Smart TVs Are Dumb – The Atlantic

I agree SO MUCH with this article. Smart TVs cannot be trusted. I like my smarts from someone other than my TV vendor. I never plug-in the ethernet port on my televisions, and I never configure the WiFi client either. I can’t use any of the “Smart TV” functions it comes with, but it also can’t spy on what I watch and report my activity back to headquarters.

For the record, we have a TiVo Roamio OTA broadcast TV DVR, plus it has lots of apps. We also have an Apple TV which is much faster and easier to use. Lastly, we own a Sony Blu-Ray Disc player, which has apps as well, but I have never wanted to use any of them. Netflix and Amazon are on the TiVO and Apple TV.

I suppose my TiVo reports everything I’m objecting about back to their headquarters, or at least it’s capable of that feature. I know they report some viewing data, because the TiVo company has been selling that data to content providers for years. Not sure why I’m okay with TiVo profiting off my usage data, and not Samsung, LG, or Vizio.

Maybe I’m just objecting because I hate being the product being marketed. I like TiVo. I’ve been buying their products since version 1, and I guess I’m okay with them profiting off my viewing choices. I’m not okay with Comcast, Dish Network, Amazon, or Google knowing all that too.

The worst part is that since we can’t trust the TV manufacturers to sell us units we can trust, we can’t plug their network port in, and nobody can develop an open standard IP device control protocol, so my TiVo device can instruct the TV it’s plugged into to switch input to HDMI1, perhaps switch video colors or other options. Let the remote have a single button to watch NetFlix, and let the remote instruct the TV to switch to HDMI2, power up the Apple TV, set the soundbar to volume 35%, and start the netflix app on the Apple TV.

I have been reading about the rabbit hole that is the Open Compute Project, the source of many open source projects with great potential impact.

I’d like to start a separate, but similar in spirit, project. The product is a standard TV unit, made up of an open source video display hardware design, with open source OS software, configured to be secure by default. It’ll have automatic software upgrades in the background, as long as you connect it to your Ethernet network, or connect to your WiFi LAN, so you’ll get updates, and be protected from all known attacks in the future. It’ll update automatically, silently, in the night, when no one is watching. Not how windows does it. Right in the middle of your for-profit live podcast.

Design an open source hardware display device consisting of a monitor,  a standard wall mount, or optional table top stand, external and/or on-board speakers, with a ARM64 controller running an open source OS distro that contains all the daemons to implement all the new standard automation control protocols, but since it’s secure by default, all but the most basic TV Remote Controllers is disabled..

Any authorized user can enable the optional protocols, setting up an upstream controller that supports the standards, and letting it run your show. The standard video unit will perform no monitoring or marketing of any user activity. It’s just a display. It will, no doubt, require the ability to support microphone/external audio input and camera/external video input, and switch that to the desired video output. I can foresee competing businesses offering various combinations of inputs and outputs on their boxes. Let the market decide. No doubt someone will want to plugin a front panel hdMI input, or USB key with the funniest cat video you’ve ever seen. If you’re lucky, the USB key won’t have big fancy plastic cat attachment on the end of it.

You don’t really own it, and it breaks in unpredictable ways.

Source: Smart TVs Are Dumb – The Atlantic