So should I buy a Smart TV? If you asked me this question 5 or even 3 years back I would have said yes. But not any more. In my opinion, the Smart TV market is almost dead. And listed below are some reasons why I think you should not buy a Smart TV at least as things stand right now. I think the manufacturer themselves have realized this and are focusing more on marketing hardware improvements than software.
Table of Contents
Should I buy a Smart TV?
You already know the answer. Before you set out looking for a Smart TV for Sale or Cheapest Smart TV, take a few minutes to read through this post. Here is why I say don't purchase a Smart TV: 1) limited computing hardware 2) limited software support 3) availability of inexpensive media centers 4) less software flexibility and 5) expensive as media centers. Let us look at these five reasons in more detail. So in 2015, if I were you, I would buy a non-Smart TV and use it for what TVs were originally designed to do: display video. All my media playing needs will be handled by HTPCs or inexpensive yet powerful media centers.
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1. Limited Computing Power
There used to be a time when you bought a TV and it lasted for a decade. Not anymore. There is so much pressure to upgrade because, like our phones, our Smart TVs get outdated so quickly. Smart TVs use minimal chipsets that are designed for as things stand right now. But as Smart apps get updated, the outdated chipsets cannot handle the extra power needed by newer Smart apps. Is your Smart TV slowing down? This is could be reason. This is also the same reason why our smartphones slow down over a year or two.
2. Limited Software Support
Give me an example of a Smart TV whose software has been continually updated for over 3 years. The chances are you won't find any. Even our phones don't receive much support after 2 years. As hardware continues to improve, it becomes practically impossible for manufacturers to continue to provide software updates for your TV. Plus, they have no incentive to continue to provide software support because you have already paid for the TV. Why buy a Smart TV for hundreds or even thousands when a $100 media player can do more? [Read: 5 Best Android media players in 2015 for less than $100]
3. Availability of Inexpensive Media Centers
In my opinion, this is the biggest reason why you should not buy a Smart TV in 2015 or later. The last two years have seen tremendous growth in media center boxes powered by Kodi entertainment center. These run about $100 and run both Android and Kodi. So what you have in them is an Android TV box that allows browsing as well as run almost all of the apps that you may have on your Smart TV: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, etc. Better yet, you can count on these apps been updated frequently through their app store.
4. Less Software Flexibility
When you buy a Smart TV you are stuck with the hardware and the software for life. You cannot replace it with a software you like: Android, OpenELEC, etc. Mini PCs and Android TV boxes in many cases allow you to hack or mod them. Some mini PCs can dual boot both Android and Windows giving you the option to switch back and forth. Of course this also comes with slightly increased work in the form of doing some manual updates and installs. Smart TV apps update automatically when updates are available (which may be rare or never with some manufacturers). With Kodi on a media Box, you can virtually stream Live TV, Movies, and TV Shows for free in many cases. [Read: 20 Best Kodi Addons for 2016: Updated, working list]
5. Expensive as Media Centers
The final reason why you should not buy a Smart TV is that they cost more for what they provide. There was a time when this premium price was worth it. It was the time when only HTPCs were the available options to function as media centers. Not many people can or want to build their own media center PC.
Recommended HTPC / Home Server Builds:
- Best Home Theater PC Build 2017 to do it all (Plex, Kodi, NAS, Gaming)
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- Medium Budget 4K HTPC Build 2017 for Kodi, Plex and Gaming
- Cheap 4K HTPC Build for Kodi, OpenELEC, and LibreELEC 2017
- Low Power Home Server Build 2017 for Network File and Media Storage
- Best HTPC for Kodi with 4K on a Medium Budget 2017 (~$400)
- Energy efficient budget HTPC-NAS combo build 2016
This has changed with the arrival of Kodi boxes, Android Boxes, Apple TVs, and the Fire TV. These compact boxes consume very less energy and are better media centers than what your Smart TV can ever be. TV manufacturers should focus more on providing better hardware for displaying video, which is what they seem to be doing more these days. You see more ads about 4K or UHD than about apps on TVs. My main media center TV is an inexpensive 55 inch dumb TV that displays great video and that is it. All my media playing is handled by mini PC and the new Fire TV UHD.
Is Smart TV Worth It?
When I bought my first flat screen TV in 2010, the LG 42LE5400, I bought it for its ability to play Netflix and other things as well as its capability to play media from my Samba home server. I paid over a $900 for it. For the same reasons, I bought the LG B570 Bluray player for nearly $200. After 5 years, my LG TV is being used to play only videos through my Fire TV and my Bluray player is collecting dust. So gone are the days of Smart TVs. Today Smart TVs are dumb. Don't even ask yourself should I buy a smart TV in 2015. Get a TV that has good picture quality (I prefer LG Smart TVs or Samsungs) and nothing more, and buy a good media center box for media playing / streaming needs.