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TV Technology Roundup

TechReport (UK)

Long-term Support

Although we have left this issue until last, is has recently become a very important issue to a number of people who bought one of the earlier ‘Smart TVs’ a few years ago.

Although TVs should generally be expected to give many years of service and compatibility with broadcast standards (with perhaps the major exception of the massive upheaval caused by the closure of analogue broadcasts to be replaced by Freeview digital broadcasts in the UK a few years ago), it is becoming apparent that one of the most used features on modern TVs cannot necessarily be expected to be fully supported throughout the life of the TV – ‘Smart TV’.

When a manufacturer launches a new Smart TV, they work closely with the suppliers of streaming TV services to create specific ‘Apps’ that can be installed by the user (or are sometimes pre-installed by the manufacturer) to provide catch-up or streaming TV content directly on the TV (no external devices required).

This has proved a great boon to users – the convenience of being able to run the BBC iPlayer, Netflix etc. directly on the TV has been extremely popular.

The problem is that for every new generation of TV (generally once per year), both the manufacturer and the content provider have to work closely together to create a new App, but as time moves on this leads to ever greater numbers of legacy Apps (typically one per manufacturer per model year) and neither the content providers nor the TV manufacturers have the technical resources to be able to extend support for the older Apps indefinitely.

This has led to the gradual phasing out of some Apps on older models (especially for the smaller manufacturers), much to the annoyance of the end Customers, who unsurprisingly had expected them to be supported for the realistic life of the TV.

On this basis, a canny buyer would be wise to look back at which Apps have been phased out for which manufacturer and for which model year of TV and perhaps to extrapolate this as the likely timeframe for which similar Apps could be supported on their brand new TV.

To help you with this, we have tried to summarise some of the main discontinued Apps and affected models below:

N.B. The above information is quite generic and is far from being exhaustive – please contact the manufacturer and / or App provider for more precise information on the actual models affected.

Is there a way to avoid this obsolescence?

Well, the short answer is no – continued support for a particular application is very much down to the original App provider (which may explain why Apps for paid for services, such as Netflix, tend to be supported for longer…).

If you wish to mitigate the situation, however, using an external media streaming device with the required service(s) can provide a cost-effective alternative to buying a new Smart TV, but as virtually every mid to high-end TV incorporates ‘Smart TV’ functionality anyway, it is hard to avoid ‘paying for it’ in the first place!

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