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Samsung UK admits you can’t disable ads on Samsung smart TV (twitter.com/samsunguk)
231 points by NKosmatos 84 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 194 comments



My recommendations for how to deal with this shit, in decreasing order of effectiveness:

1. Don't buy a Samsung or LG TV. Unfortunately, if you're in the market for a real high-end TV, you often don't have another option

2. Never connect it to the internet and use a dedicated streaming box/stick instead. If you don't have one, or don't want to give up a HDMI port...

3. Block the following domains on your router or via a free OpenDNS account:

- ads.samsung.com

- config.samsungads.com

- doubleclick.net

- gpm.samsungqbe.com

- log-config.samsungacr.com

- samsungacr.com

- samsungads.com

- samsungosp.com

- samsungotn.net

- samsungrm.net

- tvx.adgrx.com

No more ads.

This shit makes my blood boil. I have a laundry list of issues with this TV, which is a shame because when it's not actively trying to make me hate the company it's actually a very nice display. LG pull this shit too, but I think they're slightly less awful than Samsung. I didn't particularly want an OLED panel which is why I went for a Samsung LCD, and I regret that decision regularly.


The problem with trying to avoid the current smart TVs is that the industry has started to subsidize the pricing by selling viewing data. It’s going to be harder moving forward to compete on price without having “smart” features that are really a shim for getting the analytics and tracking packages in there.

I’ve been running a pihole on my home network which also actually removes a lot of client side inserted ads during video playback which is another huge upside.


What frustrates me is the lack of options and lack of transparency. Amazon do it right with the Kindle imo—you can get it with ads or pay slightly more and get it without.

My other issue is that I find ads on something that costs > £1000 to be incredibly distasteful. If it was some bargain basement thing fine, but this is meant to be top tier.


Conversely, the advertisers are becoming increasingly less hesitant about doing what they want: exploiting high-end products instead of low-end products. The fact that you just spent north of £1k on a TV is an unambiguous proof you're much more lucrative target for advertising than someone who only buys the cheapest things available.

This is why "pay XOR ads" is a pipe dream: vendors will always turn it into "pay AND ads", because selecting for people with disposable income makes ROI on advertising much better.


But that only works as long as everyone is at it. As soon as you have one brand that makes a point of not doing anything like that and just providing good quality gear, the market of people with enough money to feature in this part of the discussion has another option they may well prefer. And if people buy Apple gear, no-one is convincing me that such a brand couldn't sell a TV with $1000 hardware specs and no junk at $1200 or even $1500 to that market.


How many such brands exist? Apple is the obvious example, but what else? I can think of only single other one - Framework[0] - but it's pretty niche at the moment, and it's too early to tell how successful it'll be. A mass market brand? Can't think of one.

The problem here is, by not doing this kind of shady shit, which is currently normalized as a business practice, you're leaving lots of money on the table. The temptation to pick it up is strong. Maybe you can resist it, but will your investors? Will your shareholders?

If we could figure out how to resist, in a reproducible way, the market pressure favoring antisocial behavior, the world would be a much better place.

--

[0] - https://frame.work/


> If we could figure out how to resist, in a reproducible way, the market pressure favoring antisocial behavior, the world would be a much better place.

Isn't that what regulation is for? If business practices harm society, then you legally rein in the business, financially discouraging them from committing such practices.

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/no-chocolate-or-ice-cre...

https://wwwl.foodnavigator.com/Article/2015/01/07/Netherland...


Yet even Apple is sliding into pay-and-ads with special placement for their own offerings.


I'm not arguing that recent Apple is a business to be emulated here. However its success is clear evidence that if something is shiny enough and has otherwise good specs then there is a large market willing to pay a large premium for the shiny.


I’d happily pay a several hundred dollar premium for an ad-free, analytics-free OLED option from LG.


Buy an LG TV that's never hooked into any network and an Apple TV. The only interface I ever see on my Sony TV (which has an LG panel) is the input switcher.


I've got an LG and blocked it on my router from getting outside the LAN.


There is away around this, consistently pressure and lobby our governments to make this illegal or mandate that they provide dumb TVs as well.

Change doesn't happen instantly but a dedicated lobbying campaign and activism will yield results.


My understanding is this is what Amazon Sidewalk is, at least in part, about. Your TV could easily bypass your network, and connect through your neighbours Echo. If I understand, it's opt-out and enabled by default. So, essentially Samsung will pay Amazon a few bucks a months to show you ads regardless of how you've locked down your network, because your neighbour hasn't locked down his.

https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Sidewalk/b?ie=UTF8&node=213281...


This is my greatest fear, that I'll have to resort to wrap around Faraday cages for each of my should-be-dumb devices.


There could be wallpapers for this. AFAIK https://www.erfurt-tapeten.com/en/ produced one which had this as a side effect of thermal insulation. Or still produces. The 'wavies' raved about it a while ago :-)

Can't remember the product name anymore, unfortunately.


Some person maintains this Smart TV focused list for pihole. Most of the domains above are there, and more.

https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Perflyst/PiHoleBlocklist/m...

And, there's one for FireTV

https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Perflyst/PiHoleBlocklist/m...


I have a Samsung smart TV. I was using Pihole before I got it. I also had to implement a rule on my Mikrotik router to force all DNS queries on my network to go through th Pihole. Then the ads on the Samsung disappeared. Unfortunately, it also broke the OS updates and app store, but all I have to do is disable the pihole filter for 10 minutes to do those jobs and I'm good.


Is there a UK available streaming device that supports:

- AirPlay (audio/video)

- Spotify Connect

- YouTube 4K

- USB MP4 (& MKV)

- Netflix 4K

- Amazon Prime 4K

And is super polished & responsive? If so I'd be interested, but my LG TV, crummy as its ads are, does all this out the box. I'd happily pay some money to have more control.


Aside from USB playback, an Apple TV 4K can solve most of this. (I don’t know about Spotify Connect but assume it works with AirPlay if not).


Yeah the USB is the kicker. I want to avoid using some crap like Plex, so unless there's a super simple and reliable way of streaming 4K MKVs over the network it is nice to use the pendrive.

I suppose the TV can still use the pendrive even offline, actually.

What advantages does an AppleTV 4K (£169) have over a Roku Streaming Stick+ (£45)?


I stream 4K MKVs from my phone (an iPhone) to my Apple TV 4K using AirPlay all the time. It used to be a challenge getting the codecs right, but there's broader support now. It took awhile to find a good iOS app that supports this, but once I found nPlayer[0] I've never gone back. It's faarrr better than the VLC iOS app.

It works quite well even when my phone is streaming media that's on cloud storage somewhere (nPlayer supports many). But for optimal playback I download the file to my device first.

Of course if you want Dolby Atmos sound, I think you're out of luck. I think HDR should work but not sure.

[0] https://apps.apple.com/us/app/nplayer-plus/id539397400#?plat...

edit: You can also install app on the ATV that accesses files stored over the network/internet as well, like VLC for ATV. Though I've never found a great one.


App to access files over the network. I think Infuse is pretty good. It supports NAS and if your files are well named then pulls in meta/artwork. Can also be a front-end for Ember/Jellyfin/Plex, but for my LAN media I’m currently going with DLNA.


Infuse is fantastic!


Fun fact, Dolby Atmos support is very much pushed now, not sure how long it has been like this but it says it on the box so perhaps a software update?


I did not realize this was an option, thank you for your comment


So what exactly is the system? You transfer the MKVs to your phone via a cable somehow? Is there any quality hit?


I use nPlayer to access my files over the network/sftp/Dropbox/WebDAV/put.io/HTTP and download to my local device. But like I said, streaming directly from the network works too. But for a high bitrate 4k file downloading first is better since the server=>phone=>ATV transfer can be too slow. (Resolution doesn’t matter, it’s all about bitrate. Some 4k HEVCs are lower bitrate/smaller files than 1080p h264s)


Having an excellent with Infuse and macOS inbuilt SMB!


You can get VLC on Apple TV which makes streaming most things on the LAN simple enough but yeah, just using the USB port on the TV would probably work for that use case. The UI is miles better on the Apple TV and the remotes are very good, but you do need to create/use an Apple account in order to download things (like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime etc.) from the App Store.


Not sure about the Plex flack here, 4k is fine if not transcoded and sits happily in its own library.


I own both, and the Roku is slow, buggy and has really horrible UX. It doesn't get used at all.


>streaming 4K MKVs over the network

Isn't that covered by your airplay requirement?


I couldn't work out how to do this. I usually just use IINA and an HDMI cable but it's non-ideal - I figured it would require re-encoding or something and sucking on quality.

If you have a solution I'm all ears!


I use Airflow to stream 1080 to a chromecast from my MacBook . Works flawlessly with a simple UI.

My understanding is that it supports 4k and a range of streaming devices but I can’t say if it handles it flawlessly because I don’t have hardware to try it.


Right, I've bought an Apple TV 4K!

I have a 28.99GB H.265 5.1 Atmos MKV file of Linux tutorials that I would like to play on it, sitting on my MacBook.

What is the most painless way to play it on the Apple TV with no loss of quality (other than the surround, which will be played on 2.0 speakers anyway).


Try AirPlay. Should let you wirelessly share the video from your laptop to the AppleTV unit.


Yeah, I have an Apple TV 4K on my LG dumb TV which does all this (AirPlay also being far superior to Spotify Connect), though it's the dumb TV that will play back anything off a USB stick. Willing to bet this TV outlasts a "smart" Samsung by many years.


I like Spotify Connect as it is easy to transfer from desktop to TV


You can do it all with two streaming devices, an Apple TV, and a Raspberry Pi running LibreElec:

https://libreelec.tv

And the Raspberry Pi is $35 so it's not a hugely expensive addition.


The Pi doesn't support 4K Netflix, 4K Amazon or full fat Airplay.


...that would be why I said that and an Apple TV.


I’m using a Mac mini. Just have a wireless mouse and keyboard. Much more versatile than a streaming device. It’s nice being able to zoom from it with family or coworkers.


Doesn't support Amazon 4K from that list.


That would probably cost you more than the TV itself.


Use it for work at night too. I’m fortunate enough to hardly consider price for my priorities (performance, ad-free, versatility).


As others have said the Apple TV gets you most of the way there—presumably you can do USB playback from the TV without connecting to the network?


I can, shame it doesn't support MKV properly, though!


Third party apps from the App Store, such as VLC, will play MKVs (and other formats) no problem.

I used to re-encode MKVs to MP4s for playback on the AppleTV 3rd gen, but since getting the Apple TV 4K (2nd gen), I simply shuttle over the MKVs to VLC from the web interface.


I'm interested - how do you transfer the 4K MKVs to the Apple TV?


In the VLC app on the Apple TV, you can open up the Network Sharing tab. It starts a local network server and is accessible via a webpage like http://living-room-apple-tv.local. Then I simply drag-and-drop the files from my computer to the webpage. On the AppleTV, they'll be cached indefinitely (at least until storage is available, or you delete VLC). I use this to play one-off/occasional video files.

You can also run a file server on your computer, and tell VLC where to access it over the network.

I believe that VLC isn't the only app on the AppleTV that can play MKVs, but it's the one I use.

In case you're wondering, the AppleTV is powerful enough to stream + transcode the MKV files on the fly. I've never had issues, at least with 1080p files. 4K should be fine, too.


Use Plex


I don't think so, but a Sony Android TV would also meet these requirements.

HN is generally down on integrated TVs, but the truth is that they're honestly fine nowadays, and much more likely to have robust integration of services than boxes are. And if support goes downhill after a while, you can buy a box then when there will maybe be better options.


I think maybe a Roku Streaming Stick 4K will do everything there except the USB? (I don't have one but have been considering one; I have a 5-year-old LG Blu-Ray player that covers USB and DLNA pretty well).


With the exception of AirPlay, the Nvidia Shield seems to fit the bill.

There are AirPlay receivers for the Shield IIRC but they are unofficial and unsupported.


A large amount of Kodi/android based tv boxes support that. For example pentoo devices


Nvidia shield pro should be able to do all that with some finagling for airplay.


Roku, I believe, would be something to look at.


A Windows PC?


Where does LG do it? Honestly I've had two LGs for about 4 years now and have not noticed any ads, maybe some in their content store, but that's about it. Overall pretty happy with LG


I have a LG C7 and haven't seen any ads. Maybe it's newer versions or certain regions.


I have a CX and a G9 (essentially a bezel-less C9) in the US, I have not seen the ads


Is HDMI-CEC (Anynet+ on Samsung) a security/privacy risk also? I remember reading something about it being able to leverage connected devices Internet access a long time ago but I can NOT find anything to substantiate that now.

I do disable HDMI-CEC anyway just to stop user-hostile features like Hulu on Roku disabling the input select button on the TV remote.


Ethernet over HDMI is totally a thing but I have no idea if the ports in their TVs are wired for it.


I recently searched for this and couldn't find any device that actually implements this. In any case, Ethernet over HDMI still requires one of the HDMI devices to be connected to the network via some other way and bridge the HDMI connection with that network as to give the other HDMI device a way out. So something like an Apple TV which has no incentive to help spyware should be safe.


4. All of the above.

Ironically, Vizio TVs (one of the budget brands) seem to be one of the least aggressive about trying to display ads in ways which are difficult to bypass. That's what I bought and I don't connect it to the network, and I block these ad domains (among others) network-wide.


For #1, maybe these can be good substitutes:

https://www.sceptre.com/TV/4K-UHD-TV-category1category73.htm...


Absolutely not, their panels suck.

The only budget manufacturers that give two shit about quality seem to be Hisense, TCL and Vizio.


haha, thanks for correction


I bought the 65" dumb panel TV from them because I refuse all this be, it's fine, and I feel like it's mine, I'm not renting it by constantly paying with ad watching.


This is excellent advice. Shit makes my blood boil, too. I do this for my LG TV but have had a hard time getting a definitive list of domains to add to my blocklist. Does anyone have a lead on this?


I have an LG TV and never seen an ad. Just don't go into their store or home screen. Launch the app you want directly.


> Unfortunately, if you're in the market for a real high-end TV, you often don't have another option

What about Sony?


I will admit I haven't checked very recently, but when I was looking earlier in the year, Sony's offerings were a good bit more expensive than Samsung or LG for an equivalent panel and lacked some features important to me like VRR.

Plus, doesn't Android TV have ads anyway? I haven't used it extensively but a quick search seems to suggest it does.


Yeah, I have a Sony X800H, and I foolishly installed an update early in 2021 that added irremovable ads to the home screen.

I haven't figured out how to roll the firmware back, but I have blocked basically all of the domains it accesses with pihole, and after a cache clear, it only displays default messages imploring the user to check out youtube and other google products. It's inoffensive enough that I haven't continued exerting effort to quash them.


Or Philips


Why would you not want an OLED panel? Are you using the TV for signage or something?


I called Samsung once for my smart TV that was showing ads that slowed everything down when they rotated out. Told them I just spent north of a grand on their TV (circa 2016) and that I didn't pay for ads.

Lo and behold, the service technician suggested I simply disable the internet on the TV and that they'd happily help me with that. Of course I didn't (I hung up on them), but out of curiosity I disabled the WLAN on it anyway and restarted it just to see what happened.

The ads were cached. There is absolutely no way to escape the ads on Samsung's TVs. I'll never buy another Samsung product again - it's my belief those sorts of practices are indicative much more sinister, less obvious anti-consumer practices.


Just charge it back and return it.


"Smart TV" means "smart" for the manufacturer. For the user, it's pretty "dumb" to let the manufacturer invade your privacy on your TV.

Thank you Samsung but no thanks. Any "smarts" I need from my TV, I will add myself. This way, I know exactly what I am getting.


Unless you're using a disconnected TV (i.e., no CATV/SATV/Internet), your viewing habits are being tracked and sold.


A lot of what I watch is digital broadcast TV. And the only connection my TV has is through HDMI to my computer. Even my dual ATSC broadcast tuner is driven by my PC so I can do all sorts of "smart" stuff like picture in a picture, split screen or watch one channel while recording another.

Privacy is only half the issue. Freedom is the other half. Most manufacturers control what you're allowed to install on your "smart" TV. And most can't record either.

How "dumb" is that?


Even then, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if Google was selling Chromecast viewing data and similar for Amazon.

If not on the receiver, the client (likely your phone) may be reporting it.

And then if not that, wherever you're streaming from may be reporting viewing habits.

This seems like another one of those things that's just intractable because the overhead is too high. You can limit who gets your viewing habits, but preventing anyone from getting them is hard. Similar to tracking on the internet.

The solution is legislation, not playing cat and mouse with corporations.


My phone only runs open source software and my TVs and projectors around my home are hooked up to PCs that also only run open source software.

All devices stream via Kodi from my NAS

I will never have ads and always have complete privacy.

I also don't have any streaming services because none of them have an option to avoid ads and maintain privacy no matter how much you pay them.

When I can buy physical copies of content, I often do. Sadly in most cases the only way to consume modern media in full 4k quality for any amount of money with privacy and without ads, is piracy.


Roku TVs have this turned on by default but it is pretty easy to disable in settings.

Exercise to the reader to see what is still sent when it's disabled.


Can I assume that a modern TV I buy works without internet? (I'd just want it to display stuff I feed it via HDMI or whatever).


I have a couple modern LG 'smart' TVs that I don't connect to the internet, and they work just fine. As you say, they just display whatever is on the HDMI input.

I've updated their firmware a couple times. I connect them with wired cat6 on their own isolated VLAN to update, and then disconnect them afterwards. Maybe I am a little unnecessarily paranoid about it, but I don't really trust TV manufacturers, not with some of the (maybe apocryphal) stories I've read.


Why even bother with firmware updates for a disconnected device? Did they bring any benefits?


Yep! I've had two nasty bugs (intermittent audio dropping and HDMI CEC power off being broken) that were fixed by firmware updates.

I don't keep the firmware preemptively updated, though. I just did it as a debugging step in trying to fix some problems, and shockingly it did both times.


Ah, it makes sense in that case.

I have a decade old Sony Bravia that we got because it supported DVB-T (terrestrial digital television; now no longer in use because of a switch to DVB-T2) without the need for a set-top box. It has an Ethernet jack, but other than some experimentation after we got it I never connected it. I can't imagine ever trying to update its firmware at this point; no reward and plenty of risk. After DVB-T went we just stopped watching broadcast television, and this early 'smart' TV only gets turned on sitting on the HDMI input it gets from a receiver hooked up to loudspeakers and an HTPC with Netflix in a browser and other media. Of all its features the on/off button on the side is the only thing interacted with now. I've stopped repairing the remote years ago.

I fully expect it to just die one of these days, and it will probably be the last smart TV we'll ever own.


Probably because they ship beta devices as production quality.


It is literally impossible to ship “production quality” devices that actually support a decent amount of formats.

Of course there will be bugs when you’re consuming content at the very bleeding edge. I’d rather still fight with getting some Dolby stuff to work than not have it at all.


This is how I roll, too. But every firmware update is a gamble. The latest update I did - last month - set the TV to regularly nag me on start-up about enabling “AI Recommendation” services, along with a couple of other new UX niggles.

I have loved this TV (C9), but I can see what LG is doing and I do not like it at all. I was planning on getting a CX 48” for my desktop monitor but decided against it after this experience.


No, you're not being paranoid.

This is the only way. And beware, they might still be connecting to some public wifi hotspot behind your back.


There have been stories that soon, TVs will come with a built-in mobile chip, or will try to connect to open wifi networks even if you don't configure them to. I don't know how much truth is in those stories, but I wouldn't put it past the TV manufacturers to do so.


They don’t even need to do that. Just contract with local TV networks to send data over their OTA TV streams that gets routed to the TV’s CPU instead of video decoder.


???

Routing data to the CPU wouldn't make much difference without a network connection to transmit the data back to central collection point.


The endpoint is to deliver new and targeted ads. And firmware updates.

Tracking won’t work without a phone home though. But that’s a solved problem. We’ve been delivering ads for a while without 100% knowing which are watched.


>SATV

Do satellite TV boxes even have an uplink connection? AFAIK the satellite dish is one direction only.


Even 1990s systems would have a 2400bps modem to phone in pay per view purchases.

Policy requires a telephone connection, partly for the purpose of reducing subscription sharing.

Pirates and many others wouldn’t or couldn’t plug them in.

Once an update was built to check for a dial tone intermittently and eventually deactivate, so pirates created a 555 timer device with a 9V battery to generate a frequency close to the dialtone. Even though a dialtone is 2 frequencies, the modem accepted any single frequency remotely close to the right range.

At some point, the provider would call subscribers with several boxes on the same sub that didn’t phone home and ask for “secret” numbers from all receivers, but someone quickly published a program that generated those keys. Saves legit customers from walking around the house too.

Fun times.


My satellite TV box has an ethernet port on the back.


Lots of them require periodic internet access for distribution of key material.


Isn’t that sent over the air?


I've recently been in the market for a display and had good luck with Sony's professional displays. I ended up going for this one: https://pro.sony/en_GB/products/pro-displays/fw-65bz40h which was very competitive on price with consumer-grade models of similar spec despite being a professional display.

It's just got a stock Android TV, a Sony privacy policy popup which you can decline (no idea what I'm missing out on - declining skips some steps during set up) and some professional apps such as Crestron screen sharing, Airplay, etc.

It's not a TV and doesn't have any consumer-grade apps preinstalled, but there is a Google Play store icon so I'm pretty sure you can install Netflix on it if you wanted to.


When I shopped TVs a few years ago, Sony was the only consumer brand that didn't have ToS that included language about this type of advertising. I'm not sure if that's changed. They still spy on you plenty, though.

That's what we bought, but we still don't connect it to a network and only use hdmi inputs. Plus disabled quite a few apps via adb, and don't update the software.

It's sad that this is what it's come to.

I also suspect that at least Android devices are starting to use other (Android) network devices as proxies to get data to Google when they've been firewalled with only LAN access.

Lots of unexplained data getting transferred on my home network between firewalled Android devices.

But maybe the state of things just has me being overly paranoid.


While it will hopefully remain one way, it’s a matter of time the TV will receive updates and ads over DVB or other broadcast mediums.

Could even geo-target ads. TV could figure out its location by GPS, multilateration of DVB signal strengths, what wifi is around, or purchase/delivery information (you didn’t stupidly get your 85” TV delivered to your own house, did you???).

Would be cool to have on-demand TV or other data distribution given how much spectrum is available on DVB-T.

Just like satellite Set top boxes.


This is the holy grail for mobile carriers — have enough bandwidth in 5G where devices will come with mobile data already activated without user intervention at all.


They could have done that today with 3G if they wanted, they just choose not to.

Tons of unused spectrum overnight that should cost nearly $0, but they choose not to because we market prices would be bad for telecoms so it’s not on offer.


Yeah- I suspect the push for Ethernet over hdmi has a lot to do with getting all these "unplugged" smart devices reconnected to a network.


I bought a high-end Sony LCD in 2016. The picture (still) looks great but the UX was awful. Laggy trash Android TV build with a manifestly underpowered CPU. It’s not connected to the internet these days - just to an Apple TV and game consoles - but the user experience is still awful - changing inputs, adjusting image settings, etc - all painful and a world away from the LG C9 upstairs.

LG has plenty of its own problems, but I’d never buy another Sony TV and take every opportunity to shout it from the rooftops.


I got a Sony 2 years ago and haven't had any add issues.

Outside of being picky on what brands to choose from, the next best thing is to just never use the "smart" features and rely on a third party box like Roku/Apple TV/Pi/Etc. I know some smart TV adds will still throw ad's in the menus, but you shouldn't have to use the menu's that frequently.


I have a 2020 high end Samsung TV. I haven't agreed to the TOS since taking it out of the box and it still works just fine.


On the Samsung TVs I own, when you first set it up there's a yes/no agreement screen and if you choose "no" none of the smart features are accessible and you don't get any phoning home or ads by simply not entering Wi-Fi details. I haven't bought a new TV for a few years, though. So this may be different now, but the best way I found to create a dumb TV experience.


I recently bought a Samsung 4K TV and it came with a "free tv" service (that's also crammed with ads). It's intrusive, it auto-plays and can't be disabled and I just don't want it. I've never owned a TV as an adult before and was interested in buying a video console to play some games, so it's kind of my fault for not understanding how these modern TVs work. But even so, if I'm paying £600 for a TV how is it acceptable to have all this nonsense pre-installed on it that can't be disabled or deleted? Nowhere on the sales page does it mention any of that and all the reviews seems to be from happy people on day 1 of purchase. The only way around it is to connect up a third party receiver to it such as Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV...but still feel cheated as a consumer if I have to do that.


People should start making complaints to trading standards and simply return these as not fit for purpose.


This is what I did for my TV, as well. Unfortunately, they'll eventually do something about it - they'll make pop-ups that appear continually until you sign in, or straight-up disable critical features. Just like jailbreaking, this is just a hack that happens to work for the time being - the only long-term solution is to vote with your wallet, lobby for regulation, or (ideally) both.


My LG TV wouldn’t upgrade without me consenting to it.


Mine wouldn't even boot out of the box without agreeing to the terms. Saying no would just turn it off.


Yikes, that's extremely bad. (I don't consider being unable to upgrade your TV's firmware to be that bad) Next time, could you drop the model of TV that you got, so that the rest of us can avoid it?


LG C1


yeah I have a cheaper vizio and I found that just not connecting it to wifi is a much better experience. the 'smart tv' features are not very good compared to a dedicated chromecast anyways.


Which features are still accessible? Only HDMI input, or more?


I do this with my several-years-old Samsung as well. Inputs, menus, TV tuner, and the OTA program guide all work. No smart apps and no ads.


yeah you should be able to still watch OTA tv channels. Hdmi cable boxes should of course work. same with picture adjustment


I wrote this [1] seven years ago and the future I feared is now here. I lucked out finding a 4K LG dumb TV about three years ago, but I've recently been trying to buy a larger screen for a new house and cannot find a single good, large, dumb TV for sale in the UK.

[1] https://andybeaumont.com/post/dumb-tv/


I feel there must be a non insignificant market for TV sized monitors, or something like dumb TVs with high end panels.

Industrial offerings were severely overpriced last time I checked.

I know I am hardly in the majority but having an actual computer hooked to your big panel is so much better than dealing with "apps" and ads.

How hard is it to make a profit selling a TV sized monitor?


I use this [1] and never seen an ad on my LG TV. Its only for Smart TVs. It blocks all the major TV ad networks too but can't tell how successful it is on other TVs since I only have LG.

[1] https://github.com/Perflyst/PiHoleBlocklist


It's not just Samsung. My parents just bought an LG TV without consulting with me, and it's the same thing. They spent close to £1000, and now they have all sorts ads on the home screen that are impossible to remove, plus tracking that cannot be disabled.


Is this a Samsung app that you would never see if you have no interest in smart apps and leave your TV off the internet? Because if so that's easily avoided, Netflix would also profile me and advertise content to me through its app, and I don't plan to ever open that one either.

This screenshot looks like a streaming content interface, and data mining you has been a fundamental part of all these services for years, right? Not saying it's great, just that this isn't new or unusual. Of course they're tracking what you watch for advertising purposes.

Or is this a fundamental part of the UI for a Samsung TV that you need to interact with for daily use even if you don't want content through Samsung? Because that would be unacceptable. I wouldn't buy a TV if it required an internet connection to function.

My favorite type of advertising is traditional TV commercials that can be fast forwarded or muted and fully skipped. There's never going to be a net decrease in advertising. Digital and streaming are just making it harder to skip, keep strictly separate from content, and receive anonymously.


> Is this a Samsung app that you would never see if you have no interest in smart apps and leave your TV off the internet? Because if so that's easily avoided

So the problem with this approach is that, yes sure if you have the technical acumen you can prevent the TV from phoning home, but you are still giving money to the company that engages in this kind of behavior. And that money contributes to them developing more intrusive tools like this that target consumers of their products who do not have the requisite technical acumen to prevent the TV from phoning home.

In other words, by buying an adware TV and disabling the adware, you're still supporting the adware company instead of just buying a TV without adware in the first place.


I have a Vizio TV that's never been on the internet. I've never opened its apps and don't know what it is I'm avoiding. Given my other product requirements for a TV, eliminating all that have smart apps would probably leave me with no choices.

Ironically I have a Samsung phone because I wouldn't give money to Google for hardware. We're just surrounded and choosing the lesser of various evils every day.


> eliminating all that have smart apps would probably leave me with no choices

I really don't understand why otherwise tech-savvy users start acting like generic deer-in-the-headlights consumer tropes when faced with the prospect of TV sets. All you have to do is a basic web query for "best dumb TVs" and you'll find sites listing all manner of models and options.


I just looked at two of those lists and 100% of the options listed were from companies that also make smart TVs, which violates what you said: "you are still giving money to the company that engages in this kind of behavior".

I don't mind if they sell a bunch of smart TVs where they never capture the revenue they expect from apps, and it hurts their conversion and engagement metrics.


It's not.

For example when pausing a Hulu stream on my Samsung TV....I'll get an ad for random crap (sometimes for things placed in a show) ok my pause screen.

Samsung TVs are basically giant billboard you pay to have in your home.


> Samsung TVs are basically giant billboard you pay to have in your home.

You say this, and yet you have one in your home. And this contradiction is why these things continue to thrive: because even people who care...also don't care.


People like me are stuck. Not like we can return the TV's after years of owning them.


You could sell it on the secondary market (either whole or piecemeal) and use the money towards purchasing an alternate?


If that's Samsung interjecting onto other apps, that's horrible. I guess if it's Hulu it's still horrible, but feels less chaotic and it's easier to reason about whether the Hulu value prop alone is worthwhile given the price vs. ads.


Are there any open source hardware TVs or OSS TV OS to load on Samsung/LG/other smart TVs that have some (if any) traction?


If the hardware is subsidized - can the device then be used for parts? Weren't some game consoles used for computational tasks, as they were quite competitive there? Or I'd assume a company can emerge which would gladly take a fee for removing hardware - and software - limitation of such products; I'm sure the concept of ownership would serve everybody well here?


My next TV will be a Samsung or LG.

Is there a Pi-hole version running on a something that I can PoE plug into the ethernet port of a TV?


Those of you struggling with newer devices may want to do some digging to understand what service options may be available.

I have not explored this much, but I recently bought an older Samsung plasma panel used. I want it for parts, but it does work somewhat poorly.

While experimenting with it, I found a few modes in the service menu: Demo, Kiosk, Hotel, etc...

Be sure and keep a settings record and or find the factory reset option before just changing stuff. It is possible to get sets into weird modes that are not easy to get out of.

My current main display is a big plasma panel that I love. And it is smart, but not too smart. No Internet = no ADS.


I never even look at the menu/home screen on my TV. I plug in a Chromecast, set it to the right HDMI input and cast everything I want to watch. Wouldn't have a clue if my TV is displaying ads in the menus.


This makes me sick. LG seems to do the same.

At this day and age, it's getting harder and harder to buy a TV, that is just a that, a TV. Now you have to agree to ToS and as soon as you connect it to the internet to access any service you subscribe, your data is sent to the manufacturer so it can be sold or monetized through ads.

Not everyone is able to block this (with a PiHole or with other tools). Does anyone know of a brand that sells quality displays but doesn't have this kind of "crap"?


I'm extremely satisfied with my Philips smart TV.


Does anyone know if newer Philips smart TVs have this type of ads? I have one that's around 4 years old and it doesn't have it, not sure with newer ones.


Same on my LG OLED with latest WebOS. It starts with the six buttons on my remote for Disney, Netflix, Prime, etc that also immediately install the associated app [even when earlier uninstalled] when accidentally touched and cannot be remapped. Next, on the home screen you're always greeted with a list of movies from all those streaming services without the ability to turn this list off.


I think the only way to sanely and safely use a modern "smart" tv is to use it as a "dumb" monitor. How ironic. Never use the software, except once to select HDMI 1 as the input, or whatever. That's the last time you'll see their cumbersome interface, or ads, or anything else that you didn't explicitly send to it.


My girlfriend likes to watch ALL the streamers. I have a "no smart TVs" rule for our home because of shit like this.

We made it work by buying an Apple TV and a Sceptre dumb TV off Walmart's web site. Sceptre allegedly has picture quality problems, but the picture looks great; if certain shades of blue turn up 5 nits too dim I haven't noticed.


This can't be true. I've been assured that if you pay for something, it won't track you or advertise to you.


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