Monday, July 9, 2012

Smart TV - is it worth it?

TV manufacturers try to entice you to upgrade every few years by coming up with bigger and better TV's.  First, it was the switch from CRT-based TV to plasma TV. Then it was from analog-reception to built-in tuner for digital TV. Then it was plasma to LED. Now they are promoting smart TV. And all the while the TV display grows larger and larger.

If you are new to this, a smart TV is one with built-in capability to connect to a network, and with built-in software to visit some of the websites that you normally do on a computer or a mobile device. Is it worth getting one?

At the moment, the price of a smart TV is several hundred dollars more than that of a regular TV, if display size and quality remains the same. I won't say it is a bad idea; it is just not cost effective. Furthermore, with the technology still maturing; the feature will get obsolete faster than your TV. For just a AUD$100+ dollars you can buy a media player or a BluRay player that will do a similar job of making your TV smart. Also, because it is a separate unit, you can upgrade your media player for a small price, without being locked into an expensive investment.

I have just bought a 60" full HD LG plasma TV for AUD$1200 (to be fair, it has been marked down ~20%). Granted it is not LED, the picture quality is just as good, only less energy efficient. It is just a regular TV - no computer brains to make it smart. It does have several HDMI connectors and USB port to play media straight from a USB device. For another AUD$100+, I can enjoy all the things a smart TV is supposed to do.

I am not saying smart TV is a bad idea. I am only saying it is not necessary to pay a huge premium to get a smart TV. In time to come, all TV's will be smart, only without a big price premium attached. The novelty factor will wear off and people will come to expect it to come with a TV. After all, one can now buy a PC on a USB stick for $50, but that's another story.

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