back to article Scrapheap challenge: How Amazon and Google are dumbing down the gogglebox

Online video content is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to the likes of iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon. For many of us, those services make it possible to find something to watch whenever we want. With Netflix and Amazon throwing huge amounts of money at their own original productions, it's likely that more and more people …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well I for one, am insulated from such shenanigans

    ... just NZB/.torrent the desired content, and stream it via my DLNA server, which can be played by my TV, my Cyclone media player and my Blu-Ray player.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Lush At The Bar

      Re: Well I for one, am insulated from such shenanigans

      Indeed. A Usenet account, SABnzbd, Sick Beard, Couch Potato, Headphones and AceStream.

      Job done.

      All for less than the cost of a couple of pints per month.

      1. Havin_it

        Re: Well I for one, am insulated from such shenanigans

        I think you need a primer on the definition of the word "consumer" (especially in its sales-speak adjectival form).

        People like you are not the topic of the article, but feel free to keep pointlessly self-aggrandising if your ego really needs it.

  2. bill 36

    Its not smart to buy a smart TV

    All you need is a Minix and never look back

    1. Mr Fuzzy

      Re: Its not smart to buy a smart TV

      Give or take the murder of the old YouTube and the more recent versions no longer having the ability to pair.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Its not smart to buy a smart TV

      It may not be smart to buy a smart TV, but is there any choice anymore? I might like to buy a better TV (4K is now affordable and content is slowly starting to appear), but I don't know of any where they're not loaded with crapware. The problem with that? Well apart from disliking paying extra for things I don't want, there's an issue which I'm surprised wasn't a core part of the article - security. I can keep my computers up to date, I can keep my router up to date and anything else that sits on my home network. But "smart" Blu-ray players or TVs? No I can't because even if I take the time to update them, I don't trust the manufacturer to do their part. Not in the short term, certainly not in the long-term. I don't trust them at all in fact. And it's not like Windows or Linux or OSX where I can have a reasonable expectation of fixes, and such. I fully expect a Smart TV to be a deep irritation to the manufacturer once it's actually sold, grudgingly updated on rare occasions if at all. In return for which I have what is essentially a low-powered and unmaintained computer on my home network that I can't review, patch or really do anything much with at all.

      I suppose I can isolate it on the network or leave it disconnected entirely, but then I can't do even basic things like stream content to it via DLNA. The more "smart" a TV gets, the more of a risk it is, and you can no longer buy any decent TV that isn't.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Its not smart to buy a smart TV

        I did think of touching on security, but the main focus of this piece was driven by that latest crop of kit to have services withdrawn, and IoT security has been covered in some other articles on here lately.

        But yes, I agree, there is often sod all thought put into some of these things, and they can be surprisingly simple to hack. By setting up a Squid proxy on your own network, for instance, you could grab the pages used by the original VieraCast sets, and ultimately serve alternative ones, as described here.

        While there are certainly insecurities, and it may be possible to exploit them in interesting ways, I suspect that a lot of the time it's going to be relatively speculative for now, because of the number of different platforms out there. Where this may become ripe for exploitation is if a single platform comes to dominate the world of 'smart tv', allowing mass exploitation much more easily. (Or, in other words, if Android TV takes all, we're probably all screwed)

        1. Franco

          Re: Its not smart to buy a smart TV

          Security is a big concern on smart TVs for me, I recently bought a Toshiba TV and to fully enable all of it's services I would have to consent to a data-slurping EULA that would make Microsoft blush.

          If I want to use iPlayer, All 4 etc then I do it through my YouView box, which DOES get regular software updates.

  3. a_mu

    Yes ,

    We have a bunch of sony TV's,

    as you say no updates for a few years,

    provided they still get iPlayer then we will be ok for a while,


    if you purchase a device to receive a service, then one would expect to receive a service for the life of that device.

    TV's are not computers,

    may be we should all look at TV's as being individual units.

    The monitor part, a sound bar and a box to receive the TV !

    thats what my TV's are turning into

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Yes ,

      That's what Sony tried in the 80s with their Profeel range.

    2. Warm Braw

      Re: Yes ,

      I have a Sony blu-ray player, from which iPlayer was withdrawn (initially temporarily when Sony assumed I had moved to Germany and then permanently when the BBC abandoned support) , a Freesat receiver on which iPlayer never really worked properly, a Toshiba TV which can no longer receive Freeview HD, a Freeview HD STB which can't handle the Freeview HD EPG and a Samsung TV that lost its "Red Button" services for a time courtesy of a "connected" upgrade.

      Even given the BBC's regular attempts to break get_iplayer, it's proven more reliable as a source of content than anything I've had to buy.


      Re: Yes ,

      TVs (and bluray players) are computers anymore.

      The Sony BD models even come with GPL disclaimers and a list of projects Sony used to make the product.

  4. TeeCee Gold badge

    You think planned obsolescence is annoying?

    Not too long ago you needed a TV license and a SKY sub to get everything.

    Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum and even then you can't guarantee that some bunch of greedy shitstains won't leap on the bandwagon, start a new service next week and corner the market in something interesting.

    There were idiots who used to describe SKY as ripoff merchants. I do hope they are bloody happy with the new "competitive" world.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum

      Do you ?

      1. Vehlin

        Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum


        Not long ago all I needed was a Sky Sports sub to watch Premiership Rugby, then I needed a Sky Sports sub and an ESPN sub. Now I need a Sky Sports sub and BT Sport sub to watch it. So in the name of competition I end up paying more

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum


          in the name of competition I end up paying more

          That's because competition always works in the best interest of the consumer, apparently.

          1. dotdavid

            Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum

            > That's because competition always works in the best interest of the consumer, apparently.

            Who claims this? Competition is in the best interest of buyers but the consumer in this case isn't the buyer.

            The likes of Sky pay the Premier League for monopoly rights to show matches in certain countries. The competition part is between broadcasters competing for those monopoly rights; the beneficiary is the league who get to charge more for those rights.

            The consumer doesn't directly benefit and can be shafted by the monopolist at will. That, if anything, is a *lack* of competition.

            1. Nigel Whitfield.

              Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum


              Well, of course I was being a touch sarcastic, but in regulatory circles there has been at times the free market idea that competition is always a good, and should therefore be promoted.

              The Communications Act 2003 gives Ofcom certain statutory duties, one of which is

              "to further the interests of consumers in relevant markets, where appropriate by promoting competition”

              At times - as with things like sports rights - it's seemed that the competition that's promoted is most definitely not in the interests of consumers. Sure, you have a choice of where to get some of your football matches from, but that's not much help if you end up having to buy more packages.

              Likewise, the idea of competition on the railways may not further the interests of consumers, if it really means that you just have the chance of being fined because the ticket you hold is for the wrong train company.

              Back with Ofcom, I continue to struggle to understand why a directory enquiries service with dozens of companies, all with their unique pricing structure that ensures it can be almost impossible to know what a call with cost, is any better for the consumer than a single number that's easy to remember. But the single number was a monopoly (and once upon a time, free), whereas the proliferation of numbers is competition and so apparently good for us.

              1. veti Silver badge

                Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum

                Well, to be fair to "competition" - that's not the real problem here. These issues are caused by people having "exclusive rights" to broadcast things, which is pretty much the opposite of competition.

                And then the same broadcasters who buy those "exclusive rights", also sell you the exclusive right to view their content by buying their subscriptions.

                Remember when you could just twiddle the knob on your TV until you found a frequency level that looked like something more than random static? You didn't have to pay anyone, you didn't even have to know what the channel was or who was broadcasting it - it was out there, you could receive it. That's what "broadcasting" meant, in those happy-go-lucky days.

                Doesn't work any more. That's what digitisation has done to us. Now the broadcaster can, at their own whim, arbitrarily lock you out of any content it thinks you might be persuaded to pay more for.

                Technology is not good or bad, it's neutral. The people who benefit from it are the ones who position themselves to do so. And guess who plays that game better - some couch potato who spends 3 hours a day watching TV, or a sharp-suited executive who spends 12 hours a day analysing, conferencing and planning about it?

            2. Can't think of anything witty...

              Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum

              Absolutely agree.

              If it was being done in the interest of the consumer, then the leagues would not be allowed to sell exclusive rights and would have to have each match available to more than one broadcaster. That way, viewers would be able to choose between the services they want - so things like other bundled content, the quality of the coverage, frequency of adverts, pundits etc. would allow an effective choice.

              unfortunately, this would significantly reduce the cost to the viewer, meaning that the leagues would get less money and for that reason i cannot see it happening - particularly as long as people are still prepared to pay the current, higher fees to multiple broadcasters. The only way to force the issue is to stop subscribing, and i can't see people doing that either.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum

          yep and Sky have lost the champions league (and the next ashes) but have still put their prices up and you're getting LESS!

          1. Ian 55

            Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum

            Sky - the company that missed the start of Wiggins' attempt on the Hour Record to show an ad about how they were losing half of their arts channels.

            And people pay them money?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. icetrout

        Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum

        what's a TV ??? got dueling laptops... what else would I need ... :P

  5. Ol'Peculier

    I had somebody tell me that YouTube had stopped working on her TV because "Google had sold it".

    I think there may need to be an intelligent test to see if the telly is smarter than you before purchase.

    1. Irongut

      I would up vote you but you failed your own intelligence test. Double fail.

  6. theOtherJT Silver badge

    "Smart" TV's are a bad idea

    My own TV set is one of the first generation VieraCast Panasonics; it never got iPlayer, and no longer has YouTube. I should be grateful, I suppose, that there were a couple of updates to its firmware, but these days it's really just used as a dumb monitor

    Which was, lets face it, inevitable. This is why I'd much rather they left all that crap out and sold me a good screen with no pointless extras in the first place. Ideally I'd be able to buy one which doesn't even have speakers in it, seeing as how it's going to get attached straight to the 5.1 amp in the living room.

    1. Down not across

      Re: "Smart" TV's are a bad idea

      Which was, lets face it, inevitable. This is why I'd much rather they left all that crap out and sold me a good screen with no pointless extras in the first place. Ideally I'd be able to buy one which doesn't even have speakers in it, seeing as how it's going to get attached straight to the 5.1 amp in the living room.

      I don't mind the speakers. I do agree that they should drop the smart crap and use that money to furnish the units with HMDI ports. A while back whilst you could buy non-smart TV, if you wanted more than 2 HMDI ports you effectively had to buy a "smart" TV.

      Drop the smart, but add more HDMI ports. 4 should be absolute minimum. Preferably even more. They're get quickly used up if you have couple of consoles, BR player, Fire TV/Roku/etc, possibly HTPC or occasional laptop etc.

      Yes you could route via AV amp, but many may have perfectly serviceable setup with non-HDMI (say AVC-A1D) amp. Or the TV might be intended for another room that might not have an AV amp and dangling HDMI switched (even if automatic) can get bit messy.

      1. theOtherJT Silver badge

        Re: "Smart" TV's are a bad idea

        I'm not massively against there being speakers - I just don't need them, and if someone were to manufacture a BGBTV and a BGBTV-S (for speakers!) model, and sell them at different price points, I'd be happy to buy the speaker free one for a bit less.

        * Bloody Great Big TeleVision

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: "Smart" TV's are a bad idea

      I'd not call the sound output transducers in almost all current TVs, "speakers". Glorified headset drivers. Most "sound bars" have worse audio than any 1950 to 1990 TV also due to having driver units that are too small and a too skinny too plastic case.

      The newer TVs also no longer have enough I/O ports. Some only have 1, many only two. Four ought to be a minimum, ideally six + 2 x SCART (supporting RGB) + Firewire, + Y/C (S-video), VGA. Otherwise how do you view your older equipment on the new TV?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Smart" TV's are a bad idea

        No. Don't waste money implementing that on TVs so everyone has to pay for people who can't get rid of their 80s and 90s gear. You can buy whatever to HDMI converters if you want to use RGB, S-video, composite or component gear; don't make me pay for it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Smart" TV's are a bad idea

          > You can buy whatever to HDMI converters...

          Really??? So where do you find a *composite* to HDMI converter? Can't watch anything on VHS if your so-called "smart" TV doesn't have coaxial or composite input. And I have yet to see a VHS that had component output (those stupid DVD/VHS combo units won't output VHS to the DBVD outputs, making them *worse* than useless). And no, the stuff you had on VHS is just as likely to never have been re-released on DVD or BluRay, even *IF* you were willing to buy them all-over-again.

          1. Nigel Whitfield.

            Re: "Smart" TV's are a bad idea

            You can get a scaler/converter like this one but for less money, you could instead get an AV amp like the Yamaha RXV677, which will upscale and convert analogue inputs to HDMI.

            I have an earlier version, which is how I can still watch things like Laserdisc

  7. Turtle

    Vengeance Is Theirs.

    "Looking at the list of supported devices, there are now no Samsung TVs or BluRays from before 2012, and no LG BluRay players listed at all."

    Planned obsolescence - with a vengeance!

  8. ben kendim

    And stop serving ads!

    Never, ever, ever, willI buy any LG product. My so called 'Smart' TV serves up ads in the home screen, where you select input.

    No, you don't own that space LG.

    And advertisers, if I see you there, I boycott you!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And stop serving ads!

      I've got an LG smart TV with WebOS, and it doesn't serve up any ads of any kind. Did I do something wrong?

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: And stop serving ads!

      Sadly the TV doesn't even need to be that smart for that... remember some of the Panasonic sets that used the Guide+ EPG for Freeview, which included adverts. Horrid idea.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paging Mr. Worstall...

    Make Google sell the API.

    It clearly will have value and Google's executives are failing in their duty to shareholders by discarding a valuable asset. Technically there is no reason why internet connections using that API can't be routed from Google to whoever buys the service.

    Even if it is just re-routed to PBS - people might learn something!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reason

    Seven years life isn't bad for a laptop, and it cost about the same as a high end TV set at the time. Why is it reasonable to have free updates on one, but none at all on the other?

    Because margin, that's why. Apple makes a fat profit on every device it sells, so it can easily amortize the R&D costs of keeping the OS up to date. It can even afford to give major releases away for free as an incentive to get on board with the platform (although major updates weren't free in 2008 when your laptop was made).

    TVs are a whole different market. The margins are wafer-thin or in some cases non existent, as you can see from the red ink in various manufacturers' financial results.

    I'm not trying to excuse this short-termism, just pointing out the reasons for it..

    1. jason 7

      Re: The reason

      But its not free, its part of the £1300 you paid for the £600 worth of laptop you bought.

      That should pay for quite a few upgrades....but not for life. You have to buy another £1300 machine to get another 6-7 years worth.

    2. jelabarre59

      Re: The reason

      Then sell me a TV *without* all that crap. At this point a TV should be little more than a dumb monitor. Heck, even for your most basic cable from Crapcast/suXfinity you have to have a cable box (even if it's the simplest DTA), even though the TV is entirely capable of tuning digital broadcasts, etc all on it's own.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    landfill mining corp

    I am going to register this company now and start to get going on it... so that when do have to start mining our own landfill sites (as we've run out of stuff to make new telly with) i might have the start of a monopoly... until then those who have a clue (El Reg readers) will save their pennies on buying new hardware to get new software... and the rest will put their platinum in bin.

    It was only 60 or 70 years ago that the original gold rush ended in northern america and already their stuff is being re-mined as we can now afford to get the stuff they left behind.

  12. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge


    Perhaps we need to go back to the rental model again? That carried a cost premium but often not much more than the equivalent of a loan for purchasing over the same period, and did offer some scope for upgrading as new tech comes along.

    That model disappeared as buying became far cheaper than renting. But then again, if we are having to buy new every few years, it maybe isn't so much cheaper as was expected.

    Being with Virgin Media I still am effectively in the rental market as they retain ownership of the TiVo which is the "smarts" of my installation, so I can expect (or at least hope) they keep it working and up to date. I have the option of leaving if they don't, so it's in their interests to do so. I imagine it's the same too for other bundle suppliers.

  13. MJI Silver badge

    Use a console

    Still seems like the best idea.

    Too many out there to remove support from, with reasonably savvy users who know who to complain to.

    1. Ian 55

      Re: Use a console

      So, can you get my Wii to access iPlayer again?

      The official 'channel' won't work any more.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Use a console

        Sorry don't know about Wiis but I Player is working fine on the PS3 and PS4

  14. The Eee 701 Paddock

    No to 'smart TVs'...

    I posted on a similar story to this the other week, but TL;DR: given the choice, I would always go for a "dumb" TV and fit it out with a video-streamer (I like Roku players myself, but each to their own depending on their needs), rather than a "smart" one.

    Having experienced "planned obsolescence" already with our 2010 Sony BR player (summary: iPlayer and YouTube both discontinued; no other network "channels" that we use left working)... at least one of the "sticks" (Roku, Chromecast, Amazon FTV, etc.) can be nabbed for well under £50, and will serve for a few years until it, well, doesn't anymore, then you buy a new one.

    As someone else pointed out, though: we might not have much of a choice of a "dumb" telly for much longer... what if they all end up "smart", and we just have to accept that after a few years, the set will become "stupid"?

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: No to 'smart TVs'...

      Quite. A TV only lasts 7 years? I'm not sure, but right now I don't think I've ever owned a TV that was less than 7 years old.

      That's what decoder boxes are for, after all.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: No to 'smart TVs'...

      Hmm my 2008 and 2010 Sony BD players still do IPlayer and the ITV version.

      And also play games

  15. Stevie


    "...should know better ..."

    Perhaps the trick in picking a "smart" TV or disc player is in choosing one made by big players in it for the long haul, not flibbertigibbet "web economy" Johnny-come-latelies.

    After all, a Samsung or Sony smart disc player will connect almost effortlessly to your WiFi and cost around fifty dollars from Costco.

    Which last time I checked was about what it would cost to set up your own set-top-box (without a disc player).

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Both brands have had players which no longer support this, Better off buying a console

      I cannot see Iplayer getting removed from my PS4

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        or from my PS3, not that I want most of the SMART offerings

  16. etz

    I have 2 smart tv's, but the functions are pretty abysmal on both. Slow and terrible to use. Input is pants. I use an old PC on the main screen, coupled with a Rii BT keyboard and trackpad, when I want smart functions. The second screen is basically for games consoles, so "smart" functions can come from the ps3/ps4.

  17. dotdavid

    Hardware Manufacturers

    ...were crap at software even before they pretended to be able to create "smart" TVs. My dumb Philips TV has a separate menu for the digital TV bit and the rest of the system, the former supports OTA updates but I think they no longer send them out over the DVB-T broadcast mux and as my TV wasn't plugged into an aerial when they were doing so I have a buggy software version installed.

    The best thing they could have done was leave the software to third parties like Google, Apple and Roku and stuck to making good hardware. Although Google might not have been a great choice (Android TV - is that supported now? Nope). Unfortunately they thought they could make money selling apps to their customers as well as tellies.

    The annoying thing is they never seem to learn. Each manufacturer at the very least should have had one smart TV platform for all their TVs, which gets updated for all their TVs. But the fragmentation even within manufacturers' models is ridiculous. Who would possibly want to develop anything for that? No wonder API changes mean broken apps.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Hardware Manufacturers

      My Sony LCD runs on Linux, they now use Android, it was crap at Smart even when new (never used beyond photo mode)

      My old FD Trinitron just had simple firmware.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is why people Torrent

    All the TV and video you want streamed from your media server to your dumb TV without the obsolescence.

  19. Christian Berger

    *Facepalm* You don't invest in proprietary standards

    To succeed for any meaningful amount of time you need open standards and open systems. DLNA is one of those at least moderately well defined open standards. If you need things like "Apps" to access a service, because it doesn't conform to public, open and sufficiently simple standards, that service will become obsolete very quickly.

    1. Hugh McIntyre

      Re: *Facepalm* You don't invest in proprietary standards

      RE: "you need open standards ... DNLA"

      Not sure that really helps :(. I have a Pioneer TV which includes DNLA but in practice both MPEG2/4 have a dizzying list of possible video/audio codecs and you end up with 99% of files not playing. The fact that the TV does not really document the supported formats doesn't help either.

      So in practice the easier and better-supported solution is an external box (Roku/AppleTV/WDTV/Chrome stick/etc.)

      Back to the original article: either one of the video services or TV companies is going to get it's act together and become known for making things just work for a reasonable lifetime of the TV, or consumers will learn the rest of the apps are just toys and give up on Smart TV's in favor of external boxes. "Airplay transmit video from app on phone/tablet" is the other option, in that the TV only needs to support that, not the individual apps.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: *Facepalm* You don't invest in proprietary standards


      I think that's the first time I've ever seen "DLNA" and "moderately well defined" in the same sentence. Even they admit, interoperability isn't what it should be, because of the lack of mandatory codec support. It pretty much just guarantees two things can see each other.

      (Though, with later revisions to the standard and VidiPath, about which more after next month's IBC show, they are making strides towards actually doing what you suggest).

  20. UKHobo

    my solution:

    a NAS box running a torrent server and with HDMI out sat on the shelf just below and plugged directly into my non-smart telly box. /end

  21. cmd1806


    Why doesn't everyone just get together and create an interface standard for sending video to the TV and input from the TV remote to the interface - you'd only need Play/Pause, Next, Prev, Home, Back, Select, Dpad & 0-9.

    If every "smart" TV just had the interface and Google, Amazon et al. made boxes which connect you could mix & match. The TV manufacturers could even make deals to bundle specific boxes.

    If you used HDMI as an input you'd only need the control connection back to the box - it would only need 2 wires! Even Bluetooth - this stuff is easy enough to implement...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HiFi separates equivalent

    Is what we need IMO.

    Which I suppose would be a http PC box with dumb screen and tuner card.

    DVBT2 arrived virtually straight after DVBT roll out, which was taking the pee.

    DVBT2 now obsolete with HDR version due soon.

    As regards the 2008 Mac no updates, slap Linux on & PayPal donate if distro accepts. Linux rarely has H/W drivers obsoleted 'early'.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: HiFi separates equivalent

      The first DVB-T2 broadcast demo was at IBC in 2008; that's a decade after the launch of DVB-T in the UK, and it was a couple of years before there was actually a service launch, so it was hardly straight after.

      And there's no special HDR version of DVB-T2; it's a transmission system, and you can stuff any sort of picture you like down it, whether using MPEG2, H.264 or HEVC. So, you could quite easily use it for a profile of HEVC that includes HDR or an extended gamut.

      As for the 2008 Mac, as I said, updates are available for it. The only reason I've not installed them is because while free, I will probably then have to spend money on updating other software to newer versions.

  23. jason 7

    When most people are happy... spend £400+ on a new phone every year, what's the problem with asking people to spend maybe £50 on hardware every couple of years to watch tv shows?

    Really its a first world problem.

    Let's get a little perspective here. No one is forcing you to watch and you can get most of those shows on DVD or blu-ray from your local lending library (remember that) for a quid or two.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: When most people are happy...

      I don't know anyone who gets a new phone every year these days, and certainly not at that sort of price.

      The point is, we're being sold TVs that have particular functionality built in. That functionality is often pretty poor, badly supported, and in some cases withdrawn after as little as two years.

      As aspects of that functionality become more central to people's viewing, don't you think they should expect something better than being told "You've got to spend another £50 to carry on with what you had?"

      If you want to watch House of Cards, or Unbreakable, or the forthcoming car show from Amazon, no you're not going to get that at your local library any time soon. Just because we are fortunate enough to live in a developed country does not mean we should simply shrug off planned obsolescence - especially when the companies behind it could quite easily use some of their massive cash piles to avoid the situation.

      You may be happy being bent over the barrel of shareholder value and firmly rogered by a sneering corporate, but I'm not.

      I'll get my rogering somewhere else, of my own choosing.

      1. jason 7

        Re: When most people are happy...

        Meh...I have a Fire TV box so it won't cost me much to change in a year or two.

        Smart TV functionality is a gimmick mostly anyway until an approved single standard is sorted.

  24. Fazal Majid

    4K support

    Is the big reason to use the SmartTV features. No streaming box available today supports HDMI 2.0 or 4K resolution. Netflix in 4K is a glorious experience, despite the paucity of content. All 4K HDTVs have SmartTV functionality today, and by the time they are no longer supported, the streaming boxes will have caught up, so you are none the worse off.

    The thing I find most annoying is why TVs come with only a handful of HDMI ports (3 or 4 is the max), but a surfeit of obsolete analog ports like component video or S-Video, which belong on the dust heap of history. Surely no more than one such port is needed?

    1. Down not across

      Re: 4K support

      The thing I find most annoying is why TVs come with only a handful of HDMI ports (3 or 4 is the max), but a surfeit of obsolete analog ports like component video or S-Video, which belong on the dust heap of history. Surely no more than one such port is needed?

      I have bunch of old kit that still requires component, s-video or horror...composite. If omitting those would mean 4 extra HDMI ports (so we'd have 8 instead of 4) then personally I'd be willing to trade. I'd just have to keep hold of some TVs still having those ports or buy/make a converter from the old format to HDMI.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: 4K support

        One of the reasons for my choice of AV Amp (a modest Yamaha) was that it will take composite (from the laserdisc player) and component (from my Toppy pvr) and upscale those to 1080p for delivery via HDMI.

  25. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

    you lot need to get out . go play outside.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's shit

    I've tried each of the streaming services, and they're all a bag of wank, because even with my 150mb broadband connection:

    None offer HD which even comes close to that offered by Sky/Virgin Media

    An entire series (boxset) can be pulled before you've finished watching it

    All of them occasionally buffer

    All of them frequently cock-up/crash

    Pausing for more than 30sec and then resuming is seemingly a technical challenge too far

    Choice is limited to out of date films or the specific selection of TV series one particular provider has

    No/faulty Internet connection = no TV/films

    Someone with a combination of a Virgin Media TiVo or Sky sub + knowledge of torrent downloading suffers from NONE of the above issues.

    Until legal streaming services become as high quality, reliable and content-rich as using traditional broadcast methods and torrenting, I will continue to give not one fuck about whether the built-in streaming capabilities of my TV continue to work.

    1. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

      Re: It's shit

      seems the difference is buffering. with a torrent i know the whole thing is safely downloded and ready to go. These Big providers seem to think once a download / stream has started youre ok. or that people wont wait between choosing and watching. which is what torreters do...

      i think the essence of the problem is the word "stream"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's shit

        Totally agree. Why on earth the legal services don't cache ahead is beyond me.

  27. Ali 4

    Re: Now you need a TV license, a SKY sub, Amazon Prime, Netflix, BT, etc ad-bleedin-nauseum

    It's not often an el Reg article goes totally over the top of my head, but this one has. I had to Google Roku, Fire Tv, Chromecast etc. I've never had a smart Tv, heck I've not had a Tv for many years. As for streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon, forget it, I live in a not spot. I've got a 27 inch Dell monitor hooked up my computer with a 10m DVI cable. When I hear about a Tv series or film that may interest me (not often), I download the torrent and watch at my leisure. But then I live on my own, it makes life a lot easier.

  28. e^iπ+1=0


    I think we want to buy a 'monitor' rather than a TV in future. The day of the TV ended with the end of analogue TV broadcasting.

  29. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Smart" services

    "Would it be awfully wrong of me to suggest that if you do have a smart device with Amazon Video built in, like a TV or BluRay, you should register it ASAP, to make sure you get any discount offers applicable? Think of it as a £39 tax rebate."

    Yeah, given their zeal to pull support, I wouldn't bother buying a FireTV. Amazon'll probably just pull support for it in a year or two anyway.

    "It may not be smart to buy a smart TV, but is there any choice anymore?"

    I've had no problem finding TVs that just watch TV. The TV vendors put a big markup on the "connected" TVs, but also don't want to lose out selling less expensive TVs to everyone else.

    I also have to throw in a barb at Sony -- not surprised Sony's are not being supported. My friend bought one of the first Sony DVD players (like "model 100"), which had "firmware updateable" as a main feature on the box. He figured that'd be important, it was very likely the bugs had not been worked out yet. Within 6 months, it would not play some DVDs due to fimrware incompatibilities -- Sony told him that was a shame, they were providing NO firmware updates for it, he could buy the "model 101". Needless to say he did not, he bought another brand.

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