Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th Aug 2014 16:31 UTC
In the News

Things were looking up in early 2013 for the team behind webOS, a pioneering but star-crossed mobile operating system. After surviving the implosion of Palm and a rocky acquisition by HP, LG stepped in to buy the team. The consumer electronics giant seemed like a white knight with a plan: To make webOS the core of LG's next-generation smart TV platform, and use the brains behind webOS to create a much-needed engine of innovation at LG. To create a unit that was meant to help the company to beat competitors like Samsung with Silicon Valley smarts. A disruptive force.

Eighteen months later, the acquisition looks a lot like a failure.

I wondered why it got so awfully quiet after that CES showing.

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RE[2]: From the comments section
by coreyography on Sat 30th Aug 2014 02:50 UTC in reply to "RE: From the comments section"
coreyography
Member since:
2009-03-06

The key isn't to have an ultra-powerful computer in the TV, but instead to recognize that the TV can offer excellent integration without a heavy duty CPU. It doesn't matter if the CPU can't handle the latest crysis, as long as it offers flawless integration with a game console or computer that does.


I haven't shopped for TVs in the last few years, but my "smart" TV takes close to 10 seconds to give me a picture once powered on, and about 4 or 5 seconds to change channels. Similar lags plague the menus. The last thing I'd want in a smart TV is a low-powered CPU (though common and cheap quad-core ARM SoCs, courtesy of the smartphone market, may make this a moot point).

My other big objection to what passes for smart TVs today is that they come with complex, Internet-facing software that probably no longer gets updated more than a couple of years after the TV hits the market. So, just like wireless routers, they are potentially a security nightmare if people keep them for the normal amount of time people keep TVs. You would have to carefully firewall your TV from the Internet (oh, and don't let anyone use that browser built into it), and possibly the rest of your home network as well in case it gets turned into a bot.

And finally, some things, as others have alluded to, are better left simple. KISS principle and all that.

What's my Luddite view of a truly smart TV? Lots of tech devoted to _giving me a good picture_; quality screen with even backlighting and good contrast and black levels, superb video upscaling, easy-to-use color calibration tools. And FAST response to remote commands.

Convenience features:
* A thumbnail mosaic of what is coming in on every input, sort of a PIP on steroids, so I can select the right one immediately instead of trying each one and waiting.
* A tabular list of channels detected in the last scan, with call-letters and optionally user-defined descriptions of each, so I don't have to go digging for the channel card the cable company gave me everytime I want to watch a more obscure channel.

I also agree with the commenter that said we need smarter remotes. A universal remote, which had preprogrammed codes for other devices (and could be electronically updated with new lists of devices over Bluetooth or USB), as well as learning capabilities for oddball devices is something I'd pay extra for as opposed to buying a Logitech Harmony or something.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

coreyography,

Firstly, your post, though critical, was highly constructive. I thank you for that since it seems hard to get past the basic negative perceptions. All of your points are valid. If I were developing a smart tv, I'd want you on the team to make the product better ;)

Many of the problems will get ironed out as the industry matures and smart tv manufacturers compete on the quality of their implementations. It will get better - I just hope the end-game converges on open standards rather than proprietary ones since open technologies offer the most choice and foster the most innovation.

Reply Parent Score: 5

blueX Member since:
2014-02-10

coreyography,
Many of the problems will get ironed out as the industry matures and smart tv manufacturers compete on the quality of their implementations. It will get better - I just hope the end-game converges on open standards rather than proprietary ones since open technologies offer the most choice and foster the most innovation.


I have seen smart TV's and seen that they can work well in cases, though bad apps (takes 2-3minutes to load the app) or broken apps (crashes somewhere between the start and the end of the movie and you have to restart and try to figure out where you were, often 2-3 times per movie) ruins the experience today.

I support "dumb" screens plus a dedicated box. Samsung/LG/etc competes over who can put the most in a box, but they still need to keep costs down. User experience? Things might work, if you're willing to wait for it. Kinda like the old, slow DVD/BD players. Sure, newer players is faster and especially DVD's loads almost instantly. But this is a display, a TV. It will never get faster, and paying $40 for a DVD/BD-player is still not the same as paying $1000 for a TV. Yes, people that pay ~$1000 for their TV is not the same people that pay upwards of $5000 for it, and those on the high end would probably invest more in the player connected to it.

My point is that to most, it would make a lot more sense to have a good screen and have a box they could switch out. And unless you could replace the motherboard of a TV in a "PCMCIA style", this would make a very costly investment become obsolete way too early. Just looking at software updates in the world of tech today makes this a dream. Not even a standard platform could keep TV's up to date (just look at android and even updates installed on users windows computers).

I can vote for a common standard like a notification system or something like you proposed, like letting people know what is happening in their home and messages from incoming "sources". Also ajusting lights, airconditioning, sunscreens, locking/unlocking the front door... Useful cases, but only if the TV worked as an interface for those functions. If I bought a "cheap" TV and it took me 5minutes to unlock the front door or if I requested a song to be played and nothing happened, until 20minutes later the system came out of a hang...

On another note, with Microsoft and the smart-device stuff, the last thing I hope is Windows "Home-Device-Server" to become the standard of home automation. I've used Microsoft and Windows products all my life since DOS/W3.11, and I believe if MS gets the key to all those switches, we're doomed ;)

Sure, TV's should be smarter regarding IO to/from other devices, but I don't think it should be as "smart" as you propose =)

Reply Parent Score: 1