It’s been pretty much three years to the day since I bought my flatscreen LCD Sony Bravia TV and already I’m thinking of replacing it. Or I was.
The Bravia was one of those impulse purchases I don’t normally get suckered for. I happened to be visiting Sainsbury’s for a tube of Anusol, a jar of gherkins and a value pack of toilet tissue, much to the amusement of the cashier despite my verbal assurance these items were unrelated, when I noticed a pile of Sony boxes which were attractively priced in one of those bullshit “when it’s gone, it’s gone” deals....
As we're all smart enough to know, the aim of those deals is to make you panic into thinking you’re missing out on a bargain unless you fish out some plastic and get busy with the chip & pin. It’s bobbins of course as technology moves on so fast a better offer is always waiting in the wings, but I was happy to part with my cash and plop a stylish Sony in my living room in place of the old Mitsubishi Megaview 37” 100kg CRT leviathan that had been sucking up a hefty wedge of corner space.
Three years on and I can report I officially dislike my Bravia. Mainly for a couple of stupid reasons. It’s not clever enough to switch inputs so when I power up my PS3 it doesn’t detect the HDMI port has gone live and I have to find where the kids have buried the remote control in order to switch it over. And the aspect ratio is permanently confused whatever setting I try so my picture often has black borders, squashed newsreaders or missing edges.
Sony Braviarse. Heh heh. Top punnery I know, cheers!
Besides, the Bravia is a big black lump compared to the stylish LED screens now on the market and although it has Freeview built in, I have to hang a separate PVR off it which adds to the remote control collection and input switching annoyance.
Having decided enough was enough, I started scouring Amazon for a next generation TV to replace it. And how about this, the Samsung Smart TV!
It’s the best part of 800 smackers but get this Star Trek spec - LED screen (woof!), 4xHDMI (phwoar!), inbuilt internet apps (swish!), Skype compatible (nice!), WiFi (ace!), DLNA capable (smashin'!), integral PVR (down boy!), Freeview HD (woot!), 29.9mm thickness (sexy!), 3D capable (uh... well... not sold on that bollocks actually).
Despite being convinced there and then that my (five minute) long search for the perfect TV was finally complete, I resisted tapping the Amazon 1-click button and decided I’d put in a bit more research and take a trip to Curry’s for a closer look before buying. Surprisingly, despite the price tag and the sexy spec, it turns out this thing is all lipstick n’ tits. Sure, it looks good and you’d wanna stick yer willy in it, but ask it to actually do something clever at a dinner party and you’ll find it fluttering its eyelashes uselessly and making some airhead comment about the fluffyness of kittens.
That pisses me off. For the best part of 800 notes, I expect a flashy TV that’s gonna work out of the box and not something I have to throw extra money at to upgrade immediately. For example....
- Sure it has a PVR - but no storage. The first extra to buy n' dangle unattractively off this TV is an external USB hard drive as it's too flat & thin for one to be fitted integrally. It has three USB ports - but who fuckin' cares?
- It’s also too anorexic for any bulky legacy composite/scart interfaces. It comes with a proprietary connector (and presumably a proprietary adaptor cable) to allow one non-HDMI device to be hooked up, but I have both a Nintendo Wii and a door camera with composite outputs that I’d want to connect to this screen so a single input isn’t going to cut it and leaves me needing to invest in a switchbox or HDMI converter. It also has a proprietary DVI input so none of my existing computer cables are going to plug into this screen without the aid of a hammer and a reel of gaffer tape.
- It requires a different wall bracket to my Bravia. FFS.
- It has a single tuner so I lose the ability to record two channels, record one while watching another or pause one live channel to watch another. Although I guess the need for a dual tuner is questionable when there’s so many repeats, catch up channels and streaming services. Besides, there’s usually fuck-all worth watching in the first place. Okay Samsung, you can have this one.
- Freeview HD - I’ll believe it when I see it. I tried a HD box last October and couldn’t pick up the channels although since then analogue has been swept away and the digital signal boosted. A claim of HD capability is no guarantee I’ll be able to view the wrinkled facial details of Ken and Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street however.
- Part of the Smart TV package is that it is Skype compatible - oh, but the camera accessory is sold extra and costs another cool hundred quid.
- Not that I give a shit about 3D, the most useless and over hyped viewing experience Satan himself deigned to shit out of his rosy red arsehole onto the face of the planet, but if I did want to sit in front of a 3D movie with the wife and kids, I’d have to fork out another hundred quid on four pairs of the moronic NHS specs that go with this TV.
For extra cash, you too could look like this
when watching 3D movies
So for my money I’d get something that looked sleeker, sexier and consumed less power but I’d have to throw in a fistful o' coins with the Queen's head stamped on in order to buy the bits that actually allows it to do any of the fancy crap.
You know what? Fuck it. And fuck you Samsung for selling a product that claims to be smart but actually does nothing clever out of the box.
I’ll review the Bravia again in another three years or after a Wiimote has been thrown through it (whichever comes first).
Having revisited the SmartTV market today I can report little has changed except maybe the price tag. The LG 42LM620T offers everything last year's Samsung had but at over £150 less and it comes with four pairs of 3D glasses. The same niggles remain however - no inbuilt camera for Skype, I mean WHY when a poxy webcam comes at a throwaway price these days? Also, limited player functionality - no ITV Player on non-Samsung TV's. For the love of Christ why not?? Oh, and for all the Smart shite you're still expected to hang a separate PVR off your shiny new TV.
That said, I did go to my local Currys tonight intent on putting a dent into my pre-Christmas credit card. The LG 42LM620T was my target however the in-store display was configured to show only a 3D demo. I don't get 3D. It just doesn't work for me and sends me boss-eyed after five seconds. Instead I took a closer glance at the LG 42LS570T which is the same shit but without the 3D bollocks and another seventy quid off the price tag.
I would have settled for the non-3D LG except the sales staff couldn't answer my question on how I use the two (non-standard) composite video ports. She actually tried to blag me that no cables were made to fit these ports. Yeah, you read that right. According to Currys, LG supply TV's with input ports that you cannot possibly connect your Wii/PVR/video camera to.
Maybe she was just trying to get rid of me because of my garlic breath (I'd just scoffed a spag-bol). Whatever. It worked anyway and I left with my Barclaycard intact ignoring the spotty prick on the door and he 'see you next time' smarm.
Not fuckin' likely mate. In fact, Currys can go suck a fart from outta my arsehole. As for LG, maybe this time next year they or Samsung will finally have an actual Smart TV product. You know, one you can plug your video devices into. One with built in features that doesn't require additional hardware. One that has the playback tools people actually expect to be able to use.