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Buying a Smart TV? Get one that's really smart – Review Geek



  Rear view of a Smart TV with Google Chromecast device connected.
The options for minimizing Smart TV software are currently limited. Google

If you're looking for the days when a TV was just a TV, you're out of luck. Every major TV manufacturer has switched exclusively to "smart" televisions equipped with built-in streaming software that you may or may not want. There is also the problem of privacy and security. If you need to sign in to with another personal account (possibly linked to all your streaming media services) on a TV, this is inherently less secure than an old-fashioned screen. That's before you insert the various streaming accounts, payment systems, software updates or built-in cameras and microphones. There has not been a major attack on Smart TV software at this time, but that does not mean that they are not vulnerable.

Unfortunately, your options are limited if this bothers you. But it might be worth going over the best of the few options you have for security, convenience, or just plain television.

Smart TVs are not so smart

There are many reasons why you might want to avoid the current crop of smart TV sets. One of the most common is that they are "smart", d. H. Far more complex than the old Screen and Tuner variant. They only had to deal with the entrances and image settings.

The reason why almost every TV that is sold now has smart streaming capabilities is that it's cheap and easy to implement. With a few inexpensive parts (which are often shared with low-cost smartphones without a screen and battery), TV makers can turn a "stupid" screen into something that transmits videos from dozens of sources over Wi-Fi. It's so cheap and simple that it seems like the entire industry has switched to smart TV in just a few years.

But cheap and easy is not the same as good. Many of these manufacturers are not necessarily that good at software or interfaces, and hitting some ARM-based guts into a decent screen will not change that. So you can use a now unavoidable interface that looks like a slimmed-down game console, without using the speed or the input consoles.

  Samsung's security details for smart TV cover platform, application and hardware levels.
Do you remember when "TV security" meant closing your front door? Samsung hopes you will not do this. Samsung

There is also the problem of security. Most TVs want you to log in to a new system with a username and password before connecting the accounts of your streaming services. This creates another source of personal security that doubles if your TV or remote contains a microphone. Smart TVs use local Internet connections to update their software and theoretically fix security holes.

However, there is no indication that TV manufacturers take safety seriously in older designs. It has been shown that some brands are vulnerable to hacker attacks. Therefore, Samsung now includes encryption and anti-malware software on its platform.

Connecting a rabbit ear antenna to your old RCA output is no longer a problem. The possibilities to simplify the use of a Smart TV and to minimize the security risks are somewhat limited.

Option 1: Working with Roku or Fire TV Designs

When making recommendations for smart TVs – especially for inexperienced users – the default setting is usually those used on which the Roku TV software is performed. The Fire TV platform from Amazon occupies a close second place. There are mutliple reasons for this.

  The Roku menu on a TCL Smart TV.
TVs with Roku software are simple and offer the most complete app compatibility. TCL

As a manufacturer of stand-alone set-top boxes and the software running on them, Roku and Amazon know how to create good streaming TV interfaces. They also regularly update all their gadgets, including the software on televisions that have badges attached.

Because the Roku and Fire TV platforms are popular in their own right, you can easily find compatible apps for these TVs. they all pull out of the same wide pool. They have all the basic streaming apps (most of them are installed by default), such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and ESPN. Roku offers almost everything, as it does not publish its own video content. It also has access to videos from Amazon and Google, although they are virtually competitors. Soon, Roku will also have access to Apple TV.

These interfaces are available for dozens of TVs from different manufacturers, ranging from a $ 32 worth of 32-inch bargain to a 70-inch Super Bowl mega screen. Regardless of your budget or space requirements, you will find a suitable solution. Here is a list of manufacturers using Roku or Fire TV interfaces instead of their own systems:

Roku:

  • TCL
  • Insignia
  • Sharp
  • Hisense
  • Hitachi
  • RCA
  • Philips
  • Element
  • JVC

Fire TV:

  • Toshiba
  • Insignia
  • Westinghouse

Of course, this does not affect the aforementioned security and privacy issues. Both Roku and Amazon insist that you log in with your account before using the TV. Continue reading to resolve this issue.

Option 2: Ignore the smart interface of your TV.

  The Smart menu of a Vizio Smart TV.
Smart TVs from Vizio, Samsung and LG do not require login. Vizio

The other option is to bypass the smart user interface of your TV, which today is as close as possible to an old-fashioned, "stupid" TV. With LG, Samsung, and Vizio (and possibly other) TVs, you can complete the setup process without connecting to Wi-Fi or signing in to services. If you are disconnected and have not disclosed any information, there is no common security problem.

You'll still need to use the intelligent UI to change input (such as Blu-ray player, game console, cable, TV box, and so on), but that's been too. But what if you want to use streaming services? We recommend using a special streaming device such as a Roku or the excellent NVIDIA Shield. These provide a better, less frustrating streaming experience, and you do not have to manage your TV like a low-power computer.

  A man's hand is holding a phone that is used to play Netflix on a widescreen Smart TV.
With Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra, you can control all streaming media from your phone. Google

Alternatively, you can use a Chromecast as a cost-effective way to manage all your streaming services from your phone. With this $ 35 HDMI device ($ 70 for the 4K Ultra upgrade), you can stream videos or music from most apps on an iPhone or Android phone – no remote control required. Simply set up your TV to open Chromecast by default (most new smart TVs have the option of using a specific or last-used HDMI input by default), and you'll never have to see that cluttered interface again.


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