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Smart televisions first started hitting the shelves back in the late 2000s. They arrived with great fanfare, promising a revolution in the way we experienced visual entertainment.
Manufacturers gave them internet connectivity, app stores, and games. Services like Netflix and Hulu proclaimed the death of the HDMI cable. Cord-cutters rubbed their hands at the prospect of ditching their cable service. The future looked bright.
But the honeymoon period quickly came to an end. Consumers starting asking whether smart TVs were a worthwhile investment. Lies and myths started spreading. Today, I’m going to debunk some of those myths. Hopefully, by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll fall in love with your smart TV all over again.
1. “Your TV is Spying on You”
The Samsung TV “listening-gate” has arguably done more to damage the reputation of smart televisions than any other incident. For readers who don’t know what I’m referring to, in February 2015, Samsung was forced to issue a warning to TV owners about discussing personal information in front of their sets.
Samsung can capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features.
Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.
I’m not going to defend Samsung, but it’s important to consider the context.
In the two years since the incident, we’ve all become far more accustomed to having “listening” devices in our homes. Gadgets like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are only triggered by keywords, which means they need to be listening to private background chatter to hear when these keywords are uttered.
Admittedly, not everyone has the same willingness to engage with these devices. But to lambaste Samsung while turning a blind eye to the countless other privacy-eroding listening devices is both unfair and hypocritical.
2. “Your TV Is a Hacker’s Dream”
In early 2016, security firm Avast illustrated how a Vizio Smart TV could be remotely hacked and rooted, giving cyber-criminals access to the underlying Linux operating system. They even published details about what a man-in-the-middle attacker could learn about a person from the TV’s network traffic.
Similarly, there have been proof-of-concept demonstrations that used a USB device to exploit a malicious SSID value. Once activated, hackers could theoretically access and control any device on the network, including smart TVs.
Stories like these make consumers worried. “Privacy” has been an internet buzzword for the last couple of years, and users love a reason to give manufacturers a hard time.
But are you automatically vulnerable if you have a smart TV in your house? Well, it’s true that you can’t install an antivirus suite on your TV in the same way that you can on your computer. But your TV is far from the only culprit. What about your internet-connected home security system? Your smart fridge? Smart lighting? Even smart garage door opener? Are these really safe?
In a word, no. The responsibility falls on you, the consumer who buys and enjoys smart gadgets, to take steps to protect yourself. The solution is to buy a newer router that’s more secure than your ISP’s freebie. They have an impressive array of security features, including built-in antivirus, traffic quarantining, and port monitoring.
Don’t let security concerns dissuade you from appreciating your smart TV. Protect yourself properly and relish all its benefits.
3. “Smart TVs Don’t Offer Anything New”
Critics argue that smart TVs don’t bring anything new to your entertainment experience. They say smart TV functions are already covered by other devices in your home. Want Netflix? Log onto your Roku. Want to browse the web on a big screen? Use an HDMI cable. Want to play music? Chromecast has you covered.
While that might all be true — yes, you can use a multitude of other devices and services — there is a counter-argument to be made here: why use a bunch of different devices when a single smart TV can do it all?
Why would you want more gadgets than necessary? It means more cables, more apps to manage, a higher chance of things going awry, and more devices poking out of every corner in your home. It’s more prudent to streamline your experience.
Tech should be both easy and beautiful. And unless you’re a wizard at concealing cables and hiding ugly devices, you won’t be able to fulfill those ideals. Let your smart TV take some of the strain.
4. “Smart TVs Are Too Expensive”
Importantly for a lot of people, more gadgets also means more money. Let’s do some sums:
- Roku 4: $130
- Chromecast Audio: $35
- HDMI Cable: Up to $50 for a reliable, high-quality product
- Apple TV: $200
- Plex Lifetime Subscription: $120
- TOTAL: $530
For comparison, only five of the top 25 bestselling smart TVs at Best Buy cost more than $530. Rather than buying more and more cheap(ish) peripheral devices and services, start putting your money into a new TV fund. In terms of money, you pretty much come out as even.
5. “Smart TVs Don’t Have Enough Features”
In practice, there are very few day-to-day entertainment tasks that today’s smart TVs cannot carry out with aplomb. All manufacturers offer support for:
- Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Spotify, and every other mainstream entertainment app
- Web browsers
- Facebook and other social media platforms
- “Catch-up” apps from the major TV networks
- Remote UPnP media library support
- Peripheral gadgets like keyboards and mice
In short, they offer every typical service you could reasonably expect to use on a given day.
Ultimately, smart TVs have evolved immeasurably since they first became available. Unfortunately, many users might not realize that televisions are not something you upgrade frequently. If your TV is five or more years old, you’d be amazed at the performance levels of a new set.
After all, consider how much smartphones and laptops have improved over the same period. The same is true for televisions.
What Lies and Myths Have You Fallen For?
Of course, I could continue. But I hope these five points have made you think about giving your existing smart TV a new lease of life.
And if you’re in the market for a new television, embrace the technology. Do your research and find out which set matches your requirements. With some time and investigation, you’ll be able to discover a product that’ll become a valuable addition to your home entertainment setup.
Have you been caught up in the web of lies and rumors about smart televisions? Were you aware of how much they’ve progressed in since their launch? Or are you still unconvinced? Are you adamant they’re a mere marketing fad?
Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Image Credit: TorGB via Shutterstock.com