Smart TV is Bullshit

Smart TV is a pile of arse. Check out this latest fucktastrophe* from LG:

“When you first turn on the TV, an animated character called Bean Bird appears to help guide you through various options.”

What the shit? LG gets WebOS, lauded as one of the most promising operating systems of recent time, and uses it to create fucking Clippy for television?

It’s ironic that after reading all these “you must create!” missives, my first long-form blog post in god knows how long is inspired by the desire to burn down the creations of others, but stick with me here: “Smart TV” needs to die in a fire.

Standard-issue CD for TV interface designers

For decades now (pretty much since the invention of the remote control), TVs have had on-screen displays, which have been getting more terrible with each passing moment. More menus, more options, more inputs: all artfully designed by some half-blind shitbird with a “250,000 Web ClipArts” CD-ROM.

And somehow, in an age with practically unlimited computing power, TV manufacturers managed to build user interfaces with the responsiveness of a rolled pork roast. What the fuck is up with that? It’s not even like there are space or heat constraints limiting the chips they can use.

All this time computers and phones have been getting more usable and more responsive. What have TV manufacturers been doing? “Why Ben,” you say, “they’ve been adding features!”

Features like an unusably slow, impossible to navigate web browser! A shitty walled-garden tick-the-box-we’ve-shipped-it-boss app store! How about this awesome streaming video service that proxies traffic through our servers in Asia?  And don’t forget Angry Birds!

Fuck. Off.

Just stop. For one second stop and make me a television that looks great, operates quickly, and gets itself the fuck out of the space between me and my video entertainment. Please.

AND: if you feel the need to create a god-damn animated character to help people understand how to set up their TV, step the fuck back and ask yourself WHY you got to that point. Look yourself in the mirror, you “Smart TV” charlatans. Go fix something that is broken for a change.


*Credit to Nat Torkington for the word “fucktastrophe”.


Join the Conversation


  1. It seems so obvious… which is why when Apple does the common sense thing with TV it will only take existing manufacturers about 5 years to have a crappy clone of it.

    Now we just have to play the waiting game*.

    * Waiting game sucks.

  2. You only have to look at the menus on the samsungs for an example of craptasticness.

    There are about 30 different things you can adjust for the picture. And then game mode which you need to actually be able to play a game console thru it by disabling all the picture processing to make it look nicer, which has lag.

    Game mode is in the system menu, well away from all the other picture options.

    But worse is that there is no way to save configureations of these approximatly 30 different adjustments to be able to get a consistant picture quality between inputs, there are just 3 or 4 presets that you can adjust, with things like “Dynamic” and “movie” – With a gig of storage in the TV you would think they would be able to let me make my own damn presets, and save and recall them at will.

    The picture options are also in some cases broken down into sub menus, so if you want to change for example the motion plus settings you have to remember if they are in “advanced” or one of the other settings menus. Why not one giant list of all the settings in a sensible order so they can be found? Why not a smartphone app to adjust them?

    Why is text entry on a “smart tv” still a clusterF**K of random different onscreen keyboards with totally different layouts and behaviours and ways of deleting mistakes etc?

  3. All of a sudden my cheap, few features, no brand 35 inch from the warehouse looks ok.

  4. The other problem with these crappy SmartTVs is security – if you’ve got Skype, Facebook or email access on them then there’s a distinct possibility your details could get hacked. It’s even worse if you’re paying for content from anyone because that’s your credit card details.
    What I’d like to see is the equivalent of OpenWRT for these things – ditch the crappy manufacturer’s software and go for something open source and reliable.

  5. Chromecast is the answer. It instantly turns your TV into a (good) smart TV. Set up process couldn’t be simpler. All for less than $50.

  6. Xiaomi are making a great looking smart tv (and previously android tv boxes), it’s just a pity they’re currently only in Mandarin.

    That said i’d rather use a separate box which I can replace if needed without getting a whole new TV.

  7. Smart TV’s don’t need to die in a fire, they need to be smart. I want fewer cables, not more. I only want one remote. I want it to do things like switch to HDMI when I turn the playstation on. Or get darker with more contrast if the room gets darker. Or send the sound to 5.1 speakers but only if it’s a movie. But right now here’s me as a double barrelled computer nerd and I treat the blu-ray ‘screensaver’ thing as a source of great fear because I know I’m going to press the wrong button and have to go all the way through the palarver of actually making it go again.

    Seriously – if not Apple then somebody somewhere is going to make an easy to use but advanced TV and hand Sony, Samsung, LG et al their arses on a plate.

  8. Agree with most of that.
    Jon I’ve got a Chromecast and it’s good for the very few supported apps. Unfortunately that isn’t yet the answer. More apps please

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