I don’t think there are any modern TVs that don’t have some kind of smart functionality. But you can just not connect them to the Internet if you’re worried about them phoning home or whatever and if you don’t want them doing any image processing most TVs will have some way of putting them in to PC mode which disables all but the most basic processing and gives you full RGB support.
An additional concern, which I briefly mentioned elsewhere is that there are some TVs now which have cameras and do face tracking.
One TV I remember seeing somewhere, had UI/menu descriptions claiming that the face tracking was to notify children that they are sitting too close to the screen.
More concerning however, was that there was another setting that toggled something about transferring face-detection related data to another device. I know it sounds absurd, but I am fairly certain that is what it said; unfortunately, I cannot remember what model or even brand it was.
Aside from the general creepiness, I do not know what other device would be consuming these data, or how it would be able to receive it; an abuse of HDMI ARC, or maybe requiring Ethernet-containing HDMI cables? Maybe it would literally broadcast over LAN?
I don’t think anything has ever used HDMI Ethernet, it never really made sense and it never took off. HDMI CEC maybe but I doubt it. If it was sending data to other devices it would be over LAN or more likely via a server. Unless its not sending actual face data and just using that to control another device then it will use CEC, which you can disable if it’s a problem.
Don’t connect it to the network if you’re worried and don’t buy a TV with a camera if you don’t need the functionality.
Annoyingly though, more and more TVs are doing away with 3.5mm jacks. It’s frustrating when they do it on phones but on something the size of a TV?!
I wish it was that easy but when Amazon sells devices without microphones, that magically have one added via a firmware update… it does make you wonder whether you can trust a single word any company with a revenue stream from advertising says to you.
It would be so bad if you could just cover the thing up but call me paranoid… but with the advent of phones with cameras under the screen itself, it’s only a matter of time before the same happens with TVs so that you can’t cover them up and so that they can track and monetise you.
I Just want to add that anyone that thinks that simply not connecting a newer smart TV will protect your privacy, any new TV that supports Amazon’s Sidewalk technology will be able to connect to a mesh network of devices such as your neighbors Alexa, up to half a mile away to get access to the internet. What exactly such a TV can do with this mesh network is up to our imagination but I’m not a fan of the implications.
Is there any reason for non smart. You don’t have to generally hook them to the internet.
I guess that’s another deal breaker “feature” I’ll have to add to the list.
I recently was at an Electronics Store for something else, but was wondering about non-smart TVs, as ours is slowly giving up and it’s just too old to be worth fixing.
The sales guy from the TV section’s reply was whether I wanted to check out the great behind-the-panel speakers on the Samsung QLED TVs. Took me a bit to get him to understand I was serious.
Personally, I’d be fine with the possibility of a Smart TV trying to communicate if I lived in suburbia, in that case it would at least be fairly easy to spot. But unfortunately, we have around 20 neighbours with all kinds of smart devices around us (apartment building), so there is a huge potential for smart devices leaking information.
At a different electronics store, I was trying to find a Power Consumption Metering Device which I could plug inbetween Server Rack / Outlet. The Reply: They only had the Google Home enabled one’s which were fairly cheap and the Alexa one’s for a little more.
It’s pretty annoying to not be able to buy anything non-smart, because it seems that more and more the cheaper, but data-harvesting devices just take over the market as non-smart products have it hard to compete in pricing.
And ironically enough, the only place where I can find non-smart variants of certain devices, are Amazon and the like, so they get my data anyways.
Is this a thing anymore? Even people who watch live TV do so via a satellite or cable box. Those set top boxes contain at least as sophisticated smart features as are on the high end smart TVs, and the death of the CRT resulted in the space available for TV speakers being reduced to the point of being ubiquitously terrible. When CRTs were the norm I didn’t know anyone who bothered with external speakers, while now everyone seems to have an AV receiver, satellite speakers or a soundbar at the very least.
I think smart TVs are a solution in search of a problem and tbh now more than ever people just need a dumb display with an HDMI attached.
Edit: I’m not sure how Nvidia defines “BFDs”, but I like the general idea, and tbh something like this actually seems quite good value https://www.amazon.co.uk/Philips-436M6VBPAB-00-Momentum-Ambiglow/dp/B07CRW3V31/ref=psdc_428652031_t1_B075NPRFGN
The 40" range is about all I would want for a TV given the size of my living room, and this is actually an OK price imo
That requires a repeating subscription, whereas OTA is free, and unencrypted. Not everyone is willing to pay for cable service, especially if he/she watches irregularly.
For such a person, the alternative to a TV without a builtin tuner would be to buy a separate tuner PCIe card to use in existing or newly purchased machine, which opening the possibility to using something like MythTV and its ad-skipping features, is much more of a hassle, again, especially if you watch irregularly.
OTA reception without a smart TV is the most private way to watch anything, and I think it will be a shame if that becomes the sole domain of people willing to configure their own MythTV and tuner installations.
Vizio used to sell quite dumb TVs but not anymore. Best you could do is to use a smart TV and never connect it. In theory the stupid ads are kinda adding a discount to the overall price and a panel would be more expensive as its mainly directed towards digital signage. I also expect those panels to have shitty refresh rate and resolution.
I wonder if this is something you could arrange through a Massdrop-style pooled purchase.… I maps that is dependent on:
Is a good quality non-smart TV something that categorically does not exist,
or is good quality non-smart TV merely something that is no longer sold to consumers?
Dumb TVs is not a fight I would chose. It is a lost battle. Normies will look at you and wonder why you want something that is considered obsolete.
On the other hand, if we could influence a vendor to release TVs whose SBC is hackable and the firmware could be replaced that would make a popular thing. Normies would like the idea because they can replace the firmware for something that has more advanced hobbyist stuff.
Think OpenWRT for TVs.
This is honestly something I’ve been looking into as well…
Our current TV does still work, but is quite old by now.
We don’t have a tv subscription (and don’t want one), so it is only for use with the Switch and as a 3rd monitor for the pc for when we’re streaming something.
But I’d also rather get a regular monitor and buy speakers (because built in monitors just have crappy audio…) than get a “real” tv.
Finding something does seem quite hard though.
And we don’t even have a very demanding list of things we need. We don’t have space for something larger than we have now (43") and don’t feel any need for a 4K display even (our current one is 1080p, which is perfect for the stuff we watch).
I’d also rather pay more for something which isn’t reliant on running spyware and would need an active connection to use for Plex (off of our NAS). But it is damned hard to find something like that. >__<
I have been thinking about this issue before and it seems to be getting more and more hopeless. A monitor would a good option but they are really expensive, but TV’s are just infected with stupid smart menus that come up when you turn it on and constant nagging if they can’t get online. Luckily for now I have a TV from 2014 that when not connected, is just like any dumb device. I hope it lasts forever.
If price was no issue I would probably get a ~50" monitor and an htpc with a tv tuner and remote, and a media box for streaming or whatever features you might want.
More realistically I’d have to find a cheap TV where most of those smart features can be either disabled or hidden away when not connected and just never let it online, again using a separate box for that purpose.
I would love to utilize the kde plasma bigscreen project for something like this as well someday, when it’s more mature. https://plasma-bigscreen.org/
I know, I just don’t know anyone who uses it irl. Maybe it’s different in the UK because we have to pay our protection money to the BBC regardless most people figure they may as well pay a subscription too.
I had not heard of that before; how does it compare to something like XBMC/Kodi?
i like Samsung TU7000
To be fair that does sound like a really non-smart design.
Samsung is clearly marketing that model as a Smart TV; specs section says it runs Tizen and works with Alexa and Google assistant.
That seems less likely to me, I imagine it would be far easier to convince a notable fraction of all users (i.e. sufficient purchasing power) of the benefits of a non-smart TV rather than the benefits of user-replaceable firmware. Technical users might be more in favour of the latter, but the former is a concept that I think far more non-technical users would appreciate.
Maybe you could pull this off by focusing on repairability, where the open or more-open firmware is a side effect of an overall improvement in repairability/longevity, as with the Fairphone or Framework’s laptop, but even with that, software longevity issues are less of a problem with TVs because at worst you can just plug in a separate device that is better than the built-in Android/Tizen/etc. TV platform.
As I see it,
- the path of least resistance to “fix” a bad/outdated Smart TV platform is to plug in a separate device, or buy a whole new Smart TV
- the path of least resistance to “customise” a Smart TV is also to plug in a separate device (ex: Pi)
- the path of least resistance to be private is to never connect the Smart TV to internet
- the path of greatest privacy is to buy a monitor or projector instead
None of these are good for a less-technical user. For 1-3 such a user could easily have trouble finding network settings, especially if an someone else handled the initial setup or a setup “wizard” was used. Maybe the installer connected it via Ethernet, and the user has forgotten. For 1 or 2, even technical user might forget that years ago the TV was given the WiFi password.
A Smart TV (especially one installed by a third party, or one in a family or otherwise shared dwelling) has significant chance of accidentally being connected or left connected, and leaving the user or users subject to ad-based or exploit-based snooping, the latter especially once the software is no longer being updated.
As @Klingon00 mentioned, Amazon Sidewalk et al. adds another backchannel that one could forget to disable. In more theoretical land, maybe HDMI+Ethernet could let a Roku/PS_/Xbox share its network connection with a TV?
Summary: A non-smart TV could appeal to wider audience of both technical and non-technical users with privacy concerns.
All that said, I am enough of a pessimist to admit that you could be right,
but in that case, for the reasons stated above, I believe an open hardware TV is just as if not more a lost battle.
If there is no hope for non-smart TVs, then I am of the opinion that nothing can really be done for the average user; we will be forced have to leave them to the tender mercies of advertisers and tracking aggregators.
I am all for the reverse engineering of existing TVs, but I doubt this will help the average user concerned about privacy, or be sufficiently widespread to make a difference.
If the aforementioned really is unavoidably our fate, we should retreat to the relative safety of computer monitors and make a better stand against “smart” infiltration there.
While researching for this post, I did find a small bit of reverse engineering someone did, but ironically, this was done on a non-smart TV: