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Why It’s So Hard to Buy a ‘Dumb’ TV

TV companies really don’t want you to have one.

  • Yes, smart TVs can really spy on you.
  • TV companies make millions by selling your data.
  • The specs of “dumb” TVs are often inferior to ad-supported smart models.

Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash

If you’re worried about your smart TV spying on you, why not buy a “dumb” TV that has nothing but an image, no internet, no streaming, and nothing? Sounds good, but have you tried it recently?

I buy a TV every ten years and hook it up to your cable box at home. Now TVs want to handle as many connections as possible with questionable user interfaces and more questionable privacy practices. It’s not that you can’t get simple, stupid TVs, it’s that they’re an afterthought, a relic of an earlier era, like a movie camera or a tape player. And it’s unlikely to get better.

“If when I’m ‘forced’ to buy a smart TV, I’ll do my best not to buy it until the seller agrees to give it a privacy protection preset, or if I have a ‘instructions for dummies’ / a book that teaches me how to do the same manual,” multimedia reporter Stacy Harris told Lifewire via email.

play stupid

Why do you want a stupid TV? After all, with a smart TV, you can access everything from YouTube to Netflix to Apple TV+ with the same remote. All you need to do is connect it to your WiFi.

While that’s great, these TVs are also a huge security and privacy leak. For example, in 2015, Samsung TVs were caught spying on viewers. Smart TVs record button presses and other interactions, and also record sounds from your living room.

“If they see me ‘forced’ to buy a smart TV, I’ll do my best to outsmart it…”

TV makers love collecting this data for the same reason Facebook collects your personal data: profit. Facebook uses this information to sell targeted ads, but smart TV makers only sell them directly.

Smart TV maker Vizio made $38.4 million in a quarter just from selling viewing data and advertising. By comparison, their equipment (actual TV, etc.) brought in $48.2 million. To make matters worse, data sales are growing faster and will soon make up the majority of their revenue.

That’s the main reason why you can’t afford a silly TV.

not too smart

To avoid this absurd level of eavesdropping, a savvy shopper might opt ​​for an older TV that only displays images from any source. That could be a cable box, or it could be an Apple TV device. Not only can you protect your privacy, but you can also enjoy a better experience. If you haven’t researched the remote, just trying to change the channel on your TV can be a nightmare.

The problem with getting a non-smart TV is that manufacturers don’t want to make them, so there are relatively few models available. Karl Bode of TechDirt tried it out and found that while you can have a big screen, a good connection, or a great picture, it’s hard to find a dumb TV with generally high-end specs.

old grey and black sony portable tv

Owned Photography / Unsplash

Then there’s the price. Smart TVs are cheap because TV manufacturers want you to buy them.

“I think if people really went to great lengths to protect their privacy, they might buy something” [a] Non-smart TVs available in the market. However, most of us would rather take the risk just to enjoy the benefits of having a smart TV in our home,” James Fyfe, founder of automation company Portant, told Lifewire via email. “If you only look at screens, a large computer screen might be a good choice. . However, if you think there are fewer ports available, or if you’re having a hard time finding one with built-in speakers, this isn’t a great option. ”

Can you protect yourself?

It is still possible to buy dumb TVs or alternatives. Samsung, Sceptre, and Westinghouse all make a few, but buying one can be tricky. You can buy a computer monitor, but they tend to be around 32 inches in size, have no input, and have weak speakers.

“I think if people really went to great lengths to protect their privacy, they might buy something” [a] Non-Smart TVs Available on the Market”.

Another option is commercial displays, which are used in stores and restaurants to display advertisements, information, and menus, but they may not be optimized for image quality, and you’ll almost certainly end up paying more than you paid for. effective subsidy. Smart TV.

The last option is to just buy a smart TV and never connect it to your Wi-Fi. But you still have to deal with bad UI.

Ultimately, watching shows on the iPad might be better.

Content

Why It’s So Hard to Buy a ‘Dumb’ TV

TV companies really, really don’t want you to have one

Yes, smart TVs really do spy on you.
TV companies make millions selling your data. 
“Dumb” TVs are often worse, specs-wise, than ad-funded smart models.
Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

If you’re worried about your smart TV spying on you, why not just buy a “dumb” television that does nothing but show a picture—no internet, no streaming, no nothing? Sounds great, but have you actually tried that recently?

It used to be that you’d buy a TV once in a decade and hook it up to whichever cable boxes you had in your home. Now, the TV wants to take care of as much of that connectivity as possible, with questionable user interfaces and even more questionable privacy practices. It’s not that you can’t get any plain old dumb TV, it’s that they’re an afterthought, a relic of a previous age, like film cameras or cassette players. And it’s unlikely to get any better. 

“If and when I’m “forced” to buy a smart TV, I will do my best to outsmart it by purchasing it only once the seller agrees to deliver with presets preserving my privacy, or I have “instructions for dummies”/a manual that instructs me on how to do same,” multimedia journalist Stacy Harris told Lifewire via email. 

Playing It Dumb

Why would you want a dumb TV? After all, a Smart TV lets you access everything from YouTube to Netflix to Apple TV+, all from the same remote. You just hook it up to your Wi-Fi, and you’re done.

While that’s great, those TVs are also a huge security and privacy hole. For instance, Samsung TVs were caught spying on viewers back in 2015. Smart TV sets record your button pushes and other interactions and also record the audio from your living room.

“If and when I’m “forced” to buy a smart TV I will do my best to outsmart it…”

TV makers like to gather this data for the same reason Facebook mines your personal information: profit. Facebook uses this information to sell targeted advertising, but smart TV makers just sell it directly. 

Smart TV maker Vizio made $38.4 million in a single quarter just from selling view data and ads. For comparison, its devices (the actual TVs, etc.) made it $48.2 million. Worse, the data sales are growing faster and will soon make up the majority of its revenue. 

That, right there, is the number one reason you cannot buy a dumb TV.

Not So Smart

To avoid this absurd level of spying, the smart buyer might opt for a plain old television that does nothing but show pictures from whichever source you connected to it. That might be a cable box, or it may be an Apple TV unit. Not only will you protect your privacy, but you’ll also enjoy a better experience. Just trying to change channels on a TV can be a nightmare if you haven’t yet studied the remote. 

The problem with getting a hold of a non-smart TV is that manufacturers don’t want to make them, so there are comparatively few models available. TechDirt’s Karl Bode tried, and found that while you could have a big screen, or a good connections, or a great picture, it was hard to find a dumb TV with generally high-level specs. 

Possessed Photography / Unsplash

And then there’s the price. Smart TVs are cheap because TV makers want you to buy them. 

“I think if people really go out of their way to protect their privacy, then it’s possible that they’ll purchase [a] non-smart TV if it’s available on the market. However, the majority of us would rather risk it just to enjoy the benefits of having a smart TV in our homes,” James Fyfe, founder of automation company Portant, told Lifewire via email. “A big computer monitor could be a great alternative if you’re only looking at the screen. But if you consider the fact that it has less ports available or that it’s difficult to find one with a built-in speaker, then it’s not a good option.”

Can You Protect Yourself?

It’s still possible to buy a dumb TV or alternative device. Samsung, Scepter, and Westinghouse make some, but finding one to buy may be tricky. You could buy a computer monitor, but those tend to top out around 32-inches or so, lack inputs, and have weak speakers. 

“I think if people really go out of their way to protect their privacy, then it’s possible that they’ll purchase [a] non-smart TV if it’s available on the market.”

Another option is a commercial screen, the kind used in stores and restaurants to show ads, info, and menus, but they may not be optimized for picture quality, and you’ll almost certainly pay more than you will for an effectively ad-subsidized smart TV. 

The final option is to just buy a smart TV and never, ever connect it to your Wi-Fi. But then, you’d still have to deal with the awful user interface.

In the end, it might just be better to watch shows on your iPad.

#Hard #Buy #Dumb

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