There’s always this drive in the consumer electronics industry to keep us buying. If you just bought an HD TV that was 720p, then you now need one that’s 1080p. If you just bought a 1080p TV, now there’s 120Hz. Or 240Hz. Or 3D. Or 4K. In that endless quest to keep us updating, consumer electronics companies are now pursuing smart TVs.
I think this is a scam. I also think it’s an incredibly stupid use of technology. Now, before I dig into this, let me preface this. I love technology. Seriously. I love technology. But I’ve never wanted to be mindless about that love. In order to be what I would consider a good technology, it has to actually offer some measurable improvement in our lives.
When VHS was replaced with DVD, the new format (DVD) clearly represented a huge leap forward in image quality. I remember the first time I saw DVD, it was like someone had scraped an inch of crud off my eyes. The detail in the picture was amazing. The sound too was spectacular. My first glimpse of HD TV, which was probably 1080i, was a pretty big jump, but honestly didn’t look that much better than DVD. I’ve seen a lot of 720p and 1080p video over the years. I would say that each of those incremental improvements has brought with it diminishing returns. Although I do like Blu-Ray discs, I mainly notice the differences between DVD and Blu-Ray in the textures of fabrics and the text of signs and notices. For example… I always thought the shirts on the inmates in Shawshank Redemption were grey. On Blu-Ray, they’re blue & white striped. On my Blu-Ray of 2001, you can read the directions for the zero-gravity toilet; on DVD, it’s just a blurry mess.
So there’s definitely some value in these technology enhancements. But, Smart TVs do not make any practical sense. Here’s why...