After years of faithful service, I gently retired my old Panasonic TV. It was, and still is a good TV. It has 2 HDMI ports, a straightforward menu, and not much else.
I got my old TV secondhand, and paid in cash. It has a little dark spot from where it toppled over and the seller caught it with the tip of their shoe to keep it from shattering on the sidewalk. It is still perfectly serviceable as a screen that shows me things.
That being said, there are two reasons for getting a newer, bigger TV:
- I play video games. It is painfully obvious most video game developers don’t test their games with living room setups, and also don’t include text resizing controls in their UI.
- This is probably my last chance to get a TV that isn’t smart.
Smart TVs are now cheaper to make than not-smart TVs, by which I mean the cost is offset by selling your personal information. This means that not-smart TVs will soon be a thing of the past.
My new not-smart TV’s menus are charmingly clunky and use icons that would feel at home in an obscure Linux distro. The picture quality is just fine, and the viewing angle is firmly in the acceptable range. Its internal speakers sound just a little tinny. Its black is still false. The remote is entirely forgettable.
All that said, my not-smart TV will not:
- Force me to use an inefficient UI that will likely never get UX updates,
- Use data that counts towards my data cap,
- Need me to regularly run virus and malware checks,
- Load apps for content partners I have no interest in, but can’t remove,
- Update itself into a bricked state,
- Refuse to work until I have updated its firmware,
- Record my voice,
- Force me to register an account before working,
- Opt me into a scammy TV-watching service and stop working if I opt-out,
- Shove ads into a movie I’m watching,
- Slap banner ads over live TV I'm watching,
- Send an undisclosed amount of my personal information to an unknown amount of third party information brokers, many of who will resell that information,
- Become part of a manufacturer-level initiative to become a data broker,
- Show up with malware preinstalled,
- Secretly collect information about me and transmit it,
- Connect to Google, China, and Russia every five minutes,
- Be mistakenly marked as stolen and remotely disabled,
- Bypass my network setup,
- Surreptitiously include a cellular modem or seek out nearby unsecured wifi to side-step my network entirely,
- Be quietly taken over and made to mine environment-destroying cryptocurrency,
- Deliberately support the false legitimacy of environment-destroying blockchain technologies,
- Subject me to hate-speech disseminating NFTs,
- Update itself to make me scream “McDonald’s!” to skip an ad,
- Store conversations I have) in the room the TV is placed in, or
- Straight-up spy on me.
I would also like to extend kudos to the manufacturer, who included a separate single page leaflet on how to specifically turn off telenovela mode.
A TV is a passive device, used for passive consumption. I want operating it to be on par with turning on my shower and setting the temperature to something comfortable. This is to say that not every device needs to be smart.