It’s Still Stupidly, Ridiculously Difficult To Buy A ‘Dumb’ TV

from the more-isn't-automatically-better dept

Historically, “smart” TVs aren’t always particularly smart. They’ve routinely been shown to have lax security and privacy standards. They also routinely feature embedded OS systems that don’t age well, aren’t always well designed, don’t perform particularly well over time, are slathered with ads, and are usually worse than most third-party game streaming devices or video game consoles.

Yet when if you go shopping for “dumb” televisions — as in just a high quality display with a bunch of HDMI ports and not much else, you’re usually going to be out of luck. There are options, but guides on this front will usually shovel you toward computer monitors (too pricey at large sizes), or business-class displays (ditto). This Lifehacker article ironically forgot to even list the few models that do exist:

The big caveat when it comes to dumb TVs is that they are absolutely not the priority in the market, and so it can be difficult to find a dumb TV that has the screen size, resolution, and other features of a smart TV. Still, it’s not impossible. Samsung makes a 65-inch 4K dumb TV, for example, as does Sceptre, but identifying and finding dumb TVs can be challenging.

Of course it’s challenging because TV manufacturers now make more money collecting and monetizing your personal data than they do selling the actual hardware. Last year Vizio noted it made $38.4 million in one quarter just from tracking and monetizing consumer viewing and usage data. It made $48.2 million on hardware (which also includes soundbars, and other products) in that same period.

That gap has likely closed in the year since, if it hasn’t slammed shut. Worse, TV makers seem insistent on pushing their luck and ruining the quality of their own products as they pursue new online revenues. You’ll routinely see smart TV GUIs slathered with obtrusive ads. And in some cases, greedy TV makers, like Vizio (previously busted tracking users without permission), are now pushing ads over live content.

“Smart” TV makers can’t just take the ad and consumer tracking money and be satisfied, they’re constantly pushing “innovations” seemingly invented to annoy you in a bid to obtain improved quarterly returns. And they’re always (always!) somehow framed as “innovative experiences“:

You used to own a TV for ten years, and you’d just swap in and out HDMI-connected hardware as technologies evolved. But by integrating an OS and trying to dominate the hardware space, TV vendors have created a new, wasteful paradigm that shortens the shelf-life of televisions. Frustrated by the slow OS of a four year old TV? Better just buy an entirely new one!

As a dumb TV fan who has bought several sets in the last decade, I’m usually told something akin to: “well, just don’t connect the TV to the Internet!” But that route locks you out of firmware updates, and some TV makers remove functionality if you refuse to participate in their online ecosystem. Many smart TV GUIs also need to load before you’re even allowed to switch laggy HDMI inputs.

For a decade all I’ve wanted is a quality, dumb-as-nails 65″ TV panel with an over-abundance of HDMI ports, no speaker, and a bare bones GUI. Yet it’s routinely impossible to find one, even if you’re willing to pay a several hundred dollar premium. I know I’m not alone in my quest for dumb technology, yet it’s positively bizarre that nobody wants to meet this market demand.

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Comments on “It’s Still Stupidly, Ridiculously Difficult To Buy A ‘Dumb’ TV”

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Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Not difficult at all

My first search on Amazon netted me a 65″ non-smart TV described having amazing quality and no smart features.

If one Amazon search is “stupidly ridiculously difficult” I suggest you get some water-wings so you don’t hurt yourself next time you do something really difficult… like taking out the garbage.

P.S. one of many:×2160-Metal/dp/B01N10VUY1/ref=sr_1_8?crid=JRG0N50Y5ZJQ&keywords=non+smart+tv+65+inch&qid=1649756501&sprefix=non+smart+tv+65+inch%2Caps%2C135&sr=8-8

James Burkhardt (profile) says:


WIthin the product description I can’t find 2 important things: a model number that allows me to price compare and source non-amazon reviews, nor can I find the mounting scheme compatibility.

At least one question implies the legs are not included in all shipments.

Karl specifically requested a bare bones UI to improve speed. He specifically mentioned boot speed as a concern. Reviews indicate this 2018 TV has enough lag you need to “set expectations”. This means the ability to see a similar model in use would be critical to making a purchase.

Reviews indicate a poor return process and a need to purchase the warrenty due to the likelyhood the product will fail quickly. Karl specifically mentioned the desire to use this TV for long periods, not rapidly replace them.

Very much could fall under “not quality” for Karl, particularly for the features he is seeking. Additionally, purchase on amazon is likely not the best choice for this TV, as several factors should be seen in use to gauge tolerance versus expectations.

I can buy a thousand different wireless headphones on amazon. Finding a quality pair isn’t so easy.

Jason says:


I wanted a dumb TV and had a budget that I could not go over. My wife had suggested a TV that was the size we wanted, in ur budget, decent reviews, but still a smart TV. In fact, a Roku smart TV. I tried to find a good priced dumb TV, but everything in the size we wanted was way out of our budget and didn’t have good reviews. She didn’t understand what was wrong with having a smart TV and my response was that because we already had a Fire Stick that was still supported, why do I need to layer on a new streaming system? It was unnecessary. I ended up getting the Roku smart because of my budget reasons.

TLDR: Hard to find doesn’t just mean the options in the search.

Scott Yates (profile) says:

Re: Re: Are you sure about that?

I have purchased several Sceptre displays over the years, and all of them are still running well. The common thread among them has been the outstanding display, and the lack of “smart” features.

Using a set like this as a computer monitor or connected to some other streaming device it is very hard to beat. Honestly.

I really think there could and SHOULD be more devices like this, but the existence of this one at least gives me hope.

I think Ehud really made a salient point.

Mark says:

Re: Ehud Gavron is a troll

To Ehud Gavron: Dear God… how about some appreciation for a free tech article. Yes, you can find the rare dumb TV on Amazon but most TVs aren’t dumb and your screen sizes and other features can be limited.

But it appears you like to read headlines and then dive into the troll pool.

Go back to Truth Social.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I wouldn’t be surprised if he had stopped using Amazon.

That’s fine, but then the correct message would be “it’s difficult to buy a dumb TV without using Amazon”. Or I guess we could interpret “ridiculously difficult” literally, rather than meaning “very very difficult” as it usually does; I do find it ridiculous one can’t walk into any TV store and find a non-“smart” TV.

(As someone born way way back in the 1980s, though, I also find it somewhat ridiculous that 65″ is considered a perfectly normal size for a TV. My eyes aren’t that bad yet. Oh well. Kudos to Karl for using the correct double-prime symbol for inches, anyway.)

The “innovation” I want is denser and better panels (fast, no backlight bleeding or other non-uniformity, good viewing angles). MicroLED looks like it might be nice, eventually. For now, people bothered by the cost of commercial signage displays should probably not look these up…

nick says:

Re: Re:

I share the same sentiment as the author, and bought the TV you linked a few months ago. It lacks HDMI ports and the backlight is almost a joke. This is the only 65″+ 4k model you have to choose from as a consumer without paying a major premium for a commercial TV. The author’s point is a good one because they’ve spent a lot of time exploring this topic, you’re just an idiot who spent five seconds on Google.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sceptre is arguably the dodgiest TV brand you can find and he linked to a dated LED TV. He literally didn’t read the post, did a 30 second google search, and concluded the issue solved.

I hope by “he” you don’t mean me, as I didn’t do a google search nor does one take 30 seconds. I did say the Sceptre is “one of many.” They are ARGUABLY anything you want them to be. “Dodgiest” is not a term of the art I’m familiar with. I just tossed the Sceptre laptop I’ve had for 15 years… one time too many with the PCB-mounted clips…

Murphy’s Law isn’t “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and there are many instant-on non-smart HDMI monitors (that may also have tuners). They’re not stupidly nor ridiculously hard to find, and they don’t require hacks (“pi-hole”, hidden gateway, etc.) to just do their job — HDMI IN display image out.


Anonymous Coward says:

It's really not that bad

I can only speak based on my experience but I have an LG CX and after setting up picture settings I’ve never even seen the UI of its OS nor have I used its remote since. I have updated the OS once with a USB drive rather than let it connect to the internet.

I’ve never even thought about the boot-up speed of it, it’s definitely not slow enough that I would notice.

I used to think this was a big deal too but it really hasn’t been for me at all and the OS just becomes invisible if all you are doing is switching HDMI inputs.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: What boot speed?

I’ve never even thought about the boot-up speed of it, it’s definitely not slow enough that I would notice.*

If one had lived during the early years when TV’s used tubes instead of solid state, one would remember that it took nearly a minute, and sometimes as long as a minute and a half before they warmed up and actually gave one a picture. Today? It’s what, maybe 10 seconds for a piss-poor unit, and 3 seconds or less for a quality unit, eh? In my book, that’s near enough to instant that I’ll never complain.
</end of today’s history lesson>

(and all said with tongue-in-cheek)

Karl Bode (profile) says:


I settled on the LG C1 this last purchase round and love the quality, but I still think the OS and GUI is shitty. And it STILL has the same problem where they tether the GUI (which gets slower as the TV hardware ages in relation to software bloat) to HDMI switching, so doing the basic act of switching ports is way more cumbersome and annoying than it should be (even if you operate the TV without connecting it to the internet).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

the basic act of switching ports is way more cumbersome and annoying than it should be

Is that the only thing you’re using the GUI for? If so, some kind of HDMI switch, as someone else suggested, should solve the problem. Maybe automatic, maybe one of those big mechanical A/B/C button switches we used in the 1980s (except with HDMI instead of co-ax), maybe an NeTV or similar. If you can find a good one, it will also solve it for all future display devices you buy.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Why mess with the router...

… when you simply don’t need to enter a Gateway address into the TV’s setup screen. The TV can then send (‘cast) and receive from any other device on that same network, but it can’t get out to the Internet. Connect your Roku to the router as usual, and you’re in business, without all the flap-doodle that the manufacturer wants to send your way.

And of course, one could just Pi-hole the thing…. just sayin’.

mhajicek (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That sounds like like “Don’t tell me the solution because I don’t want a solution.”

We bought a “smart” TV a couple years ago because it was far cheaper than a comparable “dumb” TV. Never connected it to the network, just use it as a monitor for streaming. I don’t need OS updates for my TV, and it still performs as it did on day one.

Karl Bode (profile) says:


Yeah I get that a lot. Addressed some of that in the piece.

THe problem:

Keeping it offline:

–keeps you from getting firmware updates

–often locks you out of key features

–often doesn’t matter anyway because just switching HDMI ports is tied to the terrible TV GUI, which lags on load and makes even basic things like switching ports more annoying than they should be

MrEngineer says:

Virtually EVERY "Smart" TV can be a "Dumb" TV

I am confused why this article was even written.

To turn virtually ANY Smart TV into a Dumb TV, just don’t connect it to the internet (don’t use ethernet or wifi) and configure it’s HDMI connector as the default power-on mode.

VERY Simple. What’s the big deal?

It is then IMPOSSIBLE for a TV not connected to the internet to violate your privacy in any way 😉

Anonymous Coward says:


Since you didn’t read the post, I’ll quote the relevant section for you:

As a dumb TV fan who has bought several sets in the last decade, I’m usually told something akin to: “well, just don’t connect the TV to the Internet!” But that route locks you out of firmware updates, and some TV makers remove functionality if you refuse to participate in their online ecosystem. Many smart TV GUIs also need to load before you’re even allowed to switch laggy HDMI inputs.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Dumb fan

As a dumb TV fan…
Well he did say he was a dumb fan of tvs.

Since you didn’t read the post…
And he won’t read comments either. He is ENTITLED to throw his comment like a grenade exploding loudly in a room full of hearing people while his dumb ass just closes the smugness door behind him.

Can’t educate the stupid. No disrespect to the truly dumb.
(I do want to record someone walking into a Best Buy or WalMart and asking “…to buy a totally stupid TV.” 😉


Walf says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Loss of *functionality*

It didn’t say loss of reception, it said loss of functionality, which is completely true. We can’t help it if you’re too technically illiterate to know that DLNA is a common and basic function of a TV these days, and it requires connection to a LAN, but not the Internet to work. DLNA does require occasional software updates to ensure device compatibility.

You’ve also (incorrectly) assumed that your TV’s software shipped with zero bugs, which is quite naive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

…so U still can’t define Functionality, but demand everyone think it means exactly what U think it means

is a Dumb TV “Functional” in your expert opinion ?

How can you update the firmware on a Dumb TV or get fixes to any firmware the Dumb TV may have shipped with ?

Obviously under your superb logic — no one should ever buy a Dumb TV because of the “update problem” you imagine

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6

And the Nintendo Entertainment System ran software from ROMs, much more complex than anything a “dumb” TV would need to do. There was no facility to install updates. The games were tested before release, and if that somehow managed to miss a major bug, they’d have to be recalled. (I never heard of it happening, but you can browse to see bugs that were fixed in later ROM revisions. Often they were just textual errors like the infamous “Miss twice and your out.” in Super Mario Bros. 3; though SMB2, for example, had a more serious bug fixed.)

For that matter, the 1990s TVs I played it on probably had “firmware” too, for the on-screen menus and closed-captioning. It was not updatable in any practical sense. If there were bugs, they were minor enough that most people didn’t notice. Tools and methods for testing software have improved since then. It’s entirely possible to create a dumb TV good enough that most end-users will never hear the term “firmware” or “update” in relation to it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If your TV is “smart” enough that firmware updates are a serious concern, you’ve already lost. Manufacturers used to have to make sure their TVs worked before shipping them out. If they didn’t, people would return them, not fuck around in the hope that some “update” might fix it.

A panel with a bunch of inputs should not need firmware updates. Personally, I’d go simpler: one input (HDMI or DisplayPort), no remote, automatically turns on and off depending on signal availability. Maybe with a knob for brightness. How often does anyone adjust the monitor-like devices Karl is describing anyway? I don’t think I’ve seen my computer monitors’ menus for years.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If your TV is “smart” enough that firmware updates are a serious concern, you’ve already lost.


Old, tired, shop-worn joke: “If it worked when you bought it, and it’s still working now, why are you bitching and moaning?” No, it doesn’t need an upgrade; no, it hasn’t suddenly become “insecure”; no, it isn’t locked out of receiving new materials on new channels; and a host of other “reasons to upgrade”. End of story. Fini.

In fact, Murphy’s Law still prevails:

If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Nobody believes these things are bug-free. That’s the whole reason we’re bitching. And nobody’s even really saying they ought to be bug-free. We just want it to work when purchased. It’s far from impossible; I’ve literally never updated the firmware of any computer monitor—don’t know how, and don’t know anyone who’s done it. I’ve had some working for almost 20 years, and I’ve never heard of any security exploits other than Tempest (with no ethernet/wifi/bluetooth, hopefully no writable storage, there’s not much an exploit could do; and then a power cycle would fix it).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Who said anything about rocket science? People generally don’t want to update firmware, or have firmware complex or bad enough to require updates. In practice, updates often bring unwanted changes in addition to whatever they fix.

These bugs are caused by little more than programmer laziness, excess complexity, and insufficient money/time for testing. The hardware in smart TVs (e.g. the CPU) is more complicated than the software, and usually not software-upgradable in any way (though desktop CPUs do have update facilities). Yet nobody ever talks about replacing the CPU in their smart TV.

MrEngineer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Still no getting it!

“But that route locks you out of firmware updates” – If you are not having any problems with your TV in HDMI mode, no firmware update is needed. And for the RARE times you do need a firmware update to fix some HDMI mode problem (because obviously you don’t need any updated for the “smart” OS if you are just using HDMI mode), then simply connect it to the internet, download the firmware and disconnect from the internet. Simply – again!
“and some TV makers remove functionality” What “functionality” can you remove from HDMI mode?
“Many smart TV GUIs also need to load before you’re even allowed to switch laggy HDMI inputs.” If a TV forces you to first see the “smart” OS screen, I’m confident you can still switch to HDMI mode using the remote without it being connected to the internet. Prove me wrong!

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

For everyone above who thinks Murphy’s Law is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” you can go sit down now. That ain’t[sic] it.

I’m confident you can still switch to HDMI mode using the remote without it being connected to the internet.

This isn’t about you and your confidence. You’re a nobody on the Internet. Bark some more, wet the carpet, put tail between legs, and stop offering your personal opinions as if you have some credibility.

Prove me wrong!

…said the idiot to the Internet.

Prove me wrong! <– dipshit doodle #73

The corner is that way –> Go stand there and interfere in an adult discussion no longer. Murphy’s Law! Dear Abby! It’s RICO. You can do it, Happy.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

MrEngineer and I seem to be in the minority here. All we are saying is that the basic purpose of having a TV set is to watch TV (or videos from your film library, or games, etc.), and that anything else beyond that is properly labeled as “nice, but not necessary to have”. That’s our opinion, of course, but we offer it freely, in the hopes of alerting people to the idea that it’s easy to mis-prioritize one’s needs, especially when a budget is involved.

PatentsAreDepraved says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The issue of such things goes well beyond just smart tech, its DRM plain and simple!

Yeah… @ehud garvon

dude, seriously, its people who have this love obsession with smart tv technology, that usually also are:

capitalistic to the extreme level
conservative to the extreme level
have something to gain monetarily
aren’t willing to be inconvenienced for the greater good, have the don’t rock the boat mentality towards the wealthy and power for fear of any inconveniences
think that proprietary software should always be legal and/or have unlimited power as long as it doesn’t hurt so so, meaning them.
hates socialism even on the tiniest level
thinks capitalism is some how an idea that fell from heaven
spoiler btw:

not even close!
if you don’t have a balanced system, it doesn’t matter
capitalism, socialism, anything else also, if its in excess, it will fall apart and lead to some form of dystopia

Btw, this will be unpopular with many people, but patents are pure evil currently!

Even if manufacturers, will keep doing all this evil stuff, people should be allowed, legally to modify their devices as they see fit with to fix these issues and redistribute patches to disable this privacy invasive planned obsolescence bs, without fear of corrupt politicians, corporations, law enforcement or other sociopathic tyrants having you put in prison, paying huge fines, being banned from the internet, etc… and no one can tell me that its ever, EVER okay to spy on people to prevent copyright infringement! That’s an example of something known as, you break a law, you go to jail, we break a law, we don’t, so suck it up and give up.

Another words, its a double standard and a crimson evil one at that.

This is why all patents, at least for hardware, need to just die a fiery death.

Aka, its just a way for the powerful to feed their own egos, by making money destroying people’s lives, rip them off and feel special by all the money they acquire and in some cases make people suffer because the people who do this kind of stuff, feel like tiny little children regarding their real confidence and project themselves as very confident which basically means, they are so filled with pride, they might as well shout:

I will seven in a row and then with each statement after that, say something 1000x more unstable and prideful each time, the first could be, I will become very rich and end the last might as well be, I will be a literal God of the universe and rule everyone with an iron first.

That is exactly who extremist conservatives are.

Btw, all this bloated planned obsolescence stuff, also is causing climate change on a massive scale too and on and on and so forth.

As a final thought, while BSD systems, Linux systems, or as some call it Gnu/Linux systems aren’t enough of the solution either, this is still the better option.

At this point, it would honestly be good, if people stopped believing that capitalism can ever fix everything and that socialism is literal hell, otherwise, hello 1984!

Besides, would anyone in their damn right want, another friggin copycat of hitler to arrive and have this power?


I am fully aware of TLDR, btw, but on the off chance you don’t listen, I very much hope someone will have enough intelligence to understand that all this is way too valid.

Btw, it is actually illegal to remove DRM in your own hardware in almost all cases and send a patch to others to help them do the same, if you do it with full knowledge of using the same code that the copyright holder has.

Even, if you want to prevent the need to be manipulated by that DRM, by either:

removing the backdoor
removing the antifeature to escape the walled garden OS
removing any power they have that will allow them to remotely disable your hardware beyond any reasonable point akin to the wii u backdoor which allowed nintendo to completely shutdown customers hardware on every level rather than just block the network part

Either way, this is not something that should be normalized, any of THIS!

BernardoVerda (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Additionally, “If you want to protect your privacy then just don’t connect your smart TV to the internet” isn’t actually a reliable strategy…

— even if you can count on wifi or internet-permissions settings to not mysteriously “reset” on power interruptions, updates, etc, it turns out that, if the putative owner doesn’t set up an approved/designated internet gateway, some smart TV’s will then simply and silently search out other routes to the Internet on its own, which will allow it to exfiltrate the owner’s personal data and viewing history.

Which only serves to prove that “dumb” TVs are the better way to go; you can be sure what the “dumb” TV will actually do — and that it will continue to do so, even if some manufacturer would prefer to alter the deal after the fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Which is a $20 cost for a feature the TV could just have by default.

One could say the same about any feature, which might be how we ended up with “smart TVs”. Adding more than one video input is far from free. For the device Karl is describing, with no speakers or tuner, it might be the whole reason a GUI is needed. You’ve gotta have a way to switch inputs. That probably means a remote control.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

True, to an extent.

I can envision the manufacturer depending on a mesh net, such as Xfinity’s built-in hot spot on their modem/router boxes, whereupon the TV has an Xfinity code baked in that would allow a pass-through, as if it were the renter of that box. But that’s still not likely enough to make it worthwhile to the manufacturer, at least not at this point in time.

So yeah, for the most part, the chances of a TV being made that can search for a wireless router with an open connection is likely greater than zero, I’ll admit. But actually succeeding at establishing that connection? The odds are vanishingly small, seeing as how just about every wireless router sold in the past several years comes with a password by default, and must be consciously disabled by the owner.

Anonymous Coward says:


It is then IMPOSSIBLE for a TV not connected to the internet to violate your privacy in any way 😉

If you don’t believe in wireless communication. Many TVs do have antennas that receive TV signals, and do you really think TV manufacturers will have been the first ones to have figured out bug-free video stream parsing? So, send a bad ATSC signal to compromise some TVs, then have them violate privacy over wifi.

If enough people leave their TVs disconnected, I expect the manufacturers will describe them as problematic “deadbeats” (cf. credit card companies) and add 5G modems to recapture this “market”.

Or, in an alternate reality, privacy-conscious people will import their TVs from Europe or California, after TV manufacturers lose lawsuits related to their privacy laws.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Nice attempt

… at solving the problem from the manufacturer’s point of view, but there still remains one road-block: the setup screen. In order to make your idea work, either on the Internet or via a cell connection, a user will have to enter setup information. And that right there stifles all chance of using a 5G modem or other such communications back-channel – a cell connection must be billable to some subscriber, and you can take it to the bank that it won’t be the manufacturer footing the bill for any such connection. Even at a heavily discounted rate, it would be ruinous to take on that kind of vig.

Can you imagine a stock-holder’s report that says “Line 20 – paid $65,489,231 for cell phone connection fees (5G) that allow us to advertise to set owners”. How long do you think a company would last in the market, if that got out?

But I like your thinking, keep it up!

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ignoring the red herring of a completely unnecessary and in most cases nonexistent “you must setup” screen…

Can you imagine a stock-holder’s report that says “Line 20 – paid $65,489,231 for cell phone connection fees (5G) that allow us to advertise to set owners”.

Yes, I can imagine that. It’s greatly unlikely that a company large enough to issue “stock-holder[sic]” reports would list such a number, but you go, girl.

How long do you think a company would last in the market, if that got out?

Seven. That’s how long I think “a company” would last in “the market” if “that” “got out”. Are you part of the Deep State™?

But I like your thinking, keep it up!

I like your talking. Think it up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

one road-block: the setup screen. In order to make your idea work, either on the Internet or via a cell connection, a user will have to enter setup information. And that right there stifles all chance of using a 5G modem or other such communications back-channel – a cell connection must be billable to some subscriber, and you can take it to the bank that it won’t be the manufacturer footing the bill for any such connection.

Don’t count on that. You must be unfamiliar with the market for “IoT SIM cards” and the like. u-blox, for example, charges 25 cents per month for 500 messages a month. Other companies have released fixed-price wireless modules with higher up-front costs, but no ongoing subscription fees. As soon as a TV maker finds something that will cost less than the advertising revenue it makes, expect to see it.

None of that matters if there’s open or “open” wi-fi around. Every Comcast subscriber, for example, provides a public “Xfinity Wifi” network by default. It needs a password, but you think they wouldn’t let a TV manufacturer use these for a suitable kickback? (Comcast does, after all, have an advertising arm, and taking a percentage instead of a fixed fee could make the math much more attractive to the manufacturer.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

What part of that comment did you not understand? It was about future directions in privacy-invasion, not stuff currently being done. The news stories will come as soon as the costs of data services get low enough, and the number of people not connecting their “smart” TVs gets high enough, that some manufacturer decides to try it.

In other words, it’s science-fiction. For now. But as Max Headroom predicted, a lot can change “15 minutes” into the future, particularly if we’re complacent. Saying “just don’t connect it” is the shortest of short-term solutions, and one that still involves paying some company to violate your privacy (and then hoping against hope that you can prevent them from doing so).

MrEngineer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wow, just WOW!

First, if wifi is NOT connected, then it can’t violate your privacy even if it receives a bad ATSC signal.

This article supports that the “market” for dumb TV’s is much smaller then “smart” tv. So manufactures are not going to spend the money to install a 5g modem for this smaller market of dumb tv users.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

First, if wifi is NOT connected, then it can’t violate your privacy even if it receives a bad ATSC signal.

Uhh, what? If the signal leads to arbitrary code execution, nothing will stop the attacker form enabling wifi. At that point they could, for example, broadcast an SSID like “I’m watching channel 43!” And set it so that anyone connecting to the network gets a copy of the video feed.

Karl Bode (profile) says:


I included this in the piece above but I guess I should elaborate:

Keeping it offline:

–keeps you from getting firmware updates

–increasingly will lock you out of key features by design as a way to mandate you participate in the walled garden ad and data collection party.

–often doesn’t matter anyway because just switching HDMI ports is tied to the terrible smart TV GUI, which lags on load and makes even basic things like switching ports more annoying than they should be

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

increasingly will lock you out of key features

Can you elaborate on these “key features”? The device you advocate for doesn’t really have much in the way of features. And as people have stated elsewhere, should maybe have fewer (e.g., use an external HDMI switching device instead of multiple ports, and there’d be little need for a remote or GUI).

So, what actually-useful “monitorish” functions are the “real” TVs locking people out of?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I’m actually wondering what “key features” are missing without the internet? Could you describe the difference?

No; that’s why I was asking Karl.

All that comes to mind for me is stuff like built-in Netflix support. But the ideal TV as described by Karl would not have such a feature, which rules out this interpretation.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Sorry, that reply didn’t chain correctly.

I can’t think of anything that would require the internet feature wise. If there’s some grand idea here I’m open to listening. But as far as I can tell, there’s nothing lost in using a smart tv off the internet, except for crappy OSs that lag like Windows 2.0

Thing is, unless you’re doing something stupid or crazy…or stupid crazy… you really shouldn’t have an issue even with lag.

MickyN (profile) says:

Dumbed down

I have a 43inch 4K LG TV and I use it exclusively for streaming, Plex, and HD and 4K blurays. I use an AppleTV and Amazon Fire box connected with HDMI though a receiver and then to the TV. Wireless is not enabled on the TV, and I connect an ethernet cable every few months to check for firmware updates, then disconnect. Only content over HDMI is viewed on the system.

I have never used any TV based apps or even know how to navigate around the interface very well. It usually takes me a while to locate the TV remote when I do check for updates.

I am happy with my viewing options and do not miss any of the Sky satellite services and channels that I cancelled in 2011.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Occasional connection

connect an ethernet cable every few months to check for firmware updates, then disconnect

It’s unclear which TVs –if any– do NOT cache the info for release upstream when connectivity exists or as part of the multi-way handshake which includes querying for system or module versions, downloading out-of-rev ones, and deploying them.

I’d love to see a packet capture between the TV and the world during one of those connection events and see what is sent or received.


Clement says:


yeah, you can’t be sure what a Smart TV is recording & sending to the manufacturer & its friends (and it’s probably encrypted anyway)

But for occasional firmware updates, Samsung and others let you download the updates without the TV from their Support website; you then use a USB drive to install update to TV (TV never directly connects to anybody}

One could also do a factory-reset on the Smart TV before letting it grab updates directly ( the reset purges cached data)

Max says:


…apparently Eastern Europe doesn’t really have this problem. Like, at all. Sure, smart TVs are much more numerous than “dumb” ones in stores, but you can still easily walk into any TV shop here and walk right out with a non-smart TV of your choice without any problems. I should know, we HAVE just bought one, “dumb” on purpose. Phillips. Nothing wrong with it. Plain cable, nothing else. It even does live TV “pause” (to USB stick) in spite of it definitely being “dumb”. Then again, it’s not “ten years” we buy these things for – try FIFTY. Me personally I still use A CRT one quite happily – not because I couldn’t get a newer one too, but rather because I don’t see the point. It’s old as dirt. But it works just fine. I have fixed it when the power regulator IC in it literally blew up. It will work presumably just fine for the rest of my life…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’ve never even heard of, much less seen, a CRT capable of common HD resolution.

They were crazy expensive (thousands of dollars), so were never very common. The Sony GDM-FW900 might be the most well-known, and can do up to 2304×1440 (higher than the common 1920×1080 “full HD” resolution). They can sometimes be had, used, for a few hundred dollars now.

Keep in mind that’s a 24-inch computer monitor, not a 60-inch TV. It’s doubtful any TV would’ve been able to do that, because there was no analog TV signal defined for such resolutions.

GHB (profile) says:

Seen these on reddit assholedesign

Some of these reports were ads on the start menu, even more worse when during “normal” use of the TV such as watching or even playing video games on it. Yeah, ads that literally hinder the user from using the TV, as if ads on a website hindering the user from reading the text or clicking on links on the page wasn’t bad enough.

If ads on both of these can hinder the user from normally using something, then I should also worry about malvertisement, since both computer and TVs can be hacked.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If the TV is not connected to the internet, then it can’t download ads to display. Simple.

…and wrong. Probably it won’t, because nobody implemented non-internet support. But ads can be uploaded over the air. Look up the history of datacasting: services like DirectBand and MovieBeam once seem futuristic. Then there’s UpdateTV, “a service used by some brands of TV sets and other ATSC tuners to update their firmware via over-the-air programming […] transmitted on PBS stations via National Datacast”. Or the still-running radio datacasting services, one of which broke Mazda cars earlier this year by uploading unexpected image files.

Anonymous Coward says:

“But that route locks you out of firmware updates, and some TV makers remove functionality if you refuse to participate in their online ecosystem.”

Ran into this. Refused to let them ‘spy’ on my tv habits, so as a result, the Ruko addition to the tv stopped functioning after a week. My solution to that was just to buy a separate Ruko and screw them on their spying.

Karl Bode (profile) says:


the people who tell you “just don’t connect it to the internet!” don’t understand how any of this works. Manufacturers are increasingly making it more and more difficult to do this without losing key functionality.

And also, I keep having to repeat this, but when you tether the HDMI switching to a laggy smart TV GUI that takes forever to load (and gets worse as the hardware ages in relation to software bloat), it DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU KEEP IT OFFLINE.

Gummibando says:

There are actually some options

Sony offers a large number of display-only products, sharing the chassis and display tech with their respective TV counterparts, in its Professional Displays range,.

TVs with Google TV (i.e. the successor to Android TV) offer a basic (= dumb) mode.

German manufacturers LOEWE and Metz, both having their own (very well designed and ad-free) OS, respectively, support their TVs exceptionally long, with Metz even stating the minimum timeframe (many years) for future OS updates.

Gummibando says:

Re: Re:

Yes, weird, I get the same if accessed from the US (I can see the US product page from Europe, for some reason, though).

As an alternative, check out a reseller website, like B&H’s (Commercial Monitors category):

Keep in mind, though, that commercial displays are usually LED and not OLED, b/c durability/ruggedness (for lack of a better term).

But, as an example, Sony’s “J” series pro displays would be equivalent to the 2021 “J” TV model year, including models with direct LED backlight, Dolby Vision support etc.
(2022 MY TV have been announced only recently, Pro Displays are usually introduced a while after the TVs).

TFG says:

Re: Not the lack - it's the hassle

It’s not the lack of it – it’s the lagginess in switching via the TV itself.

Sure – there are relatively cheap HDMI switches that can be purchased, but this misses a specific point:

Why should I need to buy one when the TV can easily offer the exact same functionality by default?

Case in point: I have a Dumb TV. I lucked out, it was part of a Black Friday sale when buying a used car something like five years back from a local dealership.

The TV has no internet connectivity, it’s something like 42″ display, I think it’s LCD. Switching HDMI ports is quick and relatively painless (they have some dumbass menu design, but it’s not laggy).

There’s no need for an extra HDMI switch doohickey because the TV just has the exact, non-lagged functionality built-in. It’s a hassle that shouldn’t exist.

That’s what everybody here is missing – is that this is a hassle that doesn’t need to exist. We shouldn’t need to play games with not letting it connect to the internet, downloading firmware updates to a USB stick, connecting via ethernet every few months, etc. etc. just so we can have a screen to watch things with.

It’s a complaint against the inconvenience brought to our lives by these manufacturers’ greed. We should not need to take these steps or deal with this degraded performance to keep them from spying on us – and I don’t understand what’s so bizarre about this stance that people need to try and poke holes in it.

Anonymous Coward says:

As someone who hasn’t bought a TV in 20 years, since I don’t watch broadcast stuff and PC monitors are better for my gaming experience, so much of this talk just sounds like tech really regressed in that space since I left it. Like, what’s all this about switching HDMI inputs taking any kind of time at all? On the remaining CRTs I own, switching between my retro consoles is literally instant, at the push of a single button on the remote. No onscreen UI to navigate, no operating system. They turn on and display stuff, you press a button to switch between things. No input lag, no delays. Nothing. Just you and the thing you want to see.

Anonymous Coward says:


Like, what’s all this about switching HDMI inputs taking any kind of time at all?

Try connecting another device to your computer monitor. If it’s an LCD, there’s almost certainly gonna be some delay (it’s about 500-1000 ms for me, about as long as a CRT would take to switch resolutions—and a hell of a lot longer than the ~16 ms a CRT would take to switch inputs having the same signal parameters). Don’t be surprised, either, if your monitor’s menu system is shitty in some way.

A lot of LCD monitor manufacturers will flash a logo for a second or two on startup, which is why I’d be reluctant to buy a BenQ or ASUS monitor. My NEC shows the signal much more quickly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dumb LG is A OK for specific use case.

Have a couple of 40″ LG TVs here using a computer monitors and for streaming movies. I do the same switching of HDMI ports between Amazon Prime Internet movie streaming and my internal Lan/WAN study lab. The two LG models I have are 3 to 5 years old and except for the menus for scanning and setting TV Channels ( which as a cord cutter I no longer use 🙂 ) I never see any ” O/S ” of TV adverts which is simply fantastic. They do precisely what I paid good money for: DISPAY PIXELS
…….P E R I O D ………….

Ben Moore says:

Just a few thoughts.

Great article, I really appreciate someone taking the time to acknowledge the hell that is our world with advertisement (many things involve a subscription (the “as a service” model, data, ads or some combination of the three, online surveillance/spying and we can’t escape it unless we resort to workarounds like the Pi thing (yeah no one outside of all of us technical people will spend time doing that, be realistic) or buying expensive equivalents without the spying smart functions that seemingly on purpose, lack all of the features that smart tvs gatekeep, want current HDR support? 4K 120hz? 8K 60hz? (LG QNED 8K), pay us all this money for this display and give us all of your hdmi video data through ACR (automatic content recognition) for us to sell to advertisers or the highest bidders. Sure, you can block a lot of it, but the smart tv still records screenshots of everything it can spy from you in its nand storage chip, overall to deal with this is a lot of unnecessary hassle (factory resetting all settings after a firmware update like with an LG OLED smart tv used as a PC monitor) and adds way more maintenance to something that is supposed to be at the most basic level, a television/media display panel with hdmi inputs and speakers.

I want to say first, I really miss the days of being able to buy a basic and also high quality display and having a choice of if I even want to have all this streaming application garbage shown to me through a device attached through HDMI (the common display connector for televisions). Samsung almost did this with their 4K televisions having that OneConnect kit, an hdmi streaming box basically, that could have been sensibly designed to house ALL of the smart functions, and would have worked just like a Roku or Nvidia Shield. For blu-ray support, they could put a UHD bluray disc drive for people that will use it also, the best all in one solution that is able to connect to any HDMI display and is not e-waste built into the television, I will get into that later.

My privacy respecting idea for it would be, People could buy a new Samsung 4K tv display to get the new streaming kit with it, or buy the new kit separately to use with any old television (or even PC monitor) as long as it had 4k hdmi inputs (I’d say put 2.1 ports on the kits right now, to have backwards compatibility with 4k 60hz older screens), then sell new streaming kits with hdmi 2.5 or 3.0 or whichever they slowly move to). Samsung would have still made money and also given people a choice to buy the tv as just a basic high quality monitor with hdmi inputs and all the latest features like HDR with full array local dimming etc;. The kit could have been designed to need a usb 3.0 connection for supplying power (no need for any AC adapter) and an hdmi connection, much like the new Google TV streaming usb things. How manufacturers are doing it now (building the streaming kit into the televisions and giving no choice) is incredibly wasteful on resources and very much e-waste once they stop software support, and they leverage this control to even remove applications at their arbitrary whims.

To Karl Bode or anyone who can, please bring more awareness by reporting on it getting worse in this link here:

I will just quote the Samsung spokesperson in that article, (meaning they speak for company in the absolute case no nonsense about that person doesn’t represent Samsung’s thoughts, views opinions, etc;, in this case this person does all of that) Samsung spokesperson, Tom Fochetta, said. “It’s important that we don’t overload users with ads because, as a consumer myself, I too get frustrated,” Fochetta said….“Because we own the hardware, we own the service, and own all the targeting and ad tech stack, we have full control over the ad experience.”

Disgraceful. Read what he just said. He said you don’t even own a Samsung television, no, you’re just paying the electricity bills to run it, and paying them a one time rental fee of whatever you paid to get the screen in your home for them to spy on you to steal and sell your viewing/streaming data. It doesn’t matter if its a Black Friday price, full price, sale price, 1000 or more than 2000 dollars for their television screens, these people disgust me and I will continue to never buy any Samsung products ever and neither should you, teach them the only lesson they understand, that will cost them a lot of lost money after abusing customers like this, stop buying all of their products and go to alternatives. Stop enabling their abusive practices by buying their products!

Tom G says:

Smart is the new dumb

It’s been 16 years since i bought my Pioneer 65 Plasma and great surround sound system. But seeing the 4K beauties, I caved and bought a LG 77” CR2 OLED. Of course had to upgrade the old Marantz to a Onkyo that would handle the signal.

That’s when the fun ended. While the tvOS is chocked full of all my favorites, it doesn’t match my Apple TV box with plenty of other services. So I can run the Apple through the Onkyo to the LG and I get all the best surround sound available. However, all that built in tvOS on the LG does not go the other way. The only way (according to two days worth of phone conversations with LG tech) I can hear the content from the “smart TV” (including built in Alexa) is to go with an optical cable (giving up the fidelity of the kick-ass equipment), use the internal speakers, or “buy a sound bar.”

So all those smarts just sit idly dumb. Yes I can switch outputs if I must listen to something on the tvOS, or ask Alexa a question, but what a PITA. Adding insult to injury, I didn’t know Harmony died a painful death. I thought, I can just program macros to switch! Sigh, not any more.

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