/ Technology

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?

dadov2 says:
14 August 2013

Samsung 40″ Smart TV; apps come and go with updates but also whatever has been re-arranged/ favourited/foldered by us gets reset when TV gets an update – so no point in putting nay effort in. Most apps are very basic and I can’t even find the long promised internet browser. Smart TVs are not so smart and I suspect all but the most expensive have been left far behind by phone/tablet etc.


Same with us. We have a 40″ Samsung bought in 2010 and seems more apps are disappearing than new ones being made available. The arrival of the long awaited internet browser would be most welcome as I would like to access ‘BTSport’ online player direct on the tv being a BT Broadband customer, rather than the antiquated method of connecting an ‘HDMI’ cable between p.c. and tv! Even better still if Samsung were to make the ‘BTSport’ app available, but I doubt very much that will happen, or if it does, only on later models. C’mon Samsung, I bought my tv with a view of it lasting me at least the best part of 10 years, so I’ve no mind to go and buy a newer one for quite some time.

Samsuck Teevee says:
11 February 2014

I agree! Smart In Potential or Concept. Bugged in practice. Samsung Smart TV 6 months old is a regret.

My Apps disappear.
Failed App start up – jumps back to main FTA TV show.
Guide is slow to refresh- like all old samsungs ive had in digital age.

Advice: Hold off purchase 18-24 months- this stuff still in 1.0 stage so dont pay to test it for those scumbags who hide behind hard to reach warranty programs and long waits on phone.

PaulTW says:
14 August 2013

I have a new Samsung 37″ Smart TV. Very pleased with it. It is connected to the Internet and regularly updates stuff. I do note however that if the Samsung App Server is inaccessible or is down then the TV “sulks”.

You get an error message saying that the network is not available seemingly indicating that your home network is not working when in fact it is because other devices are working quite normally.

Also, whilst sulking the TV does not allow you to use any of the apps such as BBC iPlayer even though the respective server on the net is fully accessible.

This could be very frustrating to users who only have a TV on their home network with no other devices to allow them to check overall connectivity to the Internet.


I wonder if it is worth building TVs as two components – the display, which might have a lifetime of ten years, and a module with the hardware and software that can be updated or replaced when necessary. That would avoid the need to scrap the whole lot when it becomes difficult to update to achieve the performance of the latest model.

Harvey says:
16 August 2013

I believe that the new Samsung models do just that, a replaceable module that allows you to upgrade the app/ internet features. Also the new Google Chromecast which plugs into a HDMI slot will allow cableless streaming from numerous devices, providing huge flexibility of use.


Thanks Harvey. I will look out for more information.

Xeroxwizard says:
10 March 2018

That is actually going to happen! On the same day that they stop issuing parking tickets………….