It's really nice to see FirefoxOS getting things right.
The battle for Smart TV dominance continues to ratchet up, with Google and Firefox now both wading into the same connected space. The former has reignited its living room ambitions via Android TV, while open source rival Firefox has partnered with Panasonic. Old TV with Ceefax 40 years on from Ceefax and we're still gazing …
All a TV need do is
- tune into broadcasts
- identify which connected wired or wireless device to display
Kudos to Firefox for at least getting close to usability. The Android effort - what were they thinking? It smacks of the old arrogant way Microsoft wanted to make everything work like Windows
I don't know; having Netflix directly inside my TV is effectively the same as having an extra free HDMI socket. Also if the set already has the processing in it — because the off-the-shelf parts you need just to run a modern decoder give you it for free — then why not spend the extra 50p there to add a network connection?
I can answer my own question: because TV manufacturers, like car manufacturers and so many others, are terrible as user interface design and appear to let these efforts be led primarily by the marketing department, whose primary motivation isn't usability but revenue generation. So partner of the month gets the huge button and everyone else is buried three clicks further than they need to be, helpful extra content suggestions (i.e. adverts) proliferate and third-party services are all [re]written to yet another little manufacturer-specific API and tested about a twentieth as much as they would be were there not twenty different manufacturers to work with.
"I reckon the dumb panel will go obsolete less often than the brain."
If firmware upgrades on TVs are anything like cellphones, you're at the whim of the vendor. That is, after a couple of minor fixes (and a plethora of ad-inducing extras) you're going to be stuck with that version forever more.
I'm so glad I opted for a regular PC with customised windows settings turning it into an appliance. It does absolutely everything, without the crap. And if there is crap, it can be worked around anyway.
Thanks, but I'm not sold on any of the smart tv os's.
"If firmware upgrades on TVs are anything like cellphones"
Im looking at you Samsung - obsoleting my perfectly good Smart TV by stopping updates 12 months after the TV came out AND locking down the firmware so I couldn't use the Open Source version.
You go to hell - you go to hell and you die!
Same thing with my Samsung "Smart" blu-ray player.
Advertised as having Hulu support, which wasn't there initially and promised as "coming soon" then six months later they released the new models and suddenly all mention of Hulu disappeared from their web pages for my model. Bastards.
I'll stick with a dumb panel that I can plug in a PC, Raspy Pi, or Roku type device and upgrade the brains without shelling out for a new screen.
First, thanks for the "raw data". Many reviews on these newer devices have been short of actual facts about what it's really like to use them.
Apart from the convenience of running through the setup using the same remote that came with the TV I'm having a hard time "picturing" what advantage this class of devices, either built-in or add-on, have over a full HTPC.
Now before people start going on about "exclusive offers" like HBO access let me observe that historically those sorts of features only lasted as long as a particular model's production run. A few years down the line (sometimes) necessary changes in the publisher's API or security model would render the app in question obsolete and unusable -- with nary an update in sight for what would be one of thousands of variations on the serving device. On that score it could be encouraging that two independent software appliance makers like Google and Mozilla are in the game now. Theoretically their interest in keeping these products updated past the hardware warrant expiration would be cause for hope. But neither of those companies has a track record in that area, although Google's performance when it came to phone O/S updates (where the Big G ceded the update process to carriers and their device manufacturer partners) does give one pause.
Embedded devices are wonderfully clever tech, but in the long run I'd rather invest in a known quantity: an HTPC I build myself and whose operations, including updates, I can personally manage to ensure its both secure and functionality.
I'm an HTPC guy (HDI Dune owner) as probably are many other forum readers here but I also have to have a simple system for kids, non-techie wife and parents/in-laws. Recording / pausing to USB storage, catch-up service, Netflix - some of those "smart" features are used practically daily in my household. They all work with a single remote with a simple interface for even the IT declined.
If the TV could just understand network shares, MKV, reasonable selection of codecs and subtitles formats I couldn't be happier. Never gonna happen with Sony though...
I find it much faster and easier to cast content from smartphone to TV, rather than navigate through the TV's laborious submenus and unintuitive button sequences to reach e.g. the YouTube app. All the TV needs to do is display anything cast to it. And if that's too hard, a £30 Chromecast or Amazon Fire dongle will fix the problem.
More importantly, a TV should last a decade or more. Any "smart" TV will be poorly supported within three years, let alone ten. (Just look at how few Android phones get OS upgrades.) So let's hear it for dumb TVs controlled via smartphone instead.
Agree that TVs should be dumb - though I disagree as to just what constitutes dumb. I'd keep the castability itself in a separate £20 box that can be thrown away when it is no longer supported or desirable. If the Firefox box were able to command the TV's sound or input selector too then that's about as smart as I need.
The smart bit is kept separate. I only bought my Smart TV because it was the cheapest 32" Samsung TV with 3 HDMIs. The smart TV is nice. But I'm under no illusion about eternal support. At some point, Samsung will switch that off, and it'll be a dumb screen. And I'll need a Fire stick or an Amazon-enabled blu-ray player for £50.
In order to be truly useful the smart TV needs to be able to provide a multi-user experience. I have different film, tv watching and app preferences to my wife and if a visitor comes round it should be simple to allow them to log in and use their preferences and subscriptions to show content.
It often feels like we are all expected to have one laptop, tablet and TV each and never share.
... is that they're not TVs. They're a computer with a DTV tuner coming along for the ride. And if I want a new computer I'll buy a computer, not a smart TV with an underpowered processor and piss poor GUI.
I'm probably old fashioned - but I just want a TV that I can switch on and within a second its showing a TV channel. No booting up, no upgrading software, no logging on, no "smart" BS - just a TV. Thanks. Anything else I can do on my laptop or tablet.
Doesn't even need to be that to break it. Try when the TV Maker decides that TV range is too old and stops paying the license/royalty that allows them to have the app running on that model.
Yes, the TV Makers pay to have some of the apps/catchup services enabled on their tvs/online hubs.
honest to God, I was speaking form experience. We had a rented black and white set from , erm, Rediffusion, I think, and I recall watching fascinated once when someone came to fix it by replacing a valve that'd gone west. Which happened a few times over the years. And on another occasion, I'd gone to a fireworks display with a friend and returned home to find that the TV had burst into flames whilst Mum was watching a variety show or some such, as evidenced by the scorching visible on the top of the telly.
If you couldn't get the pressure high enough for UHF, then I think the problem might've been you were trying to get the magic lantern pictures on the radio..
Yup, a few of us will still remember the tvs of the '50s.
Live chassis (hopefully connected to neutral not line, but 2 pin plugs were the norm then).
Nice thin wood veneer plywood cabinet, foil lined inside and connected to chassis.
70 degree angle crt with aquadag graphite coating on the outside for EHT smoothing - hopefully also connected to chassis, and dirty great VDR at the top behind the screen between EHT and chassis for regulation. Dirty (and they always were!) great scan coils squidged around the end of the inch or so diameter neck, a couple of magnadur rings for focus, adjustable via a wacking great knob poking out the back of the set, (You should have seen the Advance K1 magnetiser that magnetised 'em in the first place), ion trap magnet twiddleable around the tube neck...
Concentric on/off volume and brightness (sometimes contrast) knobs on the left under the screen, Concentric turret tuner and fine tuner controls on the right. (Choose 2 out of 13 channels for BBC / ITV, you'd need the fine tuning knob at least once as the set warmed up) Most sets only had the coil strips fitted for the local channels - a move to another district was a service job to fit more strips.
300 mA heater chain.
Dirty great dropper resistor for ac or dc mains operation with tappings for 200V - 250V. (Handy when the valve emissions got a bit low - drop the tapping down 10 - 20 V or so to get a bit more out of the Line and Frame output valves and CRT. So what if it steamed a bit.)
A great line of twiddle pots down one side of the back to play with on a regular basis.
On an upmarket set you might get a spot wobble switch (on the back of course) to switch in a circuit which modulated the frame at 10 Mhz to give the appearance of 2 lines instead of 1 and make the 405 line picture seem softer.
If you were really well heeled you'd be able to afford a console model with castors underneath, possibly with a nice pair of doors. (Apart from a bigger speaker usually the same innards as the bog standard) Dad bought an old one for a couple of squid in the 60's, gutted it and converted it into a nice walnut cupboard for the hallway to keep the phone books and bill hook in
Lots and lots of somewhat unstable wax covered carbon resistors, wax covered capacitors, usually 0.1uF, where the wax decayed to a sticky oily substance covered with adhered dusty flock looking like sticky miniature rodents, all electrically leaky.
A strong smell of real mice if they had managed to chew a way through the cardboard back.
A few nice octal (could be Mazda Octal or Universal Octal - very slightly different sizes) valves - 1/2 wave HT rectum fryer, frame output, line output, which could (and did) go short circuit and cook their bases. Mmmm very warm bakalite. Some late 50's models were fitted with Selenium metal oxide HT rectifiers. If one of those brutes broke down and caught fire you'd be lucky to get the pong out of the house, let alone the set.
If you were really lucky you'd have an Ekco. Way better than the average picture, decent gated AGC, generally well made, BUT it had a wax insulated line output transformer with EHT overwind contained in a perspex frame with the EY86 EHT rectifier soldered to 3 metal bits on the top of the perspex. Now when that little lot caught fire....In case your'e wondering... the EY 86 was a B9A 9 pin base with a top cap anode and directly heated cathode. The heater was at EHT potential and driven by a few turns of well insulated overwind from the LOPT. The valve was connected to the 3 solder points by 3 bits of tinned copper wire twisted round the top cap and appropriate base pins. Yeah - it did fizz a bit in damp weather. I'll never know why they didn't use the wire ended EY51. Maybe the EY51 was Mullard only. The rest of the set was firmly Mazda. The EY86 may have had a Mazda equivalent fitted. Misspent Childhood memories fail...
Getting all nostalgic now... OK Nurse, I'm coming. May I have some of those pretty orange ones again today?
Ooh, I love it when chaps/chapesses start talking all technicackle (I'm a steampunk these days)! I kind of half understand al that, but I do remember yes, there were twiddly knobs on the back which an inquiring young mind did indeed twiddle (when Mum wasn't about) to see if she could work out what they did. Elctrickery never was my forte though, I was better with mechanics in the Newtonian sense.
But you will have to use them/be affected by them because AndroidTV/WebOS/FirefoxOS don't appear to be just overlays or an extra source anymore, it looks like they're running the whole thing. If they aren't then the Sony reviewed should let you watch TV regardless of whether the AndroidTV needs an update, which doesn't seem to be the case.
I realise I have requirements very different to normal buyers, which means I'll have to look at panels aimed at custom installers, the professional display market or pc monitors if they actually get priced sensibly at large sizes this time, because it will be the only way to get a quality panel without all the crap I don't want or need interfering with my normal use of the display.
Any TV should have a life span of about ten years. Therefore having built-in 'Smart' is very dumb.
Once the little $50 boxes are outside the TV chassis, as they must logically be, then there's no more need for "versus".
You buy one of each.
And you buy an external HDMI switch because you'll need more inputs.
> Any TV should have a life span of about ten years. Therefore having built-in 'Smart' is very dumb.
Heck, I've used TVs for longer than that. We still have a perfectly functional Zenith from the mid 1980's which we use occasionally. As long as you can get coaxial (analog) or composite output from your source, it will continue to be usable. Sure, it only has 2 alternative inputs, and is darned heavy to move for it's screen size, etc, but entirely usable otherwise. I expect our 32" flat panel from 7 years ago will likely still be in use 7 years from now.
I have the Sony Google TV thing.
I initially bought it as a curio, but as a device it is actually quite nice. Having it separate from the TV means you can pretty much upgrade when you want.
With that said and with this article in mind, it looks like manufacturers want to lock us into a specific life span for their tv's.
This is a bit pish - I have a telly over ten years in age that works perfectly. So why should I be forced into upgrading the dumb bit just to get more features from the smart bit?
"So create a dummy account with fake name. No need to give them a phone number or address. Not that difficult."
Google is edging closer to a valid email (no wait - you can create a fake one), or 2nd order auth with a cellphone (no wait - you can buy a cheapy sim)...
Thanks, but no thanks - by the time I finish, the "smart" tv will be obsolete.
It has taught me that I need to exclude any TVs that force you to 'sign in' to google from my selection list. I would rather drink my own piss than let google see what I watch on TV. Plus, their buggy, unstable spyware, I mean software, is nasty enough on a phone, let alone a tv!
... not good.
I have one, and some operations stump even me. Nothing is particularly intuitive, the remote is lousy, the "magic remote" (a thing akin to a WiiMote) doesn't let you access all of the functionality.
Never mind the repeated pop-ups for the spyware license aggreements every time you venture into a new part of the UI.
The actual telly is nice. The software is horrible.
Really? I quite enjoy using WebOS. You're absolutely right about the licence agreements for voice recognition and the like - those can sod off - but the software's come across pretty intuitive to me. Wiggle the remote, point at a thing, done. The settings panel is a wee bit confusing in how it categorises things but in terms of apps I can't recall being frustrated by any of it.
The one issue I did have with my lovely LG telly was the wireless signal when I first got it. Wireless connectivity (we're still planning our network installation at this house) was garbage, and I was really disappointed that I couldn't use the TV properly. In the end I got frustrated and did a manual USB firmware update - BAM, wireless works flawlessly. Alrighty then!
The one other thing I do love about my WebOS TV is that you can grab the SDK for free and write your own apps for it, and apparently (haven't tried it yet) they can be sideloaded a lot easier than most Smart TV kit. Hells yes. Oh, and the ability to shove any HID device into one of the rear USB ports and have it work immediately, though that might be common across smart TVs now. Sure makes using net apps easier.
You're 'avin' a larf, right?
Plug in a keyboard.
In some apps , it doesn't work at all.
In others it works BUT THE ARROW KEYS MOVE THE HIGHLIGHT on the still-visible on-screen keyboard. Editing is only possible by wiggling and pointing with the remote.
You can't (simply) access the guide using the magic remote. Only the "guide" button on the normal remote does that.
The "normal" remote attempts to provide access to all functions. As a result it looks like a pound-shop multi-remote, with a zillion tiny buttons, non of which implement "brightness" "Contrast" etc.
Every time you change to a channel, it displays "Sport Mode Disabled" in the top left corner.
The browser is rather crap.
There's no quick way to scroll through the channels.
While you can create a favourites list, its hard work to set up, and inconvenient (and highly non-obvious) to access and use.
Sorting and disabling channels takes way too much work.
The PVR is not well thought out - I still can't tell if pressing record while wating a program records just that program or the next 3 hours of TV.
Oh, you're using it for an actual TV connection! Ha, ironically that's the one thing I don't do with it, got no experience there, and given that most of your complaints relate to navigating channels, they won't apply to me. No-one I know over here even has a TV subscription any more, we just use on-demand services, and the clients on the LG are great. I use it for gaming as well, and it's fscking great for that - Journey looks faaaaaaaaaaantastic on that screen.
Also, I only have the magic remote, though I was wondering if there was a version with some actual buttons on it. I also don't get that "mode disabled" message of yours, though again I wish they made it easier to switch modes if you only have the magic remote. And yeah, I've been using the keyboard without many issues, though some apps don't make it very clear when they will and won't accept text. For a first shot at WebOS on a TV i still think it's pretty good, though LG have apparently stiffed us on a WebOS 2.0 update and kept that back for the overly expensive 2015 models.
Just no, no and more no.
Given that recent (2011 onwards) 'smart' tvs and devices: bluray/dvd players, have been losing their 'smart' apps already and the only solution is to buy a new device because the manufacturers, Hello Sony, Panasonic, Samsung + others, are no longer supporting them or willing to update the firmware, I can't think of a single sane reason to buy one of these.
Ignoring the ridiculous 'please wait while we update' before you can even see a picture situation, slapping the innards of a tablet at the heart of a TV is just a recipe for disaster. Even if the OS is updated from Google/FireFox, not the TV manufacturer, I can dream, what are the chances of the apps still working in 2-3 years on the version of the OS which will run on that hardware? Looking at the tablet market, I'd say not great.
For £1,800 if UHD is so important, just buy a 50" screen for <£1,000, a Humax YouView/FreeSat+ recorder, whatever streaming box suits FireTV, NowTV, Roku etc, spend the change on either more goodies, lots of beer or a holiday. I'm all for convergence, but only when it's possible to swap out or replace the broken and unsupported bits easily.
I guess I'm going to need to hoard even more cash and buy from the professional display panel market when the time comes to replace my screen.
Pssssssst, if it's that easy to plug a side-device into a TV to give it smart capabilities, it'll be even easier to do that to a smart TV in 5 years or so if one or more of the apps on it loses support.
Also, pssssssssssssssssst some of these TVs have free SDKs and allow side-loading so you can homebrew the bastards pretty easily.
I've a few 'relatively' IT savy friends who like their 'smart' TVs (which no doubt are still getting updateed).
Personally, I agree. Smart Tv's are a dumb idea, only serving to shorten the lifespan of a useful device, I'll stick to a relatively inexpensive monitor and a relatively inexpensive, low-power, low noise PC.
The time when content was still in tight control of the stations and movie companies is over. Since the change of the century television doesn't work that way any more. Since then it simply became possible to just get your receiver to record everything you could have an interest in in a DRM free format so you can do whatever you want with it.
Those products are trying to use DRM to turn back the clock to the 1990s when making copies was hard and lossy.
Don't get some of the comments. Most high-end screens include "smart" features; if not then it's often a poor model (yes, I have a smart tv).
When doomsday arrives and the manufacturer stops supporting the apps you want, then just buy a little box to connect to the TV (just as you would have to if you had a "dumb" tv). By this time you would probably want to upgrade your little external box anyway.
So your TV can be used for years, at least until the PSU caps shit themselves.
I find it's nice and easy to watch on-line content directly on the TV (in fact I watch very little broadcast stuff these days), but in reality little different to having an external little box. The difference is I get a very decent massive screen.
No. Just no.
Why should I pay a surcharge on the price of the tele, for added complexity and annoyance I don't want, won't use and would be obsolete before the box went "phut" anyway? That's just wasteful.
Unfortunately, folk like you will buy the pitch that you "need" this crap, that models without it are "poor", etc. So the prophecy will fulfil itself and eventually there'll be nothing BUT crap models left for the rest of us.
RE No. Just no.
The added cost for smart features is probably very little in the scheme of things. High end models tend to have wider feature sets in many industries I'm afraid, and it's no different with TVs. I could not find a tv with a decent picture which did not have smart features. Or internal loudspeakers for that matter (even if I never intend to use them).
On another note my particular TV allows the manufacturer to provide upgrade kits which plug on the side and update the processing etc. It's clearly mainly a marketing style added sale for them, but it does provide more future-proofing than you would expect.
And as I said, if you wish you can add a separate box whenever new formats need to be added and keep the high-end display as just a display.
My previous CRT woul dhave been obsolete after DSO, but I sold it to a Sky user for £50, not bad for a 10 year old CRT.
This an expensive TV with superb picture quality, flat WS tube with arperure grill, and a rather good digital tuner.
The manufacturer kept it well supported for 5 years, dealing with BBC scrrew ups on service numbers, Ondodgy CAM support £3 PM for 15 channels.
Eventually HD called too hard.
But just after I sold it I found it was not DSO compliant.
Anyway the replacement was trying to be smart, runs Linux, but AFAIK not updated recently, smart was view photos via USB, but no problems there, nice easy menu, resembles the same companies games console at the time, also why I wanted HD.
So for smart features lets look at what is plugged into the TV, a games console with BluRay playback, and LOTS of streaming services, recently joined by its replacemment model.
So the semi smart TV is not updated, but the slightly older box is still updated,
Not sure if I would want it on a TV. My TV riuns Linux fine, my PVR runs Linux fine, both have decent enough UIs and no involvement from 3rd parties.
The consoles run forks of BSD, but have lots of support and supported applications, applications running from 50GB games to BBC IPlayer.
So my advice is ignore the TV Smart features and plug in a decent Freeview.HD / Freesat HD PVR
and a well supported games console.
Why games consoles?
PLENTY of support.
Plenty of grunt.
Not likely to get plug pulled as there are 10s of millions out there.
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