Ask LH: Why Is My TV Loaded With Features I Don't Care About?

Hey Lifehacker, Why does the tech industry get fixated on things of questionable interest or value? I've never met anyone that truly cares about 3D TV, yet it was all we heard about for a couple of years. Same with Smart TV (Smart TV interfaces are slow and clunky), voice control (useful but not essential) and wearables. I'd rather have a decent Apple TV-style device. Do people really want this stuff? Do people just buy it because it's there? Thanks, TV Overload

TV picture from Shutterstock

Dear TVO,

There are a few different elements at play here:

  • Rampant capitalism Gadget builders want to sell you new gear as often as possible, because that's how they make money. Adding "fresh" features is one obvious way to try and persuade you to part with your cash.
  • Yesterday's must-have is today's standard feature Because technology evolves so rapidly, the period between when something gets added (and justifies a higher price tag) and when it becomes an expected feature is shorter than ever. 3D is a good example. There's not much happening in 3D content generation outside of cinema movies, but 3D display is now pretty much a standard on all but the very cheapest TVs. You may not use it, but nor are you paying a premium for it these days.
  • Not everything works Yeah, some ideas just suck -- but that isn't always evident until the product goes on sale. Sometimes getting the idea right requires persistence and some iffy generations in-between. Smart TVs aren't there yet, but the concept of being able to watch more than just scheduled broadcast content clearly has legs. Primarily, it needs a better interface and a more open approach, not a "buy this TV and be locked to these providers" mentality.

The key thing to remember: you don't have to read about those new options, and you don't have to buy them straight away (unless your current TV stops working altogether). As an individual consumer, you have power over your wallet. Use that power wisely to meet your needs -- and realise they might not be the same as everyone else's needs.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    I will be the first, the FIRST to buy a smart TV that has a dedicated and optimised XBMC client built in from factory.... As long as I can still SSH into it to fix the bits that will inevitably suck.

      If it ever happens, it'll be a bloated, proprietary version packed with branding, advertisements and settings which you can't change. I'd rather just pay a few bucks for a HTPC that can handle DVD, Blue-ray, torrenting, streaming and web browsing all at once.

    I would love for a tv to come with a powerful enough processor and enough ram and support enough large USB HDDs to run XMBC, so i don't need a separate box,

    But yeah 90% of the cool features on my 2012 samsung tv i don't use, its merely a display for XBMC and occasionaly live tv.

    How APPLE haven't realeased a 50-60 inch TV, with a Apple TV built in with the ability to connect wireless devices such as a iPhone/Tablet/Keyboard/Mouse to use as remotes is just beyond me...

    Hell, you could even throw in IMac capabilities...

    A true Computer/Tv for your living room.

    I wonder if they're trying to "outdo" each other in more ways than just picture quality. Kind of like bloatware on a new phone.

    My next TV purchase might be a "smart TV", because of the integration it could provide with my home automation system, so that's a potential reason for loading TVs up to the top with crap

      What sort of automation features do they offer? When I last looked into it (years ago) the best screens for automation were bare-bones pro-grade panels, while most consumer TVs could only be automated using infrared or opening it up and tapping into the wiring directly.

      Some decent home automation features would make me consider upgrading. has an article describing what their remote app can do. The Ninja Sphere (which is what I'll be using for home automation) states that they can do smart TV integration, meaning you should be able to do stuff like "If I walk into the room and it's 6pm, turn on the TV and set it to Channel 10" or even turn it off if nobody is watching it

    All these features are to distract the buyer to the real truth - the product sucks. "Wow, 100Hz motion smoother XRZ with 200HZ backlight jitter control system and Smooth View etc" The only problem is that LCD TV production lines are fundamentally flawed and/or the companies don't care about QA procedures, and we have a sub-par product.

    All that 3D smart TV junk is to attract the attention away from a flawed product and still make you pay megabucks for it.

    Edit: to define 'flawed'. Backlight bleed and uneven screen uniformity will detract massively from the picture, and pretty much every LCD TV has these problems.

    Last edited 14/05/14 11:42 am

      What a load of crap. 1% of the population would know or care of what you are talking about. For everyone else, current TV's are perfectly fine and manufacturers load them with what is termed as "crap" because the majority of consumers will buy it. This is based on lots of sales data. Simple as that.
      Oh and I use the Smart TV option on my TV all the time - having dedicated ABC iView and SBS OnDemand apps are a great convenience.

        Exactly, only a minority of the population would realise that their $4000 top-end Samsung LCD TV with massively uneven backlight in the corners and edges and flashlighting all over the place is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Everyone thinks what an amazing TV they have, but it's a $400 piece of junk unit at the end of the day.

        Customers see the nice and bright LCD image in a store, see all the cool "3D with smooth view for enhanced picture" bullshit plastered over it, and they buy it. At the end of the day, Plasma is the currently best and mature product for actually viewing content - movies and TV.

        iview and sbs catch up wont sell me a tv. they should be standard now

    If only the TV market was like the projector market, picture quality, size and brightness are king - forget all the "features". Admittedly, there are some throw away terms, and 3D is still a novelty, but no smart rubbish - there is no way any TV can offer the ecosystem a $100 puck can offer and it means I can chop and change that puck when I feel like it, not buy a whole new TV! Get the picture right (I'm with you StickMan!), forget about everything else! (Don't get me started on TV audio....)

    Picture quality and size are all that really matters to me.

    UHD is the only new feature I care about because it means even better picture quality (at least from a UHD source) which can be comfortably be watched on a bigger screen.

    TV manufacturers should stop wasting time and money on the lame 3D and smart TV's (Barry's $100 puck is better). Just give us UHD TV with the absolute best video upscaling possible.

    We will need that in Australia, especially now the optical fibre NBN is doomed. There are also the vested interests who will lobby our technologically illiterate politicians to prevent free-to-air broadcast of 4K content.

    At the moment I have no idea which UHD TV's are best at upscaling Australia's dreadful "standard definition" broadcasts. Some reviewers have tested upscaling from 1080p and 720p but none have tested the ability to upscale SD 720x576 broadcast TV.

    Last edited 14/05/14 10:32 pm

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