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It’s not easy being a television manufacturer these days. Most homes, especially in the West and the wealthier parts of Asia, now have a large flat panel TV, thank you, and don’t need another one. Sales, then, are not as strong as they once were, pushing down prices and, in turn, whittling production margins from razor thin to …

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h3
Bronze badge

I think Panasonic's software is great. (At least on my 2012 smarttv).

Plays anything less hassle than any other thing related to DNLA I have encountered.

I don't care about what it looks like as long as it works perfect.

(I have a weird playlist ordering bug that only happens with flac's (And doesn't happen with a 2012 Panasonic Bluray Player). But chances are if I was going to be pushing music through the tv I would only be using it as a renderer anyway.

Most of the smart stuff is not a great deal of use to me. But the fact that it is rock solid reliable means I don't really care.

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Unhappy

As a re-treaded TV serviceman I can tell you that nothing really changes. TV makers have been trying to sell must-have features since the 1960s (at least).

I still remember the remote control that was the size of a brick, with an umbilical you could tow a lorry with... Only there was a crappy microswitch in the telly that was so sensitive that if someone slammed the door, the vibration would make it change channels. This was a rotary tuner so it would slowly chug all the way round till it got back to the original channel again.

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Thumb Up

"umbilical you can tow a lorry with"

Yes, I also remember those from my childhood back in the 70s. There was one time when my parents were shopping for a new TV, and one had a "wired remote" with a rather hefty cable - about which I recall Dad commenting that "you could moor the bloody QE2 with that thing!" And that was back then...!

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Re: "umbilical you can tow a lorry with"

Heh, not too long ago I saw a television set that featured one of the first remote controls.

Using ultrasonics no less. Still chunky by today's standards, and maybe 4 buttons.

That said, the sound out of that television set had a depth and warmth totally unlike any modern set.

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Re: "umbilical you can tow a lorry with"

You must be talking about one of those old Zenith sets from back in the mid '60's.

(OH shit! I just dated myself!!!)

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Meh

And another thing...

AMX and Crestron solved all the problems years ago, with wireless tablet-like controllers + docking station that had a decent programmable menu system which you then used to control an entire house-worth of AV + env control too.

Where's the grumpy old man icon when you need it?

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Just a display for me!

The added feature of obtaining some programming thru a coaxial cable is kinda a bonus.

Features? They all belong in the "program providing box", which may or may not be an integral part of the unit.

It is kinda like automobiles having zillions of different seat configurations. A wonderful idea, but not really helpful.

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Anonymous Coward

HD compression artefacts

The main issue with the "features" the TV guys are pushing is that on the tech side so little content actually uses it. To get any benefit I either need to watch bluerays (OK, I do do this, but 1080p at 24FPS is fine) or sell my soul and £50 a month to VM/Sky, etc. There are many better ways to enjoy life than plonking £600 a year on some really bad TV programs and a million channels I will never watch.

That leaves FreeView which while it supports "HD" resolution I think it misses the point of "HD" quality. They try to cram so many channels down each multiplex that all you end up with are high fidelity compression artifacts ...

Then you get onto the scaling, color correcting, artifact reducing "DSP magic" all of the TV manufactures claim to have. All of this is designed to work well for some canned demos in a show-room. It almost always makes other content worse - every "buff" I know turns all of this "value add" off - so it's not adding much.

On the internet connected thing, why bother? My TV doesn't have a keyboard, and it is less useful than my laptop. Err no thanks.

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Stop

Sony smart TV too slow

I have a 2012 model Sony 'smart' TV - it takes several seconds to respond to the remote after the picture is on, presumably because it is still booting. All the menus, guides and other crap are accesses via a slow and poorly designed UI, none of it works as well as my Humax PVR which is quick, slick and just does what is needed and nothing else.

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Contradictions...

[apologies in advance for the length of this post!]

A lot of people here are asking for dumb TVs. With Sky decoding. Or Freeview. Or NetFlick. Or DVD playback. Or Media Streaming.

A truly dumb TV has a single video (and maybe audio) input. Probably an of/off switch as well. And maybe volume, brightness and contrast controls as well. Uh oh, feature creep is setting in already.

A slightly less dumb TV as a set of inputs, allowing you to either have multiple devices connected simultaneously or to give a choice of how you would like to to connect. No Scart? use HDMI instead? As soon as you get multiple inputs the TV has to start having input source selection. This is the first point that starts confusing the hell out of the average user... average as in Joe Public, not an El Reg reader who by definition is usually capable of mashing a keyboard semi-coherently.

A less dumb TV also has a TV tuner built into it. Except that this depends on the connectivity to your video source... as in over the air (generally FreeView), Satellite or Cable. These use channel numbers as a matter of historical and remote control convenience, not for the ease of use of the end user. These channel numbers are stupidly not consistent between FreeView, Satellite and Cable services and don't integrate with the Input Selection which is also a channel selector in its own way. When a user turns on a TV they often have a TV channel in mind, for example Sky One or BBC 2, they don't have "150" or "102" in mind and instead they have to either learn the specific device's numbering scheme or use what is far too often an extremely clunky or slow program or channel guide to select a channel. A program guide? Now that's yet another source of confusion as they are usually far too hard to use, inconsistent in operation and rely on short cuts on the remote control. Why does the remote control not have a "next day" button and instead the user has to learn to press the Blue button instead. Many Joe Public users just don't use the program guide or the channel listing, can't quite remember the channel numbers and instead repeatedly hit the channel up and down buttons on their remote until their desired channel eventually appears. Eventually? Yep, with digital decoding we're gone from the 1/25th of a second channel change to waiting for the first I-Frame in the MPEG stream, which on heavily compressed streams can often take a second or two.

We haven't even got to anything that would be considered a "smart" TV yet, and already we have layer upon layer of User Interface (or User eXperience) failures. The Smart TVs barely stand a chance.

As for where I'd like it to be heading...

Most users frequent no more than six channels (there's research on this somewhere). Give them a remote control with six channel buttons clearly marked with their channel preferences. This means a smart, two way remote. If the remote controls are cheap enough, supply more than one - one for the kids, one for mum, one for dad and so on. The alternative is one what can be switched between user profiles very quickly and simply. If information is stored on the remote control, back it up to the TV itself this way when a remote is broken or lost or multiple remotes are used they can be configured very quickly. Little things like this are really appreciated by users.

Kill Infra Red remote controls. They may be quite power efficient but they're one of the reasons behind appalling user interface response times on TVs and similar devices. Two way wireless communications, e-ink display and quite possibly wireless charging would be the way to go. Stick with buttons and not touch screens. The older the user, the more they appreciate and can handle button interfaces - they are far superior for limited functionality applications than the more adaptable but harder to use (and hugely more expensive when done well) touch screen interfaces.

If "smart" TV functionality must be implemented in a TV, do it using an established platform and not recreating the wheel with poor quality often underpowered components and awkward operating environments. Android is the ideal platform for this and removing the telecomms stack and associated chipset would save a chunk of the cost. It even comes with wifi management which saves another problem... In theory, iOS or even WinRT would do the job, however Android, if the components are correct, the applications are coded efficiently and unnecessary baked in applications are removed it can be quite efficient and would not have trouble rending at full TV screen resolution as similar resolutions are in place on mobiles and tablets already. Android, iOS and even WinRT would have to be tweaked to be usable without using touch input and without having a horrible pointer overlay alternative. Once tweaked though, there would be a huge market for applications that either just work on this kind of device or have been specially created for them.

Integrate the channel and input selectors into one seamless list and ditch the entire concept of channel numbers. Channels should be sorted by separate sorting text behind the scenes which will sort the channels into the order the user expects. i.e. BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four and so on. Alphabetically these would be "BBC Four, BBC One, BBC Three and BBC Two" which isn't quite so user friendly. Regional variations on the channels are an added complication, in theory they should be listed together with their parent channel, such as "BBC One North, BBC One Scotland, BBC One South" this makes for an appalling use case for the users that regardless of the interface will still frantically press Channel Up and Down buttons to select their desired channels. We'd doubtless see a proliferation of channel named "Arrdvark 1" and so on but there is no perfect solution.

If the broadcast content is the same, always select the HD option rather than the SD when presented with two otherwise channels. This should be togglable of course, but given ease of use it should be automatic and not needlessly presenting a user with two versions of BBC One is a good thing.

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MJI
Silver badge

Re: Infrared

We need to keep this as my wife keeps sitting on controls and that would operate all the devices.

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The dumb screen exists...

What most comments here are asking for as a dumb screen still exist and aren't anything new on the market, but they're called Professional/Commercial displays and cost significantly more than the mass market goggle boxes.

I got my screen when Hitachi got out of the custom installer Ultrathin business so it was 1/4 of it's normal price. I was surprised when I found out it had speakers as they weren't listed in the specification. I've still never used the speakers after owning it for over 3 years.

All I require as a 'TV' is a screen with a single HDMI input, support for the appropriate resolutions and minimal video processing to give me control of the picture so I can adjust it appropriately for my south facing room. I know that doesn't sell to the consumer market and it would be a loss making item for the consumer market.

My only hope for when I need a new screen is that monitor manufacturers are doing TV sized screens without pricing them at professional display level.

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Go

I like it!

I like TV on the tablet.

This way I am entertained in the bathroom as well!

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