back to article Pollster predicts mega UK smart TV sales

Brits are rather keen on internet-connected tellies, with more than half of households owning a TV that has already been hooked up to the interweb, a survey carried out by pollster YouGov has discovered. But this apparent interest in buying seems out of joint with the reality of high street sales. YouGov regularly questions …


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  1. David Evans

    I find this...doubtful

    I'd love to see what the actual question was.

    Even though I have a so-called smart TV, I very rarely use any of the functionality since the various STBs attached (Sky+, Apple TV and a rapsberry pi running XBMC) do a much better job, and given the lamentably slow pace software updates on the TV (a Samsung), I'm pretty sure that will remain the case.

    1. K Silver badge

      With you on this one!

      Though I like the idea of things like Voice and Eye tracking etc, until standards are made, you'd be a mug to buy one of these.

      The best option is stick with your xBox or a Small Media streaming box, which you can pick up for < £100.. you get much more flexibility without the manufacturer lock-in.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I find this...doubtful


      I can't help thinking that the dismally slow processing power, poor input devices, and utterly crap software built into every smart TV I've yet seen are the problem. Until the TV and computer merge to create a competent unit then smart TV's are going nowhere. In the highly unlikely event that anybody from a TV maker were listening, here's my wish list:

      1) Non maker-specific OS able to run proper programmes (Android, Windoze, Ubuntu...whatever)

      2) Processing power equal to an i3

      3) Integrated recording capabilities

      3) Wireless keyboard and trackball (and a normal remote for run of the mill stuff)

      4) Proper high speed device networking (plus Freeview/Freesat tuners, and arguably Sky-in-software for those that wish to pay)

      5) Arguably graphics capability for gaming, although I recognise that most of the peasants prefer consoles to PC gaming.

      Having said that, the merketeers will continue to claim that sales and demand are climbing astronomically because so many TV's now offer this faux functionality, even though most of us play with it once, think "that's crap" and never bother afterwards.

      1. Joseph Lord

        Re: I find this...doubtful

        I used to be a TV Product Planner but why would you want this joined to your screen? The general purpose computer will be slow and obselete long before the screen. If you want a fully capable computer buy one and connect it by HDMI (or even ethernet and DLNA). I don't want to interact with the TV screen just have it show me content. The ideal UI would be browsing and selecting on a tablet and only showing the desired output on the TV.

        A network connected (not very Smart) TV focused on what it is good at - video decoding and playback is my preference. Save power when just watching iPlayer or content from the video store. Playback local media over DLNA/UPNP.

        I have a MythTV linux box doing recording and acting as a general home server and use my not very smart TV to play the content over UPNP. The TV does a far better job of decoding and picture processing than the MythTV box.

        The other problem with your concept is that it would cost more than getting the TV and PC separately because it would be sold through the TV retailers and distribution channels that expect (and need to survive) dealer margins around 30% (and more at the high end) compared to typical (even retail) PC margins closer to 15%. I don't think that they would split the difference so you would end up having a +30% margin on the whole product.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: I find this...doubtful

          I used to use a Popcorn Hour for streaming media from my NAS but don't seem to need it anymore. The LG TV I bought recently with it's inbuilt Plex DNLA client streams MKV's and other media types very nicely directly from a QNAP NAS with the Plex server built in.

          Admittedly, I don't have an amp or anything else like that connected but it's played everything I've thrown at it so far except .wma music files but that's my own fault for not using a decent file format :)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I find this...doubtful@ Joseph Lord

          I) Your obsolete point: Not really material - every piece of tech kit becomes obsolete quickly enough, but my home gaming machine is fast enough for graphically demanding first person shooters, and it is a 2007 Core 2 Duo. Stick in a decent processor and reasonable memory to a smart TV and it will last ten years, but the sort of ZX81 processors most smart TV's currently have are obsolete in computing terms before the actual set was designed.

          2) Cost. Of course it will be cheaper to cobble a DIY solution of multiple components - usually is in any situation. But you miss the point - I'm being (almost) forcibly sold smart TV's right now that are quite simply crap at the "smart" side of things. Whilst I do value your contribution to this thread, in your former capacity I'd suggest that if the current generation of smart TV's was as good as could be delivered, then (and including the reasons you give) why bother at all? I mentioned an i3 processor, that's probably overkill, but look at how phones are coming along - taking the bill of materials for an iPhone 5, and the component cost for a proper smart TV should be $133, less what they're already wasting to deliver a rubbish user experience, say $33. Add the retail and maker markup and it would cost an incremental £120 to deliver a fully functioning smart TV based on (say) Android.

          3) Using DLNA etc. Possible now, but very often clunky to use and set up, slow in practice, and beholden to the TV maker's ability to write software. They aren't famous for that and it shows. Now slap in the fundamentals of a decent phone (less screen, camera, battery and mechanicals), and you just use Android; Job done. Moreover, let the third party developers in, and see what they can achieve on top.

          1. Joseph Lord

            Re: I find this...doubtful@ Joseph Lord

            If the spec is dropping from i3 down to ARM based Android supporting chip your proposal is getting much more plausible. At CES nearly two years ago (last trade show I visited) there were dozens of such products. None of them looked like great user experiences for the average user. I think there are good reasons why they haven't hit the mass market yet.

            If you want it prepackaged what is the pitch to the consumer about why this is better? Manufacturers want to minimise service calls so without good justification locked down and reliable is the way that they will go. Also security (DRM support) is needed for the content they do have.

            If you want it for yourself stick as RasPi to the back powered by the TVs USB port.

            What I still don't see is real benefits of really smart TVs. They need to provide access to good video content quickly and easily; I don't want or need apps on my TV.

            Now actually many are offering Google TV products but the first (US only) versions were shockingly bad to use (and hideously expensive to make as they had Intel Atoms inside). New versions are ARM based and meant to be better but no-one inside or outside Sony has yet convinced me that they are a good idea.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: I find this...doubtful

      That was my thought. As for "more than half of households owning a TV that has already been hooked up to the interweb" they probably asked if you own a "smart TV", and people who thought "mine has a remote control, and it's hooked up to Freeview, pretty smart" and said 'yes".

      1. Tom Wood

        Re: I find this...doubtful

        I have a Toshiba smart TV I bought a little over a year ago.

        The BBC iPlayer app is useful, but that is about it. It has youtube too, which is rarely used, and not much else. Every so often I check whether there are any software updates, hoping for other apps for 4oD, ITV player etc, but it seems there has been no software update in over a year and presumably Toshiba have adopted a "we've got your money, why do we care about updating it" policy...

        1. Joseph Lord

          Re: I find this...doubtful

          My other comment on this topic was meant to be @Ledswinger

          @Tom Wood

          ITV and 4oD were not (at least a couple of years ago when I was talking with them for Sony) very keen to get onto connected TV platforms and in terms of the scale of the reach they would get I doubt Toshiba would be the priority if they did warm up to the idea.

          Toshiba may or may not care, I don't know but ITV/4oD are not the way to judge. If it doesn't have Lovefilm that would be really worrying as they were very flexible and keen to get on lots of platforms although even there I suspect Toshiba would be a long way down the list. There really is a platform scale effect that means Toshiba is unlikely to get much support from content providers as an independent platform however much they care.

          1. Tom Wood

            Re: I find this...doubtful

            Assuming they have a web browser and flash 4oD shouldn't be difficult. The PS3 version has a good "big screen" UI and works in any web browser. If C4 changed it slightly to remove the obvious PS3 branding it should work very well on most smart TV platforms.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...whether that be on demand TV, radio, news apps, or video calling services like Skype"

    No. Just give me something that I can plug a cat 5 into that'll stream mp4's, avi's, mkv's, mp3's, aac's and flac's from my DLNA server.

  3. Bob Vistakin

    It's a cut n paste job from the same report 2 years ago


  4. Tom Wood

    "the next 12 months - a period which includes this coming Christmas"

    You don't say?

  5. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Connect TV to internets?

    For what? For U tubes?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Connect TV to internets?

      For anything that merits a big screen, or a shared screen.

      Don't forget that "smart TV" is a typical marketing term with no definition, but invariably these include more than just a web connection, and have local networking and wireless media transfer, so (in some parallel universe where smart TV's are actually easy to use and quick) I'd use it to browse or show off my photos, displays vids taken on my phone, drag media off the PC or server and route it to the hi fi. Or use it to stream broadcaster's on demand services.

      There are of course lots of ways of doing all these things now - I'm hopeful that in some distant future I won't need so many bits of kit to achieve it.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Connect TV to internets?

        "For anything that merits a big screen, or a shared screen."

        But bad quality on a larger screen = worse quality. All streaming and OD videos I've seen (especially "HD" ones) look worse than DVDs. Even downloaded videos are so full of artifacts they look better on analogue 625-lines CRTs than on a modern 1080 flat screen (I won't even say about audio - no way I let internets or a PC anywhere near my HiFi)

        Additionally, Internet connection for an appliance = surrendering control over the device to someone I don't know and don't trust. If I want the Internet I will use a PC or a tablet (which is much cheaper to replace than a good TV). I don't need it in my fridge, toaster or TV - I want these things to work without asking someone else's permission first.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: Connect TV to internets?

          > All streaming and OD videos I've seen (especially "HD" ones) look worse than DVDs.

          Correct, its much worse than the standard broadcast even, which is why piracy is still an attractive option, but you do have to look at the compression/file sizes and decide if an 1080i film at 1Gb is a good idea.

          My myth box just records straight off the air - (mpeg2 in Oz - grrr) If your tv can read files off the network, (as opposed to having your graphics card output HDMI) I'd have thought you get the same quality as broadcast. I could be wrong.

          1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

            Re: Connect TV to internets?

            Yes, if the recorder records off the air it just records the transport stream as it comes in. From what I can see, UK broadcasts (Freeview) also use MPEG2, 2.8mbps combined for audio+video for 576p SD, which is only 544x576, not even broadcast D1 size!. If they use MPEG4 for HD (which I think they do, don't have any at hand), then they'll need, say, 2 - 3 times the MPEG2 SD bitrate at the very least...

  6. Paul Shirley

    almost a standard feature

    We're not far from the point where all sets on sale will be Internet enabled, it's already hard to find large screens without it. This is coming whatever the public wants - the industry wants it more.

    I don't believe it will generate measurable *extra* sales though. Do expect it will actually be used, unlike the 3D dead end. Our TVs have been hooked up longer than iPlayer has existed and we used it just 2-3 times a year, being built in and easier to fire up should change that. Or maybe not in my house, where my old CRT sets do a better job hiding the piss poor video quality and I mostly watch Irish TV rugby coverage that's not going to be on any of these services!

  7. Joseph Lord

    Its not going to shift many extra TVs

    But the ones that do sell will be internet connectable except at the very entry level. Hardware cost is minimal and there is the dream of content revenues for the manufacturers. Also the more they shift the bigger their audience and the more content partners they might get on board.

    TV hardware revenues are down from their peak and will stay down as prices are lower and the peak flatscreen transition has passed. That doesn't make £2.5BN implausible though (I don't have the figures any more) that sort of number could be reached by alternative estimations. 20M households replacing 2 TVs every 8 years is about 5M/year giving an average price of £500 each [All rough estimates and averages don't bother saying I've had my TV for 20 years and I'm not buying a new one]. £500 as an average TV price seems a bit high (large volumes of small cheap supermarket TVs bring down the average) especially going forwards but not ridiculous and if the average replacement cycles or numbers of TVs per household are a bit off it could end up about right.

  8. dotdavid
    Thumb Up

    "The only consumer electronics category Brits are buying more of now than they did last year are digital radios."

    We sold two last year, and three this year!

    1. Piro

      Exactly. I hope it stays this way, because DAB is a HUGE waste of everyone's time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Have two DAB radios in the house. The reception is almost non-existent on their supplied aerials. They don't improve enough even when hooked up to the main FM aerial with a new wide-band pre-amp. The FM signal on them is very good - so the DAB feature was a total waste. Not in the wilds either - 30 miles from London.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        > even when hooked up to the main FM aerial

        Not entirely surprising since it is tuned for frequencies less than half those used by DAB.

  9. Khaptain Silver badge

    Doesn't make much sense really

    The interwebs are more often than not a personal affair. I generally don't spend "internet" time hunched around a screen with other prople. The fact of the matter is that is very difficult to agree on what site/theme/video that everyone wants to watch/google etc..... The web is "Interactive" and usually requires a fair bit of reading which involves being quite close to the screen. ( Close is a relative term and YMMV)

    TV on the other hand is a lot less "interactive", it is a Couch Potato medium that can be enjoyed by several people at a time. It usually involves very little reading and in general is viewed from a distance of 1 - 4 metre or more.

    From my personal point of view, ( I don't own a television but have done in the past) the two mediums are very different cups of tea and as such are not really "compatible" from a physical/group effort/ collective point of view.

    Desktop boxes already provide a large selection of useless interfaces, will the web really bring anything anymore usefull...

    All of this seems more like consumerism than requirement.

  10. Piro

    Pure bollocks, I think

    Most people are still creatures of habit - look at the way the National Grid still has to plan around peaks in demand in breaks in popular TV shows - the 'great' British public still aren't splitting from these very crude content consumption models en masse, this much is absolutely clear.

  11. CarlC

    Why don't people just add the functionality?

    Just got a LG blue ray player with their Smart TV stuff built in. That gets me BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm, Netflix, Blinkbox plus their apps (not sure about those yet) all for less than £60, was pretty much a no brainer as I don't have cable or satellite TV services.

    Works well for me, and a lot cheaper then changing my perfectly good 40inch TV for a new one.........

    1. Joseph Lord

      Re: Why don't people just add the functionality?

      Agreed but if you were buying a new TV you might as well get the same features built in. I would recommend the add on approach for anyone not wanting a new TV for other reasons.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    plan to "by"

    ffs, nobody got a dictionary at El Reg?

  13. A J Stiles

    People tell lies on surveys

    According to surveys, man have sex with women twice as often as women have sex with men.

    The simple fact is, if you ask someone a question and there is no compelling reason for them to tell the truth, they will give you the answer they think you want to hear. We are all supposed to be good little consumers; so the chances are, if you ask somebody whether they are going to buy a particular device, they will say yes -- whether or not it actually figures in their purchasing plans.

    1. Mike 140

      Re: People tell lies on surveys

      Yup. You can collect peoples' answers until you're blue in the face. It's their revealed preference that doesn't lie.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Should I buy a smart TV?

    Or a long HDMI cable? The correct answer is (b). :-)

  15. Anonymous Coward 101

    My mum just got a smart TV...

    ...the catch up TV services are good and she uses them a lot. The rest of the functionality is terrible. The web browser is a joke, and I would have to be desperate to use it. I have encountered random error messages, as though I were using a malfunctioning printer. I was also most displeased with Samsung for not including wifi functionality as standard, forcing me to by a Samsung wifi dongle.

    I am quite disappointed with it, especially as the problems are so obvious.

  16. 0laf Silver badge


    Until basic broadband allowances grow anyone who buys these without a big unlimited data contract could be in for a nasty surprise.

  17. EvilGav 1

    They get an 'F' ni Statistics

    11percent of respondants equates, apparently, to just shy of 6million people wanting a smart TV?

    So, population of the UK is 62million, 11million < 16 (according to 2011 census), which means to get their figures they took 11 percent of the remaining population.

    Except we have around 26million households in the UK (according to the 2011 census), so they are saying that about 20percent of households intend to buy a smart TV in the next 12 months.

    Also 9.5million of those 51million are 65+, a group historically known as not being at the forefront of buying new technology (n.b. *new* technology, i'm well aware of the silver surfer, i'm tech support to my two).

    Basically, a first year statistics student should be able to tell them what they've done wrong.

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