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Old 11-30-2014, 08:38 PM   #1
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Smart TV

A friend just had a Smart TV delivered and installed. He has Comcast and is paying $37.95/mo. This includes the current Comcast Technicolor Docsis 3 modem.

Whilst I think I'm fairly savvy on Computers, Tablets and Roku, after spending an hour with my friend, exploring the capabilities, I'm a little confused about what the TV can do. the first website we went to required Adobe, and the TV onscreen help, said it couldn't be installed. We tried to sign on to the Email for which he had received an address and a password. Couldn't sign on, and not sure he can install an email account.

He bought the set so he could play interactive bridge, but none of the online websites would bring up a game to be played... just a black screen..

He can access YouTube, and has build in links to Netflix, Hulu and five or six similar movie sites, but all require monthly costs.

The voice recognition works, and the internet is available but the TV "mouse/remote control is quirky I believe he can use a wireless mouse, and perhaps a keyboard.

What I don't understand is whether he can use the TV as an internet browser, or add programs to be used w/o internet access. Doesn't appear to have on board capabilities. We tried to sign in to Comcast Email, but couldn't use the password he had been given.

Couldn't find any instructions online... most sites, including Wikipedia seem to assume that the SmartTV owner understands how it works.

Not looking to make a mountain out of a molehill, but would appreciate any 'Smart TV for Dummies" info.
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Old 11-30-2014, 08:50 PM   #2
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Sounds like a computer crammed into a TV
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Old 11-30-2014, 08:51 PM   #3
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I've found that the web browser on my Samsung Smart TV is pretty rudimentary - works for simple sites but nothing too involved. I've managed to get streaming music to work within the browser, but even with a wireless keyboard it's pretty slow and prickly browsing.
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Old 12-01-2014, 04:34 AM   #4
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I think the best use we get out of our Smart TV is use of the video-specific apps that are offered - YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, etc. Some other offered apps are mildly useful novelties - weather, news headlines, etc. Beyond that, we've found it to be an attempt to use the wrong tool for the job. For web browsing, we've found it better to use a tablet.
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Old 12-01-2014, 08:46 AM   #5
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I'll provide a quote from an article and give you the link. This mirrors my experience and sounds like yours.

"In practice, smart TVs just arenít that great. Smart TVs have software made by TV manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, LG. Their software is generally not very good. Smart TVs usually have confusing, often baffling interfaces."

Smart TVs Are Stupid: Why You Donít Really Want a Smart TV
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Old 12-01-2014, 09:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happyrick View Post
I'll provide a quote from an article and give you the link. This mirrors my experience and sounds like yours.

"In practice, smart TVs just aren’t that great. Smart TVs have software made by TV manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, LG. Their software is generally not very good. Smart TVs usually have confusing, often baffling interfaces."

Smart TVs Are Stupid: Why You Don’t Really Want a Smart TV
Thank you!
Am at the point of wondering how much age has affected my brain. The man I am trying to help has never used any kind of computer, and was totally frustrated with his Smart TV experience... I thought I could get him started, but spent most of the time trying to understand a TOTALLY new interface, where nothing works as would be expected.
Re the browser... first page worked ok, but beyond that, much confusion, as the TV didn't respond to most links.
It reminded me of the 1970's, and trying to understand the early computers. Can't add Adobe, or any flash players.

Not looking forward to the second visit. Expect that because he wants to play computer bridge, we'll end up with a low end computer. Biggest problem now, is to see if comcast will respond to opening their broadband link for other than the TV... A case of left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
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Old 12-01-2014, 09:42 AM   #7
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I think the article overstates the problem, which I feel is simply overreach - the attempt to make a smart TV more than just a vessel for accessing online video sources through the provided apps. The article contends, "Smart TVs will become dumber over time as they don’t receive updates." False. My smart TV has received at least two updates since I bought it. In addition, each of the video services have updated their apps on my smart TV numerous times. "New video services won’t work on old TVs..." And most new computers running Microsoft Windows these days cannot run old Java applets. The STB alternatives the article presents all share problems with smart TVs - they're tying you to their manufacturer's entry ramp on the Internet, they will be supported for a while and then updates will require buying a new STB, etc.

I think the sentiment stems from a wish that we go back to a pre-consumerism economy, where everything lasted for-practically-ever, etc., and trying to pin the feeling of loss on an unrelated aspect. Dumb TVs will suffer from similar short lifespans as smart TVs, though for fewer reasons.
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Old 12-01-2014, 10:24 AM   #8
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I'm not an expert, but I do know that each TV brand's "Smart" offering will be different, so without knowing what brand I don't know how anyone here might help.

I don't think any TV brand offers built in Smart features that will come anywhere close to equalling any dedicated device (Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, et al). Smart interfaces have focused on streaming movies/video, not web browsing. If you want your TV to act as a big monitor, just plug your PC in as another input source - my "antiquated" 7 year old Sony LCD has that capability, I suspect anything newer would too.

As noted above, all the Smart interfaces (from TV built in through Apple/Roku) are better using the built in apps (youtube, Netflix, Hulu+, etc) and not as good at pure web browsing.

If your friend has a tablet, mirroring might be a better/easier way to get the bridge game up on his/her TV. But we'd have to know brands to answer...

Unless the app is relatively new, lots of PC and especially tablet/phone apps from even a few years ago are much lower resolution than TV content too. So your friend might be seriously underwhelmed at how the bridge game looks on a big TV.

One day convergence will be complete (years away I'd guess), in the mean time it's a struggle to get the various technologies to work together (by design, as each device/service seeks to protect their turf).
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Old 12-01-2014, 10:33 AM   #9
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I am a bit surprised that TV makers cannot cheaply drop a computer chip and standard/opensource browser in a TV and just have it work. But I have not seen one that works that way, a Sony I saw came the closest. We have an Apple TV now and we just use an iPhone or iPad to watch whatever we want. Have some issues with Flash player requirements but that is the extent of the issues we have encountered.
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Old 12-01-2014, 03:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post

He bought the set so he could play interactive bridge, but none of the online websites would bring up a game to be played... just a black screen..

.
My (limited view) guess is that he'd do better with a $35 Chromecast dongle and access (Chromecast/Tabcast) the website via laptop or smartphone. Simple cheap and easy to set up.

I'm doing it right now, watching myself type this message on my TV as I Chromecast my laptop's browser.

Plus Youtube, Netflix etc are also accessible.
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Old 12-01-2014, 03:40 PM   #11
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Rather than buying one of these so called smart TV's, we are replacing an old set with a "dumb TV" for a very good price. We have a Roku, Amazon Prime and a new Fire Stick so all we need are a few HDMI ports and a USB port.

Unless these new smart TV's get smarter soon, they will go the way of the 3D sets.
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Old 12-01-2014, 04:50 PM   #12
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The SmartTV features I use are limited to the following.

1) display photos & play movies off of my PC, tablet wirelessly (no cables)
2) play YouTube, and a few other apps. It gives me easier & quicker access to those apps.
3) download and update TV FW wirelessly
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Old 12-01-2014, 05:11 PM   #13
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I liked the title, 'Smart TV's are Stupid'. Pretty bang on as I see it. I have a truly Smart TV - it is a Dell desktop with a Blu-ray player, an HD ATSC tuner, 2GB graphics card and large hard drive with PVR software hooked up to an HD capable monitor. Looks great and does everything. I still use it but it is in the den rather than the family room. I considered hooking it up to a projector but haven't gotten around to it. Currently, I just use my laptop when sitting in front of my pretty dumb Smart TV in the family room (the kids use tablets). Interestingly, it seems to me that HDTV tuners in desktops have pretty much disappeared. May have to do with copyright issues but could be that they just didn't sell.
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Old 12-01-2014, 05:20 PM   #14
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You might want to remember that smart TVs call home. IIRC LG smart TVs would disable some functionality if user did not agree to "terms of service" of software.

In LG's case even if opted out of the telltale feature, the TV still kept track of programs watched, duration, muting of commercials etc. and sent the info back to LG. Some Smart TVs have microphone and camera looking at the viewer and record then send the the info back to the TV vendor or whomever they sell the information to.

If using cable I'd just as soon buy a monitor and drive it with the cable box or computer. I am not a fan of smart anything.
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Old 12-01-2014, 08:18 PM   #15
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The closet on the other side of the wall from my HD set has a desktop computer running XP. I hate to have to "Reboot the TV", but given that I rarely add anything to that machine, it has been really stable. I have DVR software for OTA programming and have full flexibility to watch Internet based stuff of all varieties. SSince I would not like to get " boxed in", I'd stay away from a smart TV!
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Old 12-02-2014, 06:16 AM   #16
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Another thought about smart TVs... Everything you can get from a smart TV you can get from a smart disc player. With my setup, I find it easier to use the disc player than the television. (They're the same brand, so the smart software is, as far as I can tell, identical. They get updated at roughly the same time; they have the same apps which look and work the same; etc.) Depending on your setup, it may make more sense to go that direction.
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Old 12-02-2014, 10:31 AM   #17
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Maybe a few of the apps are not working because of this:
Quote:
Due to a recent global Internet security breach, known as POODLE, Cineplex and other retailers modified the way they connect to secure servers to protect online customers. In doing so, certain models of our Cineplex Store App on Samsung Smart TVs have stopped functioning.

We are currently working with Samsung to correct the issue as quickly as possible, but at this time you may experience trouble accessing the Cineplex Store from a Samsung Smart TV.

Please note that customers’ personal and credit card information was not compromised during this time.

As a valued customer, please accept this one-time offer of 20% off any rental on CineplexStore.com as our ‘thank you’ for your patience. The code must be used online and entered in the promotional code box during checkout.
Might be worth another try after they fix their apps.

BTW one of the advantages of connecting your smart tv to the internet is so the manufacturer can download their latest software for rendering HD. You will be assured of the latest software they have developed.
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Old 12-02-2014, 11:01 AM   #18
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Considering software vulnerabilities, the limited scope functionality in a TV might hit the wall, and "brick" your TV with respect to new stuff. Software and network technology tend to change faster than video display technology; it seems to me that the two should be managed with two different devices. But I like to geek out with stuff like this, and don't mind a little complexity.
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Old 12-02-2014, 11:04 AM   #19
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That's key. Most consumers greatly prefer simplicity to complexity, and these products reflect that preference.
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Old 12-02-2014, 11:56 AM   #20
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I bought a Sony Smart TV this year and it has auto-updated at least 8 times in the last 4 months. So far, it works well. But I also have a Roku 3 box and that is really a better interface for the smart functions. And I have a networked media player with 5 gigs of storage so I don't need the movie player functions of the TV (just lots of HDMI ports). So I was specifically looking for a Dumb TV with a great picture, but those two things don't correlate well.

I really like to run the You Tube app as it is easy to get what I want to see on my screen, especially for long videos (for instance, I watched an Al Jazeera series on You tube recently, 6 episodes of 47 minutes each). The YouTube app works equally well on my Roku 3 and Sony Smart TV. On my computer I just click "watch later" on any video and then it comes right up on the YouTube app on the TV or Roku in the Watch Later list. Also, you can subscribe to you tube channels. I hate watching videos on my laptop.

I recently bought a video cam and microphone combo for my Sony Smart TV specifically to run Skype. Keeping in touch with others when you live abroad like me is important, and it gives the other person a better view of my place -- I plan to talk while sitting in a chair in front of my TV. I have not yet received the Skype equipment so I don't know if it's an improvement over just using Skype on my computer or tablet.
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