Words On Wednesday

2015-12-16 Death of the Dumb TV

Skimming through holiday shopping deals this year, I’ve found that traditional non-smart television sets are a thing of the past.

I have to admit, this trend is far from surprising. In a world of cable-cutters and cable-nevers are more and more common, having streaming services and social media features built-in is tremendously popular and a big selling point. The smart TV can stream Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and more, plus you can browse social media with your remote. For many people, the ability to do all this from a television is indispensable. It’s gotten to the point now that NOT having smart features on a TV automatically classifies a set as second-rate.

For me, this trend is frustrating. Smart TV’s are understandably more expensive than non-smart sets. They do more, they have more software baked in, obviously this costs money. My problem is that I don’t care to have these features. I can stream Netflix with a $35 Chromecast, which I can pop in and out of any HDMI port easily. Social media on a TV? My phone and laptop take care of that already. Keep the “smart” features, just give me a TV with a bunch of ports and I can handle it myself (probably for much cheaper).

Sets below 40” usually do have a pretty decent selection of non-smart options. However, anything smaller than that really isn’t suitable for living room or gaming room purposes. I want something 50” or bigger for the bulk of my entertainment consumption. Why can’t I get those sizes without all the frills and special features? Give me a large screen with good display quality and a decent refresh rate for a reasonable price and I’ll be content.

I’ve written about the plateau of television technology before, and my opinion still remains very much the same. I don’t care about curved or 3D displays. I don’t care about 4K Ultra HD quality, at least not until there is significantly more content available in that quality.

My ideal living room or game room TV would be as follows:

55”+ screen

1080p resolution

60Hz (maybe 120Hz)

3+ HDMI ports

Under $1000

I’m sure that if manufacturers would strip out the Smart features and unnecessary gimmicks, this would be entirely possible. Tom’s Guide lists the “Best Budget HDTV as the Vizio E-Series E55-C1, a 55” set with all the specs I mentioned above, all for about $600 and it STILL has “smart” features. I’m sure they could drop the price even lower than that.

VIZIO E-Series E55-C1 55-Inch 1080p 120Hz FullArray LED Smart TV Link: http://amzn.com/B00SMBFQ7G

Why is this sort of thing not more popular? Manufacturers should be vying for this spot. Huge screen sizes and solid specs without all the fluff for budget prices. There is a huge market for budget Android phones, with OEMs creating tons of $200-$500 phones that don’t have quite the performance or features of top tier devices, but for way less money. We should see a huge variety of non-smart televisions spanning all screen sizes.

Maybe I just don’t see the value of having smart features included in a set. I’m sure consumers who are less tech savvy like having everything already on the TV without purchasing streaming dongles or other such devices. Even still, it seems like there should be enough consumers who want budget options to make this a popular market.

There will continue to be a few budget TV options in larger sizes for those who are willing to dig, but I don’t know if such a category will ever be popular or mainstream again. “Smart TV” has become such a selling point that anything without it is destined to flop with consumers who don’t know any better. The dumb TV is dead, and I’m still mourning at the graveside.

Meta:

Words: 657 | Characters: 3821 | Sentences: 36

Paragraphs: 16 | Reading Level: College Graduate

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