Are you in the market for a new TV? There are many features to consider - resolution, HDR-capability, refresh rates, screen technology and yes, applications.
Delivered via so-called "smart TVs," apps can give you access to video streaming sites like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video, Vudu, Hulu, etc. without the need for an external device.
Smart TVs can also give you a wealth of information natively with various news, weather, sports and social media apps.
Some smart TVs, like select models from Samsung and Sony, can even act as streaming game systems without the need for a console with downloadable services like Playstation Now.
The convenience offered by smart TVs seems endless. Without an external gadget, you can select the apps and services you need, install them on your TV, and that will save you a HDMI port too. This sounds like a winning formula. Or is it?
The problem with smart TVs is similar with any other service with its own ecosystem - when support ends, apps can be pulled out, rendering them useless.
As an example, back in June, Microsoft decided not to continue support for Skype on smart TVs. This prompted Samsung to issue a notice to Samsung smart TV owners that the Skype app will no longer be offered. The problem with this scenario? All those separate Samsung TV webcams bought specifically for the Samsung Skype app are now expensive doorstops.
Another bad precedent happened last year with older Sony Bravia TVs. Google dropped support for the older models' version of the YouTube app with no "solution" offered. Basically, the YouTube app on these smart TVs just stopped working.
Also, last year, Amazon dropped their Amazon Video from older LG smart TVs with no alternative replacing it. As compensation to LG smart TV users, Amazon offered the affected users a discount on the Amazon Fire streaming stick.
Well, the point is, all those fancy apps on smart TVs might not last forever. Once the developer or app owner, be it Amazon, Microsoft, Google or, dare I say Netflix, decides to cut support for it, then those apps will be rendered obsolete and users can't do anything about it.
When this happens, users have a few options: deal with the discontinued app, get a new smart TV, or just get a separate cheaper streaming device instead.
Obviously, getting a newer smart TV is the expensive option and you will probably encounter the same issue a few years down the road.
The smartest option is to just get a streaming device like a Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV or a Google Chromecast.
These streaming devices usually have all the services that will match any smart TV and best of all, they're cheaper too. Streaming devices also have more variety on their app selection giving you more flexibility on what to install.
So, if you're thinking about getting a smart TV, consider if it's worth spending the premium on built-in apps that may not last forever. Maybe it's better (and cheaper) to just save the difference, go for a non-smart TV and buy a separate streaming device instead.