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The Coming Tech Battle Over 'Smart TVs'

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-like-our-phones-and-bombs dept.

Television 314

An anonymous reader writes "One persistent theme from this year's CES is that television manufacturers are racing to establish the concept of 'Smart TVs,' sets that integrate modern browsing features, control through voice or motion, application support, and even upgradability. This article suggests the living room will be the location of the newest tech war. Quoting: 'To compete, the companies will have to offer carefully curated, high-quality applications and be open to supporting mobile devices such as tablets. Other media companies have already started: Comcast, for example, announced that it's going to allow OnDemand streaming not only to Samsung Smart TV's but also to the iPad. The TV makers are hoping that the multitude of additional features will be enough to trigger turnover like the industry saw after the introduction of flat-panel screens, Bloomberg noted. It's a big market, if the television makers can figure out how to crack it.'"

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314 comments

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Can't wait for the voice controlled TV's (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673630)

Hello commercials that start with the announcer screaming "Volume up! Volume up! Volume up!"

Re:Can't wait for the voice controlled TV's (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673668)

Or the kids shows with "Ok, kids, repeat after me. TV, dial 1-9-0-0-S-E-X-Y-V-I-X-E-N-S"

Re:Can't wait for the voice controlled TV's (4, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673710)

You can't really interact well with a voice system, if media is going off in the background. I learned this the hard way. It saves a lot of headaches if you just accept that you may have to hit a button before giving a command

Re:Can't wait for the voice controlled TV's (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673974)

If you hit a button anyway, why not just hit a button to turn the volume up?

Re:Can't wait for the voice controlled TV's (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673990)

Luddite!!1!!2!

Re:Can't wait for the voice controlled TV's (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674070)

Kinect works great with this, it detects what your speakers push out and learns how to pick up your voice during any other interupting sound. Its still hit or miss for some people depending on room accoustics/voice, but not by volume.

Re:Can't wait for the voice controlled TV's (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674164)

Also, it's highly annoying to have to raise your voice just to adjust the volume while watching a movie. I'd prefer having a remote with a couple of buttons for the more commonly used functions, and perhaps a button-activated voice control system a la Siri which responds to commands like "Turn on English subtitles".

But what I'd really like to see is a better unified control for all the systems that make up my A/V setup: TV, Amp, Media player, PVR, Apple TV, etc. Currently, the only way I have to control these devices together is by using a universal remote like the Harmony. (This works quite well by the way, but unfortunately there are still some idiot manufacturers who do not understand that the remote control to their device needs to be stateless except in a few exceptional cases like channel/volume control. So instead of providing infrared commands for InputHDMI1, InputHDMI2 etc, they only have a command for NextInput.)

Re:Can't wait for the voice controlled TV's (2)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674056)

Wait until the first tv viruses come out. "Turn off! Turn off!"

Re:Can't wait for the voice controlled TV's (4, Funny)

khr (708262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674174)

That would be great for a new remake of The Outer Limits so maybe they really can control the vertical and the horizontal, etc...

TV will get smart, next tech war in living room? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38673680)

I have been hearing this for over 30 years. Will they get powered by cold fusion?

Re:TV will get smart, next tech war in living room (2)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673760)

I have been hearing this for over 30 years. Will they get powered by cold fusion?

It's just a computer with a tv card attached to an HDTV.
I have an HDTV as a second monitor, without the cable connection, and therefore, minus commercials. Why anyone would buy a computer geared towards watching commercials is anyone's guess. Maybe they will be giving them away?

Re:TV will get smart, next tech war in living room (4, Insightful)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674146)

Stupid TV! BE MORE FUNNY!

If ads finance production that's not a bad deal. (5, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674192)

I have an HDTV as a second monitor, without the cable connection, and therefore, minus commercials. Why anyone would buy a computer geared towards watching commercials is anyone's guess. Maybe they will be giving them away?

The original value proposition was you got free content in exchange for screening commercial messages in your home. Pretty much the same as Gmail, really. It can be a very successful business model when imaginatively applied - for example, you can get soap companies to pay for women's theatre [wikipedia.org] or get a local grocer to pay for music broadcasts [wikipedia.org] .

But eventually the middlemen got greedy and started charging for providing high quality signal to the home... thus the birth of Comcast and other cable companies. You pay a minimum of three times, now - first for provider installation (one time charge), then for signal (monthly), then for content (by viewing commercials). In some cases, four times, because you also rent an access box. In some cases, five times, because your commercial-laden channel has additional access charges (hello, HBO!) or because you like PBS so you voluntarily pay them.

The Internet (and wide availability of free or low-cost wireless Internet access) may be pushing media back to its roots - where the middlemen sell eyeballs to advertisers, and content creators are motivated by a desire to make art more than by a desire for riches, and common people can access culture and art without making multiple payoffs to a bunch of sleazy gatekeepers.

Re:TV will get smart, next tech war in living room (1)

BlueStraggler (765543) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674278)

It's just a computer with a tv card attached to an HDTV.

No, it's a super-sized iPad. You won't watch channels any more, you'll watch apps. Some apps will be for regular TV channels (eg. NBC, ESPN), some will be for specific shows, some will be for shows you can't get on regular TV (vintage, foreign, etc.), some will be for internet video services like YouTube, some will access your PC's media libraries, and some will have nothing to do with video content (games, email, web, etc.). It will all be controlled by voice (eg. Siri) with iPad, iPod, or iPhone remotes. There will, of course, be an Android version, but it will be all over the place in terms of quality and app completeness, as different set manufacturers try to differentiate from each other.

Re:TV will get smart, next tech war in living room (5, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673818)

I turned up the Brightness on my TV, but it didn't do what I hoped.

Re:TV will get smart, next tech war in living room (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674058)

I turned up the Brightness on my TV, but it didn't do what I hoped.

I've been thinking, for some time, that it was broken too. But now I'm wondering if it was installed years ago for a future upgrade that they never got around to. Perhaps these new "smart" TV's will get an intelligence setting. I mean besides the one labeled "Off".

I want a dumb TV (5, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673688)

I want to be able to attach smart stuff to the TV...smart stuff I choose.

When the smart stuff dies or is obsoleted, I can get new smart stuff and keep the old TV.

Re:I want a dumb TV (2)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673744)

like a set top box that outputs video to the screen. My god, this is groundbreaking.

I also would actually consider buying a TV with some processing power and USB inputs, so that the TV runs the thinking. The USB keys could hold whatever software may be needed for clients/OS/whatever. Of course, this would only cause an upgrade war to USB somehow.

I still live by a rule of no more than $100/year for a tv. My last is was under 300 dollars, and is over 3 years old, so I could be in the market, but I am not jumping on the forced upgrade cycle.

Re:I want a dumb TV (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674080)

Watch it with new TV's the forced upgrade cycle is they blow up.

Last 3 HDTV's did not last more than 4 years but all cost more than $1800.00 That's a major rip-off.

Re:I want a dumb TV (4, Insightful)

David_Hart (1184661) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673838)

I agree. The TV should remain a dumb device, much like the computer monitor. The TV manufacturers see the churn in the cell phone space and just drool. However, I don't see people spending $2K for a new TV every 12 to 18 months.

Re:I want a dumb TV (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674008)

65" LCD LED TV, with high spec computer built in. Expansions slot on the back to add 'another' hard disk and extra ram, at least 2 network ports and 4 usb ports, and through in a pad or smart phone as the remote.

Don't need a router built in as that is best served as the internet connection with firewall and wireless.

Re:I want a dumb TV (3, Interesting)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673892)

I want the opposite, what I want is a combo, TV+PS3+Blu-ray, a Playstation TV or Xbox TV. I think Sony could do this, if they were smart enough, that would be an unbeatable all-in-one solution. Personally, I hate multiple remotes, DVD players, Netflix dongles and such stuff. Just one bezel free huge rectangle with PS3 and Blu-ray drive seamlessly integrated, that would be nice. No more cables, no more input selection or remote controller fights.

Re:I want a dumb TV (3, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674168)

I want the opposite, what I want is a combo, TV+PS3+Blu-ray, a Playstation TV or Xbox TV. I think Sony could do this, if they were smart enough, that would be an unbeatable all-in-one solution.

I'm sure Sony could easily do this. But it would cost you a small fortune. Plus it would really suck when one of those integrated devices breaks. It's much more economical to replace a broken PS3 or Xbox than the entire system.

Personally, I hate multiple remotes, DVD players, Netflix dongles and such stuff. Just one bezel free huge rectangle with PS3 and Blu-ray drive seamlessly integrated, that would be nice. No more cables, no more input selection or remote controller fights.

Both my TV and Bluray player can access Netflix (and other services) as well as my HTPC. Admittedly it was a pain to set up initially, but it's all done and I never have to think about it again(so far). I also only have one remote [amazon.com] for my TV, HTPC (though there is a wireless keyboard & mouse if needed),CD player, bluray, DVD player, reciever, and DTV PVR. Hell it even controls the digital picture frame in that room as well as a Roomba vacuum cleaner.

Re:I want a dumb TV (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674214)

On the other hand, you will be prevented from doing things that you want to do, right now or in the future when new consumer systems come out. I have seen this happen with DVDs:

Me: Stuff about DRM and deCSS
Other person: Oh so what, only pirates want to rip or copy DVDs! Look, my laptop plays DVDs just fine, and so does my DVD player!

Some years later

Other person: Hey, how can I rip this DVD so that it will play on my new tablet computer?

The problem with these all in one TVs is not the form factor, nor is it the difficulty in upgrading them -- it is the DRM. Someone else gets to dictate to you when and how you use your TV, whether or not you are allowed to fast-forward past certain parts of shows or movies (e.g. you cannot skip commercials, but you can skip non-commercial parts of a show), when you can start watching a movie, where you can buy your movies, etc.

At first, everything will be OK -- after all, you follow the rules and are not a pirate, right? Five years from now, though, there will be new devices that you might want, and you might discover that you actually want to do something that your all-in-one TV will not allow you to do. We saw it happen with DVDs, we have seen it happen with other DRM systems, and I can guarantee that it will happen with "Smart TVs."

Re:I want a dumb TV (4, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673896)

Exactly. A screen should just be a screen. High resolution, low latency, great colour gamut, high frame-rate - sure, knock yourself out. Anything else will probably detract from the purchase.

Re:I want a dumb TV (2)

AdamThor (995520) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673910)

No kidding. A good monitor lasts much longer than the computer it's attached to. Keeping a screen from one hardware generation to the next is one of the biggest cost savers available to the cognoscenti. Never mind that the computer you make to plug into your TV is wholly under your control.

Do Not Want.

Re:I want a dumb TV (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674206)

No kidding. A good monitor lasts much longer than the computer it's attached to. Keeping a screen from one hardware generation to the next is one of the biggest cost savers available to the cognoscenti.

Then you can imagine how disappointed I was when the screen backlight border spontaneously started to peel on the 24" 1080p monitor I bought and planned to keep for at least 6 years, and still use for many years after that. I just don't know what happened, it was sitting on a desk out of the sun and one day I see the shadow of the black border edging (apparently somewhere between the backlight source and the pixel layer) covering a corner of the screen T_T If I was to buy another one now the only thing I'd do different is get one with LED backlighting, hardly worth an upgrade.

Only rough thing that ever happened to it was being smuggled in a suitcase a few years ago, probably no worse than regular shipping.

Media center computer? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673914)

Media center PC?

Re:I want a dumb TV (3, Interesting)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674036)

I second that. My dad has a Samsung smart TV. It can record to an external harddrive, but you can't watch that content on your PC at a later timer (someone managing your digital rights for you ...). It has a Skype app, but you can't use it in full screen mode, and mysteriously you can't make video calls to Linux machines with it. It can theoretically play youtube videos, but the playback interrupts so often to make them unwatchable. (Sure he has a slow internet connection, but every other device on his WLAN can handle youtube videos just fine.) ASCII input is taking the old cellphone input schemes to new heights - never seen something more inconvenient. Leaving the skype app in the wrong way will make it forget the password, and entering that again will keep you busy for 10 painful minutes.

A small media computer connected to his screen would probably be better in just about any aspect. Eventually I'll hook that up for him.

Re:I want a dumb TV (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674078)

Exactly, another dumb idea. It seems like the tech industry is getting dumber, in the early/mid-2000s you saw some crazy "out-there" ideas but no blatantly dumb ideas such as embedding a non-upgradeable (and quite lame) HTPC into a TV for all time. If anything TVs need to be made more modular, not less.

On top of that there's no consumer demand for these things, but I think that's because most people want a purely passive TV experience, which is understandable, in fact I've been thinking of writing a script for my HTPC to bring up a random episode of a random show to simulate cable TV's passive viewing, sometimes that's what I want, but it seems that most people want that almost all of the time.

Re:I want a dumb TV (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674316)

I want to be able to attach smart stuff to the TV...smart stuff I choose.

I agree with this ... I recently bought a new TV; it's a nice TV but it's got no wifi or any of that stuff. And, I didn't want any of that ... it's just a monitor really, the fact that it has speakers or knows how to change channels isn't even being used.

But, my AppleTV allows me to connect and stream all of the stuff in my iTunes. Nothing you couldn't do with Slingbox or Windows Media Player or a lot of other products on the market ... just a wireless media device.

It cost 1/10th to buy the Apple TV as the cost of the TV, so to me it's the more replaceable part so it makes more sense to not have it as part of the TV ... and it's cheaper and easier to upgrade and replace.

I'm reminded of my wife's last car, which had in-dash GPS navigation ... which was cool because at the time it was new. But, as the maps got out of date and we looked at updating it ... the DVD with updated maps from GM would have cost almost 3x the price of a consumer GPS you could pick up at any electronics store. It wasn't worth trying to upgrade the one installed in the car; the technology was pretty much obsolete.

So, me I'd rather have a device external to the TV which is more readily upgraded than have the functionality in the TV ... and since my last TV lasted almost a decade, I expect I'm at least 5-7 years away from replacing this one. Which means anything they're planning now will have completely changed by the next TV.

And, I also discovered the added cool factor that I can control my AppleTV from my iPad ... so I would say to any company making a media extender ... make an Android or iOS app for your device ... being able to use your smart phone/tablet to control your media center is way cooler than just the remote that comes with it. If they're already both on your wifi network, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to communicate. I can control my AppleTV and the iTunes on my computer from anywhere in the house, and the native app means I can do more than I can with the remote that it came with.

Putting this into the TV just adds cost to the TV, and opens you up for some functionality which has become obsolete which you can't readily update ... spend the extra money on an external device, they've gotten quite cheap now, and they are likely a little more general purpose than what will be in the TV.

My only beef: (4, Insightful)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673692)

Where's the content? I would rather watch a good show in black and white that watch the current drivel in 3D surround sound motion enhanced smell augmented life like blah blah blah.

Advertisements (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674260)

The point is for you to watch advertisements. Who cares about good shows?

Finally (4, Funny)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673700)

Finally, the year of linux on the TV is here !

Re:Finally (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673766)

Unfortunately, it'll be a different half-assed build, with a different shit interface, and tragicomedic 'app store', on every single model...

The only thing they'll have in common is being cryptographically locked, so that the only thing that can be installed are the manufacturer firmware updates that never materialize.

Re:Finally (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674258)

I'm not even interested in consumer electronics any more because of this. Fuck curated computing. All of it.

Re:Finally (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674334)

Well, you are going to be very sad over the next few years, as it becomes harder and harder to avoid these things. Smart TVs will probably be big money makers, because companies will be able to open new sources of revenue:
  • Charging a premium for advertisements that cannot be muted or skipped
  • App stores (lots of money if you run a popular one)
  • Enforcing payment models for premium shows
  • Disabling devices or features that threaten profits
  • Vendor lock-in
  • Integrating TV advertisements with web advertisements
  • Dozens of other "creative" ways to monetize smart TVs

In a decade, you might not even be able to find a TV that is not "smart," and if you do you might not be able to watch anything except broadcast channels -- and only low-def.

Re:Finally (3, Insightful)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673886)

It has been for a while, but the manufacturers did not bother to tell you, because it doesn't matter.

I just got a new Samsung TV. It is running Linux and loads of other free software. well hidden, so it looks like a TV, and just works.

And with the built in media player, I can now let my Popcorn Hour box stay at the older non-networked TV.

Re:Finally (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674124)

It's been that way forever.

Panasonic, Samsung and LG as well as NEC all run linux on their HDTV's and always have.

Cool part is some TV's have a bug that let you into the OS via the rs232 port (if you bought one that was not bottom of the line and is missing that port) I was rooting around in a NEC E322 just yesterday looking through /etc and /bin. Just wished the TV had xmodem software installed so I could pull files off of it.

Re:Finally (1)

DocZayus (1046358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673976)

Great, another thing to compile or to have break everytime a package changes. :(

Sorry, still not upgrading (2)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673702)

My current TV works fine. I have no interest in spending large quantities of money on a TV that does the same thing only with a bunch of extra crap tacked on.

Now if you get me a TV that eliminates the need for a separate box from my IPTV provider, then we'll talk.

Re:Sorry, still not upgrading (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673830)

But don't you want the 3D, Smellovision, 2,000,000 Mhz refresh rate, Google-enhanced, OLED-CD-SUV, smart TV--with optional voice control, heated seats, and OnStar?

Re:Sorry, still not upgrading (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674038)

"Hello, OnStar? The computer in my TV has crashed..."

Re:Sorry, still not upgrading (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674144)

"no problem sir, we have your credit card on file and have already ordered a new one along with the new Content protection system TV to replace it."

Re:Sorry, still not upgrading (2)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674098)

If you want all that, just buy this fantastic cable [bestbuy.com] ! The reviews explain it all.

Re:Sorry, still not upgrading (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674150)

you missed free pr0n but then again if you ask nobody is watching it anyway so maybe not....

Urgh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38673720)

" To compete, the companies will have to offer carefully curated, high-quality applications and be open to supporting mobile devices such as tablets."

Surely they mean "To compete, the companies will have to own, license or aquire vast numbers of vague patents and be open to locking users in to their product by pushing sub-par standards and deliberately crippling their products".

No good will come of 'smart tvs', but only because nothing good can come out of the consumer technology industry anymore.

My Ass. (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673726)

I have one of them 'smart tvs' next room, one 32 inch lg 3d tv. as smart as it goes - can connect to internet, watch youtube vids directly, connect to this service and that, and let me tell you :

it is a bitch to use it with the remote. the moment you need to type something, you're in deep shit. guess what it needs ? right - a keyboard.

and the moment it gets a keyboard it would become a rather oversized monitored dumb terminal pc that i cannot tinker with .... so then why shouldnt i buy/build a small media box and connect my tv to it instead ?

all these said, its rather convenient.

Re:My Ass. (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673834)

You types this on your "Smart TV", right?

Re:My Ass. (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673856)

Pre-emptively calling Muphry's Law [wikipedia.org] on myself.

:(

Re:My Ass. (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674116)

I thought it was you being funny.

Re:My Ass. (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673872)

And anyone with a $150 Wii can do all that on their TV, plus play games (and you can plug a wireless keyboard into it as well). Nobody does, because people use their TV for watching TV, playing dvds and games, and that's about it.

The fact that Canonical is now trying to sell the concept of UbuntuTV should be enough to tell you that it's a dead end.

Re:My Ass. (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673920)

The high-end Samsung TVs come with a Galaxy Tab as a remote. Problem solved.

As for why you should not buy a media box? One word: Cables.

Re:My Ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674272)

Cables!!

The doom of modern civilization. What will we ever do if we don't get rid of every cable ever??

Re:My Ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674100)

all these said, its rather convenient.

so are apostrophes, but that doesn't mean they get used either.

Re:My Ass. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674158)

I've had one for a decade. in the basement is a JVC rear projection 720p set that runs windows CE. it has "apps" and Internet explorer as well as it came with a keyboard.

It sucked badly. and Im guessing that websurfing from a TV today still sucks badly.

Re:My Ass. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674296)

Any HTPC remote needs a thumb keyboard or it's a joke. Shoulda looked at the remote before you bought it.

The actual solution will be different (5, Insightful)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673742)

As soon as people will start playing with TV firmwares, just like they did with smartphones [cyanogenmod.com] and routers [openwrt.org] , we'll get better TVs.
Which in turn is not what manufacturers and broadcasters want.

the smart TV will save me some $$$ (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673752)

the winner will be the one that allows us to cancel cable and pay for content a la netflix. set up a few tiers for content where you pay more depending on the show. kind of like spotify but with price tiers depending on the show.

i'm paying $150 a month for cable/internet/phone and i want to cut it by half and still have a good choice of content to watch. i don't care about sports so leave that to the people who are willing to pay for it

Re:the smart TV will save me some $$$ (1)

LDAPMAN (930041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674000)

I do this now on my AppleTV. Other than sports they have all the shows I want to see.

Re:the smart TV will save me some $$$ (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674154)

Ditto. However, I really enjoy sports, but don't want to pay $160/season for NHL, NBA, etc. They need better packages.

Smart is fine, but why in the TV? (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673754)

Hooking up smart devices like HTPCs, game consoles, cable/fiber boxes and such I can understand. Maybe a really small appliance box to hang off the back of the TV too. But I can't for the life of me understand why tying this to the TV is wise. If it breaks, your ungodly expensive smart TV must go away for repairs. You can't upgrade to better "smarts" or a bigger TV or a projector without paying all over again. You can't use it on any other TV, you can't take it to a friend. I'd much rather take a cheap dumb TV and get the smarts some other way.

Re:Smart is fine, but why in the TV? (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673846)

Because non-geeks want less crap in their living room, not more. They want one device that you just plug in and have it work, not a myriad of stuff you have to figure out how to connect and get to play nice together and oh god which three remotes do I need to watch a DVD?

If a Smart TV can eliminate the set top box and the need to hook up a PC to get the Internet on your TV, it's accomplishing something useful.

Re:Smart is fine, but why in the TV? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674212)

There is this magical device called a Universal remote.

For people that have a low tech IQ there is one called "harmony" even a 6 year old can set that one up.

Did you even try to solve the problem you have with multiple remotes?

Re:Smart is fine, but why in the TV? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673848)

TV prices have fallen off a cliff in the last 10 years and in the last 3 as well. that $1000 TV from 2 years ago is a few hundred $$ now. and HDMI ports are limited. you can get a switch but no normal person wants to switch 5 settings just to watch TV.

as some services like netflix, hulu and amazon get commoditized it only makes sense to have them bundled with a TV and not sucking up a HDMI port

Re:Smart is fine, but why in the TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38673854)

There are still people would insist on modem/wireless router combos.

Smart TV is for dumb people.

Because millions of people will buy it (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673874)

All those concerns aside, the market voted on this when the iMac came out (well, the idea had been around earlier, in the form of all "portable" PCs). The votes added up to Yes.

So you've gotta remember: you're listing reasons to not buy one of these things, but none of them are reasons to not make or sell these things, because It Is Known that millions of people are going to ignore the reasons to not buy.

Re:Because millions of people will buy it (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674142)

All those concerns aside, the market voted on this when the iMac came out (well, the idea had been around earlier, in the form of all "portable" PCs). The votes added up to Yes.

It's not like you got much of a choice if you want a "normal" Mac, the Mini and Pro aren't good alternatives. Apple does it, but it hasn't caught on with all the other desktops. I don't think you can say any of the TV producers are even nearly in the same position, nobody wants a smart TV the way Mac users wants a Mac. I guess we'll see if it survives the hype.

Re:Smart is fine, but why in the TV? (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673894)

Yeah, I never got that either. For the $200+ extra I would spend on a smart TV, I can buy an Xbox that will not only do all the same stuff, but let me play games too.

Why Not? (Re:Smart is fine, but why in the TV?) (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674004)

As I in a previous comment (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2612736&cid=38652618), the reason why its in the TV is so you don't have to connect a bunch of those boxes. In their current configuration I am not sure that Google TV and the like are ready for the living room but they are definitely ready for other places. Right now there is so much duplication in features in so many of the boxes that hang off a modern HDTV...Why not put them in the TV?

Re:Smart is fine, but why in the TV? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674028)

If you think that's crazy, you should hear On Point with Tom Ashbrook right now. They're talking about tying all this shit to your car!

Re:Smart is fine, but why in the TV? (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674030)

I'd much rather take a cheap dumb TV and get the smarts some other way.

How about a smart, cheap TV?

With the hardware itself costing less and less, adding the smart bits will cost next to nothing.

The next war? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38673782)

The entire point of Microsoft pushing into the video games space with the original Xbox was their stated goal: they wanted to take over your living room. That philosophy transformed the next version of the console into something approaching a multimedia center. I shudder to think of the next iteration.

Smart TV is already here... (4, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673788)

... it's called the internet.

This is gonna get ugly (3, Insightful)

james_van (2241758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673792)

No really, it's going to get literally ugly. There will be a few TV manufacturers that will get onboard with good design for the interface, and take the time and money to study the most effective ways to present on and control smart TV's. And then there will be the other 99% of manufacturers that will slap on glossy, shiney, gaudy interfaces that are barely usable. Couple that with the inevitable "format wars" that will start - each manufacturer will insist on their own proprietary platform for apps and set up their own licensing deals with content suppliers (except the cheap ones, they'll just license the cheapest platform they can get from one of the big players and execute it poorly). They will all also try to mimic that "App store" model, creating dozens of "walled gardens", each just being a cheap knock off of Apple and Android. And, each of them will be rather understocked due to proprietary platforms and a lack of app developers willing to deal with the headache of porting apps to 3 dozen different setups. In time, there will be a few that will rise to the top and push the others out of the way, but the next few years is gonna be the wild wild west. And it's gonna be ugly.

I don't get it... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673796)

Why do manufacturers have to bundle shit? I want a product that does 1 thing well not a product that does several and does them half assed.

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38673942)

Why do manufacturers have to bundle shit? I want a product that does 1 thing well not a product that does several and does them half assed.

I agree. But they are operating under the strategy of "All your monies are belong to us". Its the same reason that the first crop of TVs that had browsing capabilities were locked into their restricted content portals. They couldn't just have you browsing 'any' sites on the internet! You might mistakenly find other content providers and give your money to them. :-)

Re:I don't get it... (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673980)

Why do manufacturers have to bundle shit?

Because the new TVs are ideal for hanging on a wall (yes, my new 32" Samsung is on a wall - not even close to a table or a shelf or any other furiture), and then where do you put all the boxes?

If I did not need a box from my IPTV provide, I would need two cables to my TV: Power and network. No boxes.

I actually glued the IPTV box to the back of my TV to get it out of sight, and the TV has a media player built in, so I am actually getting quite close to the ideal TV...

Re:I don't get it... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674256)

Any place you like. You pull the cables through the wall.

I like having a pc hidden in my living room. It makes me laugh when hulu says this content not available on TVs and mobile devices as I watch it on my tv.

Limited to specific devices (5, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673826)

At what point did we accept that companies have to sanction their software to run on each and every different device?

Comcast, for example, announced that it's going to allow OnDemand streaming not only to Samsung Smart TV's but also to the iPad.

Imagine if you read the following statement:

Microsoft, for example, announced that it's going to allow Microsoft Office to run not only on Toshiba Laptops but also on the Sony Vaio

Or perhaps

Google, for example, announced that it's going to allow Google Search to run not only on Chrome, but also on Internet Explorer

Or perhaps closer:

AT&T, for example, announced that it's going to allow voice conversations to run not only on Panasonic phones, but also the Uniden DECT phone.

Those would be preposterous. Yet because media companies are basically monopolies, they decide who can use what services on what devices. And we accept this. We cheer when they allow yet another device to connect to their services. We need to break up these media conglomerates, disconnect the phone monopolies from the handset manufacturers, and get the DOJ and the FAA to stop allowing mergers like Comcast - NBC that just make the problem worse.

Remember when? (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673842)

TVs "just worked"?
You turned them on, flipped tot he station you wanted, and away you went.

I can't imagine a "smart" TV now. Gotta update the thing like an xbox360 before you can watch it? TVs that crash and require rebooting?

Where's the advance here?

Re:Remember when? (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674094)

Well my dad just got a new 70" Sharp LCD. It's "smart."

He watches Netflix and Youtube videos on it. He has no HTPC and no interest in buying a Roku or something to hook up to it, giving him yet another remote control to deal with. He's pretty happy with it.

No war here (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673852)

To each their own, but I treat TVs like refridgerators, only buying when the old one breaks.

Its no surprise that I still run a standard def CRT.

Lets get rid of the Receiver! (1)

Marrow (195242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673916)

Mostly people purchase an overpriced over featured receiver to switch between their devices. This is dumb. With the number of ports and the onscreen menus and such available on modern bigscreens, the TV should be the center of the system. All devices should go into the TV and one lead should go to the amplifier.
The amplifier should be dumb. Maybe just a power supply built into the subwhoofer, and all control should be turned over to the TV. Why have multiple control points / multiple remotes? The control should be with the TV since it is the most versatile at providing controls and displays.
Some TVs already have fiber optic sound output and it seems it should already work, but there are problems reported that the TVs dont report the correct amplifier capabilities on the HDMI connections.

This is a dead-end market (2)

Saintwolf (1224524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673962)

Most people keep their TVs for years and won't even consider upgrading unless: The TV is broken; A major upgrade (I mean from a CRT to an LCD). Nobody is going to fork out insane amounts of money because their TV can run an app or browse the internet; this is what computers and smartphones are for.

Re:This is a dead-end market (1)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673996)

this is what computers and smartphones are for.

This is what PS3, Xbox360, Nintendo Wii are for.

Re:This is a dead-end market (1)

Saintwolf (1224524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674076)

Those too ;)

It'll be a battle alright (1)

HideyoshiJP (1392619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673978)

It'll be a battle between their stupid fragmented platforms and my common sense. I don't want a smart TV that won't be smart in two or three years because they don't want to update software on my model. I want a dumb TV that I can connect all my smart things to. The problem is, HDTV manufacturers don't want to return to the dark ages when people would keep their TVs for years. The boom from the DTV transition and LCD revolution has left them sitting on quite a nice stack of profits, but as the LCD trickles down to the bedrooms and second hand markets, they are realizing how quickly their market will mature. Now that they are finished inventing useless technical advances (more Hz!) they've set their sights on selling you widgets that post everything you watch to Facebook. Better be careful flipping through the porn channels.

Re:It'll be a battle alright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674338)

.... Better be careful flipping through the porn channels.

so maybe we will finally discover who except me is watching it....

Who remembers WebTV...and how it failed? (1)

DaneM (810927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674006)

This reminds me very much of the WebTV debacle in the 1990s. Same basic idea, but with fewer bells-and-whistles. I don't see how this will offer much/anything that isn't currently available via the Internet, or via a standard TV with an XBox or similar plugged-in and connected to the network.

Yes, this new iteration seems to favor the integration of tablets, smartphones, etc., but if you have a(n expensive) TV in your living room, why on earth would you watch your shows on a tablet or phone?! I see this as being not "the next tech war," so much as "the next tech war that failed."

Maybe I'm too old-fashioned or something, but this seems really silly to me, until the media companies start taking a more "Internet" (read: commercial-free, choose-your-own-content, etc.) approach to television. Of course, I haven't turned my TV on to watch a show in about 3+ years...because I can get them all online with less garbage interlaced therein.

Anybody have an integrated VCR? DVD? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674012)

Both integrated VCR's and DVD's have been tried, with limited success. Oh, they sell. And I predict that smart TV's will go the same direction: a few integrated, most as separate boxes.

Re:Anybody have an integrated VCR? DVD? (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674106)

My new Samsung can record to a USB stick/disk, so it is already out there. All except their entry level TVs already has it. If you want to use it, add a $10 USB memory stick. So yes, I have it.

Of course I can plug in a USB stick with ripped movies, picture or music on it, so the DVD player replacement is already installed. Did I forget to mention that it will access the media content over the network as well...?

There is no market for it (1)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674020)

I would say that 3D TVs have a better chance of being successful.

If someone wants to browse the Internet and use apps in their living room, a tablet will provide a much better form factor. If they really need the functionality in their TV, a video game console will provide a better experience and already has a mature ecosystem.

Completely wrong focus (5, Insightful)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674108)

All these companies are complete idiots because its not a war between themselves, but a war against Cable companies.

The problem is that cable companies are holding on to their monopolies with a white knuckled, kung-fu death grip. Any time a disruptive technology comes along that might usurp cable in the living room, the Big Telco lobbyists fire up and make life difficult for government agencies so that those agencies impose laws that almost always rule in favor of Big Telco and limit the abilities of competitive "Smart" TV services.

Cable companies want to charge you $80+ for cable, another $15 for the box to access that cable, in addition to charging you $40+ a month for a "separate" internet service, so they get $135+ per month out of you, every month, and they want this for life. These companies also own the internet infrastructure and ensure that any disruptive services are throttled or blocked to prevent competition. I know damn well that Roger's in Canada throttles Netflix, I can download web content at max speed but I can't watch more then 5 minutes of Netflix without it pausing and buffering.

Big Telco is uninterested in merging Cable and Internet and allowing competitive IPTV services to encroach against traditional Cable TV services. Sure Netflix is already out there and Boxee and various TVs have IPTV "apps", but overall you generally cannot access high quality (visual and audio) television except through Cable services. Netflix "HD" is not the same as Cable HD, Boxee streaming web broadcasts is nowhere near Cable HD quality. The only exception is iTunes which charges you per episode a price that would greatly exceed cable subscription rates for the equivalent amount of viewed content. Apple conveniently allowed a pricing structure that would not compete with Cable services.

The first person to win in the "Smart TV" war is the one that allows me to stream HIGH QUALITY content over the internet without a separate cable services charge. The problem is that while Google and Apple and Microsoft and all the others try to win that war as individuals, the morons are not realize that they need to band together to break the stranglehold that Big Telco has in the living room.

Once the monopoly for the living room content distribution is broken, then the companies can compete to offer the best form of Smart TV possible. But until then most of these Smart TV services are stillborn because the content available on them is a small sub-set of what is available on Cable, and that is how Big Telco wants it.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674126)

"The TV makers are hoping that the multitude of additional features will be enough to trigger turnover like the industry saw after the introduction of flat-panel screens"

Just...no...
reducing the bulk and weight of TVs, while still increasing screen sizes, was huge, HDTV becoming mainstream around the same time helped even more. The only thing that will generate that much turnover again is when we have extremely thin/light screens with UHDTV at similar and greater screen sizes.

This is just making your TV try to be a terrible version of your PC. Traditional TVs still have their own role (even if a bit less ubiquitous and a bit more diminished) in an era of PCs, tablets, high speed internet, wifi, etc. "Smart TVs" sound like they're going to try to cross some lines that they really can't even begin to compete across. I'll withhold judgment about whether this is dumber than glasses-required 3D TVs though.

Not smart for people TV. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674190)

A large 1080p TV with multitouch +1. Having my behavior monitored by [insert corporation here] -10.

Android interace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674216)

They need to make an android app so that your phone can act as the remote for typing (or add a bluetooth option). Samsung does sell some piece of crap 100 dollar keyboard.

Access (1)

hindumagic (232591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674294)

Great. Now I'll get to root my TV. (and not that kind of root, you dirty brits)

This makes me both happy and sad. Happy since the challenge is there and sad since it is almost necessary to do so with every locked down, buggy, and poorly updated device. If it wasn't for the fanatical control over content, we would all be using amazing devices that have an open architecture where the best firmware for your usage pattern can shine. This is what drives me to rip all of my content to the format of my choice from DVD and CD, rather than purchasing the approved, vertically integrated formats (hello, Apple, Microsoft).

HTPC (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674340)

I couldn't see myself purchasing a "smart" TV unless it offers something I cannot do with a normal TV + HTPC combo, as I doubt they will be competitive price-wise.

TV innovation cycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674350)

I have a couple of friends working in the digital and innovation departments of government regulated broadcast organisations (BBC, ZDF, ARD (uk and de) and what they tell me they are working on as 'cutting edge' has been there in other areas years ago
What I feel is the case is that TV innovation cycles especially in non private organisatios are slowwwwwwwwwwww
- Government regulation surely is an issue (red tape, compliance and compatibility requirements)
- Another issue certainly is the history of the industry. At least for the big ones. Nothing did move quickly in the past, and surely the digital world order hasnt changed that
Admittedly, the BBC has done a cool thing with the iplayer, but again, that took ages and was supposedly quite expensive.
So I am wonding whether this is a business model issue...

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