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posted by janrinok on Sunday April 17 2022, @02:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-connect-them-to-anything dept.

https://www.techdirt.com/2022/04/14/its-still-stupidly-ridiculously-difficult-to-buy-a-dumb-tv/

Historically, "smart" TVs aren't always particularly smart. They've routinely been shown to have lax security and privacy standards. They also routinely feature embedded OS systems that don't age well, aren't always well designed, don't perform particularly well over time, are slathered with ads, and are usually worse than most third-party game streaming devices or video game consoles.

Yet when if you go shopping for "dumb" televisions — as in just a high quality display with a bunch of HDMI ports and not much else, you're usually going to be out of luck. There are options, but guides on this front will usually shovel you toward computer monitors (too pricey at large sizes), or business-class displays (ditto).

[...] Of course it's challenging because TV manufacturers now make more money collecting and monetizing your personal data than they do selling the actual hardware. Last year Vizio noted it made $38.4 million in one quarter just from tracking and monetizing consumer viewing and usage data. It made $48.2 million on hardware (which also includes soundbars, and other products) in that same period.


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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by RS3 on Sunday April 17 2022, @02:53AM (9 children)

    by RS3 (6367) on Sunday April 17 2022, @02:53AM (#1237604)

    I've wondered the same thing. Perhaps you can give the TV a static IP address- one which won't route on a local network?

    Or maybe open it up and look for a WiFi antenna and snippy snippy. To be clear, it's likely a dielectric resonator antenna soldered onto a board, but still quite removable.

    Or you could set up a dummy WiFi router- one not connected to the 'net. Then your real router (gateway) turn off SSID broadcast, disable any guest access, and maybe if possible block all but a few allowable MAC addresses?

    My solution: keep older TVs.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 17 2022, @04:25AM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 17 2022, @04:25AM (#1237631)

    1) Any TV that does wifi scanning when it can't phone home is already overriding whatever settings you gave it.
    2) Voids warranty.
    3) See 1.
    4) If you have a working older TV then you weren't in the market in the first place.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Sunday April 17 2022, @05:11AM (7 children)

      by RS3 (6367) on Sunday April 17 2022, @05:11AM (#1237645)

      1) Might be in violation of federal laws against computer / network hacking.
      2) How long are warranties these days? And how many things actually break during that short time? And how much do you pay for warranty service? Shipping both ways, fees, more fees?
      3) ?
      4) Maybe I want a newer, larger, more features, so maybe I _am_ in the market.
      5) If someone has a non-working non-smart TV, how about fixing it?

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 17 2022, @07:52AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 17 2022, @07:52AM (#1237679)

        1) Tell Google TV's that. The ones I've seen do an 'automatic configuration' on power-up that will connect to the first wifi they find that has internet access so they can phone home. It's a 'feature'.
        2) Long enough to cover the 'infant mortality' part of the bathtub curve. The catch is, you need to power the thing on to find out if it works or not.
        3) If the dummy router doesn't give it internet access then it will keep scanning, per 1).
        4) Your solution was to keep the old TV. That takes you out of the market.
        5) Depending on whats wrong with it then good luck getting parts, and good luck getting to the bad part without breaking something else.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Sunday April 17 2022, @10:55AM (2 children)

          by RS3 (6367) on Sunday April 17 2022, @10:55AM (#1237689)

          1) Yes, for now. You may not have noticed, but generally people disregard the law until prosecuted. Also, then make Faraday cage around TV room.
          2) So power it on. Who cares? Disable antenna after some short time, days. Time is a thing, right? It's over long time that most people will want spying to stop.
          3) True, so see my 1. (I know, Faraday cage isn't actually practical; I'm just saying if you're properly determined, it can be done.)
          4) Specious argument. You didn't read: I said I'm in the market for another TV. Disputing that is borderline absurd and simply argumentative. I'm in USA. If I want to buy another TV, it's my right and choice. Maybe you're in a country which limits your purchasing?
          5) Good luck? I've done and do component-level electronic repair most of my life, and that's a pretty good # years. Again, your argument is specious- repair is a thing, and would be more so if people actually desired to keep things. Now they may wish they had done so.

          BTW, where I live there is NO open WiFi available. I won't tell you how I know, but part of it is that I live in outer suburbs, houses are not close together, and as such I'm surprised that I can "see" any neighbor's WiFi signals (1-6 depending). But I realize in some areas dozens of WiFi APs show when I look for them. Rarely open, and even those usually require some kind of website login (stores, libraries, etc.)

          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Reziac on Monday April 18 2022, @03:11AM (1 child)

            by Reziac (2489) on Monday April 18 2022, @03:11AM (#1237833) Homepage

            My solution was more radical... I lost interest in TV, and haven't had one in operation in about 10 years. And they're pretty much making sure I never regain that interest. I like your thoughts about snip-snip.

            Wifi range can be more than you expect. My old ZTE phone can see cars on the highway, about 150 feet away. I have wondered if some of 'em daisy-chain, because they stay on the list a lot longer than I'd expect for a 55mph road.

            --
            And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Monday April 18 2022, @03:52AM

              by RS3 (6367) on Monday April 18 2022, @03:52AM (#1237838)

              Yeah, I watch less and less TV. Nothing intently- it's on in the background when I'm eating and/or reading / browsing the web. Maybe a few bits here and there get my attention.

              In fact, some YouTube vids are far more informative and/or entertaining (anything "fail", or "people are awesome", or "idiots at work"...) :)

              Yes, I know WiFi can go far. I'm more than 200' from my closest neighbor and I used to be able to use free Xfinity WiFi from them. I have a legal login. I did use a particularly powerful USB WiFi adapter, and I had to orient it fairly carefully, but got good solid reception until ComunistCast shut it down. They're an elderly couple, I doubt they use much Internet, and I really never did- just light browsing, so it was invisible to their bandwidth. In fact, the distance made the signal weak enough that I maybe got 10 Mbit on a really good day, but usually 2-4, which is more than enough.

              Just with phones and laptops I see at least 6 WiFi spots, and they're all more than 200' away.

              And then you have the high-gain antennas... which a friend first made one (Yagi, fiberglass rod, copper elements), but then he bought a flat-panel array, maybe 6" square, and it blows the Yag away. Again, he has full permission and login to share from his neighbor.

              Hmm, I kind of doubt daisy-chaining. But I don't know. Something would be working in repeater mode I guess. That or the system just stays locked once it gets lock, until the signal really drops off.

      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Sunday April 17 2022, @08:19PM (2 children)

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Sunday April 17 2022, @08:19PM (#1237757) Homepage Journal

        1) Might be in violation of federal laws against computer / network hacking.

        That's hilarious. Who went to prison over Sony's XCP Trojan? And that was something that worried me when I bought my TV. I screwed up. [mcgrew.info]

        --
        mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
        • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Sunday April 17 2022, @09:39PM

          by RS3 (6367) on Sunday April 17 2022, @09:39PM (#1237774)

          Yeah, I don't know what to say about our (US) legal system. Is "capricious" a good description? (you're the writer, not me!)

          Thanks for that link. 40" CRT? Yikes!! I wasn't aware there was such a thing. I had a broken 36" Mitsubishi. Turned out the CRT had lost vacuum, so I never bothered to try to fix it. The 36" weighed 260 lbs. I know, it had to be weighed where I got rid of it (local recycler).

          Degausser would be very easy repair. It just needed a PTC thermistor- was a moderately common repair in those days. $2 part.

          Also, you can buy a manual / handheld degausser. There are some on ebay, amazon, etc., for $16 or so. Not sure how good they are. I have one of the older bigger loop ones. More $, not sure if they're better or not. Probably will never know nor care.

          Thanks again for the info. And generally you don't need to do a full format on FLASH media. It takes time, and a little bit unnecessary wear on the cells. A quick format is good. And you can run various tests if you're worried about the media. If it's a USB stick there are some simple free utilities. I have one called simply "Flash Drive Tester". SSD manufacturer will have utilities you can download and run, as well as built-in SMART tests and stats.

        • (Score: 5, Informative) by deimtee on Monday April 18 2022, @02:43AM

          by deimtee (3272) on Monday April 18 2022, @02:43AM (#1237827) Journal

          Have you tried one of those thumb drives with a physical write protect switch? Flick the switch and the TV shouldn't be able to screw with it. Something like :
          https://www.kanguru.com/collections/kanguru-usb-drives-with-a-physical-write-protect-switch [kanguru.com]

          --
          If you cough while drinking cheap red wine it really cleans out your sinuses.