Today, the phrase “smart technology” is taken for granted and no longer arouses either surprise or admiration. Smart kettles, smart refrigerators, robotic vacuum cleaners and even smart cars with full autopilot (thanks, Elon Musk) have become as much a part of the surrounding reality as a gas stove in a house a couple of decades ago.
Moreover, the further, the smarter technology becomes, and the day is not far off when a person can only have the function of consumption, and everything else, including the process of creation, will be taken over by machines. But this is a discussion of what may or may not happen, as well as a topic for a separate material.
Today I would like to talk about more mundane things that indirectly overlap with the theses sounded above – about the need to buy Smart-TV.
The topic of this article prompted me to a recent trip to online shopping in search of a new TV in the kitchen. I caught myself thinking that a large kitchen had become the main pastime in the house, so I wanted a TV with a larger diagonal and better picture quality in the kitchen.
Having a relatively recent experience of choosing a new TV for parents, and the subsequent scenario of its use by them, I wondered if I need a smart TV, or should I prefer a simpler and at the same time complex version of two devices.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so, otherwise how can I explain that the majority of manufacturers, who at first rushed headlong into the production of smart TVs and competed with each other in whose TV was 'smarter', after a while began to produce two versions of devices in the same line, equipped with smart capabilities and lacking it.
My experience with smart TVs from different manufacturers left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, this is convenient when the TV, in addition to the function of broadcasting television programs, also has multimedia functions, and on the other hand, any 'smart' TV turned out to be a version of a large Android tablet with greatly reduced capabilities .
This impression is true for TVs equipped with boxes with a wide variety of operating systems, both proprietary and generally available, such as Android.
The main problem of all these TVs is not the best performance and a small amount of software that allows you to increase the comfort of using the TV and expand its capabilities.
Any such 'smart' TV sooner or later starts to work slowly and stops receiving software updates, which ultimately leads to the inaccessibility of various functions and types of content that you get used to when using, for example, a smartphone.
And at one point the owner of such a TV comes to the conclusion that it would be nice to expand the capabilities of this very 'box', and the easiest way to do this is to connect a laptop to the TV.
Actually, as a result, the smart TV, bought by the parents, works exactly in this mode – it is permanently connected to the laptop via Wi-Fi, and its own smart-capabilities turned out to be unclaimed.
This bundle has undoubted advantages, including the transfer to the TV of all the capabilities of a full-fledged operating system, be it Windows or MacOS, but there are also disadvantages, the main of which is the need to keep two devices on and consume their resource. And not all even smart TVs support wireless protocols for connecting to external devices, and this entails the need to use additional wires, the abundance of which in the house does not have the best effect on mental health (annoying).
It is for this reason, when choosing a new TV, it was decided to buy a TV without smart functions, only as an image output device (you can even without the possibility of broadcasting TV programs, since neither I nor my wife watch TV exactly like a TV), and already connect to it additional smart module.
And here there is already room for imagination. The role of a smart module can be either a special independent media set-top box, of which there are a great many today, and specialized stations for synchronizing a smartphone with a TV.
Among the consoles, the famous Chromecast `s from Google stand out, of which several generations have come out.
They allow you to make an almost full-fledged Android tablet out of your TV with the ability to install applications from the Play Market, which means that you will get almost the same features that you are used to on your smartphone.
Another way to expand the capabilities of the TV, turning it into a multimedia center, is a device from the main competitor of the “corporation of good” – the set-top box Apple TV.
This option, like Chromecast, has its own limitations, to which the main drawback is added – the need to be, as they say, 'in the subject', namely to be a user of other products Apple. And there you have to pay very often and a lot.
However, there are other options, one of which at the moment is my main one just with the TV in the kitchen – the use of the Samsung Dex-station, which turns my phone into the multimedia heart of the TV / monitor.
Its capabilities are sufficient for everything that is required from such a TV. This includes watching videos, both online and downloaded to the device, and this also includes watching movies downloaded via torrents.
The only but big drawback of this solution is the need to leave the phone in the station, which means reduced mobility. Therefore, I still consider this option to be temporary and more applicable when traveling, when, for example, a Dex-station is connected to a TV in a hotel and allows you to comfortably work on a large screen without having to carry a laptop with you.
Therefore, at the moment I have come to the best option for combining devices – a large TV with good screen characteristics, devoid of any smart features, and a multimedia set-top box from a third-party manufacturer, devoid of the limitations inherent in both Chromecast from Google and Apple TV with its pathological addiction to the greedy iTunes.
And the choice is obvious – this is a prefix based on Android, for example, from Xiaomi or from another manufacturer that does not put a spoke in the wheels of its users.
The most difficult moment in all this is to choose the right device from the huge variety that online stores offer today.
Here you have both simple models, focused primarily on viewing previously downloaded content, and acting, in fact, only in the role of a multimedia player, and expensive powerful consoles with fast processors and their own memory, which allow not only viewing content, but also downloading it. and even share it.
As is often the case, it's only a matter of the thickness of the wallet. However, given that not everyone can afford to buy an expensive ultimatum solution, there is always some golden mean – a device that will meet the needs of most users and will not hit the wallet hard.
But in order to make the right choice, you need to read descriptions, study thematic forums, watch reviews and carefully weigh the pros and cons.
Considering all of the above, I will try to write a certain buyer's guide on choosing a multimedia set-top box in the near future.
I would like to hear your opinion, dear readers, about this option for using the TV and the need or uselessness of smart functions in it?