TVs Are Still Too Complicated, and It’s Not Your Fault

In his latest column for The Verge, renowned journalist Walt Mossberg argues that TVs — their UI, execution, underlying technologies, and remote — are still too complicated. In the latest weekly, he has shared the experience of buying a new TV, setting it up, and the first few days of getting through it. The modern set, Smart TV for most, comes with a plethora of proprietary and standard features. But only a handful of people actually know what these features are — and how they differ in the models offered by the same company. Mossberg says folks at Best Buy were of little use when explaining these features, but did a good job making false claims such as “you have to buy a sound bar because the TV doesn’t have good speakers” even when that wasn’t necessarily the case. Now Mossberg, having pioneered tech journalism as it is known today, knows a thing or two about TVs, but for a general consumer, it is an unnecessary thing that could spoil the experience, and make a bigger dent in their TV budget than it should have. But buying the TV wasn’t the worst part. Following are excerpts from his column: But learning to use the TV is a whole other story. The Bean Bird (assistive cartoon feature) setup process was pretty straightforward, but it gets you going just enough to start watching something. Tweaking all of the TV’s many features, including common ones like picture tones and uncommon ones like zooming in on a part of the picture or using a built-in web browser, takes hours. You must wade through menus containing scores of choices. And some controversial features common to modern TVs are buried deep in these menus. For instance, while I like motion smoothing others strongly dislike it — it’s sometimes known as the “soap opera effect.” If you don’t like it, the LG’s interface doesn’t make it at all easy to understand what’s happening to your picture or what setting to adjust to turn it off. It’s not even called motion smoothing in the menus — LG calls it “TruMotion.” The user interface is also somewhat confusing. There are at least three ways, for instance, to change inputs and at least two to bring up quick settings. The menu for launching apps like Netflix, inputs, and more appears to have a million icons in it and marches for what seems like miles across the bottom of the screen. So you have to edit it, which takes a bunch of time.Mossberg also found issues with the way the remote was designed to execute. “For instance, it’s supposed to become a “universal” remote, controlling all your connected set-top boxes, but I can only get it to control some, but not all, of the basic features of my cable box, a TiVo Bolt. And its voice search is pathetic — far worse than the one on the latest Apple TV.”


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