Smart TV or set-top box?

By | 05/12/2019

Smart TV SamsungWorld is changing. From linear TVs and renting movies on DVD, we moved to Internet, where we can easily download movie. We no longer buy physical mediums with music, we have streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music. We have YouTube and other video platforms. TV as main source of informations only remains in older or conservative population. What new you want to add to TV devices? As smartphones reinvented mobile phone, smart features are also coming to our TVs – no, they are already here. Our TVs got its own operating system, where we install apps and we are videochatting thanks to microphones and cameras. But let’s look at dark side…

First, look at smartphones. What new you want to add? Bettter cameras? Higher performance? Better displays? All of smartphones’ technology is currently as advanced, as we do not to buy new smartphone every year. Little better camera and higher performance is not a reason to buy a new model and manufacturers know it. Your Samsung Galaxy S8 may be good, but this 2-years old flagship won’t get Android 10, you have to buy a new model. Android 10 is not just about new features, but also about security fixes. With Apple it’s better, my iPhone 6s from 2015 got all updates and it will get all updates till September 2020, when will be released iOS 14, which is unlikely to support iPhone 6s.

With smart TVs, situation is similar. What new to add? We have 4K, HDR, 10-bits colors, OLED panels, etc. Thanks to operating system, we can install many new apps to dramatically increase capabilities of smart TVs. So why to get new TV? It has better display? But I can’t see differencies! Why to get new TV?

Imagine, that you are watching YouTube on your smart TV. After year or two, YouTube stops working, because changes of APIs, so you need to update YouTube app. But when you try it, update can’t be installed, because your smart TV is unsupported. You can’t even upgrade your smart TV’s operating system, because it’s unsupported.

What to do?

Sell your smart TV and get a new one.

This is reason, why to get set-top box like Apple TV or, for tech-savvy users, little computers like Raspberry Pi. Getting a classic TV without smart features and to connect to it a set-top box is a smarter solution, because when your smart set-top box goes out of luck and it’s no longer supported, you don’t have to replace whole TV, which serves well. You only need to replace set-top box. Also, when you replace your non-smart TV for any reason (for example if you want bigger screen), in most cases you can keep your set-top box and to continue enjoying your smart content.

On the other side, most TVs with great displays and big screens are smart TVs. It’s hard to find hi-end TV without smart features, but it’s possible. Though you won’t save much money when you get classic TV in compare to the same (or similar) TV with smart features, with set-top box you have more control and also you are more independent from your TV’s manufacturer. Another fact is security. There are many cases when smart TV spied upon you, mostly via camera and microphone. Having a smart TV permanently connected to Internet is a security risk, especially when after some time no security updates for your smart TV will be available.

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