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72% of smart TVs and 46% of game consoles hardcode DNS settings (labzilla.io)
546 points by boramalper on Dec 5, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 649 comments



I’m responsible for a bunch of IoT hardware, and every firmware spec I write includes a note on not using the DNS servers provided via DHCP. While sure there are companies explicitly doing this to avoid filtering, at least in my case it’s because a significant proportion of DHCP servers are configured to send DNS to your ISP, and ISP provided DNS is almost universally terrible. They’ll ignore TTLs, rewrite NXDOMAIN responses into the IP address of their ad-laced web search, and occasionally just highjack every single query to send you to a page saying you’re approaching your bandwidth quota. In the face of that sort of behaviour you inevitably end up with technical support having to field angry customers who just don’t get that it’s not our fault the hardware isn’t working, and the response to that is hardcoding a set of known good DNS servers which we can rely on.

Please, if you have a Pihole, redirect all DNS through it as described in the article. Just be aware DNS over HTTPS is a thing now, and while the devices I’m responsible for aren’t going to try and evade your redirects, the companies that are trying to make sure ads get delivered will absolutely switch to DoH which will be much more difficult to work around.


> and ISP provided DNS is almost universally terrible. They’ll ignore TTLs, rewrite NXDOMAIN responses into the IP address of their ad-laced web search, and occasionally just highjack every single query to send you to a page saying you’re approaching your bandwidth quota

Universally? Perhaps in the US? But IoT devices are sold worldwide.

While I do run my own recursive resolver I checked my ISP's and they're behaving fairly reasonable and do none of the above and I have a direct (contractual) relationship with them and we reside in the same jurisdiction so at least in principle I could apply pressure to them if they do something shady. The same can't be said about google or cloudflare.

> Just be aware DNS over HTTPS is a thing now, and while the devices I’m responsible for aren’t going to try and evade your redirects, the companies that are trying to make sure ads get delivered will absolutely switch to DoH which will be much more difficult to work around.

I'm sure google had only our best interests in mind when unleashing that on us.


It’s not just the U.S. A problem report once lead me to discover that the Spanish company Telefónica cached DNS results for years longer than the TTL. My error monitoring also picked up content injection (prior to HTTPS) and DNS hijacking around the world.

Before going with the conspiratorial take note that Mozilla shipped DoH early and both Microsoft and Apple implemented it. Untrustworthy ISPs are a real problem even if Google deservedly gets suspicion about their motives. This isn’t another AMP.


For anyone else not in the know, "DoH" means "DNS-over-HTTPS"

Here's an article from November 19, 2020 about the rollout and some of the criticisms/backlash:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/fearing-drama-mozilla-opens-pu...


Can you link to the results of your study?


At this point Mozilla is just the Non-profit Arm of Google, They do what google tells them....

and DoH is absolutely designed to get around network based security and filtering, both for Ad's and other reasons.


> At this point Mozilla is just the Non-profit Arm of Google, They do what google tells them

You can just say you don’t follow this closely. Mozilla is not perfect but they do push for privacy, with an increasingly limited amount of negotiating power.

> DoH is absolutely designed to get around network based security and filtering, both for Ad's and other reasons.

This is similarly reflecting a poor understanding of the situation. DoH can’t get around network filtering - if you block packets, there’s no magic trick to bypass it. It’s great for preventing ISPs from tampering with traffic or monitoring activity (this will also require eSNI to complete) but it’s not giving an attacker any capability they didn’t already have. If you’re concerned about security you’re fooling yourself if you don’t have endpoint management and some level of network segmentation and egress control. Attackers have hard-coded DNS servers, C&C endpoints, etc. for decades.


Your technical description doesn't really respond to the meat of the critique of DoH, which is that it prevents the technique described in this article - transparent proxying for all traffic of a certain service, in this case DNS.

The problem is that your relationship with your network devices is logically the same as a totalitarian country's/company's relationship with their citizens/users. So any protocol that prevents censorship/surveillance by ISPs also impinges upon bona fide network administrators. Corporate networks have the same dynamic, although there are few tears shed when it becomes harder for them to tamper with users' traffic.

The right answer is to make sure devices that have any Internet access run code you control. The root of the problem here is buying a "smart" TV, hooking it up to the network, and then expecting to tame all of its user-hostile anti-features by policing its communication. The only way to use black box IoT devices is to remove all general Internet access from them, allowing communication only with hosts you do control. For instance I've got a network of tp-link bulbs that are all controlled from a Home Assistant instance, and they never have and never will get a packet out to the larger Internet.


My point was simply that DNS was never an effective measure. Corporate operators don’t need it since they can configure proxies and install endpoint monitoring, but the people building untrustworthy IoT devices or malware can’t be relied upon to cooperate.

I agree that the core problem here is blocking egress entirely – and that’d be a good area for home routers to add UI polish so you could easily allow your TV to hit Samsung.com if there’s an update you need before turning it back off. Unfortunately that’s going to be a losing game for many devices and that really hits at the root cause: we need strong regulation controlling privacy because trying to stop a well-funded company with purely technical measures is almost always a losing game.


Well DNS has been a pragmatic measure for quite some time. I've definitely seen jailbreaks of embedded devices that start off by MITMing DNS to proxy all traffic. DoH is changing that, and I can see how that's annoying.

> hit Samsung.com if there’s an update you need

Why would you need an update? Updates are mainly necessary for security, which you don't need if the device isn't on the Internet. If the device doesn't have all the features you expect out of the box, return it within the return period. There's a small corner case where an update could carry significantly increased functionality, but it seems easier to ad-hoc address that down the line rather than plan for it. Carelessly doing updates is a good way to break your device.

> Unfortunately that’s going to be a losing game for many devices

I don't see how it's a losing game if you play it correctly. Fine grained policing of types of traffic is a losing game, but wholesale denying transit isn't. There is little difference between my network of tp-link bulbs and a local modbus network.


> Why would you need an update? Updates are mainly necessary for security, which you don't need if the device isn't on the Internet.

You've never had a problem which was fixed by an update or something which added support for, say, a new model peripheral? I have, which is why I allowed for the possibility of wanting to do this on the schedule of your choosing but not the default case.

> I don't see how it's a losing game if you play it correctly. Fine grained policing of types of traffic is a losing game, but wholesale denying transit isn't. There is little difference between my network of tp-link bulbs and say a local modbus network.

I was thinking less narrowly than devices which never need to be online. A TV connected to other players can run entirely offline but there are many other things which legitimately need connectivity and there's no good way to prevent that. For example, think about a device like a Chromecast or Fire TV, or those Facebook video chat appliances — people buy those to stream content so the most you can do is force the vendor to send marketing stuff through the same endpoint they use for your content, and that's increasingly hard to filter (think how useful a “it goes to an IP in AWS. Block y/n?” prompt is). That's why I said it'll require a legal fix since a large fraction of the most invasive devices either already do or could trivially be modified to mix other data in with the traffic needed to function.


> You've never had a problem which was fixed by an update or something which added support for, say, a new model peripheral

For embedded devices? No. I can imagine it happening in general, but I don't think I would ever buy into a proprietary ecosystem so hard that there would be peripherals, and newly released ones at that. Still I would be cautious about doing said updates, lest they ruin the device I already have. Like I've got a newer Marantz receiver that works great and hasn't seen the Internet in several years. Even if they developed some new desirable feature, why would I want to let it reflash itself and possibly break, or even just get slower (software bloat)? I'd rather just continue using it as I bought it.

> there are many other things which legitimately need connectivity and there's no good way to prevent that

I sort things into categories. A TV would be in the category of "wtf would you ever hook that up online" - Internet access can only enable anti-features. A Chromecast is a different category - single purpose disposable device that if it turns into shit you just throw it out. Ads and surveillance are part of its price, and if your goal is to avoid them, you should just setup a Kodi box and call it a day.

Legally I don't really see what you're getting at here. I can see a law for my TV category, but leaving it disconnected or pulling the 5G modem will also solve that. How would you even begin to solve the Chromecast problem with a law? Maybe in the EU you could convince them to mandate unbundling ads from a service, but in the US exploiting consumers by shoving ads at them is one of the most popular business models. I don't see that ever changing via the legal system.


DoH absolutely can get network filtering: if I block port 53 outbound to control DNS queries within my network, DoH (and other tunneling technologies) is bypassing my network filtering of DNS.


Network filtering means blocking traffic at the network level. Trying to use DNS for this leaves you trusting the client - and there are decades of precedent for clients bypassing that for various reasons, such as this post shows.

The solution is to start doing network filtering: if you block packets to unapproved servers, you can actually stop this. You’ll need to run your own proxy, of course, but that’s always been the only way to actually accomplish that goal.


That isn’t really possible, though: CDNs mean that blocking by IP just doesn’t work. The most effective method I’ve found is transparently redirecting all traffic on port 53 to a DNS server I control. DoH means that I might as well setup a transparent HTTPS proxy.


"That isn’t really possible, though: CDNs mean that blocking by IP just doesn’t work. The most effective method I’ve found is transparently redirecting all traffic on port 53 to a DNS server I control. DoH means that I might as well setup a transparent HTTPS proxy."

This is a very good point and I am dealing with this myself on my home networks.

Like any household/family we have some number of dubious/untrusted devices that still need Internet access.

By establishing my own recursive resolver I can act as a chokepoint (and monitoring point) for their behavior online. It's a very elegant solution, actually, and I have created a nice integration between my datacenter-hosted resolver and nextdns.io as the adblocking upstream DNS.

DoH breaks all of this.

I have no interest in diving down the "MITM my own network by inserting custom certs into embedded devices that may or may not use them".

Since we're talking about it, though, it occurs to me that you could quickly do a DoH lookup to every single new IP connected to, outbound, from your network - and then block all IPs that answer your DoH query. You're basically pre-testing all new SSL connections to see if they are to a DoH resolver that you (presumably) don't want to talk to ...

This solves the CDN problem ... does it solve the problem entirely ? I have only just thought of this moments ago ...


> By establishing my own recursive resolver I can act as a chokepoint (and monitoring point) for their behavior online. It's a very elegant solution, actually, and I have created a nice integration between my datacenter-hosted resolver and nextdns.io as the adblocking upstream DNS.

This only works for the subset of devices which use the local DNS. If they use any of the well-known techniques to avoid that filtering it's completely ineffective.

> Since we're talking about it, though, it occurs to me that you could quickly do a DoH lookup to every single new IP that initiates a new connection, outbound, from your network - and then block all IPs that answer your DoH query.

It doesn't solve the CDN problem: CDNs will route traffic based on the hostname and blocking them will have a degree of collateral damage which most people can't work with. Setting up your own HTTPS proxy avoids this.


"This only works for the subset of devices which use the local DNS. If they use any of the well-known techniques to avoid that filtering it's completely ineffective."

If you also block all port 53 after allowing your own resolver ... you may have some headaches with devices that refuse to use the DHCP provided resolvers but you know they aren't going to other resolvers.

That kind of control is what DoH breaks and I'd love to find an elegant (non-MITM proxy) solution for it ...


There isn’t an effective solution for a device which ignores local network policy other than returning it so the manufacturer pays the cost of designing a bad system.


With the side effect of your local vendor refusing to do further business with you, "the problem customer", with your "unreasonable demands" and technobable.


DNS over HTTPS has been a thing since before IETF standardized it, the technique was just in the form of a non-standardized API running on some benign domain.


I use iptables on an openwrt router to redirect all traffic on port 53 to my own DNS


Thinking about it, if you’re willing to give up TLS 1.3, you could probably just break all https connections with encrypted SNI and then filter based on the SNI information.


Just to nitpick: TLS 1.3 still uses plaintext SNI by default. You need to explicitly put public keys in DNS to enable the encrypted SNI extension.

And in the context of pihole and such, avoiding that means editing the DNS response to remove those public keys. Which takes us full circle back to "do I control DNS for this gadget, or not".


Well, it’s easy to control the DNS if you can block DoH and VPNs: just have your router forward all traffic on port 53 to a resolver you control.


You’ll note that I mentioned a proxy. That’s why: you need to force all traffic through a proxy you control or you’re just hoping that a client doesn’t use hard-coded IPs or an outside API of some source. If your network allows the client to send traffic to port 443 anywhere, any blocking is on the honor system.


My question here is how are you going to install your root certificate on a $300 smart TV? Or, if that is not required because the TV does not verify DoH certificates, how bad is that for security (which we already know is awful on these devices)?


This comes back to the core decision: do you care about controlling the network enough to block access? If the device can't be managed / is no longer supported the safest choice is not to allow it online at all. Different people will have different risk tolerances – it might make sense to put, say, a remote-control power switch on an IoT no-man's land network but if it has access to personal information or cameras/microphones it's not unreasonable to say it should just be blocked unless you're actively using those features.


Well, it’d just block internet access there. I wonder if it’s possible to push a root to an Apple TV


The Checkrain jailbreak [0] supports several Apple TVs, so I’d bet you could use use certbot to obtain a LetEncrypt [1] cert for it.

Of course, jailbreaking opens up other security issues, so it goes back to what you can tolerate.

[0] https://checkrain.org/ [1] https://letsencrypt.org/getting-started/


I know that you can install iOS profiles onto the Apple TV, I have done this for 802.1x support, which included a CA root for the 802.1x controller.

I would imagine you can use this to push any certificate that you can also push to an iOS/iPadOS/macOS device.


This is what I was thinking about.


Right now you can block the common IPs for the DoH servers and be fine.


So I need to mitm https traffic for devices I can't change the ssl trust store on?


You have two choices: trust the device or don’t let it on the network. Voluntary measures like local DNS only work to the extent that the device maker wants them to.


By the same logic HTTPS is bypassing your network filtering of every service which happens to have an alternative available over HTTPS. So do you block HTTPS?


I would absolutely love to have control over HTTPS traffic on my network, specifically to enable my Squid proxy to cache HTTPS pages, but unfortunately not every device or even program supports custom CA's. I'd be the man-in-the-middle between the internet and every device I own.


You don’t need to MitM. Squid can use SNI to allow whitelisted hosts, for now at least.


Hopefully that will be fixed with widespread usage of TLS ESNI/ECH


I think that is a pretty user-hostile attitude and I suspect you probably wouldn't really love it if every network operator was doing that kind of thing.


I read that as LanternLight83 is both the network operator and the user in this case, and if so it’s not really a problem.

I would also love to MitM myself in some cases, mostly because it’d be interesting to see what’s going on.


Yes, but my point is that if you feel it's justified for your own network then you ought to expect every other network operator will feel that way about their network too.

So before applying that mentality, it would be wise to consider what your experience would be like if all your neighbours, friends, colleagues etc also did that on their networks.


Is the point that I sometimes use these networks? Then I somewhat agree - I would set up a separate guest network without shenanigans for guests to use. This avoids both the ethical sketchiness and having to explain why their web browser is shouting at them


True, that could be a good compromise. Although there are still some disadvantages like creating an SPoF for yourself and increasing your attack surface (e.g. anyone who compromises your internal CA has access to all your encrypted connections)


I have no problem with that: if my workplace MITMs traffic, I’ll use my cellphone connection and a personal laptop for sensitive data. If a friend’s house mitms traffic, same deal.


What’s user-hostile is every consumer device insisting on pushing its defaults and ignoring any network policies I’ve configured.


Yes, I agree that is also user-hostile, since it should be configurable. The problem is not about network policies though, since DHCP is explicitly not designed to be a policy and is purposely meant to be optional for the client.

For this reason I wouldn't recommend buying a device like the Chromecast, in which the user can't configure the network settings. Instead maybe consider something like the Amazon Fire Stick which is not as user-hostile.


Yes, from your IoT devices maybe you do.

The usual approach to setting up a firewall is a default of "block everything" and then selectively allow only what is needed.

Most people cheat and only do this on inbound connections, allowing everything on the egress side, because it's easier. But if you want to block your IoT devices from making outbound https connections, you easily can.

There's nothing really new going on here. It's always been possible to tunnel one protocol over another, or use nonstandard ports, and use encryption on the traffic to hide what you're doing.


I’ve been thinking about installing a proxy with my own root for this reason.


I would not want to use your network if that was the case, and I wonder if you similarly would use someone else's network if it was configured like that. I don't think network operators who provide access to the Internet can realistically expect to control what their users do on the Internet, unless the network operator is also the administrator of those workstations.


Maybe, but my rule is: my home network, my rules. I can’t really do this invisibly anyways: any device I don’t control will get certificate validation errors.


The problem here is even the device owner is not the "administrator" of the device as we have lost ownership rights, locked behind EULA's, Patents and copyright

The point of the original story is "your" meaning a device you own, is ignoring your network controls

it is highly unlikely that the TV manufacturer is going to allow me to install my own custom root certs to inspect their traffic to HTTPS, so yes DoH and other things are a threat to network security, because if the TV become compromised I have limited administrative controls to prevent it other the blocking it completely which is a poor response to the problem

DoH is a solution in search of a problem that can be solves in better more user friendly ways


They could do that any time without DoH, as has been done for years. Your true choice is allowing network access or not.


The issue isn't network filtering, it's encryption.

Standard DNS is unencrypted. DNS-over-HTTP is encrypted. Or DNSSEC or any number of newer standards that secure the DNS lookup. At that point, filtering will require MITM proxies, whether it's for DNS or HTTP or any other protocol.

It's a trade-off with security on the open network meaning harder penetration and control in your internal network. There's no easy answer.


DNSSEC is not encrypted. Moreover, between end systems and DNS servers --- the scenario we're discussing on this thread --- it isn't even authenticated.


Sure, DNSSEC provides authentication and integrity rather than encrypted traffic, which makes spoofing or rewriting the responses hard.

Why do you say it's not authenticated? If they're using the newer standards then that's what it provides. If they're not then there's no issue with network filtering as usual.


Again: the article discusses an environment where machines on a home network are refusing to use the DNS servers the network is configured to use. DNSSEC authenticates requests between servers. But between DNS clients ("stub resolvers") and servers ("full recursers"), there is no authentication, just a single bit in the header that says "trust me, I authenticated this data".

It doesn't matter if you're using your ISP's servers, 8.8.8.8, 1.1.1.1, or a custom server you set up on Digital Ocean somewhere: an on-path attacker can forge DNSSEC responses to you. It's a ridiculous situation.


Denial is not just a river in Egypt

Follow the money .. watch the actions not the words


You mean actions like the Mozilla engineers advocating for users in standards groups or industry coordinating teams? Or the ones building privacy-oriented features?

You’re going to have to make a more substantial argument to get anywhere with this.


> At this point Mozilla is just the Non-profit Arm of Google, They do what google tells them....

As someone who has used (and still use Firefox) continously since around 2005 it surely feels that way sometimes and some of the decisions I see would make much more sense to me if I knew top management was somehow in Googles pocket.

(That said

1. for my workflows I still consider Firefox the best browser.

2. switching would only make it even easier for Google.

3. I always hope something will change and Firefox will become really really great again or someone will fork it.


> some of the decisions I see would make much more sense to me if I knew top management was somehow in Googles pocket.

Consider.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation#Google

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/15/21370020/mozilla-google-f...


They are in google pockets for 95% of revenue. But I think as a browser with a smaller market they join things and change things to be like everyone else.

There was a recent change to facebook picture albums that lazily loads pictures as you scroll. In large albums this grinds to a halt after a few pages and each scroll takes 30 seconds to load the next set of images. Chrome handles this smoothly. For social media I had to switch to chrome.

Firefox is still better for privacy and I use it when I can even though it feels like it's slowing down after each upgrade.


> 3. I always hope something will change and Firefox will become really really great again or someone will fork it.

Abrowser (from trisquel) is what firefox should have been. Best fork out there imo.


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Of which I presume you have lots to share with the HN community?


> Universally? Perhaps in the US? But IoT devices are sold worldwide.

Ugh, the situation is even worst in countries with censorship laws. For example, in my country, all ISP are required to intercept all DNS requests and filter all requests to any blocked domains found in the government block list. At least they're transparent about which sites are blocked though (the list is publicly available to query or download), but the fact that all DNS requests are intercepted causes various technical issues and some ISP are trying to profit from it by redirecting the blocked query to their own ads-laden landing pages. They even went as far as inspecting http host header as well as randomly injecting scripts on unencrypted http requests.


Curious which country is this? A public list of censored sites seems an odd thing to exist


Indonesia. The official block list is available here: https://trustpositif.kominfo.go.id/


OP talks about somewhere else, but Poland have public registry of domain names that every ISP must block/redirect to Ministry of Finance website in their DNS resolver: https://hazard.mf.gov.pl/ (gambling sites running without proper license) (this is only about ISP resolver, no intercepting going on)


India definitely does this. It is usually porn and piracy etc related


The absolute worst version I had of this was in China (and I think Korea as well).

I was troubleshooting an issue where a company's client computers which connected to the company VPN wouldn't have internet access post-connection.

The problem turned out to be that instead of sending a NXDOMAIN they'd return their ad server and then _always_ send back some JS to show ads.

The company network used PAC files (these are a piece of JS with a single FindProxyForURL() function) via an internal-only URI to steer most requests to our proxies, while keeping some internal.

The problem came about when clients would first start up the OS would attempt to access the internal-only URI before the VPN client finished connecting. In a normal network it'd get nothing and life would carry on. With this problematic ISP they'd get something that /should/ have been a PAC file, but because it was some other piece of JS without FindProxyForURL() it wouldn't work as a PAC file and thus the client wouldn't go to the proxy.

The expiration on this piece of JS was set to some absurd amount of time, so when the client would eventually try hitting our PAC file server again (happens every 20 minutes on Windows) it wouldn't get our file because it thought the garbage one from the ISP was newer. And the ISP updated their hijacking JS more frequently than we updated our PAC file.

There were two possible solutions to this. One, routinely touch the PAC file so it's date was newer than whatever the ISP put out. Or two, set up an external A record for the internal PAC server name to keep the hijacking from working. We went with the second.


> I'm sure google had only our best interests in mind when unleashing that on us.

Laughably, DoH is from the same gang of A-record squatters that refused to incorporate SRV into HTTP on the (now very evidently spurious) grounds that it could, in some scenarios, require an extra packet, and they couldn't work out how to make it backwards compatible.

Having been comprehensively hijacked by the interests of advertising companies, my view of the HTTP WG has never been lower. And that's a shame because there are some smart people there, tasked with slowly eroding away the last semblance of end-to-end transparency.


In Germany, Telekom used to hijack nxdomain. A court actually found them guilty and since a half year or so they are no longer doing that.


I think that actually supports my point. A customer has a relationship with the ISP and can actually sue them. If people start putting google or cloudflare DNS into lots of devices and apps and those start doing something questionable then you have no recourse and even if they did they'd have to go after dozens of different vendors to change their behavior instead of the single ISP.


Deutsche Telekom hijacked NXDOMAINs for over 10 years, though (maybe even longer). It's not like they did it for a few months and then got sued.


It doesn’t matter to the device OEM when the customer demands a refund because the device stopped working, even though the root cause is the ISP hijacking the DNS request and the device OEM has nothing to do with it. Easier to work around this apparently common ISP practice.


> I'm sure google had only our best interests in mind when unleashing that on us.

Mozilla did more to unleash it than Google. Someone from Mozilla coauthored the RFC for it, and Mozilla had browser support for it first.


My ISP in the UK returns NXDOMAIN for records pointing to 10. ips. I had to go through a lengthy process to have that issue fixed with them. Their support had no idea, and was trying to tell me it's nothing to do with them.


> Universally? Perhaps in the US? But IoT devices are sold worldwide.

The ISP provided DNS in South Korea is absolutely terrible too. Setting 1.1.1.1 or 8.8.8.8 always serves far better experience than the ISP's.


As a counter-point, my UK ISP uses Cloudflare 1.1.1.1 last I checked.


ISPs will also enforce other things using DNS. For example when Spectrum was fighting with Netflix, they sent traffic to some overloaded peering connection.

DNS over HTTPS is an abomination sold as snake oil security.


What DNS do you hardcode? Google's? Or do you advice the use to set it up himself?

I am very suspicious of the push for https and the like. I feel it is mainly about hiding the payload from me not any third party.


You're right to be suspicious. The DNS-over-HTTPS model favors those who run the servers (because they get exclusive access to monetizable end user name resolution data) and those who control the resolvers.

You might control the resolver on your personal computer (for now). You probably don't control it on your phone. You most likely won't control it on your embedded devices.


The root evil here is that you can't change the root certificates in such devices. Even if you controlled its DNS, the device could still just be programmed to fail if it doesn't reach its analytics/ad/whatever server.


The IKEA Tradfri "smart" lighting gateway will stop responding to commands if it can't phone home to some IKEA server. I noticed this when I changed my router to use NextDNS, which blocked the IKEA lookups. I was ready to return the device as broken until I realized this. I've also had issues with Bang & Olufsen speakers in the past, and inclined to believe it's for the same reasons.

I think it's insane that devices can effectively be bricked if they can't phone home. It's nothing short of waste, and I think environmental legislation should require device manufacturers to supply ways of disabling or overriding these mechanisms such that devices can continue to operate regardless of whether home servers are blocked or otherwise out of reach, e.g. company goes belly up, censorship etc.


> I was ready to return the device as broken until I realized this.

Actually you probably should return such devices as broken.


I did just that with a DJI Mavic.

It was kind of hard to send back a really nice device that I had just opened up and was ready to fly.

Thing is, some companies just use it as a way to fire their customers.


I tend to cut DJI a break, because customer (non-)compliance with no-fly zones is a class-1 existential threat to their business selling consumer drones. Pinging DJI servers to check for altitude restrictions at every power-up cycle is intrusive, but I honestly don't see that they have much choice.

However, they are also playing these sorts of games with other types of devices, where no such justifications exist ( https://www.eevblog.com/forum/eevblab/eevblab-83-dji-pocket-... ) That needs to be answered by returning the product as defective.


I’m inclined to agree, frankly.


When I installed PiHole a few years back I blocked my tradfri gateway from connecting to Ikea's servers and everything kept working! I wonder if something has changed since then? Ikea devices are kind of nice because they don't actually rely on the internet at all and work completely locally (at least, they did a few years back).


All I can say is when I had NextDNS configured on my router it blocked requests to some IKEA domain, possibly smetrics.ikea.com from a cursory search through he logs, and my Tradfri gateway would just straight stop responding to anything at that point. I googled around for a while and found other people having issues with DHCP and QoS with Tradfri gateways, so I made sure it had a static IP set as well as all QoS “features” being disabled, but this didn’t help. It would work at first, for some period of time (30 min maybe?) and then stop responding. Once I saw the blocked DNS lookups I disabled NextDNS on the router and flushed any caches on the router, rebooted everything and it’s worked fine now for a good month or so.

I will admit I haven’t done any further investigation, but simply concluded that the gateway at some point started phoning home and if it didn’t receive a response went into some catatonic state. Maybe I’ll dig deeper at some point, time permitting.


The Amazon Fire TV does this already :(

If it doesn't see internet it just blocks itself and goes to a screen "Oops I have no internet".

So you can forget about watching movies from your local server using the VLC app as well. Ridiculous.


makes it utterly useless in an IPv6+NAT64 environment, incidentally.


You can go to settings > installed application and lunch VLC or anything else directly from there


I'm pretty sure the last time my internet was down I couldn't get into anything but the wifi settings. But I'll try it next time, thanks for the tip!


You can go back from network settings back to settings or something like this. just poke around. Discovered it when comcast went down for 4 days and wanted to run kodi on firetv


Amazon also tends to hide options until you "try" connecting to your network. My device refused to work without internet until I "tried" connecting to my network using an incorrect password. When I did that and the device failed, an option to skip network setup appeared. In small font at the bottom of the screen, of course.


Then you return the device as defective and demand a refund. What you chose to pay for is up to you.


I still prefer DoH giving "exclusive" access to resolvers, because the alternative is sending that data in plaintext for everyone along the path to read?


If your ISP is large enough it is only sent to ISP's name server which probably has everything you need cached, and if it isn't it might blend in with other queries. And your ISP can sniff SNI or guess target domains from target IPs already.


Which is also being worked on via esni (now ECH for encrypted client hello) - https://crbug.com/boringssl/275


> The DNS-over-HTTPS model favors those who run the servers (because they get exclusive access to monetizable end user name resolution data)

Hold up. You are claiming that the fact that DoH prevents DNS requests from being visible in cleartext network traffic is a bad thing?

...what? In a world where the choice is between one party (the DNS provider) having access to my DNS requests and everyone on the network including my DNS provider having access to my DNS requests, I'll choose "DNS provider having exclusive access" every single time.


Hold up. You are claiming that the fact that DoH prevents DNS requests from being visible in cleartext network traffic is a bad thing?

It is when its my network. If they cared about people sniffing they would use DNSSEC, but still use the network DNS server. DNS over HTTPS is just a way for shady companies to hide what they're doing.


DNSSEC provides authenticity, not confidentiality.


Uh, DNSSEC is only signatures, it has no encryption.


I believe that Google pushed DoH to track your cross-site browsing. TLS hides your URL, and blockers can break adsense tracking and/or any other call-home backlinks.

Using DoH, especially one served by an advert company is just signing up to be their open book.


Chrome didn't change the resolver, though. It just enables DoH if it's on a whitelist of known DoH-capable resolvers. It doesn't send your data to Google unless you already used Google's DNS.


My company makes IoT systems to support low power devices that use mobile (NB-IoT and LTE-M) connectivity and we have some similar problems having to do with mobile networks and APNs.

The way we solve this is that we assume any knowledge the device has about the outside world can become obsolete, so we do we have a two layer approach.

The bottom layer is that we have a set of semi hard-coded fallback values that are likely to work in the forseeable future. Updating these fallbacks requires an over the air firmware upgrade which isn't a terribly big deal since we regularly upgrade firmware over the air. The goal of these values is to make sure we can get the device online and direct it to somewhere where we can trigger firmware updates.

The second layer is that one or more times per day we ping a config server that sends a packet with configuration data to the unit. This is typically API endpoints etc. The configuration data is essentially a prioritized list of resources, so if one won't respond it will go to the next on the list (while still trying to determine if a higher priority resource becomes available).

Last week we got a chance to see how this failed over beautifully as multiple resources were removed and a fleet of devices just adapted as they should. (The shutdown of these resources were planned, but presented a good opportunity to do a fire drill).


Currently we’re using both Google and Cloudflare’s DNS, providing resiliency against one or the other being unavailable, but I’m looking at potentially using our own resolvers just to reduce the amount of data being exposed to third parties.


So if I have a firewall level block to both 8.8.8.8 and 1.1.1.1 your devices will not work for me at all?


If you can block those ip addresses, you can also redirect those ip addresses to other ip addresses.


So the company you work for will be fighting for my privacy? I'd rather have a PiHole doing that.

These devices do usually have an UI. Why not provide some options to the user? Let him choose among different types and providers. I'd set mine to use the one provided by DHCP or enter the address of my resolver manually.


Have you ever had to do technical support for someone who changed settings they didn't understand? Or maybe someone who decided to "clean up" a bunch of system files that they thought were wasting space?

In my experience, product design is generally done with a well-meaning attempt to protect the average user from themselves. People who can and do manage their own networks in sophisticated ways are, unfortunately, far less common than people who have no idea that their ISP fscks with DNS lookups.

Personally, I'd bury this setting pretty deep in an advanced-usage-only tab and behind a notice SCREAMING about how using these settings is unsupported. And then tell support staff that they are not obligated to support whatever crazy configurations people cook up for their home networks.

I understand not doing it at all. A few people will complain, but the number of people who will refuse to buy a TV because it doesn't play nice with their pihole is almost certainly too small to register on any material financial statement, and attempting to please them will generally run into some other point they are unwilling to budge on. The number of people who screw up an advanced setting they don't understand will show up in support costs.


DNS over secure channels is actually good - it limits bad behavior by ISPs.

The problem of shitty devices on your private network is a different one.


At this point it is really tough to find devices that don't leak data like a sieve.

I recently bought a car, and could not find one without a cellular modem and microphones. Removing the modem voids the warranty. The period where you can opt out is mostly over.


The Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act of 1975 ensures that’s not the case in the US. I suspect something similar is true in EU.

For the manufacturer to avoid a warranty claim due to a modification or aftermarket part, they must show that the defect was linked to the part or modification.

They might have to show that it was caused by, but in any case, if your paint fails prematurely, they can’t say your warranty is void because you disabled the cell connection.


To get 5 stars by EuroNCAP (and AFAIK EU law demands it too) the car have to call 911/112 automatically if it detect a crash. I doubt you can remove telemetry without also disabling this. If you do the car is illegal.


Interesting point. I wonder if an insurance company can argue the modification made the car lose the safety certification, and in effect the user made the car more dangerous by removing the SIM card, and that it would not pay out for injuries sustained in a crash.


Illegal to sell by the OEM or illegal to drive? Two very different things.


Because it is probably part of the vehicle type approval, it would be a modification that needs to be authorized by whatever institution does that in your country.

Otherwise it is probably mostly equal to driving without registration. It may not be a felony, but it will be fined.


Given what I see driving around on US roads, there is epsilon-squared chance this would be found let alone fined here. (I’m also not nearly convinced that it’s even illegal in my state and likely not so in any of them, especially given that my car had a dealer service to remove the SIM card as a recall item.)


It definitely wouldn't be illegal to remove a vehicle's cell modem from your own car in the US. The US is very friendly to vehicle modifications compared to much of the world. At a federal level, pretty much the only thing you cannot do to your own vehicle is remove emission equipment. The US does not even have universal requirements for insurance or safety inspections. And even in the states that do have safety inspections, there are typically very few pieces of safety equipment that are required.


Yep. My state has no inspections of any kind. No safety, no emissions, nothing. Insurance is mandatory, but not really verified in any reliable way.


Theoretically illegal perhaps but I'd be very very surprised if this ever actually gets picked up by anyone even on an annual roadworthiness inspection. Maybe during some OEM servicing but then again maybe not.


You don't need to remove the modem, just find the SIM card and pull it. It's probably in your armrest console compartment or glovebox.


It's not just shitty devices. By putting it on the HTTP layer which usually is even available to sandboxed applications they made it possible for every single application to bypass your own resolver. Pretty much a trojan horse.


I've hated DoH from the beginning, and not just because shoehorning everything into http is a silly idea, but as I suspected, we now live in a reality where you have to keep an adblock-esque list of DoH servers. Now you have yet another internet arms race.


DNS based blocking was already trivially bypassable before DoH was ever conceived so I don't see how DoH or its use by browsers is at fault for that problem.


As mentioned in TFA, configuring a firewall to redirect DNS traffic from broken or malicious software is also trivial. Or are you talking about hardcoding IP addresses?


There are plenty of other alternatives. The simplest (but least flexible) would be hardcoding an IP of the final server.

Somewhat more sophisticated would be hardcoding an IP to a server with a REST endpoint that returns the real final IP. (Basically just like what DoH does, but without calling it DoH).

Even more sophisticated would be hiding the final IP on some kind of public web service like Twitter or Github.


Note that malware of various sorts has done all of this for years. It used to be reasonably common to get command/control server info via IRC, basically DNS over IRC. DNS blocking has never been an effective network management strategy, and it never will be.


You can/should block connections to IPs which were not returned by DNS recently.


Should be done by your host/gateway/router, not each client app.. Same goes for SSL SNI filtering if that ever gets accepted... router should know where requests are going...


Closest 2 servers in OpenNIC.


DoH will just be the start of another arms race. If you would like to control DoH also user LinuxBender responded to a question I asked about DoH blocklists with these repos in another post. I haven't got around to trying it out yet though.

[1]: https://github.com/bambenek/block-doh

[2]: https://github.com/Sekhan/TheGreatWall

Edit: I am mostly curious to see what devices/applications it will break.


I can attest to this. Story:

Many years ago, a old friend of mine purhcased a new Panasonic Smart TV. It was when "Smart TVs" were just becoming a thing.

I hooked her TV up for her; wiring it into the ATT uVerse modem directly. Other devices worked, but this one did not.

After resetting the modem, factory resetting TV, and making sure the ip address on the TV's menu were displaying properly and matched the router's config (they were), as a young naive tech nerd, I just said:

"Looks like they sold you a dud. Thankfully you kept the receipt!. Either way, you still have warranty to get it replaced."

My friend replied: "Shouldn't I call them first before taking it back?"

I said I didn't think it would help, but go ahead.

About 30 mins laters, she was talking to Panasonic tech support and they asked her to manually enter the DNS entries [I believe it was 75.75.. so Comcrap's], and voila, the TV was online again.

We were very happy it was an easy fix; but that day I deftinely did a LOT of reading on DNS servers.

Till this day, DNS entries are something I always check over when troubleshooting (as well as setting my router to Cloudfare's).


> Just be aware DNS over HTTPS is a thing now, and while the devices I’m responsible for aren’t going to try and evade your redirects, the companies that are trying to make sure ads get delivered will absolutely switch to DoH which will be much more difficult to work around.

I've been running PiHole-like software on my network for a few years now. A couple of years ago, it would block over 40% of traffic consistently. I never saw ads, and it was nice.

In the last year, blocked traffic has dropped to about 15%, and I'm increasingly getting ads on my phone and Chromecast despite tunneling my traffic through my ad-blocked network and blocking Google's DNS at the network level.


Search up some more blocklists online which are still being updated. It can use the same block lists browsers ad blocks use.

Run 'update your block lists' on your Pihole to make sure the lists are being updated correctly.


I'd think most of IoT interfaces have some form of user-definable configuration. So most of the time it should be possible to make DNS user-configurable (hidden in some "advanced settings" area). Of course, it might lead to some more support calls eventually and requires a little more money (as in paid work) to implement, but you'd be playing nice and have a balanced compromise of default-hardcoded-DNS with an option to appease power users and/or orgs+corps, and you'd also avoid angry-me calling your support hotline and ranting at your people :P


I agree, if it is an embedded device specifically designed to connect to a limited set of services, there is no reason to expect it to follow DNS provided by DHCP.

Conceivably, there's no need to it to even use "real" DNS at all, you could just run a server that responds to queries like "updateserver.ecorp" and save the hassle of even announcing these servers to the public DNS at all.

Also, DoH or not, there are plenty of other ways to ensure that ads get through a DNS filter. For example, a local hosts file could be included in firmware updates and they would just need to make extra effort to ensure that the server IPs didn't change (an elastic IP or load balancer in AWS would be all you need, then it can persist even if the VM has to be deleted).


> ... and the response to that is hardcoding a set of known good DNS servers which we can rely on.

Netgear, at one point, also decided that hard-coding an IP address (for NTP, not DNS) was the best solution [0].

--

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTP_server_misuse_and_abuse#Ne...


Sony did the same thing with a Blu-Ray player for NTP, effectively DDoSed that particular box because they also didn’t think to stagger the polling so like clockwork millions of consumer devices would check in at the same time nightly. From what I gathered from the electronics guys a few floors down they eventually resolved that in later revisions, or so I was told.


I worked on an IoT platform for a while that struggled with this. Our workaround was to tell support to tell people to not set automations to run on the quarter, half, 3 quarters or hour mark. Something set to run at 7:14 or 7:16 PM would run every night, something set to run at 7:15 was a crapshoot.


As opposed to? I thought you had to specify your DNS server as an IP address. How would it resolve itself?


> As opposed to?

As opposed to the IP addresses that your DHCP server told you about.


It's not perfect, but I find blocking all traffic in/out to global dns servers with pfBlockerNG to be an okay way to limit the DoH bypass of simple port 53 blocking. There are still ways around it, but it has caught a lot of other interesting traffic (snmp, ntp, etc.) leaving my network and that a simple port 53 block misses.

This is the list I use: https://public-dns.info/nameservers-all.txt


Out of curiosity, how do you handle situation where outbound tcp/udp port 53 is blocked? Do you fall back to dhcp supplied dns server?


> and occasionally just highjack every single query to send you to a page saying you’re approaching your bandwidth quota

It boggles my mind it's still a problem in some countries. Last time I saw this kind of notice it was in the nineties, and on a web server, definitely not on a client endpoint. People have had unlimited bandwidth for at least a decade now.


This has regressed. In the NetZero days you would be limited to some hours per month depending on your plan. Then came unlimited cable. And now we are back: my residential AT&T DSL connection is limited to 1TB per month in the Bay Area


Whoa. That would give you one day of laundry washing per month in the IoT age.

https://old.reddit.com/r/homeautomation/comments/k72lzq/sowh...


Comcast in my area has a 1TB/month limit. When I used their service I hit that limit nearly every month.


How do you deal with NAT64? It's a real thing with some consumer ISPs.

I can see myself using it as well, maybe even just to see which devices don't use DNS.

Here's another idea: generate a unique IPv6 address per DNS request, route them to the correct destination, filter other IPs. Not really scalable, but usable on small networks/VLANs.


Currently, we don’t. The devices don’t support IPv6, so it’s not a problem we’ve had to deal with so far.


So you'll only start working on the problem when IPv6-aware devices start failing?

Why wait?


Not the OP, but you should also be reminded that many of these limitations are brought out by cost-cutting measures that we didn't have control of and could be used to fire us immediately, and even when IPv6 is implemented most IoT backend servers only operate over IPv4 anyway. Another one that you might be angry about is only including 2.4GHz-band WiFi even though 5GHz WiFi is already ubiquitous (although only including 5GHz WiFi is much more questionable ;).


Exactly this, we’re a small team and have to pick our battles. In practice very few people have IPv6 only connections, and even fewer of the people who buy our products.


and then there are providers/networks who straight up drop outgoing DNS queries, like the university I went to (including dormitory network).


What a terrible state of affairs we're in now that you can't trust the network's own DNS. Please consider making it an advanced option to switch back on the DHCP provided address.


> Please consider

When you are contracted to build something to spec and you don’t build to spec, you don’t make any money. If you push back on the requested spec, the client will leave and go to another company thus leaving you without any money.

What I’m trying to say unless you are writing the spec, you usually have no chance to change anything


I think that’s a gross overstatement about ISP DNS.

Certainly in Europe I’ve not seen anything even close to that.

I’d love to see a good country-by-country survey on ISP DNS to see just how common this manipulation is.


That's not really a consumer-friendly solution. It's also borderline illegal in the EU IMHO (if you hardcode DNS servers in the USA, for example).

The toxic ISP issue isn't so dramatic where I live, it used to be worse 15-20 years ago. But the solution has always been: if the ISP is messing with you, you just buy your own router and configure it for your network, with a VPN tunnel if necessary. Ignoring DHCP makes this unnecessarily harder.


How come you don't specify that it be configurable?


Because no one has asked for it. The people who care are redirecting port 53, which the devices cope fine with, because if you’re doing that you probably have same resolvers upstream. The people who don’t care are never going to decide they’d like to change the DNS resolvers.


There is no justification for bypassing users network settings, and especially doing it for your own convenience. At very least it should be opt in. If you want to violate customer privacy to save money on support, then I don't know why this is worth even discussing.


This sounds like a game of cat-and-mouse. Lists of 'known' DoH DNS servers will be collected, and PiHole-esque blocking will take shape via more advanced filtering.


> DNS over HTTPS is a thing now

I'm one of those "idiots" whose been whistling in the wind against encryption of everything and all kinds of security lockdowns and it's because of this sort of thing. The theoretical threat of someone sniffing my traffic is just not a concern to me compared to the very real and increasing threat of handing all control of my computing to centralized user-hostile powers.


Well then just use a hardcoded one by default but allow the user to set one manually and then use that.


I’m responsible for a bunch of IoT hardware, and every firmware spec I write includes a note on not using the DNS servers provided via DHCP.

And that along with DoH is contributing to making my life a pain in the butt. How exactly do you folks who avoid our DHCP's DNS expect us to comply with legal filtering requirements? Also, what happens when your hard coded DNS servers are shutdown?


> How exactly do you folks who avoid our DHCP's DNS expect us to comply with legal filtering requirements?

I would argue that this is more a problem with the legal requirements than with the equipment - the law(maker) has expectations you can’t reasonably fulfill.

Doesn’t make your situation any better of course, the law is the law even when it’s impossible


Oh, we can fulfill them. We'll resort to TLS inspection and force you to trust our CA on your device if you want to continue accessing our corporate network. And now we get to see (almost) everything again, like in the "good old days," not just your DNS queries.

Clear text DNS is the ultimate compromise, a gentleman's agreement if you want, that benefits everyone. We can see just enough to filter what we are required to by law on a best-effort basis, but we never see what you are actually doing thanks to the prevalence of TLS. DoH just broke that agreement.

It's a sad example of how a privacy solution like DoH will eventually result in less privacy, at least in some environments. And I'm not even considering how DoH will be the excuse for totalitarian regimes to up their surveillance antics.


Yeah. The pre-DoH world was good for both. I could say its all filtered for the kids on the locked down machines and the adults who knew something about technology could get on with their lives. Now, we are entering a world where we are going to end up locking down everyone. Good job.

I'm damn sure once I have to do the trusted CA path that someone is going to sell a deep packet inspection solution and present it at some conference where someone in charge will hear about it and then it will be off to the races.


Its not a law problem. Its an expectation that technology isn't as random or stupid that it cannot keep a headstart kid from going to PornHub because some tech folks don't trust their ISP.


I think the classic "the network treats censorship as damage and routes around it" applies here.

Designing a device to connect to something over the internet even if the network it's connected to behaves strangely isn't random or stupid; it's just in conflict with your goals. Incidentally, last time I ran into a network with legally mandated filtering, I checked whether a google image search for "tits" worked. It did.


"behaves strangely isn't random or stupid"

Nope, it behaves fine. The owner of the network is serving under age kids. Push too far and its white lists only and block all other IP and I'm sure we'll get deep packet inspection forced on us. Some folks have serious problems with Google Images Search, but you can actually deal with that.

I would also say anyone hard coding DNS into a device is just absolutely unprofessional. Its basically a red flag that any filtering the owner of the network doesn't matter to them.


From the perspective of the device maker, a network causing a DNS lookup to return something other than an accurate result is behaving strangely. That may keep a device from working, so the device maker guards against it. A quick scroll through this thread reveals good reasons for device makers to do this, mostly ISPs behaving badly.

I'm generally inclined to think an "always use this manually-configured DNS" option is desirable in that situation. Of course, many devices may have a financial incentive (ads) to actively resist the network owner's attempts at filtering.

Filtering is inherently adversarial, and I expect a reasonably sophisticated user on your network could find a way to access some proscribed content. I also expect the users of concern on your network are under five years old and that most of them lack advanced knowledge of networking. Is there an established standard for what qualifies as a reliable-enough filter?


What kind of legal requirements are these, which country?


> ISP provided DNS is almost universally terrible

Yet that is what internet actually is for a lot of people...


> Just be aware DNS over HTTPS is a thing now

As is DoT :)


Where do you want them to send it to?


Wow, thanks for breaking established standards then...


Go beat your ISP first.


> Just be aware DNS over HTTPS is a thing now, and while the devices I’m responsible for aren’t going to try and evade your redirects, the companies that are trying to make sure ads get delivered will absolutely switch to DoH which will be much more difficult to work around.

I wonder who's the first sponsor for that thing, dns-over-https...


> In the face of that sort of behaviour you inevitably end up with technical support having to field angry customers who just don’t get that it’s not our fault the hardware isn’t working

If your hardware isn't resilient to network failures then it absolutely is your fault.


This isn't difficult: TVs should not be "smart".

TVs should be incredibly dumb. They should be screens for displaying stuff. That's it. Nothing else.

No network connection of any kind, no apps, no software beyond that necessary to do basic setup of how that screen works: brightness, input selection, etc.


A TV is not a monitor. it probably has an antenna connector, and because TV signals are digital nowadays, it has to decode the radio signal and support a variety of compression algorithms. Most TVs also have all sorts of image processing algorithms. At least a scaler, but most have other, sometimes questionable features. Plus overlays, recording, picture-in-picture, or whatever the manufacturer thinks will improve sales... TVs are already "smart" to begin with. You can just thing of internet connectivity as the antenna connector of modern times.

Thankfully, I don't know of any TV that requires internet access yet. AFAIK, they all can be used as dumb monitors. If you really want a dumb monitor, you can either buy a PC monitor or a commercial one, like those used in shops to display ads and stuff like that. Some are even as dumb as a monitor can be (like the one I am using right now), with only a single input, a single resolution, no OSD, and only an on-off switch and two buttons to control brightness (which is just a dimmer for the backlight).

But dumb monitor tend do be more expensive. First, they tend to be of higher quality, and second, "smart" features are often a profit for the manufacturer. For example, if your TV supports Netflix, Netflix most likely paid for it, and the amount is most likely more than what it cost the manufacturer to implement that feature. It results in a lower purchase price for the end user, the idea being that whatever partner will make up in subscriptions.


https://www.swedx.se has dump monitors for regular TV prices.


I own several smart TVs but use none of the smart functionality. They don’t even have internet.

TV makers are horrible software developers, for the same reasons that mobile manufacturers were horrible mobile OS developers until Android came along.

We have similar solutions for televisions in the form of Apple TV and Chromecast.

I honestly feel I’m wasting my money when I’m buying a smart TV these days, but you just narrow your choice so much if you only look for dumb phones, you’re almost forced into buying one.


Smart TVs often cost less than dumb TVs. If you don't connect your TV to the internet then you are being subsidized by all the people that do.


And frankly that’s all you need to know about the business model. If they’re making money from me using their free service, then I’m the product.


While it could be that your usage data is collected and worth that much to them; the far simpler reason is simply both how competitive the "normal" TV market is, and how much you benefit from economies of scale. Even if your usage were worthless, a smart TV would likely be considerably cheaper.

Also, don't overestimate the bill of materials for a smart TV. Even a "dumb" TV almost certainly has silicon brain simply for controlling the settings UI and various other functions - that's cheaper than buttons, and remotes need something to talk to, so really, a smart TV simply means "a slightly fancier chip" - but still a chip that's several generations old by smartphone standards. It's not going to be a significant extra investment for the producer.


The business model is probably a bit of a hydra. They make a little money from the hardware, a little money from services, a little money from ads.


You also need to know the harm or benefit you accrue by paying for services and being shown ads, as well as the benefit to paying a lower cost for the hardware upfront.


We have an LG with WebOS. Quite good actually, the remote is also very good, the browser is good, the apps work well.


My only problem with LG is that it doesn't seem to continuously poll/maintain a connection to SmartThings, so the Google Home-based control will never work and it can take 15-30 seconds before you can control the TV via the official app. Maybe this is because it's hard-wired instead of on wi-fi.


My LG WebOS TV shows an ad banner on the home screen.


The magic pointer ROCKS


Except you can't shut the thing off, which means I can't have the remote anywhere near me or I'll bump it and make the pointer pop up.


I honestly cannot believe that there is no option anywhere in the settings to turn that off. The best you can do is make the pointer smaller so it is slightly less intrusive when it randomly pops up. I’m tempted to just pull out the batteries, since I can turn on the TV with the Roku remote and I already have a separate remote for my sound system volume.


Yes, I HATE that. My other big annoyance is when i have a movie paused and set down a drink on the table next to the remote and the remote wakes up due to the vibration and unpauses the movie..


Yeah a physical button to turn it on-off would be amazing. Maybe I can sacrifice a remote and see if I can just add a switch to the sensor. Not my worst idea.


Both LG webOS and Sony Android TV come across as polished. If not for the fact that I hate advertisement and tracking with a vengeance, I'd gladly use them.


Yeah, the latest Android TV (Sony) update has ads at the top of the screen that you can't disable.


Will they come across as polished in 10 years, when they haven't had an update in 9 years, and yet the TV itself is still perfectly useful?

I doubt it.


I'm surprised to say but the latest Samsung interface and remote is quite good. Good enough I feel no need to put an Apple TV on it (which happens to have an awful remote).


> the latest Samsung interface and remote is quite good

... at spying on you


You're in luck. Buy a commercial TV, or a hospitality TV. For example:

https://www.lg.com/us/business/commercial-tvs/lg-65ut640s0ua

Other TV manufacturers make similar products.


Commercial signage tvs tend to be much more expensive and never really go on sale though. I can't even find out the price of this product without calling them to talk to a salesperson?


They’re more expensive because they need to make up the lost revenue from advertising and the likes. Or something like that.

Of course, there’s also the simple thing of “enterprise stuff costs more for no reason.”


> They’re more expensive because they need to make up the lost revenue from advertising

If that is the case, shouldn't the product then be labeled that part of the price is subsidized by advertisement so that in a free market customers can make informed decisions about what products they buy and under what conditions? Otherwise there is a huge risk that manufacturers that add such hidden drawbacks can unfairly out compete others who do not, we get a lemon market.


Exactly, the problem is that market research clearly shows that most americans aren't ad-conscious enough to pay $50-$100 extra to not have an ad being the first thing they see when their TV turns on.


> Of course, there’s also the simple thing of “enterprise stuff costs more for no reason.”

That "no reason" is usually a combination of the following:

1) Support avenues - commercial customers want rapid support in case something breaks, including overnight / on-site repair. That infrastructure costs more money compared to consumer appliances where the customers have to ship stuff to a central repair place.

2) Quality. Consumers are used to stuff failing after 3 years and get the next new hot thing, commercial customers want a decade or more in life span with as few maintenance calls as possible - and especially they don't want to redesign enclosures when the model is no longer available so they demand longer shipping times - again, on the order of 10 years or more. Also, these displays generally have to work in a wide variety of environments - directly in sunlight/heat/cold, vibrating/otherwise moving. Higher quality components cost a lot more money. Add more money for certifications required for medical or military deployments.

3) Spare parts. Again, the longer availability terms mean more costs for the support infrastructure - while for ordinary TVs the parts stock can be emptied out after 3-5 years, stock has to be kept around for way longer for commercial TVs, and that includes buying up spare parts when a supplier EOLs a part.

4) Features. Commercial TVs tend to have more selection of (rare) inputs, e.g. BNC or SDI (the latter to drive an array of screens around a spread-out location from a single signal source, you can't do that with HDMI).

5) Firmware. After three to four years no manufacturer except Apple gives a flying f..k about the firmware, which means security holes go unpatched. Commercial customers demand longer update cycles (and better validated ones), again that costs more money.

6) Vandalism and elements protection. This one is huge and ties into the quality part. While your home TV won't need to be protected much against anything, vandals will go and attack anything without mercy - with anything from graffiti over hammer blows to hydrofluoric acid. Add to that nature: bird crap, vomit, tree sap, pollen, drunkards stumbling into your digital signage... or humidity/harsh rain.

7) Loss of revenue from advertising, as you mentioned.


Or because they don’t want to give you a reasonable choice but to send all your viewing data to them. Comparing prices of dumb TVs a few years ago to these “enterprise” ones, it seems unlikely that the premium is to make up for lost ad revenue.

Another possible factor is that enterprises are willing (or even required) to spend more money to keep their data private and secure.


Yeah, I think its primarily market segmentation. Or, you can charge these people more money because they have it. They probably segment based on durability guarantees, these tv's maybe are slightly more durable / last longer in weird temperatures because consumer tv's can cut corners to make the sale, but commercial applications want something that lasts a long time and make fewer sales.


Pro tip: you can Google for part numbers and find people who sell things.


Yeah, and if you're lucky enough to find a seller that way, 9 times out of 10 it will be a wholesaler who will only sell you stuff if you have a corporate account, meaning you either own a business yourself or are cleared by your boss to purchase stuff. Add to that the ludicrous shipping costs for anything weighing more than a box of cereal, insane import duties for anything worth more than say $50, plus a fat VAT slapped on top of all that, and most people in the rest of the world* will probably think twice about it.

TL;DR buying enterprise grade gear of any substance from across the globe as a consumer is a little bit more involved than ordering a pair of slippers frome some seller on AliExpress.

* as in: beyond the next Wal-Mart


they sell it at newegg.


No Newegg in my country, sorry.


Thanks for that, I have a standing need gap for 'Make TV dumb again' [1].

[1]https://needgap.com/problems/64-make-tv-dumb-again-privacy-c...


I was able to do this with my TCL/Roku TV a few months back. My curiosity got the best of me with the announcement of their latest OS, so I upgraded to see what the new features were like. Now I am stuck in the ecosystem, as the downgrade feature is completely disabled (even from a USB stick, with no internet connection, after a factory reset). Luckily, I use a Pihole as my DNS on my router, but still. Super annoying.


That's a valid point, dumb TVs need to be kept dumb by not updating/upgrading the OS although this results in conundrum of not patching existing vulnerabilities in favour of not introducing new vulnerabilities? Vulnerabilities of dumb TVs could still be exploited by plugging in USB devices/SD card or even STB like Roku.


All of the "key features" of this TV are what I want to avoid though. Maybe not as bad a consumer TV, but not that great either:

  Content Management/Group Management
  SuperSign Control Simple
  Network Management Protocol (SNMP) 
  Wake-on-LAN
  Crestron Connected® (Network Based Control)


The difference is that, with this TV, you are the one in control -- not the manufacturer.


SNMP is a monitoring protocol and WoL is a great way to automatically control your screens. You can’t use WoL outside of the local network and SNMP is configurable and secure (if it’s at least v2). It’s not something you should be worried about.


I've asked this in other similar posts: how do you even buy one of those?

I went to the equivalent LG website for my country, and they don't even have a button for contacting them like in the link above.

So I did some searching for the model "LG UT640S" and I only found it sold on one website in my country, but listed as a smart TV (full number: "LG 43UT640S0ZA", parent ends in S0UA).

What gives? Do you need a company to be able to buy one of those? Maybe a sort of line of credit with LG? Buy in bulk? None of this makes sense honestly. I wanna buy a product that clearly exists in the world, but I can't even find someone, somewhere, that will sell it to me.


there's a lot of software in that "dumb" tv


That would essentially force people to buy two devices - one for receiving content to display and a second to display it. All your solution does is shift the problem on to the receiving device. It wouldn't fix anything, and at the same time it'd increase the cost and complexity for the user (by a very small amount admittedly).


Yes, and there are a lot of good reasons for that! The two functions become obsolete at different rates, and people have different needs for each of them, so it's the right place to put an abstraction layer.

When I buy a computer monitor, I can pair it with any computer I want. I can upgrade the graphics card or processor independently of the monitor. I'm not locked in to a particular computer based on the features of the monitor I want. TVs should be the same. It could be as simple as a USB stick you plug in the back.


>The two functions become obsolete at different rates

The implication here is that the connectivity tech goes obsolete quicker than screen tech. That has traditionally been true, but has it been over the last 5 years or so? We don't even have to get into the specific display technology. Just from a feature perspective, there has been a lot of innovation in screens including 4k, HDR, and high refresh rates.


And the dominant broadcast standards are still 1080i 60Hz with no extra dynamic range. A large amount of new content is still targeting that. Aside from over-the-air, I suspect that most cable/satellite operators are offering that service level, at least without premium fees.

Since the end of the digital-TV transition, the TV industry has been throwing a lot of stuff at the wall trying to find something that stuck. There's no clear "it becomes a paperweight" factor to make us all go out and replace newish sets right now. Remember the 3D TV trend? Or the year when everyone brought out curved sets, and then went back to flat? Smart TVs are another variation on that theme, with the added benefit for manufacturers that their lowest-bid tech and changing third-party service requirements will leave you with a set where half the hard-coded service buttons don't work and the other half are unusably slow to depress you into buying a new set in three years.

I expect the next real ecosystem change will be when ATSC 3.0 becomes a workable thing. Then you'll actually be able to offer 4K/HDR with an array of content without the caveat of "external game console/PC/streaming service required." I'd be a bit hesitant to get a new set until then just out of the risk you ended up with something not fully compliant (I'm thinking of those first-gen 4K LCDs that wouldn't accept a 60Hz input)


Although the topic was about smart features so it isn't really OTA or cable we care about. Services like Netflix and Disney+ have embraced those new technologies. I don't think technology like 3D was ever embraced to this extent.

If you compare setups between a new TV with a few year old Roku, AppleTV, or whatever versus a few year old TV with a brand new streaming device, the setup with the new TV is likely going to be the superior option. In fact, Apple hasn't even released a new AppleTV since 2017. I have no idea if this will be a trend that continues, I just don't think "the streaming hardware becomes outdated quicker than the display hardware" is guaranteed to be true like we have assumed it was in the past.


It's probably about the shape of the curves as well as, if not more than, the rate of advancement.

TV display technology is likely to proceed in plateaus because they tie to agreed upon standards. By the mid 1990s we had the ability to make a 1600x1200 CRT monitor with a 85Hz refresh rate, but even a top-of-the-line TV wouldn't offer much more resolution or higher refresh than a 1965 model-- that's all you could get out of NTSC broadcasts. (Yeah. there were some progressive-scan input formats, but that's still only a token advance)

Introducing external sources (streaming, consoles, etc.) provides a bit of wiggle room to advance the resolution/colour/refresh rate bars, but that's still not going to change the installed base nearly as fast as if they said "here's a new standard format and every local broadcaster starts 8k broadcasts tomorrow."

In contrast, streaming products evolve in a continuous curve. Since there's very minimal, if any, platform standards, they can say "here's 24k resolution", or equally likely "here's a new codec/DRM format/API that old boxes don't support."


New monitor comes out with higher resolutions and hdr? Don't care, old one still works.

New streaming service comes out and there isn't an app for it on my device? Or security updates stop being pushed and now my device is part of a botnet? Now I care.


Going “obsolete” isn’t uniform. A product can go obsolete for your use case without going obsolete for mine. An audiophile might consider a platform that doesn’t support the latest surround sound protocol as “obsolete” while I would not even notice.


You just solved your own problem. Don't buy a TV, buy a monitor. (Some people also buy projectors.)


They don't sell huge 4k monitors in individual quantities.


Decoupling allows competition and places control in the hands of the user.


Didn't the user already exercise their control by choosing to buy a smart TV? And I don't think many people would say there is a lack of competition between TV manufacturers.


As is constantly brought up in these threads, there is often no dumb TV option available with higher end panels, and all of the TV vendors are incentivized to be equally evil.


I just don't think it's an issue for the majority of consumers. If you went up to random people on the street and ask whether they would rather have a smart TV or non-smart TV, I think mostly you would get dumbfounded looks of "of course I want the one with more features built-in".


Because that's a manipulative question. The true question is "Would you rather have a TV that spies on you, runs slow, stops working after a few years, and sends pictures of everything you watch to some other country, or a TV that does none of those things and lasts 10+ years?"


How is it manipulative? "Smart TV or non-smart TV" is the most vanilla, agnostic way I can think of to ask the question. Once you start adding pros and cons you muddy the whole thing, and all the pros and cons you have added conveniently lead to your preferred answer.

Don't you think it's more manipulative to build a one-sided argument into the question?


Yes, but the argument goes that someone selling a device specifically for receiving content may see you as a customer of that service primarily, rather than as a means to subsidize the cost of the display or device.

Not sure how that plays out in practice, but not a distinction without a difference.


The second device can be as cheap as $17 known as a “Streaming Stick” and treated as a throwaway component.


OK, here's how you make a smart TV, essentially. Take a dumb tv with some ports attached to it, plug a chromecast into one of the ports, and then pour epoxy over the whole thing.

Your argument is that this adds value to the chromecast dumb tv pair, despite being a fundamentally destructive operation.


But the media box device can be replaced more readily.


You’re exactly right.

Furthermore, an external box is easy to replace when it breaks or becomes obsolete. What are you going to do when the embedded OS in your sly TV is no longer supported?

No thanks. My TV is a monitor, only. It has never been, nor will ever be, connected to my home network after I first brought it home and updated its firmware to whatever was current at the time.


I bought a Sony bluray player for the bedroom; it had Netflix etc on it, and seemed like it would be a good compromise between it and adding a disc player and AppleTV. About six months ago, the Netflix app stopped working. No updates available, just useless.


Speaking of Netflix, some users had been left out in 480p land when the DRM module was likely broken and used to rip high quality streams, so Google adjusted the certification level to Level 3 (software-based decryption).

https://old.reddit.com/r/netflix/comments/jq9wdb/netflix_cap...


I have this issue today. Got a 5 year old samsung TV that was the top of the line at the time and its still more than good enough as a panel but the built in OS has been updated a few times and now its so slow its painful to simply change the channel by pressing the numbers and turning up the volume.


I agree, now all we need is a television company who’s business model isn’t tied to surveilling its customers through its "smart features."

Quite honestly, by just airgapping your "smart" TV, you're effectively receiving a subsidy (as annoying as that may be)


It’s probably in the range of $1 to $10. For example Verizon asked for $1 or $2 per phone to preload an app. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/08/verizon-has-a-plan-t... Twitter makes about $4 per set of eyeballs per year.


This article summarizes an interview The Verge’s Nilay Patel had with Vizios Bill Baxter [1]. Their televisions are being sold at or close to at cost, and their business model is tied to tracking and selling offerings on their smart TV platform. Roku has a similar model. I believe that in this case, the total monetization value of using the smart tv services has to be higher than that.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/smart-tv-data-collection-adv...


You could get a smart TV and just not connect it to the internet. If you were really paranoid, you could disconnect/snip the wifi antenna.

At least my TV still allow firmware updates via USB, so you may not lose that. Not that it'd matter much if you weren't using any smart features, but they do still provide things like improving compatibility with devices (recently HDMI 2.1).

I have a bigger issue with VR headsets. They go a step farther in that you have to use their platform. There's no equivalent of "just use HDMI" in some cases.


> just not connect it to the internet

Wait until they have TVs that connect to cellular which doesn't need your consent


5G! 5G! 5G! 5G! 5G! 5G!

Yeah I am so tired of hearing about 5G. Because that's exactly what it will be.


And if you're really really paranoid, remember that HDMI cables can carry network connections. Though I believe that capability is rarely used.


No need to disconnect anything - all these TVs have manually Configurable IP Addresses, just set it and the gateway to 1.1.1.1 or something and it’ll never be able to talk to another device.


I used to think like you then I realized is not that non smart TVs are better, but that no one is making smart TV non shitty.

Underpowered hardware running a non-optimized version of android...or worse.

If things weren’t done so badly, a unique interface would definitely be the way to go.


Screens can and should last well over 10 years. No matter what hardware or software is put in there, it's going to stop being maintained after a period of time much shorter than that. At that point the convenience of built in smarts, if there even is any, becomes a major inconvenience and you either have to work around it or make a giant piece of e-waste.


Counterpoint: smart TVs are great. My LG has replaced almost every other thing that used to be in my media room. It is my streaming music box (I can target it for casting from my favorite iOS app, and I can use the interface on it for browsing my home network storage if I want). It has Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Hulu, Disney, Vudu, Google TV, and every other damn thing on it. It has voice search, so I just say the name of the show I want to watch and it finds and displays which apps have that in their catalog. It also has a web browser so I can just watch anything I want. I can start a video on YouTube on my phone and later transfer it to the TV (I can do this from either device). I can cast any tab from Chrome to my TV.

I say these TVs are just the right amount of smart. Maybe there are worse ones (I imagine, having once owned a Sony Playstation, that the software on a Sony TV is atrocious) but LG WebOS is brilliant.


Seconded on the LG WebOS. Hated smart/dumb TVs (Toshiba, Samsung, Sony) until I stumbled onto LG's WebOS. Speedy, works as expected, has most of the streaming apps. I thought the MagicRemote mouse thingy is going to be a gimmick but it's suprisingly nice to use.

Oh, and the checkboxes to disable some of the spying are buried on an industry-standard level of assholeiness, so that's good.


At some point, most of those things are going to stop working but the screen will still be perfectly fine. What are you going to do with it then?


I don't know-- plug a $30 Chromecast or Roku into the back and keep going?


Exactly, and it will be just as easy to use. Why bother with the "convenience" in the first place? Why was all the time wasted designing and producing the built-in stuff in the first place? Why make more stuff to maintain for no gain? When the built-in stuff breaks it will either get in the way or stop the thing from working all together. Why? Just why? There has been no sane answer given to that simple question since this smart tv thing started.


You need to have a moderately big processing complex to do various kinds of tasks in the TV anyways (scaling, HDMI negotiation, temporal interpolation, audio, etc).

Decoding video is not any significant additional BOM cost (mostly just the network interface), and it is more convenient and nice for a significant fraction of users.... plus it allows the manufacturer access to additional revenue streams (e.g. getting some pennies for bundling Netflix).


Seriously this thing has four hdmi ports and even a composite video input. It is the superset of dumb TVs.


Dumb TV's had ports forever. How else would people have connected their video sources?


My dumb tv has 4 hdmi and like 3 different composite inputs


My samsung tv was connected to the internet which let it auto update and now the basic ui like volume changing is incredibly slow. Its super painful to just switch between hdmi devices.


No, this is a stupid point. You should always prefer a factored product, no pun intended. All of these "problems" are easily solved by buying a dumb tv and hooking a computer up to it. That way, if you ever need a TV without a computer hooked up to it, you can just separate them.


You've got the whole process the wrong way around. First you decide on the software that you want, and then you choose the hardware to run it. I want LG WebOS and there's only one platform on which it runs. Plugging some PC into the same panel without the software doesn't get me there. In fact, I'm sure it would be an endless mess suitable only for people whose time has no value.


Disagree. My 75 yo parents still have a dumb tv. They have different remotes for cable, sound, blue ray player ( some smart apps), fire tv, and apple tv.

Their life is not easier because of this, they don't watch what they want when they want because it takes minutes to get to a different source.

I know what I'm getting them for Christmas


> I know what I'm getting them for Christmas

A TV with a good panel and a separate smart stick? :D

Really, that's the best choice. Always has been.

My neighbour called me because his Google apps (particularly, Youtube) stopped working on his smart TV. It's a cheap HiSense or something.

Still on warranty, but the store won't do anything as the hardware is fine, and they say the manufacturer is responsible for software updates. Which have stopped coming.

I'm pretty sure he didn't quite understand my "apps are Google property and they need to be updated every few months but this company stopped doing that" explanation, but anyway, he now has a dumb TV in the kitchen, and he specifically bought it so the wife could find recipes online, log in to Facebook and watch Youtube.

I told him to just get an Android computer stick, which will work just as well and last way longer. At the very least, it can be manually updated, unlike the built-in software.


The right way to fix this is one single smart device, which is the only device connected to the dumb TV. The best of these types don't have a remote. They're controlled by a phone.

If the intelligence is built into the TV then it cannot be updated or replaced -- so either there will again be multiple devices, or the TV will need to be replaced on a frequent basis.

A smart TV makes the problem you describe even worse


Completely disagree on the lack of remote. Hitting a button on a remote is better UI than needing to unlock a phone and hope that it's actually connected to the streaming device (not always the case).

I think the new Chromecast is an admission from Google that the average person still wants a remote.


I agree with this.

And in this context; in my 30s and I don't always know where my phone is; My parents, don't always have their phones accessible or know where they are without looking. Also, it's less tactile in the dark.


Perhaps I should say that the best of this type offer the option of using a phone.

I personally prefer a phone but I also understand the preference of a remote. With a separate smart device these types of preferences can be accommodated over time, unlike with a one size fits all smart TV.


My smart TV's built in apps (Netflix, mainly) are incredibly unstable. About 5 years back I started to use a Firestick instead. The TV is best as just a TV.


> If the intelligence is built into the TV then it cannot be updated or replaced

Wait until a decade from now, when all computers are like this, too.


Planned obsolescence is a feature. Not an accident.


My single Apple TV remote with only 7 buttons and a trackpad controls everything. The AppleTV itself wirelessly, the TV power on/off and source via HDMI-CEC, and finally the external amplifier volume via IR, which powers on/off itself when sound is received or idle.

The TV automatically switches source to the game console when it's turned on and vice versa.

Couldn't be easier.

I haven't done any fancy hacking or special hw to get this working, just basic Samsung, Apple, a decent amp and a few minutes adjusting the settings of each.


Get them an nvidia shield to attach to the dumb tv. Best of both worlds.


> Google Assistant built in

https://www.nvidia.com/en-au/shield/

Being internet connected is one thing (which it looks good for), but having an active mic in the room is a whole other level of "no thanks" from me.


So disable/don't use it? It doesn't even actively listen for "ok google", it only listens if you hit the assistant key.

If you ever have an android phone in your home, it's exactly the same thing (except the phone actively listens by default).

Edit: Also, for fucks sake, context. The person I'm replying to is talking about getting his parents a SmartTV (way worse privacy-wise than Google), for the convenience factor.


And then they forget to update it or nvidia discontinues it and someone hacks in to it and your room mic gets posted on one of those open ip camera lists.

This is not some tin foil hat idea. You can go on reddit and browse peoples personal spaces being broadcast for everyone to see.


… how does a mic that is embedded in a remote control turn into a camera?


I don't mean that it will become a camera, but that it will be listed along side them. "Listen to this random persons living room / bedroom" makes for some entertainment for others.


Ok but again how does that help OP who needs something better than a smart TV to give to their parents?

Be pragmatic.


You're getting them a chromecast?

Because that's what you should.


Tried it.

It takes 2 remotes to get the sound and hdmi to the right input. They are also confused about what apps it works with, or how to get to them (on the phone), and even though they have a Google Home, it only works with a few providers for voice control.


I think I read somewhere that it will soon be more cost effective to build in cellular chips into "smart" devices like this to circumvent people who don't connect them to the internet.


This is the main use case of 5g iirc. Enabling millions more devices to connect to the network. What an absolute nightmare we are about to enter. "Just don't connect it to the network" is no longer a valid answer.


I will start building 5G jammers. The FCC can eat a bag of dicks.

Apparently even 5G-NR has an equivalent of the wifi "unauthenticated deauth" intended for emergency quench of uncooperative devices.

The cellphone location data abuses revealed over the last three years have led to a remarkable increase in the number of GPS jammers out there. Gaussian-noise blurred, the good ones that can't be notch-filtered.


I think the real answer is that the EU will come up with some "Right to disconnect" which mandates that all devices request user consent to connect and retain as much functionality as physically possible while in offline mode.

The technical battle is basically lost on IoT once they can embed modems.


True, but unfortunately not a solution because it's not future-proof. Nobody will be using dumb tv's in 50+ years;

What we really need, are proper laws to control/limit/stop all the tracking.


What annoys me most about "smart" TVs is they are complete crap. I tried to use a friend's TV that cost several thousands. It had an "air mouse" remote. But the thing was more laggy than the first time I tried a full GNOME desktop on my Pentium 2 back in the day. Barely usable. I have a Raspberry Pi 2 that's been running for years now hooked up to a projector that wipes the floor with that piece of junk. But he's now stuck with that interface for years.


There's something nice about having a single device you can chromecast to, play Netflix on, etc. I mostly just wish there were open-source firmwares for TVs.


Really it comes down to exposure surface. Just looking around my home, I sit with 100's if not 1000's of devices from various companies and their internet implementation. I have no idea what's going on 'under-the-hood' on all of these and rely on trust. If I were smarter, I would have bought from a smaller group of trusted names like Apple and Microsoft and let them deal with my updates.


Why do you say it’s not difficult? You know people want TVs to have convenient apps and integrations on them. Convincing people to get that functionality from an additional device that they have to set up sounds very difficult.

Do you mean to say you have a simple opinion?


For those who don't mind a bit of DIY, there is always the option of dumbing one yourself: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24877363


But how would they track everything you watch on it then?

Can't have you throwing a Heat (1995) DVD without it being recorded in a database, can we? Sure, your smartphone probably pics up the audio, but it may just report that you're listening to Moby.


You can purchase a monitor. This follows the philosophy of buying separate dumb devices that only do one thing. A dumb TV is just a monitor + speakers + a TV tuner, after all.


The one exception... it is really convenient to be able to use my phone to control the tv, even if it is only to change inputs.

And that's how they get you.


There's no reason any phone shouldn't be able to control any TV, except that IR ports are no longer popular on handheld devices. Back in the 90s there were wristwatches that could control any TV.


IR watches were always hilarious at school. I suspect in pubs too.


Every few years, some auditor would always flip out about IR data transfer. It would always get escalated because none of the frontline IT people had heard of it.

I’d always chuckle thinking of the boogeyman bad actor employee who decided to exfiltrate customer data to a circa 1999 palm pilot at 9600 baud via IR instead of the dozens of easier methods available.


Bluetooth is a good alternative in this case.


My TV has an internal ethernet switch and two ethernet ports so you can daisy chain them. Too smart?


You can buy that TV. It still exists. But for now, people are buying smart TVs.


> You can buy that TV. It still exists.

It does, but only just. There are still a few models around, but the category of large-format dumb displays has virtually disappeared over the past decade. Commercial displays have almost entirely turned into smart TVs that run business apps instead of consumer apps.


> This isn't difficult: TVs should not be "smart".

As it turns out other people have different priorities than you do. The world not conforming to your personal preferences does not make it wrong.


I imagine if you want a tv like that you can find one. A lot of buyers quite like smart tv's I imagine.


It’s actually pretty difficult to find a TV like that. Most stores don’t even have “dumb” TVs.


This comment has a link to one https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25316823


„ KEY FEATURES

Content Management/Group Management SuperSign Control Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) Wake-on-LAN Crestron Connected® (Network Based Control)“

That’s not a dumb TV


Doesn’t have Netflix or whatever, but you’re right it’s not dumb


I use streaming apps on the TV all the time. I don't see any real justification for this luddite mindset. If you don't like data collection that makes the TV cheaper that's a separate issue.


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