Do you use a Smart TV or are you thinking about buying one?
Here is some important information you should know.
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First, What exactly is a “Smart” TV?
A smart TV is a TV that can connect to the Internet and has built-in apps for playing videos from services like Netflix and YouTube,
apps for social networking like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,
games like Angry Birds,
and a web browser.
In theory this is great because you wouldn’t need a separate device (like Roku, Chromecast or Apple TV). You get a web browser and everything else you’d want to use, all integrated into the TV, saving you money and eliminating the clutter of additional boxes and cables.
The software is not very user friendly
The software interface (the way you interact with an application) can be very confusing and it requires you to use a remote controller to select buttons and images. It’s not simple like using apps on smartphones and tablets. The process can be very slow and frustrating!
It’s estimated that only 10 percent of smart TV owners have used the web browser on their smart TV and about only 15 percent have listened to music from online services. However, the majority have used apps, to watch Netflix on their TV without plugging in additional boxes.
They Collect Data On You to Sell to Advertisers
Not only are Smart TVs not very smart, but they collect data on your viewing habits to sell to advertisers. Since everything on your home network is using the same router, you could be watching a particular program on TV and then start seeing ads on your smartphone, tablet, or PC, for a product or service related to the program.
If you use the always on voice controls feature, your TV can send data about what you watch, to third parties.
Nielsen gets permission to monitor what people watch. Did your TV ask you for permission?
Don’t people buy a Smart TV so they won’t have to watch all those commercials on regular TV?
The manufacturers do provide an option to turn off the tracking — you can go to the Menu and then into Settings and find “Smart Interactivity” and turn it off — but how many people can do that?
On most TVs, this setting is enabled by default because no one would enable it if they had a choice. And they call it “Smart Interactivity” to make it sound like something you would want.
“Smart” TVs Get Dumber
Smart TVs will become dumber over time because their operating systems may not receive updates from the manufacturer and the apps and services won’t continue to work.
Providing “Smart TVs” with better interfaces and making them more easily upgradable would cost the TV manufacturers more money and their profit margins are already very thin. Thin profit margins are the reason they are pitching ads to you.
Here’s Your Solution…
Ignore the smart features
Buy a TV based on your budget, the size and quality of the screen and buy an external device which will have more “smarts.” When you get home, don’t even hook up the TV to your Wifi network.
If you already own a smart TV, just turn off it’s Wi-Fi so it can’t send your viewing data anywhere and then go get an external device.
External Device Options
There are a variety of external devices and they are relatively inexpensive. The manufacturers are invested in the user having a good experience. These devices will have more polished interfaces, good mobile apps that you can control from your smartphone or tablet, more streaming services, and will receive updates for a longer period of time.
For details about the various devices see my Techie Tip from December, Do I Need A Streaming Device?
These devices aren’t above tracking you for advertisers. For details about the privacy policies of these devices see this excellent article by The Wirecutter, Your Privacy, Your Devices and You
You should also be aware that the content you stream, any websites you access, any apps you download, or any games you play may also have ways of collecting—and possibly distributing—information about you and what you do. It’s no different than the privacy considerations when using your computer. Just be aware of it and use reputable sources.
Forget about smart TVs
Their software is just not very good. It’s better to pick up a streaming device and use it.
A few years from now, it will still be getting updates while your TV will have been forgotten by its manufacturer.
Even if the box becomes outdated, it can be replaced for a lot less money than it would take to replace your TV set.
Devices like Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast are fairly easy to install if you have the patience to follow the instructions and, of course, it helps to understand how they work with your WiFi and your TV.
If you’d like help, you can set up an appointment on my calendar here or
Please share this Techie Tip with your friends and encourage them to get help from me if needed, so they can experience technology made simple, easy and fun too. Thanks!
Do you use a “Smart TV” or an external device? Was this Techie Tip helpful? Please let us know in the comments below...
This article is based on an article by How to Geek. Their website is a great source for technology education and “how to” information.