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Smart TVs aren’t as clever as they think they are

Smart TV

What happens when your favourite app suddenly disappears from your Smart TV? We’ve heard from people who’ve bought Smart TVs, only for their apps to go AWOL after a software update.

There’s a dependability about the good old television.

You can be pretty much certain that a James Bond movie will be shown every Christmas, that Simon Cowell will find some new and lucrative spin on a talent show, and that ITV will cut to commercial at the worst moment during a football match.

But now that TVs have merged with the internet, things are a little different.

The benefits of getting smart

Smart TVs can connect to the internet via wi-fi or a cable, giving you access to a range of apps, such as BBC iPlayer, 4oD, Facebook and more.

Plugging into the internet allows TV makers to do some nifty things. Not only can they launch fancy new apps like the ones mentioned above, they can beam new content over the digital airwaves, and can even allow you to control your TV with a mobile phone app.

All sounds great, huh? Well yes, it is, but there is a downside.

When Smart TV updates go bad

Earlier in the summer, we were contacted by Which? member Dave Arthur who had lost access to BBC iPlayer on his Panasonic TX-L37E30B Smart TV for around six weeks. We contacted Panasonic and helped Mr Arthur sort out the problem. But after featuring the case in Which? magazine, we heard from other members who’d also had problems.

After further investigation, Panasonic found that an update to iPlayer by the BBC had affected some Panasonic Smart TVs and smart Blu-ray players in June this year.

Panasonic and the BBC worked quickly to remedy the situation, but some Panasonic TV owners have recently told us that they’re still having troubles. Anyone still affected should contact Panasonic’s UK support centre for assistance.

Not so Smart TV

What the above case illustrates is that uniting the TV with the internet has brought great benefits, but has also exposed drawbacks. Internet-based services just aren’t as dependable as regulated TV channels.

We recently found that 38% of Smart TV owners regularly use Google Maps on their TVs – and yet most Smart TV makers have stopped offering it as an app. Google Maps’ disappearance could well be down to a change in strategy by Google, rather than the TV makers themselves. However, this further illustrates that smart TV apps aren’t quite as dependable as TV channels, since TV makers are somewhat reliant on the whims of their third-party app developers.

Smart TVs put great services at your fingertips, but you’d expect more to be done to ensure that owners don’t miss the unmissable. After all, there’d be an outcry if BBC1 suddenly disappeared from someone’s TV for six weeks…

If you’re a Smart TV owner, have you been affected by favourite apps going AWOL or other similar issues?

Comments
Guest

I brought a Hitachi 42ins smart tv on the 17 dec 2014, been using the internet ok but now cannot get onto the internet today[21dec] i can get netflix and you tube by the remote control button.

Guest
miss verity says:
17 January 2015

i have an hitachi smart tv it has bbc i player but how do i put itv player on it

Guest

My experience of the ITV player is that its not worth having. Constant freezing and requiring repeated restarts.
4oD and BBCiplayer work faultlessly in comparison.

Guest
miss verity says:
19 January 2015

thanks iv had no issues with bbc player what so ever so is the itv one possible on hitachi?

Guest
miss verity says:
19 January 2015

and was yours hitachi

Guest

Well a lot depends on whether the ITV app is actually available for the Hitachi. If it is you simply download it from the apps available. Your comments suggest that you can’t find it which may mean that it is not available. Hitachi is not one of the most proactive manufacturers for smart TV’s, so you may not have much luck.

Guest
miss verity says:
19 January 2015

thanks how do i find out if it has that ap or not

Guest
Harvey says:
19 January 2015

I have not used a Hitachi TV, mine is a Samsung, but I guess they are similar. When you enter the ” smart” there will be an appstore listing all the apps available. They are not downloaded by default so you need to search through the apps for ITV player and download it. By far the easiest way to get all these functions is to buy a Google chromecast which plugs into a spare HDMI socket and use your tablet / phone etc to stream the players to your set. Chromecast costs around £30, you can also stream Netflix & others the same way. Although I have every TV player on the smart TV, I use the chromecast method the most.

Guest

Reading about all these upgrade problems with SMART TVs has me worried.

When my ‘DUMB’ TV breaks, it looks as though I will have a very limited choice of replacements unless I go SMART.

A quick look at major retailers on the web suggests DUMB is being phased out in favour of SMART.

Contributors here demonstrate a high standard of experience with SMART, so can I ask you all the following question(s)?

If I buy a SMART TV, can I simply disable it’s SMART features and use it as a DUMB TV?