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OpenLGTV: Legal reverse engineering and research of LG TVs firmware (openlgtv.github.io)
602 points by transpute 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 299 comments

I made https://github.com/msloth/lgtv.js which can control a webos LGTV on your local network. It was in my js beginnings so pretty sketchy and not at all clean. Once I was able to control it I kind of lost interest in making it more tweakable, cleaner interface etc, but there are others that did.

At home I now run a small rpi0 with a telegram bot that, among other things, acts as a LGTV command proxy. So on my phone, I now tell my telegram bot eg "movie" which then puts the tv on the right input, sets volume, dims some hue lights and shows a nice float on the TV with a welcoming message.

It's also useful when I can't find the physical remote, or to send messages like "dinner in 10" (that shows on the TV screen in a float) to a gaming child with selective hearing enabled :).

I used your library! When I asked Alexa to light the fireplace, a raspi turned on the home heater and the TV started playing the furnace video on Netflix :D My daughter told me she didn't understand the point, as it was not real, but the project was so much fun to implement ^_^ Thanks a lot for sharing it.

"Yule log"™

That way of communicating with your child is some black mirror shit

My daughter wanted a colour changing lightbulb in her bedroom, so I bought a Homekit-enabled one. I'll call her for dinner a couple of times, but of she still hasn't responded after that (headphones on, usually). "Hey Siri Red Alert" will start pulsing her light red.

At which point there is much grumbling and stomping. Black Mirror? Maybe, but hey, I have to get my enjoyment where I can.

Black mirror or not, I like this, and can see the enjoyment in this too :D

When I was a kid, when I didn't show up within 5 minutes of being called for dinner, I wasn't allowed to sit down at the table anymore. I then had to wait until everybody else was done, and enjoy a usually cold meal afterwards, and any dessert was usually gone by that time too. And I had to do the cleanup. Suffice it to say, we kids weren't late a lot of times.

And if you wanted to make the ceiling light flash, you had to manually and laboriously flick the switch until a parent yelled at you that it was bad for light bulbs.

Kids these days!

yeah. When it was summer and I was like 6 or 7, my parents bought me a cheap digital wrist watch with alarm function, otherwise I would have never made it back to dinner in time when I was outside on the playground, biking around with buddies or playing football (soccer). That was the most "tech" parenting I ever experienced while subject to said parenting :P

I later learned from mom that other parents too kinda relied on that thing going off, so their own kids would go home too when they heard my alarm.

What would be full Black Mirror would have that voice message sent to the device the headphones are being used so that the actual message is heard as well. Maybe with the klaxon sound effect preceding the message. Oh, having the red light pulse as well still. No need to not use it when available. Maybe even combine movie universes and have an animated envelope read the message a la Harry Potter.

I have a color scheme in my Hue setup called “Rig for Red.” I like being able to say “Alexa, turn on Rig for Red in Living Room.” :-)

Rename Alexa to Vasiliy so you could then ask it for one ping only.

If you prefer shouting up the stairs through multiple doors over whatever it is they're doing, that's your prerogative of course.

Anyone remember home intercoms? They seemed to be incredibly popular in new home construction for awhile in the late 80s and early 90s where I live. They were very useful. They seemed to disappear without really being replaced by anything.

I’m considering getting a bunch of HomePod Minis to try out the intercom function.

My mother had one installed in the moid-seventies, it was a nine-days wonder in the village (well, Toronto’s Little Italy pre-gentrification).

She also had the hard-wired phone handsets rewired to use big, clunky four-prong plugs, so she could install a RadioShack-branded answering machine that was the size of a small suitcase. They hadn’t invented controllers that could rewind the outgoing message cassette, so you had to use a special cassette with an infinite loop.

You’d think that back then we had to walk uphill to AND from school, in a blizzard, in June, but actually, the weather wasn’t much worse than today and yes, hang out on my lawn all you like.

> a RadioShack-branded answering machine that was the size of a small suitcase.

Huh, interesting.

As a bit of vaguely-relevant trivia, I found this fascinating recording someone made of some phone systems from the early-mid 70s: http://www.wideweb.com/phonetrips/VRHQ.mp3 (~30min) (from http://www.wideweb.com/phonetrips/, "Two Early Voice Recognition Systems"). Not quite answering machines, but if the same technical acumen were applied to recording messages I expect the result would have been very impressive.

I look at this as an interesting way to get an idea of the bounds of the status quo of where technology was generally at around the ~70s. This is really cool, but also within the bounds of what was reasonably conceivable and maintainable for the period. The recording notes that system/technology was observed finding its way into a few different use cases.

Back when mobiles had become more accessible. My friend would phone his sister downstairs to get us some snack and drinks. She wasn't impressed, to say the least

I think that's basically just a notification. Where it gets creepy is when parents install 24/7 surveillance cameras in their childrens bedrooms.

I can kinda understand it when it's about being able to quickly check if your baby is okay, but I doubt every parent has the decency to disable it eventually to give their child some privacy.

There's no way there aren't lots of children growing up with zero privacy right now.

My wife and I have three children and we don’t allow any cameras in the house. We believe some level of privacy is needed for normal human development and a healthy overall sense of well being.

I don't see why. Can you elaborate? Black Mirror explicitly explores paths of technology gone wrong? I might be missing the concern here.

For the record; I think its cool. I do like my LG ( but it is not connected to anything ). This is the first time ever I am actually tempted.

I routinely SSH to my kid's iMac and use the 'say' command to deliver important messages. Like "this computer will be rebooting in 30 seconds ..."

I need answers for this statement...

Ok open up, what is your kid doing on an iMac? (You didn't expect the question huh)

Self destruct. Then play the mission impossible music.

But sending someone a text message on the phone isn’t?

I just turn off the device wifi on the router if my child is not paying attention.

Nah. We have Nest Mini's in our kids rooms, and I will routinely cast my phone audio to those speakers, turn the volume to max, type my message into the Google Translate webpage and then press the "Read Aloud" button. It's funny and it works.

If you ever want a kid to listen to you, try airplaying to the Apple TV from your phone, turn on selfie camera and deliver the message

Why? It's just an instant message.

Note that telegram is not e2e encrypted, so you're sharing your private family communications with logging servers in russia.

Telegram is indeed not E2E encrypted, and messages sent to/from bots cannot opt into E2E; but would you happen to have a citation handy for more information on these logging servers in Russia you speak of? Thanks!

"In August 2014, SORM-2 usage was extended to monitoring of social networks, chats and forums, requiring their operators to install SORM probes in their networks."


Telegram didn’t comply that rule and Russia tried to block Telegram that time without success

Telegram is not hosted in russia, but you are right, trusting telegram, is trusting ceo Pavel Durov and hist good intentions, much better than any big tech, but not even close to a proper e2ee

My apologies, you're completely right, Telegram is not hosted in Russia. I don't know where I got that idea in my head from...

unlike say, Google Inc

USA: PRISM is probably still a very active project. This is the program where the NSA would request access to major US companies (notably Google and Microsoft) and the companies would grant them access to some of their databases. The NSA slide says that "it varies by provider" what information the NSA is privy to, but it never breaks it down fully to say exactly which provider is providing which data. The NSA slides do mention email contents, photos, etc., so it's probably safe to assume that at least some of the major providers are/were providing contents and not just metadata.

Googler, opinions are my own. I wasn't at Google when PRISM was discovered.

As far as I understand, your take on this is incorrect. At least for Google, people that worked there were pissed, some posting nasty posts about the NSA hacking their network. My understanding was, that the NSA tapped the lines between data centers.

The NSA was able to hack Google, because there inter datacenter communication was not encrypted, partially because it was on private fiber that they fully owned. After this project came to light, Google already had a project in the works to encrypt all traffic between data centers, which they enabled shortly after.

PRISM is the code for FAA702 collection, and has nothing to do with the Google/Yahoo WAN cable taps, which had the codename MUSCULAR.

PRISM continues to date. The USG can get any data they want out of Google without a warrant.

Your description of PRISM is wrong. The FBI issued court orders for the content (not metadata) of specific accounts to US Internet companies. The Internet companies reviewed the court orders and set up forwarding of some of those accounts' data. PRISM then ingested a subset of the data from the FBI DITU's systems (those collected from foreign accounts) into the NSA's databases. The slides Snowden released are very clear about this.

And? Everyone with a cloud cron job or doing the same thing on a compute instance hosted somewhere has the same reality

Telegram is just a nice platform, have you tried using it? basically just a standard ui so that none of your bots need frontend development

Why regurgitate something about the optional e2e feature

I hope the Software Freedom Conservancy lawsuit against Visio results in an open source distribution for TVs like there is OpenWRT for routers after their last lawsuit. Perhaps the OpenLGTV/SamyGO projects and other folks will join forces on a common distro for smart TVs.

https://sfconservancy.org/copyleft-compliance/vizio.html https://sfconservancy.org/copyleft-compliance/firmware-liber... https://www.samygo.tv/

> Perhaps the OpenLGTV/SamyGO projects and other folks will join forces on a common distro for smart TVs.

What's wrong with webOS? I assume LG have "Googled"[0] it to some extent with proprietary software, but there's documentation, a lot of open-source stuff, and overall it doesn't look too bad.

[0]: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/07/googles-iron-grip-on...

Not parent, but I think I can respond. There is really nothing wrong with WebOS ( I actually find very good for my needs ), but the focus is not on having one decent OS we can mess around with as needed. The focus is on ensuring that users have actual control over their smart TVs.

And this is where it gets fun. There is money to be made from harvesting data. Do you think companies will willingly give up the ability to keep 'users' in their grasp?

I for one would like to connect my webcam to my TV and be able to use it to chat with Zoom / Signal / WebEx / Jitsi / Teams / Hangouts / ...

> users have actual control over their smart TVs

I would add to that future updates, etc as well. LG stops bringing in major WebOS versions for older models, so you miss out on features and apps that would have no problems running on the hardware.

I'm still getting updates on my (7 year old, plus?) LG model I think? Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the TV.

You are getting security updates but not OS updates. OS updates actually stop after 1 or 2 years on LG TV. So if you look at the HBO max app for instance is for 2018+ models (web os 4 and more). I have a TV from 2017 with web OS 3 and I can't get the HBO max app.

Apps are not necessarily developed by LG, but by specific developers. The BBC for example stopped updating their app for a while, saying the device would not be supported going forward; they must have received a bunch of complaints though, because a couple of months later it was back to normal.

> Apps are not necessarily developed by LG, but by specific developers.

Nobody here's saying anything like that, though. Not sure how you got that idea?

But if the OS on your TV isn't being updated by LG any longer, then you won't be able install the newest versions of many apps, since they use SDK-features, that aren't supported by the older versions of the OS.

Whether an app is actually developed by a third-party, like the BBC or HBO, doesn't change the fact that "minimum supported OS version", is as crippling for a TV, as it is for a smartphone or tablet.

Last time I had to buy a new smartphone, even though the old one was still in excellent working condition, was because my bank and mobile payment apps, stopped supporting the Android OS version, it were stuck at.

I'd hate to also have to buy new TV's, just because the Netflix, HBO, or whatever apps I use, stop working.

From the parent post: > So if you look at the HBO max app for instance is for 2018+ models

AFAIK nothing stops HBO from supporting older webOS releases, they just can't be arsed to. They could maintain builds produced with the older SDK forever, if they wanted to. Old models won't get new features, but there is no reason the app should stop working - like it works on the Apple Appstore every day to millions of apps.

> AFAIK nothing stops HBO from supporting older webOS releases

Assuming that to be the case, nothing is stopping LG to provide an upgraded webOS either.

> They could maintain builds produced with the older SDK forever

Maintaining backwards compatibility in this way is not a small undertaking. How many webOS versions do you maintain compatibility with? How do you decide which features you spend time trying to backport to which versions? How do you make it clear to your users that their 2-year-old >US$1k TV won't get the shiny new thing because it's too old?

> they just can't be arsed to

And they shouldn't have to. If the hardware is good enough to support the latest OS and SDK, refusing to do so is nothing more than planned obsolescence on part of the manufacturer. They all share the same underlying architecture, main difference will probably be around drivers.

Multiply the number of apps by the number of different smart TV OSs by the number of versions of each and supporting all of them gets old really quickly.

In that case, you'd just buy a streaming stick or settop box, like a FireTv, AppleTV, Roku, or AndroidTV box.. These are a small-ish percent of the cost of a new TV.

I had to manually install iPlayer after it disappeared from my Sony. This week it seems to have been updated, so yes, I think they must have a had a fair few compaints.

That might be down to a mix of both the service (HBO Max, in this case) and the OS distributor (LG). As a personal anecdote, I remember when the YouTube app ceased to work on old Sony Bravia TV's. YouTube printed a message to the screen explaining how the service would be cut soon.

I'm confused. You seem to be conflating TV OS updates (which I'm stull getting) with third party App updates, which I'm definitely still getting.

LG TVs are filled with ads on the operating system itself, there are built-in features which you can't use without agreeing to an invasive privacy policy, the general performance is dogshit after a few years of updates, and there are dark patterns.

For example, I have one Fire TV (and nothing else) connected to the HDMI port of mine. Whenever I turn on the TV, it correctly shows the HDMI input, but it always displays the WebOS app launcher for a couple of seconds, which covers a quarter of the screen. I know the difference between launching the Netflix app in WebOS and launching it through Fire TV, but I'm pretty sure the average non-techie doesn't.

WebOS itself is pretty good, especially considering it's open source. But I would neither trust LG to provide a safe or decent implementation, nor would I want to rely on the performance of whatever low budget SoC they're sticking into these TVs. An external Roku-like device would be the best option.

WebOS has actually been more reliable than my Nvidia Shield. The Shield weirdly gets slow over time until I reboot even if I haven't really done anything on it. The Hulu app on these has also been broken for years: the first couple minutes after it starts playing a show will just show black while the audio plays. I don't know if that's a Hulu, Google, or NVIDIA issue, but what I do know is that I don't have any issues if I use the WebOS app.

> An external Roku-like device would be the best option.

Does something like this exist? A webOS box, so to speak? I would be very interested if so. It would be nice to hear of webOS outside of the context of TV's.

> WebOS itself is pretty good, especially considering it's open source. But I would neither trust LG to provide a safe or decent implementation

Me neither. It would be nice to have something I can trust is fully open-source. Would also be nice to use webOS like Kodi, though that is a truly crazy idea.

The only time I’ve seen WebOS not in a TV was the HP Touchpad that was released a long time ago. It was a WebOS based tablet and was pretty nice, but it failed miserably, and most people ended up installing Android on it.

LG TVs, at least as of my C7, have a menu setting to both hide the ads and to not show the home bar on startup.

C9 here. I never see any ads. Might be because I dug through every menu looking for things to opt-out of. I can’t use the voice control because I opted out of that. But, otherwise the WebOS experience is great.

Only complaint is that I can’t figure out how to disable “resume playing paused movie when the controller feels someone walking across the room”.

No updates, specially to the browser. That means an old version of chrome that most sites refuse to run with. It is just useless.

> What's wrong with webOS? I assume LG have "Googled"[0] it to some extent with proprietary software

You just answered your own question. Besides the Freedom issues and unwieldy bespoke UIs, embedded proprietary software inevitably becomes abandonware in a few short years.

Others have answered, but I'm only interested in community based software distributions, or ones backed by an ecosystem of companies, not ones ran by a single corporation.

See also:

https://github.com/webosbrew/webos-homebrew-channel - A GUI app for easily installing homebrew applications on LG WebOS TVs

https://repo.webosbrew.org/apps/ - A repo of such homebrew applications

https://github.com/RootMyTV/RootMyTV.github.io - A one-click* LG TV rooting tool

*firmware-version dependent, an updated exploit supporting "all" firmwares is in the pipeline.

Many thanks for this. Rooting my LG TV with rootmy.tv took a few seconds and now I am enjoying YouTube without ads which Pihole was never able block properly.

An alternative universal solution is to just VPN to India and then buy Premium for $1.66 USD per month (399 rs per quarter).

I use youtube without an account a db login so not really a solution.

Do the homebrew apps obey the normal screen saver / burn-in protections? Eg, Netflix on the TV, when paused, will put up a fireworks screen saver very quickly. Will the homebrew youtube app do the same thing?

Yes, the screensaver is part of the OS, not the app.

That's interesting.

To your knowlege does the rooting/installation of this stuff break existing streaming apps, or are they not affected?

They are not affected.

Does anyone know of anything equivalent for samsung? I have a QE65Q75T model which I feel gets more ads as the weeks go by, and I didn't know this type of things were possible


That's something I'm looking, but I would also be able to personalize the UI of the TV, since it has a lot of clutter and things I am never going to use. Add to that the fact that some apps cannot be uninstalled and a tiny disk size, I would really like to "own" my tv more.

I so want this for my Samsung TV... since they did a firmware update that puts ads into the source selection screen.

And for what? A couple of dollars of side revenue. And whole lot of customer hatred.

Here's more reasons to hate: it's a serious surveillance device.

1. It uploads voice samples. Don't say anything sensitive in the room. https://imgur.com/Phy1uzX

2.It uploads screenshots regardless of input. See other threads.

3.Front facing camera. Not kidding. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x6TOtkFQxY

4. Audio beacons? Old news. https://threatpost.com/ultrasonic-beacons-are-tracking-your-...

5. Targeted ad market, selling you. https://www.trustedreviews.com/news/samsungs-invasive-plans-...

6. If you don't give it wifi, it may decide to find some by itself anyway. https://www.reddit.com/r/AskTechnology/comments/odf9qu/can_s...

This is all horrific, but I was especially shocked by 6 so I read that. This seems to be only someone asking if this may happen, and no one answering that it would.

Of course this is the point of Amazon Sidewalk, so in due time, it probably will.

Okay, I found a better link. Here's a sighting in action: https://web.archive.org/web/20210830002600/https://forum.dev...

Also two other observations. First, there is means: unsecured and public groups like xfinity, sidewalk, fios via some business deal maybe. Also in the means column is a full linux machine, totally possible (not saying it's happening but possible) to run Kismet all day in the background to look for auth. There's all kinds of pocket doodads at Defcon doing this. Second is motive: your data as revenue is the these things are getting so cheap. Why would they leave free cash on the table?

I would expect a friendly nearby neighbor's TV which has network to be able to act as access point for other TVs surveillance facilities.

They can technically do it, and I totally expect them to be doing it already.

Neighbor's TV, neighbor's Amazon Echo or Ring doorbell:


The cheapest TV models mention access point as a feature nowadays, they're targeted to hotel rooms.

Audio beacons aren't plausible to me as a mobile app developer. Mobile OSes have been tightening their privacy controls for quite some time. At this point you can't run an Android app in the background without the user knowing. You have to explicitly request access to the microphone. In recent Android and iOS versions, the user will be notified about which apps used the microphone when. Besides, constantly recording and analyzing an audio stream would have a noticeable effect on battery life.

How about apps that already have permission, like Shazam, Siri, and GA?

As for battery, they would only need to sample a second every few minutes, to see if there was a beacon afoot, quick DFFT, and they wouldn't need to analyze much.

Not saying it's happening, just that it's easily possible. Look how many apps have location permissions that don't need it.

SoniControl firewall on android will either confirm or disabuse your conception of how common this sort of thing is.

with no media playing it never shows anything, but bring up some youtube or television and it squawks every so often.

Most of the examples you link don't prove what you claim.

1. Same issues as any voice assistant. It only uploads things when voice recognition is actually active, and puts a big icon on the screen to show this.

2. Not screenshots, it uses fingerprints to recognise content.

3. That TV is an older special model advertised with built-in camera for skype. The linked video raises a minor security issue that web pages you navigate to (on your smart TV, how many people actually do that?) can enable the webcam without you knowing.

Most TVs don't have a hidden front facing camera.

4. Audio beacons are hard-coded into the tv content, your smart TV doesn't add them. It's more of a privacy issue with smart phone apps using them, and the studios who add them.

5. Actually true

6. You link to a thread of someone asking if TVs might do this. Nobody has provided any evidence of TVs actually doing it, it's 100% theoretical.

IMO, the fingerprinting and advertising are bad enough. No need to invent extra FUD about what smart tvs can do.

What's going on with number 3?

Obviously there's a front facing camera, they're not hiding it. It's even a GOOD webcam, to disable it you push it into the bezel and that physically blocks the camera. Great design.

Beyond that, the criticisms are just "This is a proprietary OS by a company that makes hardware, it's not trustworthy." So why the focus on the camera? It's almost like you're trying to imply that Samsung is integrating hidden cameras just to covertly surveil their customers.

That crap forced me to finally pi-hole my entire home. I'm never buying a Samsung TV ever again, or other Samsung stuff.

My dryer broke yesterday. I specifically bought an AEG because it was a dumb dryer, not some smart appliance with an app and all that junk. Don't get me wrong, I love smart stuff. In fact, I plugged my new dryer into a Shelly S plug so my home assistant can send me a notification on my phone when it's finished. But I trust my HA. I can never trust Samsung again.

Pi-hole your network for a week and take a look at the logs to see all the crap it has blocked. You'll be surprised.

I added PiHole on a RBP and it turns out up to half the rejected requests come from my various Samsung TVs. It's staggering how much traffic comes out of them. And that's in a home with two work from home adults in laptops all day.

What are other people's experiences with other brands of TV?

TCL ran through my mobile hotspot data allowance (150MB) while off; i enabled the hotspot so it could get and update (the UI was jank out of the box). I use my hotspot with my console, i was using my projector in another room with the console and i got the alert about hotspot data.

I changed the hotspot password and now the TCL blinks its status light while it's turned on, to chastise me for disabling its internet.

There needs to be some regulation on this - because a boycott will never work, people don't think about boycotts or this sort of thing when they "need a TV today"; they either are shopping for a specific feature or going on price per square inch of screen or cheapest overall. These TVs blowing through 100MB/hr of internet data even while 'off' has to potential to lock people out of their internet connections, or get a large bill for overages. I only have 15GB of hotspot data, and i "need" that for the console, my fixed wireless home internet only has 150GB of data included in the plan, and even if i 'cheat' and use pdanet or something to use my cellphone without the hotspot data in the plan i only have 75GB of data there, as well.

So, in summary, smart TVs need to be regulated. And I really need to sniff that traffic while it's off because what could it possibly be doing? how much storage is on these things?

When I researched them a while back I came away with LG OLEDs being the best, particularly if you paired them with an Apple TV.

There are no good high-end “dumb” tv options.

> There are no good high-end “dumb” tv options.

Loewe[0] make really nice, simple, high-end TVs with great picture and sound, which really don't have intrusive 'smart' features. I use mine purely as a 'monitor' for AppleTV (and Nintendo Switch).

The problem is distribution: they're difficult to source even within Europe.


(UK here) I have had a Loewe for about two years now. I hadn't heard of them myself but came across them when buying a Linn [0] audio system - the audio shop I went to offered Loewe as one of the options for an integrated sound+vision package. My overall system uses Linn as the sound output for the TV instead of a Loewe sound bar.

The TV is fairly excellent and the hosted apps are fine and not in your face - the TV comes on directly showing its current input (e.g. in my case from a BT smart box) rather than apps or a start screen or similar. I can also immediately cast media to it by a right click from my PC.

I initially had problems with the overall system integration: I have poor wifi coverage in my house and the TV (Loewe) and sound systems (Linn) wouldn't always work reliably together until I had ethernet wired into my house. Also, and this is not a big problem for me, an Alexa can recognise the Loeve as a device but appears unable to use it for sound output. In the bin for you, Alexa.

[0] https://www.linn.co.uk/uk/

I had never heard of loewe, but after 10 minutes of searching, I still know nothing more about them - there is no pricing available, no idea where to buy them and no list of models. The one model I could find I also can't find tech specs for because the download link is broken.

Loewe was an old traditionell German Manufacture of Radio and later TVs. Here is the german Wikipediasite https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loewe_Technology

I recently bought a simple TV from SwedX [0]. Pretty happy with it so far. Seems to be simple enough. No "apps", no network connectivity, simple remote and simple menus. Quite quick to turn on.

I didn't go for an extremely high-end display, but I wouldn't have done that anyway. They seem to be out of stock of a lot of their "4K" models, but they are priced at 600-1000€.

Ships from Sweden, so should be possible for a lot of Europe.

0: https://www.swedx.se/

My problem is, that I essentially want a dumb TV, but with gaming features, I guess the mix of my requirements is what makes it impossible. If someone knows a dumb, 120hz, GSync and OLED TV, let me know :)

There are a couple OLED computer monitors that are just TVs with the TV parts removed and the monitor parts thrown in. For example, the Gigabyte FO48U.

I am glad we are moving in that direction ( as in, there are options for people, who are ok with paying more for not intrusive versions ). Sadly, no US option.

For some reason I'm unable to reply to maccard - apologies for this misplaced response

> I had never heard of loewe, but after 10 minutes of searching, I still know nothing more about them - there is no pricing available, no idea where to buy them and no list of models. The one model I could find I also can't find tech specs for because the download link is broken.

Loewe are indeed wonderful TVs totally letdown by their marketing and distribution.

FWIW their website (which I linked to above) does have model and spec information, but it's fair to say that they've fallen off the radar for most consumer-TV review sites, and even their user-base forum[0] is predominantly German-language (although any questions asked in English do receive a response).

I think the problem is that the TV-market is saturated by the major brands, and they achieve market-dominance by stealing and selling their users' data, instead of pricing their TVs realistically. Most people don't care.

[0] https://www.loewe-friends.de

Most TV makers have versions for commercial display purposes that don't include the "smart" stuff. Typically cheaper too.

Yeah I looked at those when I learned of them. They often come with serious quality (and price) trade offs if you’re able to source them at all.

If you’re looking for a generic LCD it’s probably fine, but if you’re comparing to an LG OLED you won’t find an ad free option in the commercial market. At least I couldn’t back when I tried.

Giving the TV no network access and using an Apple TV seemed to be the best option.

> If you’re looking for a generic LCD it’s probably fine, but if you’re comparing to an LG OLED you won’t find an ad free option in the commercial market. At least I couldn’t back when I tried.


They don't update the commercial line annually of course, so it's equivalent to a consumer model from a few years ago, but the panels are all the same until the 2021 models anyways.

Some pointers to model numbers / where those can be bought would be helpful, thanks!

Note that some devices just keep retrying after a failed (blocked) connection, leading to massively inflated numbers in pihole.

Projectors - great.

Scepter brand tv - Walmart -not greatest quality, but at least it’s dumb.

did you mean Spectre? are they a walmart brand now? They were one of the first producers of retail LCD screens that consumers in the US could buy. I had two of them, and they were quite good compared to other offerings back then. This is the same era as 802.11b dongles. I even had one in my SUV to replace a 14" CRT that finally had enough of driving on california freeway overpasses, large amounts of magnetism would wobble the entire display on the crt.

I recently bought a 1080p spectre for my youngest kid, wall mounted it, put an indoor antenna on it and a raspberry Pi running openElec with a wifi dongle.

as far as i can tell, it's a "dumb" tv.

Yes, I meant Sceptre. I mentioned Walmart because that's the place I know of where you can buy them, I don't think Walmart owns them. Yes it's a dumb TV. But I don't think the screen quality is considered very good.

D'oh. Misread and thought you were correcting the last two letters. Sceptre, not Spectre. https://www.sceptre.com/

I've had Samsung on "boycott and complain" list, anytime someone asks me for a recommendation and samsung is an option i say "avoid samsung"; I started boycotting them after they told me to pound sand when i had an issue with my $800 4k monitor a couple months after i bought it. I had also bought a new samsung refrigerator around that time as well, and among other issues, it leaked water from the ice machine starting about 1 year after i bought it. I've had to replace the mainboard in it, as well.

So no phones, appliances, laptops, TVs, memory sticks, SD cards, and whatever else they make. Even if they magically got a better reputation for customer service, the shenanigans with the smart TVs is enough to keep the boycott up.

"I'm never buying a Samsung TV ever again, or other Samsung stuff."

I swore off buying Samsung stuff after the Galaxy S3. I eventually gave them another chance and bought one of their TVs since the reviews were great. Huge mistake. I hated that thing so much, and recently replaced it with an LG which has been fantastic.

Same. Spent an ungodly amount on the Samsung “frame”. After two RMAs because it randomly rebooted, the interface froze, etc. I’m looking for another tv that we can pretend is art when it is “off”.

Pi-hole does not solve the problem completely unfortunately; it's fairly trivial to bypass network DNS. In theory any software could manually call one of the public DNS ip's or just have a fallback hardcoded list of IPs.

I block all dns outbound on my home network. My resolver uses DNS over https to Cloudflare. I consider any DNS / udp 53 traffic outbound unauthorized or a leak that should be prevented. If I see a beacon to a particular DNS server externally, I’ll create a NAT to point to my resolver so I can manipulate the answers, if I deem it necessary.

That solves the first issue, what about the hardcoded IPs issue?

Nothing solves the problem completely. Redirecting DNS at the router to a blocking DNS server goes a long way, but DNS over HTTPS is a tougher nut to crack.

You have a clothes dryer?

Pro-tip: use a DNS provider that can block ads (e.g. NextDNS) or install Pi-Hole in your local network, and block Samsung's ad network domains.

It's sad that this is necessary to keep enjoying a device of $2,000+ that you own, but it has worked beautifully for my Samsung Frame TV.

Samsung does this for their top end models? WTF!

I’ll put them on my list of devices to never buy then. Jeez.

They do a lot more than that. In particular, they take a screenshot of what you’re currently watching at regular intervals and send it to a content recognition server. That way they’re able to tell what every single Samsung owner is watching at any given time and even if you’re watching a show you downloaded or something that’s not on the air. They then sell this data to broadcasters for measuring audience but also to show you ads related to what you’re watching (if you watched ice age, maybe they’ll advertise another animation movie to you). And they also use that data to target you on other devices you own because they’re able to use your tv as a Trojan horse and figure out what other devices are on your network and thus belong to the same person. IIRC they also scan and extract what devices are connected to hdmi ports so they know what consoles etc you’re using to further complete your advertising profile. That was several years ago, I can’t imagine they’ve gotten anything but even more data greedy over time.

A good Samsung tv is an offline Samsung tv. A better Samsung tv is one you don’t own.

> That way they’re able to tell what every single Samsung owner is watching at any given time and even if you’re watching a show you downloaded or something that’s not on the air.

Wait a second, what if I use my TV as a monitor for my PC?

...And doing all kinds of business confidential work for my employer or government ... and also looking at PII,financial,medical data of my own including SSNs and whatnot.


Or video chatting with gf ...

They take I think 30 pixels across known positions on the screen and that’s apparently enough to recognize content without being able to look at your confidential data.

Well then they know you're using Excel and probably want to be sold pension plans...

If you’re watching tv shows or movies that way, they know all the same. ACR works based on the image being displayed, not the source.

it's not a screenshot, they sample pixels and get essentially a CSV of the pixel values at several locations. There's then a content database with frame by frame values for those pixels for all the content in the database.

Sending a screenshot would use too much bandwidth/data on Samsung's side, but a couple dozen bytes every few minutes would not.

So, a non-consensual people meter?

This is gonna be some hefty GDPR fines in Europe.

> This is gonna be some hefty GDPR fines in Europe.

I keep hoping this is gonna be the case, but the years roll on, I'm still clicking some stupid consent-popup on every single website I ever visit, and in the meantime TV manufacturers continuously spy on their users, sell their user-data, and push unwanted ads into their interface and even in programs being watched, and apparently no-one (apart from a few of us on HN) seems to care.

Because people keep buying them and no viable competitive manufacturing capability exists in the West anymore.

Soon it will violate the warranty not to plug it into the network. Probably for “security” or to protect the children.

Support https://noyb.eu ?


>noyb uses best practices from consumer rights groups, privacy activists, hackers, and legal tech initiatives and merges them into a stable European enforcement platform. Together with the many enforcement possibilities under the European data protection regulation (GDPR), noyb is able to submit privacy cases in a much more effective way than before. Additionally, noyb follows the idea of targeted and strategic litigation in order to strengthen your right to privacy. We will also make use of PR and media initiatives to emphasize and ensure your right to privacy without having to go before court. Ultimately, noyb is designed to join forces with existing organizations, resources and structures to maximize the impact of GDPR, while avoiding parallel structures.

For what it's worth, at least on my Swedish model, this seems to be gated behind an opt-in (default off!) consent toggle. It was buried in several layers of menus, and not even mentioned during the setup process.

So I would assume that this is mostly an issue in non-GDPR regions (or they're doing some really ugly legal shenanigans to ignore the denied consent?).

"We have a '''legitimate interest''' in getting your personal info, because we want to sell it to third parties"


> Legitimate interests is most appropriate as a lawful basis where companies use personal data in a way that individuals can reasonably expect. If it impacts individuals, it can still apply if the controller company can justify there is a compelling reason for the impact the processing will have.

> Companies can rely on legitimate interests for marketing purposes if they can prove that the data usage is proportionate and fair to the user. It must have a minimal impact on the user in privacy terms and be for a reason that people would not be surprised at.

Sadly I would reasonably expect Samsung to sell the data and I would not be surprised by it.

It depends. For that to be on the radar, in most countries you have to contact Samsung and come to a solution with them (or try to) first. Then you have to argue with them about whether or not their anonymisation (which they will surely claim to do) is sufficient. Then when you forward the request to the gdpr institution of your country, you must make reasonable for them why you feel that your request for them to fix it has not been honoured.

Naturally this is a process most people do not feel like going through, and as such most companies continue flying under the radar :)

Wouldn't that only be a problem if they stored personal data? They could just associate it with a TV id.

What? The content of your screen is personal data. There could be anything on that - name, address, passwords, photos of your living room, nudes...

IIRC it doesn't actually send the content, just a hash of it that can be checked against popular channels or on-demand content. So text contained within a screen wouldn't be identifiable.

They are just feeding image through an alogrithm. Saving it would incur legal problems like copyright and have storage costs.

Most people don't use their TV to look at that kind of thing anyways.

Why are you making excuses for them? They're bad excuses anyway:

>They are just feeding image through an alogrithm [sic]

You don't know that.

>Saving it would incur legal problems like copyright

That's not how copyright works.

>and have storage costs


>Most people don't use their TV to look at that kind of thing anyways.


What about when they are hacked/compromised and now an attacker has access to the actual images? Seems way too risky.

If we are talking about what aboutisms what about if they didn't send screenshots and then they were hacked and an attacker deployed a new update that spied on everyone.

Also true, which is why they shouldn't be allowed to join any old wifi network and not try to workaround firewall policies on the network the user wants them on.

That's an entirely different issue, but yes, automatic updates are an attack vector. But that's another step that would need to be performed by an attacker, rather than already having the images available without designing custom firmware.

My point is that making up theoretical situations is not useful. You can make up theoretical situations where it's bad with it and I can make up theoretical situations where it's bad without it.


> Data ceases to be personal when it is made anonymous, and an individual is no longer identifiable. But for data to be truly anonymized, the anonymization must be irreversible.

Examples of PII:

A cookie ID. Internet Protocol (IP) address Location data (for example, the location data from a mobile phone). The advertising identifier of your phone.

A tvid is personally identifiable.

No, a TVID identifies a TV, not a person. Multiple people can use a TV. You can sell that TV to others. The TVID will be the same.

This is the official EU legislation explaining what constitutes PII:


> (30) Natural persons may be associated with *online identifiers provided by their devices*, applications, tools and protocols, such as internet protocol addresses, cookie identifiers or other identifiers such as radio frequency identification tags. This may leave traces which, in particular when combined with unique identifiers and other information received by the servers, may be used to create profiles of the natural persons and identify them.

Device Identifiers explicitly covered as a definition of GDPR. Further, IPs are also shared if you are behind an ipv4 gateway and these are also covered.

The difference is that the TV manufacturer has to clue who owns a specific tvid. The whole point of personable identifiable information is that you can use it to find the identity of someone. There is no registry somewhere that keeps track of this.

Samsung boasts about having Automatic Content Recognition[1] on their website.

There was a discussion on HN some time ago, many/all major tv manufacturers suck in your viewing data via HDMI fingerprinting (IIRC) in order to serve up unblockable ads and sell your viewing profile to ad networks. Many tv makers send data to Chinese based servers too, from memory. It’s nuts.


Edit, more reading:


Just don't connect your tv to any network, wired or wireless, ever. It's much simpler.

It works until every device has a 5G chip on them.

Or your neighbor's tv has internet access, and relays telemetry for yours.

If it comes to that point I will open my devices and cut the antennas

Or extract the eSIM / figure out a way to use it for free internet like some did with Amazon Kindle SIMs.

And then you'll ruin your warrant.

Warranty doesn't mean much to me. I'm an outlier who enjoys repairing their own devices. I recently repaired a week old laptop that arrived faulty (trackpad was messed up) instead of mailing it back.

I'd only cut the antennas in a last case scenario. It's more likely they'd have a connector or I'd try to de-solder them first.

then the pi hole won't even save you. we're going to need to go full on Faraday cage to escape their prying eyes!

Disable Samsung TV Plus - https://factory-reset.com/wiki/Samsung_TV_Plus - and you'll be most of the way there to removing a lot of the intrusive advertising that currently shows on the Samsung homescreen.

I concur. This removed the auto play trailers on my parent’s TV.

> And for what? A couple of dollars of side revenue. And whole lot of customer hatred.

Don't forget that the HN crowd is not your average consumer. Most people don't care, or don't seem to have issues with the ads. They just want the best TV they can afford in terms of size and picture quality.

With companies this big, who have been in the consumer electronics market for decades, you can be sure that every decision (like putting ads in a menu) is tested over and over. Obviously Samsung knows that they will loose a tiny percentage of the enthusiast market by placing ads. But the margin on the sale of a TV is pretty slim anyways, and multiple years of ad income for every sold unit is probably worth losing a small fraction of your audience.

So funny story. I have two wifis in our house ( one piholed, one not ). One day my wife comes up to me asks me why there are ads on her game now ( she was using pihole all this time ). Edit: Turns out cable was pulled.

People notice, but you have to re-condition them. I know adless hulu and netflix did their part in that fight.

> Most people don't care, or don't seem to have issues with the ads.

There's a difference between enjoying the current state and accepting the current state. A few years ago, while helping my grandmother find something online, I asked if she would want an adblocker installed. After explaining what it was, and what the effect was, she was over the moon for it.

Ads are noticed by everyone, and are pretty universally despised. The difference is that you and I know that there are options, while less techy relatives assume that nothing can be changed.

I generally agree, but they put that crap on TVs that cost well into the thousands. Surely it’s only enthusiasts buying those?

> ads into the source selection screen

Is there ever a point where these advertisers stop and think "no, this is too obnoxious"?

The advertisers probably don't pick the placement. All they know is that their content is being shown on TVs.

I assumed the TV manufacturers are also considered advertisers since the TVs show ads.

The link also hosts the last (obsolete now?) SamyGo. So there is something at least, from where one could start, instead of reinventing the wheel from scratch.

Don't know if it could be applied to current models at all. Not following that stuff, since not using TVs since 1996.

I just wish I could get the auto-turn off timer to disable. I've disabled it everywhere in menus. Still, after a few hours of it being connected to my Apple TV 4K, it gives me the whole "TV will be turned off in five minutes unless you press a button on the controller" bullshit.

Other than that I just want the thing to be a lowest-possible-latency, accuratest-possible-colour dumb display. No cool shit, just a dumb accurate fast panel.

If you can get your hands on a service remote it will allow you to access a menu to disable that and a bunch more (a lot of the OLED burnin prevention features you can’t normally fully disable)

If you have a phone with a IR blaster (mostly older LG phones) you have download an android app that with act as an LG service remote

You can do it with a rpi, ir diode and resistor even. The tool for sending and receiving ir commands is called lirc

Huawei and Xiaomi phones have IR blasters as well. I always try to buy phones that have those, because A) "i lost the remote" and B) "shut off every TV at the store" is hilarious.

The first device i had that had this was a Palm, and it wasn't like "here's a remote control" it was "this 1 button will cycle every known TV IR code for the power button." Someone eventually released an actual IR blaster app for Palms, though.

Some old Samsungs have it as well, such as the Galaxy S5.

This sorta thing? https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/390856037063 or https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/363604565328 I don't have an IR blastable phone.

Maybe you could periodically give some remote control command through one of the WebOSTV python libraries. Needs networking though. Alternatively, an Arduino/ESP that sends a useless IR signal.

I hope this eventually leads to the ability to remove ads. It's unbelievable to me that you can pay top dollar for a high end OLED tv and it will still drown you in ads and notifications. I ended up just disconnecting my tv from the internet entirely and using a dedicated Roku Ultra for streaming.

Panasonic OLEDs are the same price as LG but they show no ads whatsoever, don’t have gimmicky menus, and turn on in 5 seconds flat.

I have a 15" LCD from 1998 and it turns on in a few hundred ms. 2010s+ LCDs take about 5-10 seconds which is insanely slow (even for a casual user, in which case it causes more confusion when plugging cables in because he's likely to assume the cables are wrong and disconnect them because the screen didn't react right away). TVs take as long or worse because they are simply more poorly designed. 5 seconds is literally longer than it takes for a CRT to turn on and have a viewable picture.

The general quality of hardware can be gleaned as the inverse of how much software is in it.

As for vendor fetishizing: All monitor/TV vendors are terrible.

Haha, I find the recommendation for Panasonic for an ad free experience quite ironic.

They were the first to go there circa 2013: boot screen, home screen and volume ads.

But, they got a lot of backlash, and I doubt it was as lucrative as expected, so it appears they removed them in more recent years.

Maybe the OLED displays are in a different class in their lineup. I only ever owned this one Panasonic OLED from 2018.

Then you shouldn't make a general recommendation for all Panasonic OLED TVs.

We all have bad days but perhaps you should read the comment again and try and be a bit less confrontational?

Panasonic got out of the NA TV market a few years ago, and no warranty+exorbitant shipping costs means it isn't worth buying one in Europe and having it shipped.

They're also ending their inhouse TV production and outsourcing it for 2022, which probably means they're going to get worse.

They moved to Android since 2020.

Shouldn’t have to do this at all, obviously, but at least if it’s android then you’re just a few commands away from removing most anything.

Used it to rid my Sony of all the annoyances and the continual “enable samba?” Prompts that kept coming up despite always choosing “disable” explicitly.

Google for “adb remove ads <model/brand>” or similar. 20 minutes helped my wife not be annoyed at popovers on the TV, and saved me countless time looking for the OEM remote. :D

I’ve found the android based TVs to be awful. Their boot up time is slow and they often seem to have trouble starting via the Apple TV remote.

Wait, where do you get all those ads? I might be blind but I don't see any in my CX. Unless you count the "recommendation service".

> Unless you count the "recommendation service"

Which will never turn on if you don't agree to the terms & conditions. So far, I've been able to avoid things like ads, but every time the TV pops up with an update I get the Fear.

I do not want ads or voice commands on my devices. Especially not given I paid a premium :/.

pihole + check connections made from tv + block em == no ads

> The main goal of the project is to improve the functionalities of the TVs by adding new features, fixing bugs and providing new software.

The solution to software in TVs is to have no software in TVs. A TV is just a big monitor you plug into your PC (albeit, with 10 years of input lag, caused by the said software that should not exist). General purpose OS like Windows or Linux are a good enough interface to choose what video / stream to watch. You can use some software that runs on startup to provide support for a remote control or whatever comfy thing you think requires buying Samsung Garbage Half Working GUI T5007. This fact was stumbled upon by most 20 years ago (largely due to the warez scene, who unintentionally provided a better user experience than anything corpos could create). The idea of needing a special proprietary GUI is purely artificial. Smart TVs were trying to become a thing for 20 years (and had all the same insane security problems from the get go as with any industry who's software is driven by high churn newgrads). Various marketing pitches failed and failed until around 2010-2012 (can't remember). If you are a geek and are trying to jerry rig a modified proprietary Smart TV firmware into your TV, you have fallen for the marketing trick. There's no way you would have come up with an idea like this if they haven't previously marketed Smart TVs as a thing. A much better and easier effort would be to bypass all the garbage circuitry in modern TVs and monitors to ensure they are an actual useful product that can consume and deliver a video input.

> The solution to software in TVs is to have no software in TVs. A TV is just a big monitor you plug into your PC

I disagree - I don't think there's anything wrong with having a computer built-in to a TV, as long as the user has control over it (Granted, they obviously don't right now). For the average user, it's going to be far more convenient to be able to stream or play offline media without having to connect an external device. I'm hopeful we'll reach a point where we can install an openwrt equivalent for easy, dark pattern free operation.

>I disagree - I don't think there's anything wrong with having a computer built-in to a TV

The problem is bloat and bugs. And I like my peripherals to be peripherals. I don't think we need to go into discussion of the common user here. They were fine with set-top boxes.

I wholeheartedly agree!

And still I use the webos apps on my LG to watch netflix, Disney, hbo and our national TV channel. It's weird how it goes. There is no getting away from the fact that as long as the app works on my TV its easier to install it and use the stock remote that doing something custom. And since it works OK for 99% of people, the TV producers will ad the little computer, and there will be nothing to save on buying a TV without (if you can even find one).

This should not only be legal, this should be the law. A manufacturer/vendor should be obliged by law to hand out keys to allow the user to own the device that was bought.

Yes!! I wonder if EFF, FSF actively lobby governments for such laws.

Consumers are already free to choose to buy from manufacturers that do this. Consumers largely dgaf.

Additionally, companies like Apple know and believe that if consumers could exercise such control, a large number of them would be deceived into using such control to backdoor their own devices for advertisers and other shady characters, such as is the case in Android-land. Consumers often choose products specifically because they offer the feature that they are completely and totally managed by the vendor.

You may not like it, but many people who don't care much about their privacy from the vendor do.

> Consumers are already free to choose to buy from manufacturers that do this. Consumers largely dgaf.

Can you point me one manufacturer whose is smart tv is simple for the user to replace the software it runs?

The fact that they don't exist should tell you something - paying consumers don't care about this.

You sitting on the sideline are not a paying consumer, and there are two few like you for such a product.

Remember that all TV started dumb, and SMART TV's were always premium products.

In Voltaire's "Candide", there is a character who insists that this is the best of all possible worlds. Every hurt you have ever felt, every illness and death anyone has experienced, everything is exactly as it should be. That neither humans nor God could improve upon the world as it is, because any change would make things worse somewhere else.

As the story shows more and more tragedies, natural disasters, wars, and famines, this character needs to come up with increasingly convoluted explanations for how those can possibly exist in the best of all possible worlds. The reader sees just how foolish this idea is.

The efficient market hypothesis to which you are alluding is just the same, stating that the market state is the best of all possible markets.

Why don't you instead suggest why it doesn't exist instead of referring to some random story that is not relevant (he's not making up a convoluted excuse).

> instead of referring to some random story that is not relevant

Absolutely relevant, by analogy. Pangloss (the character from Candide) is presented as a counter-argument to an overly optimistic view of the world. Pangloss's overly optimistic view dismisses all evidence that this is an imperfect world based on a nebulous and unprovable idea that the world is already as good as it can be. hjtkfkfmr's overly optimistic view dismisses all evidence that this is an inefficient market based on a nebulous and unprovable idea that the market is already as efficient as it can be.

> suggest why it doesn't exist

Sure, here's a list of reasons, any one of which is sufficient for hjtkfkfmr's argument to be invalid. Some of these are general statements about the efficient market hypothesis, and some are arguments about it being inappropriately applied to cases outside of an idealized stock market.

* The efficient market hypothesis assumes that all information needed to evaluate a product has already been disseminated. If somebody is unaware of the extent of advertisements that are present in a device, then they may make a decision that doesn't represent their actual preferences.

* The efficient market hypothesis assumes that all information needed to evaluate a product exists at the current time. Since manufacturers and developers can push software updates that change or remove features (e.g. Youtube being removed from Roku, or the "Install Other OS" feature being removed from the PS3), your typical customer who cannot foretell the future cannot accurately evaluate a product.

* The efficient market hypothesis is a statement about the market at equilibrium. This doesn't apply to reality, which is not at an equilibrium state (e.g. technology development, wars, pandemics).

* The efficient market hypothesis assumes that there are sufficiently many actors in a market to test all possible products that could be developed.

* The efficient market hypothesis assumes that an object's worth to an individual can always be assigned a monetary value, and those monetary values can be compared across individuals. That is, if a poor person is willing to spend $10 on a limited resource (e.g. food to survive), while a wealthy person is willing to spend $1000 on that same resource (e.g. food to waste for their amusement), then the "efficient" allocation is to give it to the wealthy person.

* The efficient market hypothesis assumes that there exists a free market. A market in which competitors are bought out and never actually reach the consumers is not a free market.

* The efficient market hypothesis assumes that there are no barriers to entry. If barriers to entry exist, such as the hardware/software design time needed to start a product, the number of people with expertise to perform that design, the number of manufacturers with availability to construct the hardware, etc, then those reduce the number of suppliers of a product, and so an idea may not reach the market.

The mental gymnastics people go through just to sound smart.

Glad to see some work on this. The most expensive Smart TV in my house is the worst one because LG refuses to support their TVs more than a couple years: All the new streaming apps are only available on newer TVs, even if they're far cheaper and less powerful.

My experience with LG's TV software support may have driven me to Roku forever. Age old Rokus still tend to have fantastic app support and run modern versions of their OS.

> Age old Rokus still tend to have fantastic app support and run modern versions of their OS.

Yes, because Roku's business model is getting into your living room to spy on you. Of course they'd like to do that for as long as possible!

It's the same with the TV vendors these days, only they want you to buy a new device every few years too.

There's a menu setting to disable telemetry.

I mostly agree, but recently I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Apple TV app became available on my 2017 50" LG. I was able to remove my Gen 3 Apple TV box. The only app I use that is still not available is HBO Max. For that I bring my daughter's PS4 into the room, but who knows maybe that will also become available.

> The only app I use that is still not available is HBO Max.

That’s a biggie. Isn’t it available on the AppleTV app?

For myself, I only use my AppleTV (device), for streaming. I have an LG, but am not a fan of the weird WebOS UI, so I just leave it connected to the AppleTV.

No, Unfortunately HBO MAX is not available on Gen3 Apple TV.

Our (now-7-year-old) LG TV was pretty good for the first 3-4 years. Now it's just a big monitor for a Raspberry Pi and very occasionally an old Bluray player.

I think consoles are the best option if you want at least sometimes play some games. They sell so much of them that the application developers support them for a long, long time - the 2013 PS4 is still being sold and will still be supported for at least few years.

The 1st goal of such software should be to neutralize and possibly remove all built-in malware/spyware, then disable any means that would allow the manufacturers to reinstall it or control the device in any way. A so called SmartTV must be able to 100% function without any Internet connection, and if having one it should benefit from it only in ways that are completely under the user control. Right now, there's a lot more junk that has to be removed rather than new functions to be added.

The same time, it's a bit sad that people are doing this and putting this much effort into a toxic product.

I don't mind the fire stick/tv, and DNS rules but if it gets too much I just won't buy a tv and get rid of it.

I get that it's a nice piece of furniture and such, but if it's hostile, expensive and after a few years becomes worthless - why bother.

I'll fight by not purchasing a tv.

It's possible that buying the TV and removing the toxisity is more effective - you get the subsidised price, but the manufacturer never makes the ad money back.

Really like my 2020 LG TV. (First TV I have ever bought - I'm 58 and every other TV was either a gift, the 14" Sanyo from my parents-in-law in 1989, or hand-me-down)

The one thing I'd like fixed is when I watch an in-progress scheduled recording, say 15 minutes behind real-time, the TV jumps in to live TV mode rather than continue to play the recording. I have to manually go and select the recording and then jog forward to the point I was watching. Seems a strange default, certainly different to Kodi. I've been meaning to write a bug report but it would be interesting if this project has a fix.

It's interesting that FOSS point inexorably towards what people want if only the interface was available - and it is clearly not what corporate decision makers want.

I'd love a feature that would allow alphabetical sorting of channels. It's kind of ridiculous that this isn't possible on a 'smart' TV today.

Given that modern TVs like to phone home a lot, and have microphones and cameras. I think an open source solution would be really nice to have.

Is there any similar project covering Panasonic smart TV's?

I just hook my rpi up to the (non-smart) tv and use x2x over ssh to open Chromium from whatever device I'm running.

What am I missing that open source version of smart-tv firmware/software would get me?

1. Non-smart TVs are being hard to find.

2. most devices to plug into TVs are underpowered for some applications, for example I tried to transmit games from my PC to such devices, and they all introduced too much artifacting and input lag, TVs tend to have a bunch of ASIC/FPGA alongside their general processor to handle video and thus can perform better.

3. computers that CAN handle the previous use cases, often are very expensive anywya, so... in a sense doesn't make sense anymore, for example I looked into this and concluded the "cheapeast" option would be a rpi4 with more RAM and SSD... at the prices here it made more sense to buy a actual x86 computer instead.

What use case are you talking about? Plugging a chord from PC to TV will only have input lag due to the TV itself. No artifacting would be caused from this either. I can't imagine what "transmitting a game to such devices as a rasberry pi" means.

You send input from Pi to a PC elsewhere, then on that PC the game is running, instead of outputting to screen it instead writes to a compressed video stream and sends it back to the pi. Same thing for audio.

Then the pi must uncompress the video and audio, convert to the format HDMI uses and send to TV.

All that must be done in less than a millisecond, and depending on your TV model might require it to be done 120 or even 240 times per second.

Okay I'm still not sure if this is something to record streams for Twitch or something to have a Pi in front of your TV instead of a full PC. Either way, sounds like a configuration issue more than anything. I have processed 1080p 60Hz video with zero input lag on 15 year old 1.5GHz laptops. Higher end stuff should be as easy on modern hardware.

The way a (presumably non-vsynced) game normally outputs to a monitor is it generates new frames as fast as it can, and each time it instantaneously replaces the framebuffer with the latest frame. Meanwhile, the monitor is continuously scanning out the pixels in the framebuffer to the pixels from top to bottom. Therefore, it will output part of one frame at one point in the screen, then part of the next frame under it (above when the end of screen is reached), and so on.

I was going to give a solution but I just realized that if you have no control over scanout you literally will always have input lag and other strange problems. This is not a performance problem. You need to stream each frame from the computer (and each time a new frame is generated, redirect the stream to source from that new frame) to the Pi, compressing on the fly (never buffer a full frame), and the Pi needs to be able to stream this in parallel through the HDMI cable instead of merely writing stuff into a framebuffer. In such a setup, the input lag will merely be how long it takes for a single bit to go through from the computer to the TV. Not sure if there are good compressors for this (other than DSC), but literally the way this stuff is normally supposed to work is through high speed video connections, not a slow ethernet.

I don't understand any of this.

If I want to play super duper games I'll hook up the gaming console directly to my non-smart TV through HDMI.

If I want to play retro games or other bullshit that can run on an RPI 4, I'll hook a controller directly up to the RPI 4.

If I want to use my trackpad and keyboard of my laptop in lieu of having a remote control, I use x2x to shuttle my events to the RPI 4, open Chromium on the RPI 4, and then watch netflix or whatever junk from a full-screen browser window. This is the only place I sometimes get lag, but that's just to start a video playing so it doesn't matter.

AFAICT I'm missing the 4k output that apparently requires some model of TV that ships with smart-tv adware. Outside of that I don't see any costs.

Unfortunately non smart tv's are getting rarer and more expensive.

Finally I can find out why the tv messes up the channel list by moving some channels at random after which any edit of the channel list will corrupt it even further…

I wonder if I could remap movies button on my remote so it won't try to install/open Rakuten TV and run other app instead.

Here's what I want for custom firmware: nothing. I don't mean "I don't want custom firmware". I want custom firmware THAT DOES NOTHING. Turn the TV into a dumb monitor. Do nothing else. Don't make me wait X seconds long for the TV Software to boot. Because I don't want it. I don't need it. I have external devices that do everything I want.

What really gets me is how inconvenient most interfaces are.

I don't own a TV, but every time I interact with one, be it apple TV, firestick, or some custom on-TV firmware thing, I find the UI reasonably beautiful but an absolute nightmare to use.

This might be because I don't use the TVs the way they are intended to be used. I typically know exactly what I want to watch before even switching it on. Their UIs however are built around aimlessly browsing and picking something off the top of the recommendations.

I always end up wishing I just had a keyboard and a mouse attached.

I think the reason bubbles down to the fact that people are used to TVs being dumb TVs with a remote that everyone knows how to operate. But the abilities of these TVs are growing exponentially compared to what people expect so they have to find a middleground by having a remote-looking pointing device and a TV-looking interface for this computer with a giant screen.

Eventually I believe it will evolve into something more functional.

> that everyone knows how to operate

These machines are almost impossible to operate without a remote. But remotes are not standardised; nor are the UIs the machines present. As a consequence, I become the only person that can efficiently operate my TV. And when I switch TVs, it takes me a month to learn how to drive it. The girlfriend doesn't have a chance.

Maybe I'm just slow on the uptake.

If TVs were cars, each brand of car would have different arrangements of controls; some would have a joystick for steering, some would have manual accelerator lever like a boat, some would have a horn operated by a foot-pedal, and they'd all have completely different gearstick locations for the different gears.

I need three different remotes to operate my TV: one for the TV, which I use only for switching inputs; one for the Sky STB; and one for my audio amplifier. I need all three to set up a viewing session. This is nuts, not least because none of these remotes is specific to the device they're paired with; each of these remotes has non-functional controls that are obviously meant for some other model, because they have no function or meaning with my model.

Disused remotes pile up in drifts in a cardboard box in my spare room.

Maybe in some distant future, the industry will come up with a standard for remote controls and user-interfaces, such that once you know one, you know them all, and so that any remote can be used to control any A/V device. This would drastically reduce the number of prefectly-good remote controls that end up in landfill.

This is kinda what HDMI CEC is (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_Electronics_Control). When I push the button on my AppleTV remote, the TV turns on, the receiver turns on and switches its input to the AppleTV. When push the power button again, the TV and receiver both turn off. Same thing when I grab the Playstation controller and turn it on.

I have a remote for my receiver and my TV, but I never ever touch them. The nice thing was that the only configuration required was to enable CEC on the TV and receiver. Everything else just worked.

I was referring to regular old-school features on the remote, the 1-9 buttons, channel/volume up/down, power on/off etc.

> I always end up wishing I just had a keyboard and a mouse attached.

I'm with you on that. Screen keyboards suck, especially on a TV.

I still have my old Netcast 4K TV here, but the software is really clunky. It quite literally comes with advertisements built-in to the main GUI (placeholdered by "Smart LG TV") whenever you're connected to the internet. It's not seeing so much internet these days (some sort of LAN-only solution for Miracast would be nice), though.

Have you ever tried plugging a keyboard into your TV? Most of them have USB ports these days, and I'm sure with Linux they're got the basic keyboard drivers bundled.

there are also remote controls with keyboards, trackpads, airmice, etc. which most TVs with a USB port can recognise

Have you tried a Chromecast? Your phone or laptop is the UI, and the software you're using (which does need to explicitly support) sends it to the TV. Netflix, YouTube, VLC, and Chrome all support this.

It's a different workflow than with a mouse and keyboard, and the software's still generally going to prioritize browsing/top recommendations, but at least you're not dealing with an on-TV UX nightmare (even if it is pretty).

Are you willing to pay for it? A lot of manufacturers make displays intended for digital signage, which under the hood are basically just a TV with different software:


There's an infographic on the differences here:


I actually have one of these made by Samsung. It's quite old though. It's a 40" 720p panel but it can take 1080p HDMI and looks quite ok actually. Can function as a standalone display or it has a builtin PC (a sub 1ghz AMD CPU I think, 256mb ram and a couple GB HDD inside it).

It is insanely heavy and well built (slightly dropped it once, RIP floor).

The panel: it is much much brighter than a regular TV but the kicker is there is no color or contrasts shift no matter how you look at it. I gamed on it for a while and the pixel response time is insanely fast. It is truly an amazing display. Too bad about the resolution though. I'm not using it anymore but I did not throw it away either.

> Are you willing to pay for it? A lot of manufacturers make displays intended for digital signage, which under the hood are basically just a TV with different software

According to your link (and to what I've seen at work) that's not entirlely correct. One of the differences they give:

> Built to run from 16/7 to 24/7 hours per day, have better cooling for longer runtimes

I bet this alone increases the price but quite a hefty amount.

I'm not the GP, but if they're anything like me, they just want the "dumb" part, not the "runs 24/7/365 at blindingly high levels of brightness".

These type of displays are usually low to mid range displays. You aren’t likely to find an OLED panel that supports Dolby Vision etc without “smart” features.

Wow what a document. Commerical products are always nicely so much less bullshit. Funny to read the manufacturer say so!

This “dumb tv” trope comes up in every one of these discussions. We are the minority and most people want a tv with a Netflix all and not to have to buy a set top box. There isn’t a market here.

I bring it up here because they’re reversing the LG firmware and modifying it. I would love a fork of this work that does nothing.

While a developer, this kind of work is outside my current wheelhouse and I just don’t have the time to learn and fork it myself. So throwing out my desire. Half hoping someone out there wants it more than I do.. and half just expressing my frustration with modern TVs.

I think there could be a bit of a market in installations / events.

Often smaller installs / live events people want simple non-smart screens for all kinds of things (on stage, in waiting areas, musician cues, info to crew, signage, etc), and although it's possible to buy expensive "monitors" that do it - being able to use cheap and large domestic kit with much faster startup and no extra crap, and no logos being displayed while booting or if it loses signal or whatever would be very desirable.

These are called digital signage displays - they have rs232 control ports, are a bit more ruggedly built, have a bit more cooling and are twice as expensive if not more than a civilian tv - if somebody sells one to you at all.

You can buy some brands on B&H.

These exist. Even LG sells them. They are just a lot more expensive.

Most of the time - at least within events, we end up using "Hotel Mode" to disable some of the features or force the LCD to always boot up into a specific source.

>>There isn’t a market here.

I can assure you there is an even smaller a market for a reverse engineered open source LG TV firmware.

And an even smaller market for a reverse engineered open source LG TV firmware that does nothing, I'm afraid.

The fun part of open source is that a market of 1 interested person is enough.

As an extreme case, Linus Torvalds decided to write a terminal emulator, do it straight on the bare metal for his PC, accidentally deleted his OS in the process, then got carried away a bit trying to survive without real OS. None of these decisions made any business sense, yet we have the entire Linux ecosystem out of it.

Not that much smaller, though. Of course the market for things-that-are-X is larger than the market for things-that-are-both-X-and-Y, since the latter is a subset of the former.

I wonder how many people in that majority category you’ve described are likely to want to install custom firmware though.

I’m a “hacker” with multiple LG TVs around the house (in fact I exclusively buy LG TVs) and I have no interest in putting custom firmware on those TV sets. So I can’t imagine there’s many inside the Venn bubble that are both laymen enough to want Netflix, technical enough to know about custom firmware but also motivated enough to want to install it.

So the number of people who want dumb firmware might not be disproportionately less than those who want custom smart firmware.

> laymen enough to want Netflix

Not wanting to commit digital piracy makes you a "layman"? What other options are there? I'm assuming you're using "Netflix" as a placeholder for all similar streaming services, but even if not, there are still many shows only available there that you simply can't legally watch without it.

I think, given the context of the thread, they mean that a layman would be more likely to want a TV with Netflix built-in as opposed to an external device that typically performs better and is more flexible.

Exactly this. :)

It's not really worth it for them to make dumb TVs either, I assume, since that implies they can't shove ads and telemetry into them.

The point being exactly that since we're now entering a time where open source TV firmware is a thing, profit motives don't necessarily trump everything else anymore.

Making a firmware that does "nothing" is probably less work than making one that does a lot of things. So even in the new currency (developer time) it might be cheap and make some people happy.

Developer time is paid only once. As soon as it is paid, the manufacturer loses out when he is not putting the spyware everywhere he can.

The manufacturer is completely irrelevant to the development in this case though, so sod what they want.

Which is GPs point. Open source TV firmware means that the manufacturers motives are no longer the totality of the conversation.

Well, what it does is reinforce the idea that privacy is a luxury. You can get it ( to an extent ), if you pay enough.

Not true, pre-install a removable box. Preferably this becomes a standard where Google, Amazon, Apple, Nvidia share the same form factor. Now my LG TV from 2020 is missing out functionality, even though the hardware could support it.

That’s HDMI.

...which can't carry power or a network connection - both things that could easily be provided to the module through a single slot connector.

Why would it need to carry a network connection (apart from CEC), when the point is that the display itself shouldn't be connecting to the network? Standardize on a certain barrel connector a certain distance away from the HDMI port, with the ethernet/wifi on the other side of the module.

It'd be great if say Google pushed TVs in this direction ("Google Display with smart cube. Never have an outdated TV again" or something), but I bet the decommodified dumpster fire of baked in software benefits them too much. After all, the last thing any of those companies in the business of selling "content" wants people to do is to end up plugging in a Kodi box. It's like banks with overdraft fees - by abusing your customers, you make them worry that switching will result in even more abuse, thus encouraging them stick with the abuse they already know.

HDMI can certainly carry Ethernet

Yes, I know, also power, just not a usable amount. Ethernet over HDMI is rarely implemented and caps out at 100Mbps. Even if you have it, that still leaves you with a power cable and big ugly box to put somewhere.

The bit rate of all the current streaming providers and Bluray players fits well within 100Mbps, so I'm not sure that's really a limitation?

That makes it pretty much perfect for an open source project, then. Suitably motivated individuals with some technical skills can build and use it if they want to and the majority can remain blissfully ignorant of its existence.

Even if true (and I don't think it is), that is irrelevant to an attempt to reverse engineer an existing smart TV and create custom "dumb" firmware for it. All that needs is people with the desire for it and the technical skills to pull it off.

Oh, there's a market all right. I want one

Sceptre makes "dumb" TVs:


Vision and HiSense don't incorporate any ads. You can also buy kits to convert your television into, well, just a television.

Also, not having features doesn't necessarily make your TV faster. I have a 39" Seiki from 2013 that takes 6-8 seconds to power on and about 5 to display the image again when changing resolutions. Great panel, wouldn't trade it for another LG at least.

Hisense definitely does automatic content recognition.

the sceptre panels are stupid cheap, but they fail. and good luck getting an rma through support. otherwise they support hdr and motion compensation etc etc so its not a bad deal

Okay, then you gotta pay for it. And the problem is, no one really wants to pay for it.


I find it easier to just never connect my TV to the internet and call that as much of a win as I'm gonna get. Though, with this sidewalk stuff, soon even that may not be possible.

I would be a lot more motivated to buy this stuff (& pay extra) if the FSF/Mozilla or somebody provided certification for IoT hygiene - devices that don't spy on you, don't have ads, dont send telemetry home and dont even have the capability to access the internet.

This is one of the main reasons I dont buy IoT devices and don't have an oura ring (though I'd like one). I'm skeptical even of the "good" brands and I cant be bothered to set up offline VLANS and the like to "fight" the natural tendency of corporate whores to worm their way into my life uninvited. I think this is why many corporate execs voluntarily forgo opportunities for profit from people like me - power is just so much more enticing.

What's worse is that 5G probably means that IoT devices won't even need our internet connections in future. Imagine a brave new world of subscription lightswitches and TVs to go with already existing subscription phones that turn off when you dont pay the bill. Clearly consumers are clamoring for all of this, since the market will probably one day exist. /s

Organic labeling serves as a good model to follow here.

Obviously before there was a market for organic food many farmers claimed that there wasn't a market for organic food and that outside of a few activists nobody really cared. There was though.

> Where the numbers keep growing is in its number of active SmartCast accounts, which are now over 14 million, and how much money it makes from each user on average. That number has nearly doubled from last year, going from $10.44 to $19.89. On the call with investors and analysts, Vizio execs said 77 percent of that money comes directly from advertising.

(Amounts in article per month I think) I'd be glad to pay 300$ extra for a good dumb TV, the problem is _no one really wants to sell it_.

This is like the Kindle with Ads model from Amazon. You can pay Amazon an extra $20 (or request via support) to not have advertisements on the device forever. Or save a few bucks and deal with the occasional ad. And from what I can tell, the Kindle with Ads is still a pretty popular product.

The thing is, you can't pay extra for a TV without ads - that option simply doesn't exist like it does for the Kindle. At best, you can buy a completely different TV from a digital signage vendor for 10x the price, but that's going to be a completely different product.

And what if I want the smart features, just without the ads and tracking? Where's the "unlock ad-free version" button that Android apps figured out a decade ago?

I have paid to turn ads off and the infuriating thing is you still get ads for Amazon services, usability hints and a tonne of other junk that cannot be turned off (like “you haven’t bought washing liquid in a while, want to add it to your list?”).

Recently, they reprogrammed every Kindle Paperwhite so the UI is almost completely different. Ever since I first saw one in a shop, Kindle Paperwhites have always looked and functioned a certain way… and now it's different. Instead of the “book” that I have muscle memory for, it's now interacting with a computer interface again. If I wanted that, I'd read on my laptop.

Looking “clunky” and “old”, more like a dictionary-bookmark than an iPhone, was a feature, to me. It doesn't need to be slick and rounded with a main menu. You certainly don't have to move everything around so that there's a × button in the top-right corner of things that aren't modal popups; that just breaks the pre-existing “top-left corner to go back” idiom (which still exists for the “library” and reader mode).

And whose idea was it to make it so the “change brightness” menu also drew a cross-hatched pattern over your actual book? That makes it so you have to repeatedly enter and exit that menu (which now takes up nearly half the screen, for smaller buttons than before), unless you've memorised the brightness level numbers. You also can't judge at a glance where to touch for the correct brightness level if you do know it, because they replaced the custom 15-little-boxes interface with a generic slider widget that only uses the middle of the range – making it behave differently to every other identical-in-appearance slider in the OS. So what's the point of making it look the same?

The one improvement is that they removed a banner ad (presumably because they wanted the space for extra UI padding). I don't think that's worth it – but I have no choice, because I don't control my own device.

(They also removed the “experimental” from the “experimental web browser”, which might be an improvement, even though it seems the same; there's less UI space thanks to the pad-pocalypse, and it still can't do Cloudflare DDOS-walls properly. Not that I blame Amazon for the latter problem; my browser can't, either.)

In general, I'm beginning to feel that habitually updating software is a risk.

I have a paperwhite, but I haven't connected it for a while. Generally when I do connect it to a PC to upload more books, I'll habitually update the software. Its good practice right? Guess I'll now have to remember in perpetuity not to.

Recently I updated my Raspberry Pi setup to find that the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS does not support the official Raspberry Pi cameras (it does add a ton of functionality, including a speed boost for Raspberry Pi 4, but nothing that adds stuff in my setup). So I rolled back everything. And I'll have to remember not to update unless they (or someone else) has added camera support back in.

The point is that I used to laugh at the old guys who refused to update their software. Now I'm turning into them. If everything is working the way I want, why update? Especially for personal devices where the impact of "security vulnerabilities" is so low.

Nothing stops you from disconnecting the antenna or having a faraday cage around the tx/rx components

My TV is the final AV output device for 3 games consoles running 8 TV apps.

One thing I’d love for it to do is provide unified close caption styling, always on closed captions, automated sound levelling, and automated color / black levelling.

I’m always surprised when I see a tv that has brightness / contrast sliders. That stuff could be easily automated the same way I calibrate my PC display.

I desperately want the this too, but a good reason not to is that I got a message from LG about my tv possibly overheating and having a free motherboard replacement even if it doesn’t, which I would never have known about otherwise (likewise if I disabled the network on it, I guess).

I ignored this message until my friend’s tv psu let some smoke out.

So yeah, it was worth it.

Exactly! When it comes to home media I prefer the Linux model of small utilities connected by pipes.

Sorry to be pedantic but it's the unix model.

If you're willing to take your TV to bits, you could replace the motherboard with a generic LCD controller board from aliexpress.

I think the closest thing you'll find are hospitality TV. Display used in hotel, restaurants and the like.

I'm assuming you meant the smart part, and not the image processing part. And all other kinds of audio/video processing. If yes, even I'd love to have that!

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