

      If I want to pay games, I will do so on a gaming system, not through the TV using the remote as a controller. If I want to watch a movie or show, I will do it via the easiest and most intuitive manner I can find - and that being in the TV is a LONG way off the features and maturity of more specialized items. Heck, when I look for features in a TV, I don't even care about sound, I want it to do nothing more than display a picture that is being supplied to it.

      If manufacturers want to ween me off using a western digital media player, make the features of the built-in media player better than those of the western digital player I use. I admit that I did try the Samsung version that came with my TV. It was horrific. If you want me to use *your* software, make it at least as good as what I have - which will make it more convenient to have it built-in and therefore better overall, otherwise, stop wasting my time and money.

      • by Synerg1y (2169962)
        Glad I'm not the only one who thinks TV apps are just crappy to begin with, you touched on two major points though, one is Sony & Samsung will ram features down your throat to get their profits up, whether you use them or not, they don't care, especially lately, I have apps on mine to services I've never heard of, much less want to pay for. The other is not so much a point as an observation and that's my older blu-ray player also by Sony has a stable netflixes app in the 100% stability range, go figure
      • If I want to pay games, I will do so on a gaming system, not through the TV using the remote as a controller.

        We use a Logitech K400 and two XBox controllers to play emulators, Humble Bundle games and STEAM.

      • look at the bright side though, when people start ditching their smart tv's as their apps start getting older and buggier and buggier, there will be plenty of nice free hardware available on the curbside. Then some future open source project - ddwr-tv - will allow us to flash new firmwares to them!

        Its amazing what some people throw away as "broken"

      • by sjames (1099)

        Exactly. In my case, I would like to see it able to mount a volume on my LAN (NFS preferred, Samba is acceptable) and be willing to play any A/V files there. An HTML5 browser with flash will be preferred over a special youtube app. Available remote control apps for Android and iPhone would be nice.

  • No surprise (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bender Unit 22 (216955) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @05:52PM (#42406687) Journal

    I spent around 3300$(converted to $) a few years ago on a so called "smart TV" from Samsung. Less than a year after I bought it, they stopped updating the software. They never fixed it's problems with remember subtitles settings.
    The "Smart TV" part never got to be in any usable state and now after Netflix has entered my country, it is clear that this model will never get a downloadable app for Netflix.

    So, no, I am not going to spend YET more money on a new TV when it is capable of showing a picture. Although I would have liked to have a all-in-one box, I guess it is not possible so I still have to buy boxes and then still use the tv as a monitor.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      I spent around 3300$(converted to $) a few years ago on a so called "smart TV" from Samsung. Less than a year after I bought it, they stopped updating the software. They never fixed it's problems with remember subtitles settings.
      The "Smart TV" part never got to be in any usable state and now after Netflix has entered my country, it is clear that this model will never get a downloadable app for Netflix.

      So, no, I am not going to spend YET more money on a new TV when it is capable of showing a picture. Although I would have liked to have a all-in-one box, I guess it is not possible so I still have to buy boxes and then still use the tv as a monitor.

      ...but but but... I think that's the business model. You buy a TV, find that the apps are crap, and that you need to buy another TV for some of the apps to work, and then another TV comes along where more features work, so you have to have that, and so on in incremental improvements. It keeps workers in China, helpdesk people in India, and marketing people in the US all employed. As an added bonus, since the TVs are flat, the old ones stack really well in landfills.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        That's certainly Samsung's business model, anyway. They break things in firmware updates, and then they stop shipping updates after about a year or so, so you never actually get what you paid for. From now on, the only thing I'm ever going to buy from Samsung is TVs, and even then, only the dumbest variety. I just don't trust them to do anything remotely complicated software-wise without completely screwing it up.

        But in some ways, it's bigger than that. Consumer device manufacturers are good at hardwar

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          That's a good argument to stay far enough behind the curve that you can find out what the typical user experience is (and the most common fixes/upgrades/workarounds) before buying the device.

          It's often said that the user community acts as a gigantic unpaid QA department. This breaks down if nobody benefits. As you said, the manufacturers are generally not listening, and the early adopters will always adopt early regardless. It's the middle-to-late adopters that reap the benefits.

          For instance, I have yet

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Nobody expects you to buy a new $3000 TV instead of plugging in a Roku for $50. It is almost inevitable that any "smart" functions purchased today will soon be obsolete. But they will keep including them, because they are cheap to include, and help to differentiate between products that are otherwise very difficult to differentiate.
  • I have a smart 3dtv, I bought that model because it was the cheapest way to get an LCD/LED backlit TV with enough HDMI sockets for my gear.

    All the cheap non-smart/non-3d TV on the market in my price range and target screen size maxed out at 2 HDMI sockets, moving up to a smart TV gained me an extra HDMI and 3D... Moving up a model again gained another HDMI...

    I use none of the smart tv features - my dvr does them better...

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      No one buys them for these features.

      I am buying a 60" 3d tv soon, try to find one that does not have these pointless features. I don't have cable nor an antenna it will purely be for my HTPC and PS3.

  • Yes, I agree the apps are useless, but my Samsung SmartTV is great for playing .mp4 and .mkv files. It will even play .mt2s files you can find on Blu-Ray disks. I just plug in a 1 TB WD Passport portable hard drive to my TV, and use this as my media center. No extra devices need to be turned on. It can also play directly from computer shares, but my wireless access of the TV to the living room is quite poor.
    • by longbot (789962)
      This and the Netflix app are the ONLY things I use my (Samsung) TV for, actually!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    DVD players have this mostly figured out (game consoles as well I guess) if I'm going to plug a video playing device to my network it better damn well play videos FROM MY NETWORK, simple right?

    I should be able to attach to a network share or DLNA server or hit up any number of services and just pull content across the wire. Any content. Content of my own choosing.

    I shouldn't have to bounce out to the internet to do it

    I shouldn't have to verify who I am

    I shouldn't have to log in to anything

    But nope, all we g

  • we need some kind of cable / satellite gateway box that let's use your own boxes / tv's linked useing a conman system. With no per tv / box outlet fees or mirroring.

  • I have a "Smart" TV and I've never attempted to use it other than a monitor because I assume the "Smart" features are difficult to set up as well as broken and/or crippled. For instance, my TV may have access to Hulu, but I know for a fact that some networks prevent devices other than PCs from accessing their content. That is one of many reasons why I set up an HTPC with a four-tuner card running MythBackend and XBMC. Yes, it was incredibly painful to set up, mostly thanks to confusion and quirks in myth
  • by MindPrison (864299) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @06:33PM (#42406985) Journal
    I have what I like to call a "Dumb-TV", made by the brand Denver Electronics. No seriously, it's the dumbest TV on the planet. It's marketed as a "Smart-TV", but read on, and make your own judgement:

    It's your typical super feature filled tv, with recording capabilities, Digital TV (DVB-T & C etc.). Media Playback, Pictures, Videos and whatnot...
    Wonderful ...if it actually worked...

    1) Every time I turn on the TV, the TV goes into Schizo-mode. I'll give you 2 channels today...no...4 channels...if you wait 10 more minutes, maybe 10 channels.
    2) If you try to watch video via the scart plug (eg, the DVD player), sometimes it comes up with a message: No activity, want to turn off? (It waits until you press ok or cancel)
    3) Sometimes it falls asleep - while still on, then a menu will sit and wait for you, until you press OK. (means...backlight still on, a small square saying "No activity for a while, sleep? OK or CANCEL"
    4) When you insert a USB memory...it will let you watch TV for 20 seconds, before this HUGE menu covers the ENTIRE screen, geefully informing you of all your amazing multi-media experiences awaiting you. USB CARD INSERTED - OK? OK or CANCEL... The idiot TV will block your TV viewing until you take action.
    5) It's amazing schizophrenic mode will be sure to forget that your USB CARD has already been inserted the last time, so the next time you turn on the TV, it will let you watch TV for half a minute before finally ....UH OH...You have an USB CARD INSERTED...HERE's a GIANT menu to block your TV, now make a choice!!!
    6) Sometimes it will FIGHT you for ON/OFF mode. Is it on? Maybe it doesn't WANT to be turned on?! You press ON...the LED indicates that it understands, starts searching but decides to fall asleep instead.. OH you meant ON?! OK...press TWICE...and the TV is ON!
    7) And it loves to inform you about useless stuff...such as.... CHANNEL 7 or 9 aren't currently transmitting, want to delete these unused channels? YES, No, Cancel!
    8) It'll do this until you run out of channels. :)

    Yep, dumb TV technology at it's best.
    • by servognome (738846) on Friday December 28, 2012 @03:43AM (#42409483)
      Dear confused owner:

      Thank you for purchasing our product. We would like to address your concerns, as they are unique patented features of this device.

      1) Schizo-mode(TM) has been developed after years of research and development to provide the maximum enjoyment for the viewer. It allivates what the industry has called "channel overload." By limiting the number of channels, viewers do not experience the initial 3-5 minute distraction of trying to decide what to watch. As the user becomes acclimated, their options are incrimentally expanded.

      2) The Exercise Suggestion(TM) feature, has been developed to comply with 2020 EU health guidelines. Using patented methods, the system can determine the user's fitness level via the DVD button. In response to a low fitness rating, the television will remind the user that they have not engaged in recent physical activity and suggest they turn off the device.

      3) The Sleep Suggestion(TM) feature, has been developed to comply with 2020 EU health guidelines. Our patented system can determine user fatigue by measuring pupil activity while watching the device. If the pupil activity drops below a specific threshold, the system will prompt the user and suggest they sleep.

      4) Unlike competitive products which pop-up a menu upon USB insertion, your device includes USB Insertion Regret Prevention(TM). This is a patented feature designed to provide users the opportunity to remove the card without interruption in the event that they decide to continue watching their current program.

      5) This is another feature of USB Regret Prevention(TM). Users are given a brief opportunity to view what is currently airing, so they can make an informed decision on whether they prefer to engage in the amazing multimedia experiences enabled by using the USB card.

      6) Program Pre-Scanning(TM) is a patented feature where upon start-up the television scans the channels available and determines based on the user's viewing history if there are any programs they might be interested in. If there are none, the system will go into sleep mode. This can be overrided by pressing the power button twice. Please note that the accuracy of this feature will improve over time as it gains more data about the user's preferences.

      7) This is an extension of the Schizo-mode(TM) feature, and is designed to assist the user by removing unnecessary channels.

      8) Schizo Continuous Program Scanning(TM) allows the user to experience the best of Schizo-mode(TM) and Program Pre-Scanning(TM) while they are using the device. Based on user preferences from their history, the device will reduce the number of channels available. By removing channels with programs the user is not interested in, the user can more quickly find programs they are interested in. If you find that all available channels are removed, we suggest you contact your cable provider and order a package that includes programs you are interested in.

      We thank you for your continued business.
  • by mu51c10rd (187182) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @06:33PM (#42406987)

    I like my Smart TV's apps and internet capability. I much prefer using the builtin Netflix/Hulu+/Amazon apps than running cables to another device. As it is, I ran power into a outlet in the wall behind my mounted TV. No cables, entertainment center or any other furniture are needed. I also got a sound bar mounted right above the TV for better sound. Not everyone wants a PC sitting in their room (and some of us like the simplicity of a single device).

    • I have a Sony Bravia and I got the USB/WiFi adapter more as chuckle than anything else. But it's been fun.

      I've used the YouTube and Crackle apps. It has NetFlix and Amazon's movie stores, but I haven't bothered to use them. Usually every few months I'll flip it on, update the Internet content, and see if there's anything new.

      But is it life-changing? Nope.

  • by EXTomar (78739) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @06:35PM (#42406999)

    In my experience, my TV habits have shift radically since getting a Google TV. Instead of connecting a bunch of boxes to it, they've all gone to the older HDTV. Things I've noticed off the top of my head and in no particular order:

    - The DLNA features is a necessary thing for all my TVs now. I've relied on less and less live TV due to this feature alone.
    - Apps like Netflix run just as well if not more directly when it is on the TV itself instead of a secondary box.
    - Since Google TV has Chrome, if there is not an app for something that offers video or a stream I can just browse to it, play it at full screen and enjoy it like watching a TV channel.

    The only "traditional" thing I can think that TV does any longer is that it has a console connected to it where the console has duplicate features too which I would never run since they are all on the TV.

    I wish it was smart enough to "scrape" a web page that has been book marked for video or audio content or stream and show it like a channel. Although Youtube and Chrome works fine, crossing between them is a still a bit clunky since it requires minimizing one/activating the other but that is something all tablets and phones. I also wish it would have a more intelligent guide where the information on a show should be available across all sources instead of "Now search Live TV", "Now search Internet" etc.

    In the end I will admit that I'm not sure having "fancy TV" changed how I use it as much as my taste and habits changed. I no longer spend much time watching "Live TV" where an net aware and internet connected TV has been more useful.

    • by adolf (21054)

      I take it that you have a TV with "Google TV" built in.

      How does any of your experience differ from having a dumb TV with the "Google TV" functionality in an outboard box?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I just spent a weekend at my sisters and realised the hell that some people live in with their TVs.
      Sony VHS player.
      Toshiba DVD player
      Sky Decoder
      Component Receiver and 5.1 speaker system.
      Connecting it all to a really old school Plasma (no DVI, only 1 PC input and one component input)
      To turn it all on requires using no less than three remotes! And then because she is 100% legal, is reliant on Sky's timetable, and has given up trying to record to watch later because getting the VHS or DVD recorder to get teh r

  • 'Connected' TVs Mostly Used Just Like the Unconnected Kind...until they get hacked and/or infected. Then they work significantly differently.
  • Vidoe Game Consoles (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @06:42PM (#42407041)
    Game consoles won the smart TV war. They have more realiable apps. They provide better games. They have better browsers.
  • ...and according to some exploit news, spying on me.

    Seriously though, I used Netflix on it constantly (I play comedy shows/specials/stand up on it as background noise during the day - or old movies) and I have it logged into Skype all the time (it has a nice webcam in it) as it makes a great teleconferencing device.

    Without a good keyboard though, I'd never use it for inputting text (ye Gods and little boarlets that sounds like torture...)

  • by theurge14 (820596) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @06:52PM (#42407113)

    I just purchased a smaller HDTV (32") very recently and I made my purchase based on what many of you would, the screen quality. The Vizio I picked has a brighter and more clear display than the others on the shelf and it has a thinner bezel. Additionally it has built-in WiFi and "Smart TV" features even though the price was the same as the others around it.

    The TV has apps for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and many others. Apparently it checks in with Vizio for firmware updates and app updates on its own, I'm ok with that. I only have a Netflix account so I tried that first. The app interface is nearly identical to the one on the XBOX, so I prefer now to use the TV's built in Netflix then powering on the XBOX and going through all the motions of logging in and launching it. Accessing Netflix with the TV remote is about equally clunky as the XBOX controller so nothing lost or gained through that, but without the added noise of the XBOX fans it's a gain.

    It's not like I was seeking these features out, but they do seem to have a place just as long as they don't try to do too much. I have no desire to open a web browser up using a TV remote. However, if there was a way to wirelessly stream a laptop screen to the TV without too much added hardware or software then that would be the way to go. Or control the TV with my touchscreen smartphone. Vizio sells some stupid dongle for the iPhone to accomplish this along with some badly programmed app. No thanks, let me know when it doesn't suck.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Accessing Netflix with the TV remote is about equally clunky as the XBOX controller so nothing lost or gained through that, but without the added noise of the XBOX fans it's a gain.

      The 360 sucks down power pretty well, so it's a big benefit to not have that going on. It is notable though that many say that the Netflix app on the 360 has only gotten crappier over time, and also that the 360 is one of the worst platforms on which to run Netflix. Personally I find a PC to be the only place it doesn't make me mad, largely because it's the only place I've found it to have adequate buffering.

  • Last month I bought my first new TV, having owned a lot of castoffs from friends. A shiny new Panasonic plasma "smart TV". My first thought was that I'd never use that stuff, but the picture was the deciding factor. Since the router was nearby, I went ahead and attached an Ethernet cable to it. Next thing you know, I'm surfing around on the built in Netflix and Amazon Prime apps, and less than a month later, I actually cancelled the cable TV service that I stopped watching.

    Maybe it's just that I value m

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:01PM (#42407171)

    my father in law bought a smart TV because the person in best buy sold it to him
    the apps suck
    they are so slow its like watching trees grow
    netflix is OK but the interface is better on the consoles and apple TV
    my mom bought a smart TV with no wifi adapter and doesn't want to spend more money

    when i showed her my x-box and what it does and explained that a smart TV only streams content for more money she lost interest. when i showed her how to stream russian TV over the internet to my apple TV without a cable sub her interest peaked.

    the best smart TV i have is my apple TV. i can stream the apps from my iphones or ipad to the TV. and some apps are custom built for it so you see the picture on the TV and data stays on the device. like the wii u and 3ds do with their multiple screens

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:14PM (#42407253) Homepage Journal

    You know why they suck? Because we have devices far more powerful than what they put in these TVs, which are more capable in the department of handling internet stuff.

    This is why my 32" Samsung is a TV/monitor ONLY. Every other device I have hooked to it has all the 'smart' capability I need.

  • by BenJeremy (181303) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:19PM (#42407295)

    We mostly watch Netflix, YouTube, etc... and also use it to connect to our DLNA server for movies and TV shows.

    Crappy Javascript games and apps, though? Why would I?

    Still... as long as the "Smart" in the TV is geared towards watching content, we will always use it.

    For our "dumb" other TVs we are forced to use "Smart" Blu-ray players to get our content.

  • I don't like paying for the thing and then it serving me ads over the internet. Can anyone detail an easy way to find where my TV is getting these ads from and block / replace them?

    I've thought about a linux transparent proxy between the TV and my router, analysing the logs, then writing a script to replace the offending ad, but that just seems like too much bother, although replacing the ad with my own image has a definite appeal. Is there a decent router than can block a specific address or two to stop t
  • by rueger (210566) * on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:35PM (#42407387) Homepage
    I bought Sony BluRay specifically because I wanted to access content via the 'net instead of paying robber baron cable company prices.

    My immediate thought was NetFlix, until I found out that we low-life Canadians only are allowed to access one quarter of the content available in the US. Despite paying the same price. So as well as paying Netflix their $8 a month, I pay a second company [blockless.com] another $5 a month so that it looks like we're living in the US. Of course the Sony box is the one Internet unit in the house that won't let you set the DNS address - despite being the only thing that needs it, so the entire house is now pretending to be American.

    I still have to say that Netflix interface sucks big time, either on the 'net, or on the TV. The only way to use it is to search, as there's no sensible browse method.

    Because we're in Canada our Sony box doesn't get us stuff like Hulu or Google TV or Amazon Prime. We do get Crackle. Oh joy. And the option to pay Sony on a pay per view basis for whatever they're flogging.

    What I found with this box: I can't use the built in browser to play back content on the web. I mean really folks?? My hometown TV station streams their newscast, but you won't allow me to see it? There's a thing called vRadio that plays streaming radio stations, but again you only get what Sony decides you want. There's no option to add other stations.

    Gave Servioo a whirl, and Plex, but haven't had the time or patience to figure out why they won't get video from my Ubuntu box to the TV via the Sony.

    Really, my complaint isn't that I'm locked into Sony's choices, it's that I'm locked out of 95% of the Internet.

    Including, and this really surprised me, any and all sports programming.

    I guess I'm spoiled by using Linux and Android/Cyanogenmod, but I really feel that this box needs to be jailbroken so that the user can make full use of it's capabilities.
  • by na1led (1030470) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:37PM (#42407397)
    I'm really surprised we haven't seen a TV with Roku built in. IMO Roku is the best IPTV box out there when it comes to simple design interface, and lots of Internet channels. If they could add UPnP it would be even better. I'm curious about Ubuntu TVs which should be coming next year.
  • I have an LG Smart TV, and it has USB ports, but it wont accept a USB keyboard. As far as I can tell you have to buy some proprietary air mouse thing.

    If the keyboard worked I'd be using it for youtube and web browsing regularly, but unfortunately they have made it too painful to use. My XBMC box plays media far better and I can use a regular keyboard if I want, so the SmartTV features rarely get used.

  • Consumer confusion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scotts13 (1371443) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @08:27PM (#42407665)

    My Significant Other can afford the best of everything; not stupid but not a computer/internet specialist. She has a high-end internet-enabled TV, an internet-enabled BluRay player, and a TiVo (with internet features). All have the ability to access, say, YouTube, but each component has a slightly different interface and capabilities. She's gotten lost and frustrated in the interface(s) so many times (Was it the YouTube viewer accessed through the TV, or the other one? What interface on the receiver do I use?) that she no longer uses ANY of the features. She's locked all the remotes but the one for the TiVo in the closet; she doesn't even play DVD's anymore, because if she switches to that input she's afraid she won't find her way back.

    Thanks, consumer electronics industry.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @08:58PM (#42407871) Homepage Journal

    Man, I'm really out of the mainstream, I guess. The only thing our TV is used for is Netflix, via Roku, and occasionally DVDs and sometimes some of the other Internet TV streams. My daughter used to watch some Saturday morning cartoons, but that was over a decade ago. I remember a particular show she watched that had animated foodstuffs fighting with martial arts. Since the quality of network offerings in that area were nowhere near the quality of the Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid, my daughter's interest only lasted a few years (whereas I can still be transfixed by Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, George of the Jungle, Rocky and Bullwinkle, et al.

    We've never had any cable or satellite service. If it wasn't for an occasional sporting event, there wouldn't even be a need for a tuner.

    Oh, and we watched a few minutes of the election returns.

    But I've learned over the years that I am absolutely not unique, so there's a a good chance that there are some (or maybe a lot) of people out there who are using their TVs the same way we're using ours.

  • by MikShapi (681808) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @09:12PM (#42407943) Journal

    TVs with REAL brains (read: Android or iOS) not out yet.
    We know that.

    Nobody else (that includes you, Samsung) has either invested heavily in developing a suitable OS, has not published capable APIs, nor have they worn the long hard slog of gearing up an app and app developer ecosystem. The "feature-rich" UI's of current televisions are rubbish.
    We know that.

    You can attach an android or iOS brain to the TV and do more with it.
    A very small subset of the population does this (and we here on this site happen to correlate nicely with it.)
    We know that.

    TVs with android brains are still rare but forthcoming.
    They are (still) (unneccesarily) pitched as high-end and expensive (most people buy the 800$ loss leader unknown-brand 55'' at the isle entry, not the 4000$ samsung).
    We know that.

    In five years time, there'll be a brain - same brain powering $50 android phones in Asia today - in everyone's TV running Android. That TV will be sold as the $800 loss leader at the entry to the isle in the store.
    And I suspect we all know that that's where the harsh competition will lead the industry.

  • My Sony TV and Sony Blu-ray player are connected to the internet, but I view very little online content. Crackle is available on the TV but the content is regionally-limited here in Canada. It's top-heavy with Anime I've never heard of and episodes of Sanford and Son and Fantasy Island. My Blu-ray player has a YouTube viewer, but searching content is painful on a remote and, as near as I can tell, Sony doesn't make an all-in-one with a keyboard. Both of them have Netflix decoders, but I'm not paying ano
  • I'm probably getting a new TV soon as the current one is dying. I'm going to do my best to not get one with any internet features whatsoever, it's in the same category of uselessness as 3D. I just want a nice picture, closed captioning enabled, and maybe switchable inputs so I can skip my old video switcher. It won't be a monitor and my computer will never connect to it. I don't even care about HDTV, though I suspect it's impossible to get a new TV without it. If in the future I decide that I was wrong

  • We have a Roku and an AppleTV connected to a shiny new dumb (but big and with a pretty picture) TV. The Roku gives us Amazon prime video and a USB connection so we can burn stuff we already own. The AppleTV gives us YouTube, and iTMS for renting or buying movies, and access to our music in the cloud so we don't need a radio tuner. If all of these were in one device it would be great, but ...

    it still would not really do what is needed. What is needed is a TV that will show you what you want when you want,

  • Might I suggest SmartTVs become a little more useful? How about ones which play .mkv files, or allow the browsing of folders rather a flat file hierarchy? Subtitles? Multiple audio tracks?

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