Friday, November 25, 2011

Smart TV is really dumb

A friend of mine asked me to help him buy a tv this week. We went to Best Buy and to Costco to learn what we could and find the right choice in his budget. After talking with people and looking at the various choices, we settled on an LG tv from costco.

We talked with an incredibly informative guy at costco who had great information on all of the TV's, but he was partial to LG's. He made a big deal about LG Apps and how there were tons of them etc. It made absolutely zero impact on our purchase decision, but after we got it home we decided to set it up and see what these apps were all about.

My friend has more patience than I do. I wouldn't have spent any time, but he wanted to know what he had purchased so he spent time going through their app store and this is what he found:

Having Netflix on the TV is pretty cool. You can turn the tv on, select Netflix and be watching something. Netflix + a smart tv rocks for its simplicity. Vudu is a cool idea, but seems kinda expensive ($6 to watch a new release in HD?) and at those prices has little chance of unseating redbox for blu-ray rentals.

Everything else, EVERYTHING, was colossally stupid. Do you want to get on Facebook on your tv? And type things in using a remote control? Yeah, didn't think so.

App after app was poorly executed and hampered by the interface of a remote control. Some things would want a bunch of information and then say "this is not available in your region" despite the fact that you set the region with the tv. At one point we got the error shown above when he was trying something. Gotta love it when a tv can crash and throw a .NET exception...

At the end of the day, "Smart TV" is really, really dumb. I like having Netflix built in, but otherwise I wouldn't spend a single penny to get a tv with apps over a tv without them.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

TV Experiment 2.0

A couple of years ago we pulled the plug on the tv for the month of November. It was a great month. I read more than I had in the six months prior, listened to more music and found that life was just better. The kids discovered other hobbies and passions, and by and large it was a good thing.

Last time we did it we wanted to see what life was like with no television at all. It was good. This time around our plan is a little different. DirecTV is gone indefinitely. Don't know when we will turn it back on, if ever. It's not that I don't like the programming, I enjoy it immensely, and that's the problem. It's too easy to spend your life in front of the tv keeping current with Falling Skies, American Restoration, Pawn Stars, Top Shot, etc. All of those are really good shows, but they make themselves more important than they should be by always being on.

So the rules this time: No TV at all Monday through Thursday. Friday we may throw a movie on if we want to do a family movie night but otherwise no TV. We haven't decided about the weekends, but Jacob is lobbying hard for a little video game time, and we might work that in.

The interesting thing about it is that our kids were excited about it this time.

Good times ahead!