Saturday, April 13

It’s getting harder and harder to find a dumb TV. And it’s because manufacturers want to be smarter and smarter

Surely some of you have been in my situation: five years ago I bought a dumb TV and I was happy. Even then, it was clear to me that I did not want a Smart TV —which was ‘smart’ and still has little— and that I would take care of it to give television a certain intelligence.

Finding an acceptable model then was (very) difficult. Doing it now is even more so, above all because virtually no manufacturer makes big dumb teles. And they don’t do them for a very good reason (for them).

Collecting what is a gerund

As commented in Lifehacker, although “there are many good reasons to have a Smart TV in this hyperconnected era”, there are also reasons not to buy one of these models.

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That’s great, I can buy a lipstick while I’m watching the current salsa show. Source: HeraldScotland.

The most important is that when you buy a smart TV you also expose yourself to the well-known re-collection of data. There are several manufacturers that monitor our activity —what we see, how much we see, when—and then sell that data to third parties.

For example, LG does it, which not long ago presented River OS as if it were nothing to promote this type of use and which has caused people to share tricks for avoid their advertising systems.

Samsung does it of course and so do other manufacturers such as Vizio. The latter was sued and closed the case paying 2.2 million dollars in 2017. Their televisions they spy on us and listen to us with the eternal excuse that they can improve the user experience, but that data collection is a valuable treasure for these manufacturers.

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The odyssey of watching video content from the web browser of my Smart TV

And if not, let them tell the aforementioned Vizio, which in 2021 entered 38.4 million dollars in a single quarter for the monitoring and sale of viewing data and use of their televisions. How much did you earn from the sale of your televisions and sound bars? 48.2 million dollars in the same period. Almost the same.

The thing is going to surprising extremes, because some manufacturers include in their user interfaces intrusive advertisements that turn their GUIs into something absurd that has already been criticized in the world of computers: Microsoft did it in Windows 10 and was recently caught experimenting with advertising in the Windows 11 browser.

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What Vizio with intrusive advertising is already órdago.

Some like Vizio put advertising during the live broadcast of content, just like that. They call it “Jump Ads” and have signed deals with companies like Fox to run this type of extraordinarily intrusive advertising. One subscribes to a streaming platform to (among other things) not have to suffer from watching ads, and the TV manufacturer and you sneak them anyway.

It is, without a doubt, the last condemnation of that avalanche of smart televisions that, as I said, are rather little smart. Here’s an idea for manufacturers: make silly models too. We, the users, will take care of giving them intelligence with a Chromecast, a Fire TV Stick or a Raspberry Pi, for example.

Image | Nicholas J Leclercq

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