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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 anubi on Sunday April 17 2022, @06:08AM (7 children)

    by anubi (2828) on Sunday April 17 2022, @06:08AM (#1237663) Journal

    Exactly what scared the bejeebies out of me when considering new technology. I am so used to being able to fix whatever I brought into my life.

    Stuff has become so proprietary that I can no longer do this.

    I now have to consider stuff like this to be disposable. If it breaks, gotta get another. Like a light bulb, cheap transistor radio, phone, etc.

    I hardly consider a major investment like a car, expensive TV, or major appliance as disposable! Waste of my money to buy expensive to maintain crap, and aren't our landfills overused even as I type this?

    I am driven to seek out older stuff these days. A lot of the new stuff is designed to be a problem-child from the get-go.

    --
    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by RS3 on Sunday April 17 2022, @11:09AM (6 children)

    by RS3 (6367) on Sunday April 17 2022, @11:09AM (#1237690)

    Kindred spirits we are! All of my flat-screen TVs came from "end of driveway". My best 2 are identical 46" Samsung. Brilliant beautiful picture. Both only needed PS caps, which I stock (gee, I wonder why?). Less than 1 hour total repair time from first screw removed to last screw back in.

    I agree about proprietary stuff. Many things fail due to bad soldering, in general, and specifically BGA soldering problems. In some cases, and you can watch YouTube vids on this if you don't know but are curious, you have to dismount the chip, clean board and chip well, flux it up, replace balls, cook until medium-well done.

    A friend, who is a college art professor and is somewhat technical, fixed his very expensive Apple laptop by "cooking" the "logic board" in his oven. He found the instructions somewhere. Didn't need BGA chip dismount. I think he had to dismount a few things, squirt some liquid flux under GPU, cook in his kitchen oven, and it worked and works.

    If not able to do a component-level repair (or you give up due to eroding sanity), most TVs have only 2 or 3 circuit boards in them, and you can find many (most) on ebay and other online sources.

    My main car is 20 years old, has 255k miles, and runs almost like new.

    I'm not much of a TV watcher, a few things here or there, not into movies, etc., so I don't even watch my flat-screens. My main TV is, still, a 14" (odd I know) CRT that simply works. I can't read some of the print on some shows, esp. sports, and some subtitles because they're making them microscopic. And you know what? My life goes on perfectly well.

    Oh, and congratulations on being rid of that bejeebies infection. :)

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anubi on Sunday April 17 2022, @12:11PM (3 children)

      by anubi (2828) on Sunday April 17 2022, @12:11PM (#1237695) Journal

      Yup... It's just plain peace of mind to know I do not have the "Sword of Damocles" of stuff failure swinging over my head.

      If it breaks, I can fix it, shoo in a replacement, or know other people of like mindset that can fix it. I am not averse to getting a tradesman involved. I'd rather have my well made old thing than a new, shiny, piece of junk.

      ( I am looking at washing machines, dryers, ovens, ranges, refrigerators, freezers... So many crappy designs out there these days. Have they all forgot how to use gravity so water does not go into inappropriate places should a seal leak?)

      Just lost the glow plug controller on my 25 year old diesel van, got a far better part - an industrial White-Rodgers contactor back in. I had to hog out some scrap metal to make another mounting bracket for it, and it's now on manual control from a really nice 50 year old mil-spec spring return toggle switch I've had since I was a kid. Knew I would need that switch some day. It was once part of some old WW2 military console.

      Every day, I appreciate the stuff my grandpa, an Alabama farmer, taught me about designing stuff to last.

      We have a helluva lot of slipshod design out there today. I can't figure out why anyone would want it. It's just a pain in the arse to own.

      Yup, I think we both think a helluva lot alike.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Sunday April 17 2022, @10:02PM (2 children)

        by RS3 (6367) on Sunday April 17 2022, @10:02PM (#1237783)

        I'm not truly as cynical as this will sound, but, as an engineer, one of the main things companies want to see on my resume: how I "cost reduced" something. Cheapened. And that's not just one time, it's a constant evolution of everything electronic / mechanical. An additional component, and sorry, I'm generalizing, it's not absolute, but too often companies "lay off" older engineers in favor of the younger more malleable ones. Older ones might be more prone to make more solid designs, like the "good old days". Also, some countries are particularly good at copying something, and "cost reducing" (cheapening) it all the while.

        I keep wondering if there's a market for stuff that's really well made. Thinking of if someone started a retailer / reseller and only sold good stuff. I know some people who go out of their way to buy really good tools. I also know people who buy the very cheap stuff and don't care if it breaks- they buy more cheap ones. Sigh. Admittedly there's generally a huge price disparity and the cheap ones are tempting.

        I have an infuriating washing machine. Found at end of neighbor's driveway. Needed some work. It's maybe 10 years old. It's an HE top loader. It's totally uncontrollable. If you try to cheat it, you'll generally anger it and it will dump all your warm soapy water down the drain. You can't cancel the dump, nor power it off. The display will go all dark as it pumps $ in energy and detergent down the drain. I unplugged it, grabbed some 5 gal. buckets, and recovered most of it. Sometimes it overfills, sometimes under. It decides on temperature, ignoring the Hot, Med, Cold you've chosen. If you try to cheat on the temp, it will get angry and display a cryptic error code and just sit there. Sometimes you can figure out what magic combination of buttons to push and get it back running again.

        Extremely cheaply made. And, it has pockets in the stupid tub that hold water that gets VERY stinky after a few days. So you have to run some kind of special cleaner in a cleaning cycle. Not so efficient afterall.

        Undersized bearings that are famous for going bad. Mine still work, but scream. I'll measure the dB someday, but you don't want to be in the room with it during final high speed spin. I might replace them someday. Time & effort better spent on a better machine, even if it needs work.

        Awesome upgrade repair on your van- exactly my style.

        Farmers are usually very resourceful, smart, and great at fixing things. I often wish I was one. My mom's father was, so it's in my blood, but he died when I was quite young so I didn't get to work with and learn from him.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by anubi on Monday April 18 2022, @06:42AM (1 child)

          by anubi (2828) on Monday April 18 2022, @06:42AM (#1237860) Journal

          Oh gawd, the nausea I experienced at Sears upon examining the newer washing machines. I still have my old Kenmore Direct Drive model 70. Yup, like you, an end of the driveway find intended for the scrap metal hauler 20 years ago. Still running fine! All that was wrong with it was the PO kept raising the lid when the thing was trying to drain and it overheated and glazed the clutch. Disassembly and a quick rub on the concrete floor knocked the glaze off, and so far I've got another 20 years out of it.

          These new ones...first thing I would do is build an Arduino for it

          I am updating an old oven/cooktop from bimetallic control to Arduino control. Thing won't hold precise temperature. It will now. Type K thermocouple. And all the knobs will do exactly what I want them to do. Including the new safety interlock that keeps main power off until I have entered a certain sequence on the control panel using temperature set function like a combination lock. Hold a button down to fire up the 12 volt system, twirl the temp knob back and forth to the correct numbers, then the big White-Rodgers will pull in, then the Triac SSR's, controlled from the Arduino, will take over. Everything's on timer. Quadrature encoded controls, and, of course, the old latching start-stop hard relay latch circuit with the White-Rodgers.

          It will use the same White-Rodgers contactor as I used for my van. Just to make damned sure those heating elements don't unexpectedly engage upon child play, bump, cat, or power line spike. I mean when this is powered down, only thing still running is the Arduino clock. If I want to see the time, I can power up the Arduino by pressing the start switch, but if no combination is entered, the Arduino won't power the White-Rodgers coil, and the whole shebang turns right back off when the button is released. I want this to have enough smarts to keep me out of trouble by timing out to complete shutdown when done. Or if setting goes wrong, tell me on it's LCD what the problem is.

          I have so much fun building stuff like this that I rarely have time to watch TV.

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
          • (Score: 1) by anubi on Tuesday April 19 2022, @05:23AM

            by anubi (2828) on Tuesday April 19 2022, @05:23AM (#1238100) Journal

            I was re-reading this thread. It's stale by now, but I did fail to react to a point RS3 brought up ... And that is the new corporate race to mediocrity by corner cutting, laying off experienced engineers, opting to hire the cheapest incoming technical expertise without benefit of decades of experience.

            I watched this play out in two companies in Southern California. The new breed of MBA got in, the engineers were organized to be subordinate to them. Engineers now had no recourse when ordered to implement poorly considered designs. Some engineers who had no alternative went along with the MBA and survived a bit longer. Some of us were too proud of what we could do, leaving the MBA no alternative but to lay us off. A lot of the older ones took retirement, now their experiences were no longer available to the new hires.

            It seemed that the MBA were trained that we were nothing more than interchangeable worker bees. Support for thousands of customers who have bought our products for decades was now being provided by people who barely knew how to pronounce the name of the thing, and maybe even knew what it did. But how to fix it? How to modify it?

            Oh, the MBA specialized in fresh, crisp haircuts, pressed suits, lavish meetings, and a good firm hand shake. But we were about as competent as those nice looking car repair businesses in the elite areas of town, where you bring a car to them, needing as little as a new set of spark plugs, only to have their well dressed Mechanic tell you he's sorry, but your car is over ten years old and you need to retire it and buy a new one.

            Meanwhile, go to the next town over where the working people live, and fixing it is no problem.

            It's been my observation that the MBA usually have no concept as to how stuff works, and no experience in developing abstractive skills... Stuff like your customer has a problem. They have come here for years to have their concerns addressed. Using the Skills of the Mastery of Business Administration, the Cash Flow has been noted and the company bought out. Cost centers are identified, and profit centers kept, cost centers - such as dedication to making quality product - can be marginalized/eliminated by making those dedicated to serve the customer reorganized to be subordinate losers to the Management MBA.

            The frustrated customers now have to go somewhere else. All we can do is show up in crisp haircuts, shined shoes, expensive suits, exquisite meeting experiences, but no one knows how to change a spark plug.

            The ability to abstract why we have customers never seemed to be taught in a business curriculum. It was all about making money.

            I would almost swear they use the CIA Simple Sabotage Field Manual as a guidebook on how to manage a workplace.

            --
            "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 17 2022, @07:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 17 2022, @07:15PM (#1237743)

      squirt some liquid flux under GPU, cook in his kitchen oven, and it worked and works.

      That flux doesn't go well with the liver though so maybe if you have a spare oven for these things instead.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18 2022, @04:58PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18 2022, @04:58PM (#1237951)

      I think open source hardware is the answer to this. I have made do with FOSS and jailbreaking devices, but now I'm transferring everything to open source hardware too. If companies keep up the shenanigans we need to spend our money differently.