/ 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?

Comments
Guest
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.

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Guest

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.

Guest
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.

Guest
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.

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Guest

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.

Guest
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.

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Guest

Thanks Harvey. I will look out for more information.

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Guest

My Sony TV is 3 years old; the only updates have been to solve bugs. certainly no new features/apps.

As posted already, TV’s need to really be a computer bit (standard windows/linux/os) that can be easily updated with new generic software and the display that might need proprietary firmware updates.

Guest

I got my Samsung UE40D6530WK tv in feb 2012 and had months of problems getting BBC iplayer ITV player ,updates etc all supposedly available with this tv. Samsung were useless, one person said one thing another something else.Patronising emails. Forum sites told of many horror problems and dreadful customer care. I even got John Lewis involved as they sold me the tv, they too were confused at first but great in the end.

Eventually ITV player popped up one day (Samsung had recently said, it will never be available on this tv!) So in the end I got there now have them all.

Can’t believe Which ? can give ‘Best Buy status to ‘Smart tv’s with only iplayer! It’s not exactly new technology is it.

Up-dating of everything should be automatic by internet. Had to use a usb stick for one update. All too complicated for folk who just want to watch their tv.

Manufactures, who ever they are and retailers need to get their act together.

Guest
Dave says:
27 August 2013

I have owned a Panasonic TX-L32DT30B smart TV for approximately 18 months but the BBC iPlayer has never worked properly. At best, every few minutes, the programme will re-buffer. Often the programme is unwatchable. My average broadband download speed is approx. 14-15Mb/s. Recently I bought the Humax HDR-FOX T2 PVR and BBC iPlayer has to date worked fine. I have read there is an issue with iPlayer on Panasonic TVs. If Humax can get it right why can’t Panasonic?

Guest

I had an identical problem with my series 6 Samsung SmartTV. Samsung told me my wifi router needed to be within 10 ft. of the TV to avoid buffering!
I invested £25 in a Power-line Adapter kit. It routes your broadband signal from the router to any power socket in the house. You then plug the adapter into the nearest socket to the TV (or TV top-up box or PC) and connect it with an Ethernet cable (wifi versions are also available). Much neater than extension cables or moving my main incoming telephone socket to get the router nearer to the TV.

Guest
Robert says:
30 August 2013

I have a samsung ue37es6300 smart tv. Have been very happy with it, but recently the lovefilm app stopped working. It demands that the tv firmware be updated, which i did, but afterwards it continues with the same demand whilst the tv tells me that it is running the latest firmware…I have not found any help on the subject so far…

Guest
Ian Morgan says:
20 September 2013

I have a Samsung STB-E7500M smart PVR. When bought, it had an ITV and Channel 4 app.

They vanished after an update and Samsung have been no help.

Also, it advertised that you could watch live tv on a remote device on the same network.
This is not true. An update disabled this ‘for copyright reasons’.

Also, one would think you could use a Samsung device on the same network to watch content recorded on the device. Also not possible.

My Samsung Smart TV in another room has all the apps fine, so it’s just the PVR that’s the problem.

Guest
Robert Morris says:
21 September 2013

I recently installed a Samsung UE22F5400. It is light. It has a small foot print. The picture is bright. The teletext is responsive. It was cheap compared with its predecessor.The sound is good enough. The programme guide is adequate. The handset has some minor problems.

I have linked the DVD – I had to buy a new connector. I can play recordings made earlier on the PVR, but I can’t record on it without a rigmarole I can barely understand and which in the light of comments on this page I am disinclined to follow. So I can’t timeshift and record for latter viewing interesting items from the corners of the schedules as I used to. I can see no way to link the VCR – surely there’s a market for a device to allow access to this material?

The E-Manual is in my view almost unusable for those who do not intuitively assimilate the information provided in such short chunks. I downloaded a two hundred page text and that is amazing. Connoisseurs of the unnecessarily complex should sample it. The device does everything except cook breakfast and allow off air recording.

A fourteen-year old would love this gadget, for a while, but it looks very much like a product which just misses its niche.

Guest
clive johnson says:
20 October 2013

My 2013 LG 42LN575V Smart TV has trouble navigating between applications on the Smart menu page. LG staff have suggested all sort of remedies (mainly blaming other components) but have not been able to effect a cure. For example, they claimed that my brand new hi-tech router at about 12 feet was too far away, but when I moved it to 8 feet it produced no improvement.
Previously the remote control was not responded to properly; this was replaced and the new one is much better but still not 100%.I’m still waiting for cutomer services to come back to me again.

Guest
Brenda says:
4 May 2014

Hitachi 42inch smart tv, turned on and it has lost bbc iplayer please help

Guest
Keith Boothroyd says:
6 May 2014

I had a Hitachi 40HTX16U smart TV. On 4th May 2014 the iplayer vanished from my portal screen, so on 6th May I phoned Argos and told them that because I only had the TV for 5 months that I would like to return it and get my money back. The only reason I bought the TV was for iplayer. The advice I would give anyone with this problem is send it back if it’s less than six months old because the law says that if it not fit for purpose the law is on your side. If enough people return the TVs the manufactures will have to get their act together or go bust.

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Guest

Hi Keith. Thanks for sharing your experience with the Hitachi TV. Could you let us know whether you managed to secure a refund for the TV after contacting Argos? Thanks, Andrew

Guest
Keith Boothroyd says:
7 May 2014

Yes the TV was collected today and I should have got my refund from Argos. Because I paid for in the January with my credit card I also had extra protection from the credit card company. Because It was less than 6 months old, the law says that Argos have to prove that it is my fault under the sale of goods act. The problem is with SmarTVue the provider of the apps. So Argos was happy to give me a refund. I think that smarTVue (Hitachi) are trying to save money by removing iPlayer and replacing it with a Internet browser. However When I tried using the browser it was slow and the on screen [V] key produced a letter “X”, It took me one hour to get to iPlayer online then it would not run on the browser. I was glad to see the TV go.

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Guest

Hi Keith, thanks for the extra information. This is a really interesting issue. We are going to contact your via email to discuss your story further. Hope that is OK. All the best, Andrew

Guest
Harvey says:
7 May 2014

The issue of apps going missing is neither unusual or necessarily a set problem. If iPlayer has gone AWOL, then try to re-install it. It may be that a BBC upgrade has made it incompatible with the set until a manufacturer software upgrade is issued. With regard to Google maps, the reason it disappeared was down to Google no longer supporting it, it was not down to the set manufacturers.

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Guest

Our LG Smart TV bought 18/07/2012. Recently was subjected to a software update (which is not in itself unusual). However on completion of the update, we were presented with a request to READ and AGREE to new legal documents:-

1) TV USER Doc, which we duly agreed with
2) Privacy Policy Doc, which we certainly do not agree with,

The latter allows LGE and its affiliates, subsidiaries and suppliers from around the world, complete access to everything and anything that the TV is used for: Personal and non-personal information, All programme viewing/control data, Devices connected,(this could be your computer with perhaps sensitive files) voice control info (Voice print)etc etc. Since we had to register with LGE to receive regular software updates they can tie all the above data directly to us. If you have one please do not plug in any memory sticks containing sensitive data.

Is it not our inalienable right to privacy? Signing document 2 is tantamount to giving them the same rights as Phone Tappers are jailed for.

Note the Documents relate to TV’s bought in 2012-13 (Apparent reason for issue is, they were/are already collecting the data without permission and got caught). Data sent by WiFi and Ethernet signals unencrypted.

What happens if you do not tick the box?? Well!! many of the applications you have previously enjoyed are suddenly no longer accessible (you cannot open them unless you sign) Would I have bought the set given these conditions? NO.

I do not recall having signed/ticked any boxes regarding any Legal Documents, when I bought the set or when registering the set. However as stated above, the Documents are seemingly attempting to put right an omission on the part of LGE regarding TV’s sold in 2012-13.

I do not wish to appear paranoid but a Smart TV like ours sat silently in the corner of a board room for example, could be recording every word spoken and on the set being activated, send the info directly to LGE’s servers. TV need not be switched on and data collection cannot be detected like a normal bug, since data only transmitted when TV on and interacting with Internet. Of course some TV’s Contain cameras like lap tops for use with Skype etc Ho Dear!

LGE is an absolute giant of a company but I still think we should try and stop them intruding on our lives in this way. Everyone should be made aware of the implications of data loss and who is collecting it. Hummm Keep up the good work Google. We are like children accepting toffee from strangers and not seeing any danger.

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Guest

Note to the Harry post above:

We still do not have access to 3D etc, all blocked until we sign Doc 2.

What can we do that is legal?

PS The TV is excellent in all other respects

Harry

Guest
Terry cliff says:
26 May 2014

Can u add apps to ur TV.

Guest
pete says:
10 June 2014

As of 5th June 2014 many Sony 2010 Smart TV’s have lost access to BBC iPLAYER yet little appears to have been done it by either Organisation. It should not take so long to resolve such issues. It indicates how poorly Smart TV’s owners are treated.

Guest
Alison says:
15 June 2014

I agree. We emailed Sony about losing iplayer and have just been told they are aware of the issue and are looking into it. No idea given as to when they expect to resolve this. Very frustrating as we use iplayer a lot.

Guest
Pete says:
23 June 2014

This is information for those people who have recently been experiencing problems with BBC iPlayer, on their 2010 model of Sony Smart TV. Sony have just produced a Firmware update (23rd June 2014) to restore iPlayer. It will either be installed automatically on your TV, or you will need to go to Sony Support to obtain the update and do it manually. If you need to do the latter, you will also need a PC, plus a USB drive, Please be aware, manual Firmware updates should only be undertaken if you are sure of what you are doing. Please ensure you read Sony’s instruction and follow them exactly. Sony by the way states a size for the Firmware file but I found it differed from the actual size of the downloaded file. My computer showed the downloaded file to be 36.1 MB.

Guest
ilikecake says:
21 August 2014

I noticed yesterday that there is a notice at the top of the iPlayer screen saying that this version will be discontinued in September. The FAQs say that it is an out of date system, not worth licence payers money to update. I have three Sony smart TVs, and I am not happy.

Guest
ilikecake says:
26 September 2014

iPlayer is now working again. It’s a new version, which navigates more slowly, presumably being designed for newer and smarter TVs, but at least it is back. I had to refresh the internet content to access it. I got the tip from a Sony forum.

Guest

Hey i need some help, today all day i was watching in bbc iplayer some shows in my Hitachi 50inch Smart TV but now it show black screen with white line and cant access any SMARTVUE apps! Dont know whats wrong?

Guest
Martyn B says:
7 October 2014

We’ve lost BBC iPlayer on our Philips 37″ Smart TV. Went to access it after Sept 3rd channel update and received message ” No longer supported by this device”” What ?? Thought there was something wrong with the set up so went to reinstall and then all **** went loose ending up having to send TV back to Philips to unlock the installation!! Now back with us and still receiving same message with a URL to follow up
http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/tv/ways_to_get_iplayer

Have a look and see if your set is listed
We now have an UNSMART SMART TV !! Thanks BBC !!! Now we have to pay extra for BT Vision, YouView or whatever or go back to recording. Is there some collusion between all these parties ?

Guest
Jamie says:
16 December 2014

hi brought a 50inch hitachi smart TV couple of weeks ago read the booklet there’s a couple of pages talking about Skype yet there’s no app for it and can’t download it and if I remember it also says on the box when you buy it so there’s false advertising really disappointed I think hitachi and smartvue need to sort it out and send out an update which allows people to download apps and get what they paid for really feel like I’ve wasted my money on a smart TV as I haven’t really bothered with the Internet side of it as I find my smart phone works a thousand times better might take it back get a refund and get a normal tv really disappointed with hitachi

Guest
Softip says:
29 December 2014

Hi
I had the same tv and had the problem. Please contact hitachi support at argos and they will sort out.

Regards

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

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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.

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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?

Guest
Harvey says:
3 February 2015

Yes you can, if you do not want the smart functionality, you just ignore it and use the TV in the way all TV’s in the past worked
You have to select the smart mode for it to start, if you don’t select it, you won’t see it.

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Guest

Most people who buy a smart TV will want to retain the full functionality for as long as they own the TV. Most of us will be familiar with updating the operating system on our phones and computers and it is often very easy to do. At some stage in the life of the TV, a hardware update may be needed. As long the TV has been designed to make this possible, it could be as easy as putting more RAM in a computer or phone.

Car manufacturers have decided that we don’t need spare wheels, with little thought for the consequences. TV manufacturers have not given enough thought to how we can keep their smart TVs working. It’s time for consumers to put on the pressure on both the retailers and the manufacturers.

Guest
Hitachi smart TV says:
20 July 2015

Turned on our quite new Hitachi Smart TV pressed the browser button- top left, to use Iplayer as normal. I know get, a believed to be Turkish login page! Please help

Guest
colin says:
5 August 2015

hi just bought a Samsung 48 inch smart television u h d love it the problem is Samsung as selling these televisions with not all the soft ware in them..
so there is no I player and demand all it says its coming soon how long is soon ive had it
five weeks now
got a good mind to ring the shop up and they take it back

Guest
green says:
6 November 2015

I bought a smart telly so why cant i get itv player

Guest
Mark Jamieson says:
25 March 2016

Hundreds of thousands of families throughout the World use Skype TV to stay in touch with their loved ones.
Why is Microsoft withdrawing Support for Skype TV and TV MANUFACTURERS lead by Samsung going to remove the Skype TV App in June? Microsoft state the Skype App will still function so why remove it and alienate everyone?
http://community.skype.com/t5/Skype-on-your-TV/Skype-on-Samsung-Smart-TV-Discontinued-2-June-2016/td-p/4320126/page/2

Guest
Reatha says:
7 May 2016

Samsung is stopping their Skype on their smart tvs June this year. does anyone know why?

Guest

For no reason, the BBC iplayer app has gone off my JVC smart TV today (04/01/17) – no reason why.

Guest
Brian Todd says:
21 January 2017

Purchased Panasonic 40DS500B smart tv 27/12/16. on installation was pleased with amount of apps pre loaded. Suddenly during week ending 21/1/17, ITV hub, 4od, Youtube, All4, Demand 5, plus many more disappeared, There has not been a tv software update, which I have noted from various forums can affect apps. I’m currently awaiting a response from Panasonic. Are there any gurus out there who can solve my problem??
I am more than satisfied with the tv in general.

Guest
Karen Bridges says:
27 June 2017

We have a Samsung smart TV and have recently lost the bbc iplayer which we use frequently. Not sure what we can do to get the app back ?

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Guest

Get a Roku box Karen as your apps arent going to return as the TV gets older they arent dear. And yes- the UK version supports iPlayer just make sure its a UK version NOT a US version so dont buy off a US website .