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'Smart' TV Tests

Problems have been reported with apps as well as the lack of interest in TV manufacturers in ‘owning’ their software for more than a few short years.

‘Our’ typical advice on the Community is use a PC, tablet, phone, or other device/app (roku, apple TV, chromecast, etc, etc) because they have better support and upgrades.

It is unsurprisingly manufacturers focus on marketing, selling, and periodic obsolescence; and care less about owning and using.

Most relevant features can be gleaned from the online reports and using filters, excepting the messy issue of apps and manufacturers track records of software maintenance. 10% in the overall scores for smart functions is not much, but if the smart functions are dodgy? or the manufacturer has a poor track record? or the apps might stop working when the ‘app’ needs to but is not timely (or at all) upgraded?

Not much about reliability of apps and software maintenance in the buying guide either. The sole reference I found is check the settings to make sure your TV is set to download firmware updates automatically. If not, turn it on as this is an important security feature. It is often an app or operational problem not just security, and an important unaddressed question is even if it is turned on, is ‘anybody listening’ at the other end, and if so for how long? The 1-year warranty? And how well does that go against the routine updates required to maintain compatibility with the myriad providers?

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Is that a suggestion the manufacturer needs to support the ‘Smart’ software system for the reasonable life of the physical device (TV)? Without maintenance the loss of functionality and security are both at risk according to prior comments. After 18 months can consumers return the product for a refund as it is no longer fit for purpose?

The alternative might be for marketing to promote TV’s as dumb products, with a caveate that the ‘Smart’ features are a complementary trial that may or may not prove reliable or useful to the purchaser.

I’ll just note that many modern flat screen TV’s last up to a decade of regular use. Many are binned early simply due to technology change.

Will the continued focus of Google, Amazon, Apple et al on centralised home control devices remove the need for the ‘Smart’ with a capital “S” TV’s. Devices such as a Fetch TV already offer a similar range of media capabilities. Added functionality and support for multiple connected devices is only limited by the imagination. Although a fibre connected home might also be necessary.

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Wouldn’t that be a radical concept?

At the most obvious, forewarning customers about what they are about to purchase could be a public service.

Or providing updates for the reasonable life of a product beyond warranty, even if by subscription post warranty or base support window, assuming ‘somebody is there’ beyond the money collector.

Dumb displays seem the right way to go, but the business bundle the display with questionable, sometimes short lived, apps for differentiation and pricing. It is only the consumer that gets dudded when it stops working under the current ‘world order’.

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There is also the issue of app developers not supporting their apps on older smart TV operating systems. Is this the TV manufacturer fault or that of the app developer?

With our own 4.5 year old Sony, the list of apps decreased as the TV aged. It started with possibly 100, now there are only a handfull. I beleive the apps started dropping off as the app developers ceased writing their app code for older OS. The older the TV has got, the more buggy some apps have become…with some freezing during operation with system errors or not working at all.

Should TVs be able to have endless (or say 10 years) of OS updates to latest OS version to maintain currency and maximise compatibility? If this is the case, can TV manufacturers better future proof their products in an environment of regular changes in/technology advancement?

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My point was not so much to cast responsibility or blame, but to highlight that tests do not address this issue.

My thoughts on the question are that most app developers would be happy to support anything that put money into their pockets. The business model must be that the TV manufacturers initially commission apps to get them in the first place, but at some point decline to pay for ongoing maintenance updates. Sometimes technology bites and I accept there can be a technological break at some point; is that reasonable at 1 or 5 or ? years from product end-of-life for sales?

Some manufacturers seem better than others in how they support their products’ software. Consumers should be made aware or at least made attentive from testing and consumer satisfaction surveys.

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Perhaps we need to view the ‘smart’ apps like the bloatware that PC/Laptop manufacturers install?

The bloatware is there so the manufacturer can claim value add for all the ‘free’ software they have provided to the technologically niaive. I think all technologically savvy peoply immediately delete the bloatware.

The smart apps are there for the same reason. As Phil has pointed out the general advise is to use workarounds which work long term and often work better in the short term.

Is it time to call out smart apps for what they are; simply bloatware?

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Have you tried to delete the rubbish from a recent Android (phone) release? Outlook, LinkedIn, ‘Google owns you’ in its many forms? We may be doomed! If removing them is even possible the admonishments about potentially breaking the phone’s operation are enough to cause most to cancel and live with it. Is this what is to come? Some TVs are already Android and as with an increasing range of products, continuing with proprietary operating and control systems is less rational every year, even if only adopting common cores - and the bloatware :frowning:

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Thank goodness, no, as I am currently using a seedy old apple.

I use Outlook as part of Office 365 and haven’t encountered any Google influence. Have I missed something?

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It is an immovable object on new Android releases :expressionless:

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If the ACL gives say as a guideline that TV’s should last 5 years (just a figure for the purpose of discussion) then if you purchase a Smart TV because it has XYZ apps and they are no longer supported after 2 years this should mean under ACL you do have the right to seek a refund, replacement or repair. If this wasn’t possible then compensation for the diminished value to you again is supported by ACL.

This means that maybe more people should be raising claims, I would think that compensation might be the most useful action but that’s just my point of view. Is this a position that perhaps CHOICE should be taking when they review such Smart TVs and report on when models fail to support pre-installed Apps. Maybe even a case that should be taken up with/by ACCC. I’d support that campaign.

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What is interesting is the following:

Sony is not responsible for functionality of third party Apps. The availability of Apps can change.

Samsung: You purchase and use Third Party Goods and Third Party Services at your own risk. User acknowledges and agrees that Samsung is not responsible for, and subject to local law, including the Australian Consumer Law, will not be liable for, any Third Party Goods or Third Party Services or the User’s purchase, use, or reliance thereupon, including the availability, suitability, reliability, or performance thereof, and Samsung does not endorse any Third Party Goods or Third Party Services or any advertising, products or other materials on or available via Third Party Goods or Third Party Services.

LG is not responsible for any technical difficulties with applications.

Panasonic: We do not control and are not responsible or liable for any Third Party Applications or any content, advertising or other materials on or available from or provided by Third Party Applications, including any damages or losses caused by those Third Party Applications. and We do not control and are not responsible or liable for any Third Party Applications or any content, advertising or other materials on or available from or provided by Third Party Applications, including any damages or losses caused by those Third Party Applications.

Hisense: All third party Smart Services in the Device are managed and controlled by their respective owners. We are not responsible for the included, pre-loaded, user downloaded or other third party Smart Services, which may be modified, removed, deleted or changed, with or without notice by their respective owners. Any questions or requests for service relating to such Smart Services should be made directly to the respective third party Smart Services providers, and not to us.

And the list goes on.

The TV manufacturer make it clear in either warranties or terms and conditions that they are not responsible for any third party apps which can be used on their smart TVs. Any issue with an app not working possibly should be taken up with the app developer if the app works when new and then ceases to work after a period of time. It possibly is a bit like software which is stated to run on a particular operating system and if the operating system/software is updated and fails to work, it would be the responsibly of the software developer to provide a remedy/fix/patch. Any claim against the TV manufacture is likely to result them pointing to the above words to dissolve any responsibility for the functionality of the third party apps on their smart TVs.

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Good research. I wonder how many TV buyers read it. I would be surprised if a 3rd party app developer could update their apps without some relationship with the TV manufacturer.

As with many things, just because they say it, must it be so? That reinforces buying an app laden ‘smart’ TV is likely to be a waste of money as compared to a dumb TV with a great picture, and a ‘box’ with apps connected to it.

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It sounds like it could be unless one churns their TV over every year or two to get one with all the new bells and whistles.

Maybe Choice should be doing a more extensive TV smart box (Google, Amazon, Android, iOs etc models) to complement the smart TV review which aren’t so smart after a few years.

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:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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Don’t laugh…I once worked with someone who replaced their TV about every 12-18 months…every time a ‘new’ standard was released, off to the local retailer to buy a new one. I asked what happened to the old ones…and was told that as they were ‘old’ ones, no-one wanted them and they were placed out for council’s kerbsite collection. I just wishes I lived nearby as I could have got a reasonably new TV not for quids…every so often.

Maybe too much money and no cents.

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This has been discussed before in this forum.

For this to be viable the manufacturer would have to have back-to-back contracts with the app developer and/or the service provider so as to ensure that the manufacturer could meet its obligations.

The problem isn’t necessarily with the app or with its compatibility with the operating environment within the TV. The problem is potentially with the service provider. That is, the service provider makes an incompatible change so that, despite a working TV and app, the functionality no longer works.

Case in point: I used to be able to Skype from my TV. That no longer works. The fault lies with Microsoft, not with the TV or the app. Since I never bought anything from Microsoft, never paid anything to Microsoft … it is difficult to argue that I have any comeback against Microsoft.

So you can see why TV manufacturers are keen to distance themselves from whether the, for example, Skype app continues to work.

This highlights a generic problem … most of the services that are accessed by “Smart TV” apps are free. That limits your legitimate expectations and limits your rights. You get what you pay for. Is there any interest in paid-for services that have greater longevity? I suspect not.

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I understand their desire to remove responsibility but on many of their boxes they outline what Apps they have and this creates a selling point. At that juncture I think it clearly becomes a situation that if someone purchases on the basis of the apps advertised then it is the manufacturer’s responsibility for any Apps that come pre-installed, indeed even more so if the purchaser actually asked if the TV came with those apps for the purpose of their purchase decision…apps added after the fact is a different kettle of fish.

Has this responsibility been tested? Maybe the ACCC just don’t bother as the ACL just over-rides unfair conditions. Maybe people are just too complacent to bother fighting it and just buy a box or update the TV when something becomes unusable. Maybe the words are taken to mean after purchase installs (this may be the angle they take) but by clever usage they avoid responsibility for the Apps that are pre-installed.

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Are they really so or has a markup in the value of the purchase price been based on the pre-installation of these Apps. I suspect that some of the cost of the purchase is based on app availability and what is pre-installed. They may be free to use once installed.

From a current Samsung TV tech specs (what they specify ie what they use to help sell the product):

Compatible Video Streaming Apps:: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney, Apple TV, Google Play, Kayo, Foxtel, Stan, ABC iView, SBS On Demand, 7Plus, 9Now, 10Play, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, AirPlay 2.

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If they do become responsible, there possibly won’t be any available for install or pre-install. The TV manufacturer can’t control what third party companies do in relation to compatability or longevity of their apps. TV manufacturers could try to duplicate apps, but they still won’t be able to control how content is managed (e.g. content holder could change the content format, location of storage etc, causing the app to fail). The TV manufacturers could hold content, but this could have copyright/licencing issues and could disadvantage the consumer as content may be limited. I also suspect TV manufacturers don’t want the responsibility…and if they are forced to, smart TVs possibly will disappear.

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Yet the problem has been largely solved for PCs, tablets, and mobiles. Perhaps the TV industry needs to evolve if it continues to be ‘smart’.

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