|By Bob Gourley||
|July 19, 2012 06:00 AM EDT||
When you go into a TV store, you’re besieged by a bunch of flashy ads, and TVs that claim they know what is best for you. They want you to buy into their ecosystem, with their own custom adapters and wires. Samsung wants you to buy all Samsung with proprietary controls, Panasonic and Sony the same. But consumers need to be smarter, and need to choose better. Much like with 3D, consumer electronic companies have been using their custom ecosystems to try to up sell substandard technology, and substandard monitors (instead of good monitors at a lower cost). They tack on their “smart” capabilities (Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and more) in less than optimal user interfaces, which are rarely upgraded or improved. While this is merely an add-on, it is not worth paying for.
All TVs should be now is just a monitor for your inputs. They should accurately reproduce the colors you’ve got and have enough inputs for all your stuff (cable/DVDs/etc). The breadth of different inputs you may require (video game, DVDs, Blu-Ray, internet media device, cable box or more) mean that the most important thing to have flexibility.
Just get an Apple TV, Roku or GoogleTV
If you want smart, get one of these. I have a variety of experience with all three, and have to say they are better than ANY smart tv interface I have ever encountered. Not only that, but they are actually supported (to varying degrees) by not only their developers, but also by third party developers (yay, apps!). At under $100 each, they are not going to break the bank.
These types of media devices help expand the capabilities of your tv, with just a small expense. In addition, they can allow you to plug into your local network and stream all the internet channels you wish to watch. Next time you’re looking for a new TV, stop worrying about the “smart” part, and just focus on the display quality and the price.
At the end of the day, TVs will often last five, six or seven years, much longer than their interfaces are updated (or even still work with the services chosen). A simple set top box can last for just a few years (while it is continuously updated) and then you can purchase a new one (for under $100). These network media devices breathe life into older, non-networked TVs, and their ubiquity means that they will be viable for longer than Smart TV interfaces.
Take note when you buy your next TV to not overpay for some janky proprietary interface, but pay for a better screen and better internal technology.