Snippet: Smart TVs Still Suck ☇

Shared on July 10, 2018

Sapna Maheshwari for The New York Times (via Nick Heer):

Still, David Kitchen, a software engineer in London, said he was startled to learn how Samba TV worked after encountering its opt-in screen during a software update on his Sony Bravia set.

The opt-in read: “Interact with your favorite shows. Get recommendations based on the content you love. Connect your devices for exclusive content and special offers. By cleverly recognizing onscreen content, Samba Interactive TV lets you engage with your TV in a whole new way.” […]

“The thing that really struck me was this seems like quite an enormous ask for what seems like a silly, trivial feature,” Mr. Kitchen said. “You appear to opt into a discovery-recommendation service, but what you’re really opting into is pervasive monitoring on your TV.” […]

Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said few people review the fine print in their zeal to set up new televisions. He said the notice should also describe Samba TV’s “device map,” which matches TV content to mobile gadgets, according to a document on its website, and can help the company track users “in their office, in line at the food truck and on the road as they travel.”

With their horrible interfaces, software support that fades after a few years, and just general user hostility, I hate smart TVs. Give me nice picture quality and a few HDMI inputs and I’ll add my own device to stream content (lately, it’s been an Apple TV). If the day comes that I have to replace a TV and it has some sort of smart capabilities, I don’t think I’d be welcoming it onto my home network. The lack of accountability going on behind these sloppy interfaces is maddening.

In case you were wondering about the title, it’s a sequel.

Snippets are posts that share a linked item with a bit of commentary.