How Smart Is Your TV?

How Smart Is Your TV?

Not very smart at all, as it happens. But that depends on your definition of smart as in, not dumb.

When we bought our first so-called Smart TV for the football (soccer) World Cup four years ago, I was both apprehensive and a tad excited. Apprehensive because up until then we had a mini PC connected to a basic 32″ 1080p TV which simply screened what we fed into it. Excited because acquiring a Smart TV meant we could ditch the PC and enjoy all our viewing through the apps built into the LG WebOS system, or so I thought. We had already cancelled cable TV as being a waste of money with streaming being on the up and up, so it was a logical move.

What I did like was the number of inputs – three HDMI ports, three USB, an RJ45 wired network connection, optical sound input, and of course, WiFi. What I didn’t realise is that most Smart TV’s processors are about as powerful as a medium-range cell phone, but just enough to beam in glorious 4K, on our TV anyway. I certainly appreciated the USB ports because we could watch content that I’d ripped from DVDs or old family videos that I’d copied from VHS and that aspect of the Smart TV works very well, picking up from where you left off on the next viewing.

Apps Are Slow To Load

When you are used to a very fast PC and also a top-of-the-range smartphone, you get used to apps and programs opening in a flash, not to mention web browsers. However, over time, the TV apps such as Netflix and others have just become sluggish to load. In the case of Netflix, it often doesn’t load at all, telling me that the service isn’t available or that the ‘item’ I have chosen is ‘not available at this time. What a load of crap!

If this happens on a PC web browser, we clear the cache and the problem is usually fixed. However, the hopeless online guides, mostly written by monkeys, tell you to unplug the TV, stand on your head and sing Dixie which they assure us will fix the problem. It doesn’t, so up until now I have had to reset the TV to factory settings at least half a dozen times, which still doesn’t sort out the issue. Even changing from WiFi to wired or vice versa doesn’t help.

Oh and I haven’t even mentioned that many streaming services aren’t even available on our four-year-old Dumb Smart TV, such as Paramount for instance, which doesn’t even stream in 4K, but that’s another matter entirely.

Can’t Connect To WiFi

Surely connecting to a WiFi access point should be the simplest operation in the world – type in your username and password and bingo, you’re in! But no, because from time to time the TV refuses to connect, with a message saying that no such access point can be found, even though the modem/router is in the list. How dumb is that?

Clearly, I can connect a cable from the TV to the router, but that’s not the point here. In the end, I reset the TV for the umpteenth time and was able to connect through WiFi, but it was certainly a song and dance routine that I didn’t enjoy.

Your Smart TV Is Watching You

According to some reports, most Smart TVs are watching and listening to you, which raises all sorts of privacy concerns. For instance, our remote control has a voice function that I’ve never used but is said to log your voice commands and then direct ads at you. Fortunately, I see very few ads appearing on the TV and frankly, just one would be enough to dumb the set down by disconnecting it from the Web.

I’ve Switched To A PC Only Connection

Because of all the issues mentioned above, I recently built a dedicated PC simply for watching all the content available on the Smart TV and much more, without the tedious load times and glitches. It’s running a Ryzen 5600G, with 16GB of memory and Windows 11 is zipping along from a 500GB NVMe drive. It’s probably overkill, but a darn sight more efficient than the measly power that the TV offers. It also has a wired connection directly to the router, so we watch Netflix, Prime, HBO, Paramount, and others through Google Chrome and the whole setup is as fast as lightning. Besides, anyone who has ever used a built-in Smart TV browser will attest that they are really not suitable for even the most basic browsing tasks.

Ultimately, I will probably only use the TV as a dumb device – simply feed it content from the PC and disconnect it from the Internet entirely because it’s not smart enough to drive what comes down the pipe to my entire satisfaction, which is putting it mildly.

6 thoughts on “How Smart Is Your TV?”

  1. Music to my ears Marc. My entertainment center was taken over by a computer several years ago. Have not replaced my old Samsung 55 inch TV (which dates back before the Smart era) which serves as a monitor. The tuner was no longer able to make use of all the antenna signals, so I purchased a USB tuner. Excellent selection as I can skip those dreaded commercials. The sound does into a revived stereo amplifier which feeds 3 way speakers. Glad to hear you are able to use that Smart TV as a monitor. Hope it does into sleep mode when not in use, Mindblower!

  2. Rather than building a PC to make your TV smart, wouldn’t it have been easier (and less expensive) to connect a Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire stick to an HDMI port on the TV?

    1. Peter Thompson

      I’m wanting to replace my old TVs with smart TVs one day but have just bought a fire stick lite which has most apps I need and I can also mirror from my phone (although some apps block mirroring).

      It’s a handy device, especially if you travel e.g. if your in a hotel with free wi-fi it will probably fit in their provided TV

    2. I find that a PC has much more versatility and I have greater control over it, hence the build.
      Besides, many of those devices mentioned cost an arm and a leg down here.

  3. Elliott W. Carmack

    I’m wondering if an external device such as Roku (which I used on a previous TV), Apple TV (which I now use) or Amazon Firestick rather than a PC wouldn’t solve your problem. Each of the devices I mentioned should be able to connect wirelessly.

  4. I’ve had my smart TV for 2 years now without noticing any deterioration. How long did it take for you to give up on it?
    I wonder if there’s a factory reset option that will clear up any excess ‘cache’, etc…

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