Smart TV manufacturers tout user-friendly functionality, high-performance operating systems, internet connectivity, and safe modes for kids. However, smart TVs aren’t without their issues.
Here are 5 of the most common problems with smart TVs:
- Internet connectivity requirements
- Native applications
- Clunky user interface
- Operating system performance and updates
- Privacy concerns
Let’s take a deeper look at these issues so you can weigh the benefits highlighted by manufacturers with existing customer concerns.
A balanced view will allow you to make an informed decision around whether a smart TV is an appropriate option for your family.
1. Internet Connectivity Requirements
The distance between the TV and your router/ modem, an outdated wireless standard on the onboard wifi adapter, or going beyond your data limit from your internet service provider will all likely result in slow speeds.
Slowness can cause buffering delays or an overall reduction of clarity.
Video buffering delays are a common issue.
Buffering is the process of loading the video into a dedicated area of memory on the TV.
Internet connectivity issues often hinder the buffering process, which interrupts the show or movie you are watching.
Reducing video resolution from high definition to standard definition (or lower) is another annoying side effect.
Internet connectivity issues can turn your smart TV investment into something that looks more like your TV set from 1990.
It would help if you had a quality high-speed internet connection to maintain that crystal clear picture you saw on the showroom floor.
There are a few ways to test internet speed. Possibly the easiest is to go to Netflix’s Fast.com.
You click on the link, the website will open and begin to test your speed.
If your rate is not what you are paying for monthly from your internet provider, pick up the phone and give them a call.
You may get a bit of a runaround, but hopefully, you will end up with an upgrade to the proper Mbps, which might resolve your issues!
2. Native Applications
Content providers may not have applications supported on all smart tv models.
For example, Disney Plus, arguably one of the hottest applications out there, was not available to Panasonic Smart TV owners in the UK.
Although Disney Plus first launched in 2019, issue resolution only occurred in the third quarter of 2021.
Panasonic Smart TV owners in the UK who wanted Disney Plus over the last two years have had to shell out more money for an additional streaming device, defeating the purpose of having built-in technology.
Even if all your preferred applications are supported when the TV is purchased, manufacturers like Samsung admitted as early as 2014 that content providers could remove apps from their platform at any time.
Thus, there is no telling how long applications will be available on your new TV.
The frequency of app updates may be slow or discontinued on older smart tv models.
Do a quick internet search for “ending support for older smart tv” and take a look at your results.
Netflix, Plex, Hulu, and others often cite “technical limitations” as their reason for stopping the support of older models.
Purchasing a new smart TV will give you the best chance at successful application integration; however, the length of your success is unknown and can be a pricey gamble.
3. Clunky User Interface
Smart TV user interfaces are, arguably, not as thoughtfully designed or as widely tested before launch compared to Amazon, Apple, or Roku.
The platforms tend to be less intuitive to use. Less accessed menus often obscure optionality that should be easily accessed.
Depending on the alternative platform you choose to turn your “dumb” TV into a “smart” one, you may gain added value.
Amazon’s Fire Stick offers voice control and integrates with other Amazon technology throughout your home.
Similarly, Apple TV provides seamless integration with other Apple products e.g., your iPhone or iPad. This type of functionality is not available with a smart TV alone.
4. Operating System Performance and Updates
The frequency of Operating System updates may be slow or discontinued on older smart TV models. Samsung indicates that their TVs receive updates with new features for approximately two years.
While additional updates are possible past that period, they tend to be limited to issue resolution.
Perhaps a new smart TV (or two, or three – depending on how many TVs you have in your home) every few years is an option for you, but most people would find this a bit of a budget-killer.
Consumers may consider lower-cost smart TV models.
However, the lower price may be partly due to the manufacturers’ unwillingness to pay for regular updates. Fewer updates may lead to slower performance compared to newer models by top-tier manufacturers.
5. Privacy Concerns
Before purchasing a smart TV, ensure you carefully read the Terms of Service.
Understand not only what information manufacturers can capture but also with whom they share it.
Determine whether the terms of service can change and whether you will receive notice if they do.
Per Sam Polay at Input, consumers can now pick up a great-looking Smart TV for less money than you would imagine.
The reason why is because those costs are now offset by the revenue manufacturers receive. Built-in ad-tracking software provides a secondary revenue stream to manufacturers.
In addition to any risk posed by the TV manufacturer, the FBI has warned that smart TVs offer potential access for hackers.
Because smart TVs often contain cameras and microphones, hackers can potentially watch and listen in without your knowledge.
As mentioned, manufacturers have stopped providing regular updates for older models.
Those regular updates include security updates. Once they end, your TV becomes an even more vulnerable point in your network.
Disconnecting your smart TV from the internet and utilizing a streaming device instead once your manufacturer no longer supports your chosen model would help eliminate this issue.
Most TVs sold in the US are smart TVs.
Because of this shift, finding a quality “dumb” TV to purchase may be difficult.
Smart TVs offer numerous benefits to users, such as integration with other smart devices.
However, they also come with some drawbacks, including problems with internet connectivity or privacy concerns.
Therefore, it’s important to assess the pros and cons of smart TVs to determine if they’re ideal for your family’s entertainment needs.