I look forward to CES every year. I’ve been to a few shows in the past, but even when I don’t go, I like seeing and hearing about the new products that are in the works.
I didn’t attend this year’s event, and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. I wasn’t very impressed by what was announced or demonstrated. Maybe I’m getting older, or maybe my “impress me” bar is set a little too high. Either way, I didn’t see anything that got me excited (here’s a quick rundown of some of the top products as covered by Wired).
There was one disturbing trend that continued from last year’s show – the continued emergence of smart TVs. For example, Google, with partners Sony, Sharp and TP Vision (Philips), announced the integration of Android TV into televisions. As I wrote after last year’s CES, I don’t want a smart TV. I want a 4K television that provides the clearest and sharpest picture at a reasonable price. I don’t want it to be smart. I can provide that on my own.
There was a great article written by Darren Orf at Gizmodo titled “3D TV Is Dead. Let’s Hope Smart TV Is Next.” It’s worth the read, and he’s right on. In case you don’t have time to read it, here are a few high points from the article:
- Television manufacturers are great at making sets with great pictures at an affordable price, but the software they create for them sucks.
- People generally don’t use the software on their television, and most of it is made redundant with a $35 dongle you can get from Google (Chromecast), Amazon (Fire TV stick) or Roku (Roku Streaming Stick), with more on the way.
- Since any television can become smart, the best one you can buy is one that is “dumb” with the best picture available that has lots of HDMI ports.
- Finally, and most importantly, in Orf’s words “… software and hardware lifecycles, especially concerning televisions, don’t really sync.” In other words, the software is changing at least once per year, if not 3-4 or more times, while a television set can last anywhere from 6-8 years or longer.
Basically, the software is advancing so fast, there is no way a television manufacturer can embed software in their television that will be valid for more than 2-3 years. In other words, the hardware will outlast the software meaning you will have an outdated television. You’re better off separating the two so you can always pair you’re incredible television with the best streaming technology that is available at the time.
Here’s a case in point. I recently bought an Amazon Fire TV stick for a “dumb” Sony TV that I purchased in 2008. I plan to review in more detail soon, but the installation only took a couple of minutes and was very easy. Best of all, I got the Fire TV stick on a promotional deal for $20. That’s right – for $20 I turned my 7 year old television into a smart TV.
Here’s another case in point. After my success with the Fire TV stick, I purchased a Fire TV box for my Samsung big screen that I’ve had for 5 years. Even though I already have a Chromecast for the set, the Fire TV complements it nicely. In other words, I’m not locked into any one box or stick. All I need is enough HDMI ports to allow me to plug in all of the devices and services I want. By the way, this television also has smart TV features that I haven’t accessed since I can’t remember when. I may have used them the first couple of months I had the TV, and once the novelty wore off, I never touched them again.
I’m with Darren Orf, I stayed off the 3D TV bandwagon because it felt too much like a gimmick. I’m gald I did – 3D TV is dead, even though it took too long for it to happen. We can always hope that smart TVs head in the same direction, and quicker, so manufacturers can get back to what they do best. Building televisions that produce an incredible image at reasonable prices.