The 10 Best Reasons to Avoid a Smart TV Today

Smart TVs have become increasingly popular due to their slick interfaces, streaming capabilities, and smart home connectivity. However, there are some compelling reasons why you may want to hold off on purchasing one of these high-tech televisions. In this expert guide, we will explore the top 10 reasons to avoid smart TVs along with some great alternatives to consider instead.

What is a Smart TV?

Before diving into why you should avoid buying a smart TV, let‘s quickly define what exactly a smart TV is.

A smart TV, sometimes referred to as a connected TV or hybrid TV, is a television set with integrated internet and interactive features. These TVs run a complete operating system, allowing you to install apps, browse the web, and access on-demand streaming services without an additional device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Most smart TVs today use proprietary platforms developed by the manufacturer. Some of the most common smart TV operating systems are:

  • LG webOS: Used on LG smart TVs
  • Samsung Tizen: Used on Samsung smart TVs
  • Android TV: Developed by Google for smart TVs
  • Roku TV: Roku‘s smart TV OS pre-installed on select brands
  • Amazon Fire TV: Amazon‘s platform available on Fire TV Edition smart TVs

With their processors, WiFi connectivity, cameras, microphones and voice controls, smart TVs function similarly to smartphones and computers. However, integrating so much technology into the television introduces both privacy and security risks, which brings us to our first reason to avoid this tech.

Reason 1: Privacy Concerns

One downside of smart TVs is the potential privacy implications surrounding data collection practices. Many smart TV platforms collect viewing data in order to suggest personalized content recommendations.

While this can be convenient, research conducted by Princeton University found that some smart TVs are collecting sensitive user data without the owner‘s permission. Data collected can include shows watched, ads viewed, websites visited, voice recordings and more. This data could be sold to third parties for targeted advertising purposes or suffer a data breach.

To enjoy more private viewing, traditional televisions may be best. Most lack any advanced tracking features or outward-facing microphones. External streaming devices like Roku also typically collect less data as you aren‘t limited to one manufacturer‘s ecosystem.

Reason 2: Security Risks

With their abilities to connect to the internet, download apps and feature microphones for voice control access, smart TV security risks are a valid concern.

Security researchers discovered that certain smart TVs were vulnerable to hackers who could take control of the camera and microphone. Additionally, outdated software without the latest security patches can leave smart TVs more exposed to cyber attacks.

While manufacturers release frequent firmware updates to address vulnerabilities, many smart TV owners don‘t proactively install them. Since smart TV software platforms lack anti-virus protections, staying updated is crucial for preventing malware, spyware infection and remote hacking.

Reason 3: Dependence on Internet Connectivity

While all streaming devices require an internet connection, smart TVs take this dependency a step further. These high-tech televisions rely on internet connectivity not only for streaming entertainment but also to deliver their menu interface, apps and recommendations engine.

Without access to WiFi, smart TV functionality diminishes substantially. You may experience issues loading apps, lag times when switching between inputs and services not working at all. This makes connectivity problems much more disruptive than with a basic television.

Reason 4: Obsolescence

With their reliance on software, processors and storage, smart TVs can become obsolete quicker than standard televisions. Manufacturers make frequent updates to the firmware powering their devices but generally stop after a certain number of years once a model ages out of main support.

Many owners complain of smart TVs slowing down considerably after just 3-4 years due to degrading system resources. Outdated processors and storage struggle with delivering the snappy performance modern streaming services require.

Additionally, technical support and latest firmware updates get phased out over time. This can leave smart TVs unable to run the newest apps and susceptible to lingering security exploits. Unlike with standalone streaming devices, you cannot simply replace an aging CPU or upgrade internal storage.

Reason 5: Cost

Owning a smart TV almost always carries a price premium over a similarly sized standard television. You can expect built-in smart platforms to add $50-$100 to a TV‘s retail price over its ‘dumb‘ counterpart. While the costs have narrowed recently, it still takes just a few years before streaming devices provide more value.

For example, let‘s consider a 55" Samsung smart TV with a retail price of $700 compared to a regular 55" Samsung TV priced at $550. The $150 premium for smart features equals the cost of two to three Roku/Fire streaming sticks. Since you would likely upgrade an external device a few times within the typical 7-10 year TV lifespan, standalone streaming still proves more cost-effective long-term.

Reason 6: Complex User Interfaces

Ease of use can vary drastically between smart TV manufacturers and models when it comes to their menus, settings and navigation. Cheaper smart TV options sometimes sacrifice intuitive interfaces by using laggy processors or overcomplicated button controls.

Poor interfaces lead to confusing menus, apps that freeze/crash, and input switching requiring too many remote clicks. Even property set-up streaming devices usually provide smoother navigation experiences overall. Less tech-savvy users may find basic televisions much simpler to operate on the whole.

Reason 7: Limited App Selection

While smart TV operating systems offer hundreds of apps to download, their catalogs still pale in comparison next to dedicated media players. Due to differences in coding languages and device optimization, many streaming apps land on platforms like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon‘s Fire TV long before smart televisions.

Additionally, niche apps for special interests or national services will usually hit set-top boxes first. If having access to the widest range of entertainment and streaming apps from day one matters, standalone devices lead the way. With proprietary smart TV platforms, you cannot simply download a different app store for missing content.

Reason 8: Decreased Lifespan Due to Extra Components

The more advanced hardware integrated into smart TVs leads to shorter lifespans on average compared to non-connected sets. Additional motherboards, control boards, processors, operating systems, and internet connectivity modules increase possible points of failure.

While picture quality and backlighting tend to degrade similarly across TV types, smart televisions face reliability issues that basic displays avoid. Network cards, storage drives and HDMI input boards prove common culprits for malfunctions. Out of warranty repairs quickly become cost-prohibitive due to high replacement part prices.

Reason 9: Dependence on the Manufacturer‘s Ecosystem

Opting for a smart TV locks you into that company‘s ecosystem with no way to change the platform later. You cannot uninstall the preloaded operating system whether you prefer its interface, apps and services or not. This proves especially limiting if you invest into a niche smart TV OS that gets discontinued down the road.

Meanwhile, if you grow unhappy with your Roku or Amazon Fire TV device, you can easily replace it with an alternative streaming platform. Mixing and matching streaming boxes grants freedom to find your favorite system instead of getting stuck long-term with whichever smart software ships installed on the TV.

Reason 10: Higher Energy Consumption

Building an entire streaming platform and computer system directly into televisions leads to increased energy draw compared to displays without those smart components. The WiFi radios, mainboards and active cooling fans required to enable apps, browsing and recommendations keep internal parts constantly drawing power even during standby modes.

Tests reveal smart TVs can consumer up to $8 more electricity per year. While not hugely impactful for one television, households with multiple smart screens notice the energy usage adding up substantially over time leading to hundreds in extra electrical costs.

Avoiding smart TVs does not mean you need to give up streaming capabilities and access to streaming services. There are a few great alternatives that deliver excellent smart functionality without the downsides of connected televisions:

Streaming Media Players – Dedicated streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast plug directly into your television‘s HDMI port to add smart features. These platforms offer intuitive interfaces, extensive app stores, constant security updates and easy replaceability.

Gaming Consoles – Modern video game systems from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo double as capable streaming hubs. Consoles like the PlayStation 5 provide robust hardware suited for smooth 4K streaming in addition to gaming abilities. They also let you avoid being locked into a single TV platform.

Blu-Ray Players – Many Blu-ray players now integrate smart streaming platforms from Roku, Amazon and LG. They provide excellent quality for both physical media and streaming with better processor power than a budget smart TV. The advanced media support makes them a superb central home entertainment hub.

Home Theater PCs – For the ultimate in customization, HTPCs connect to televisions for streaming while also enabling general computer functions. Though complex, HTPCs configured correctly deliver unparalleled versatility, performance and longevity.

If you currently own a smart TV, all hope is not lost. Here are a few tips to improve safety and privacy:

  • Only download apps from trusted sources like the official manufacturer‘s store
  • Disable automatic content recognition (ACR) features to prevent tracking
  • Turn off microphone settings when not using voice search to prevent eavesdropping
  • Regular install firmware security patches released by the manufacturer
  • Use a VPN service to encrypt internet connections protecting identities and data
  • Adjust app permissions settings for access to personal information like contacts or locations
  • Factory reset the TV before recycling or reselling to wipe all stored data

Smart TVs provide streaming conveniences and cutting-edge features but also introduce privacy, security and longevity issues to consider. With various alternatives like streaming devices and gaming consoles available, television shoppers have excellent options that deliver the pros of smart functionality without as many downsides. Avoiding complex smart TV operating systems often proves the wiser choice for many households.

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