Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

Summary: Samsung has unveiled a new TV at CES 2012 in Las Vagas that can receive a hardware upgrade every year in order to keep it current and add new features.See also: CES 2012: ZDNet’s news and product coverage | CES 2012: CNET’s news and product coverageThe Samsung ES8000 will feature an expansion slot that allows new hardware to be fitted to the TV, technology the company is calling 'smart evolution capability.

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Samsung has unveiled a new TV at CES 2012 in Las Vagas that can receive a hardware upgrade every year in order to keep it current and add new features.

See also: CES 2012: ZDNet’s news and product coverageCES 2012: CNET’s news and product coverage

The Samsung ES8000 will feature an expansion slot that allows new hardware to be fitted to the TV, technology the company is calling 'smart evolution capability.'

I can tell you one thing right now - I won't be buying one.

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Now don't get me wrong, the idea of an upgradable TV doesn't sound all that crazy. In fact, it's an interesting way to keep an expensive bit of kit that people keep for years (usually much longer than a computer or cellphone) updated.

But I'm still not buying.

First off, the computer market has shown that, on the whole, consumers aren't interested in upgrades. The only think keeping the PC upgrades industry afloat is gamers and hardcore enthusiasts. Luckily there are quite a lot of them. How many consumers are going to want to upgrade their TV? Not many I'm willing bet.

Then there's the whole issue of commitment. Specifically, Samsung's commitment. If I buy this TV, am I guaranteed an upgrade module down the line? If so, how many? See, my fear here is that if these TVs don't sell well (and my feeling is that they won't), then we can kiss goodbye any ideas on seeing an upgrade module. If sales of the TV are disappointing, then sales of the upgrade module are likely to be crushingly disappointing.

I might feel better if Samsung would license the upgrade module technology as that would give smaller companies an option to support people who'd bought one of these sets. I really don't see that happening thought.

There's another issue bothering me about all this 'future-proof' upgradable TV thing, and it's this. What exactly are these hardware upgrades going to entail? Will it be little more than a CPU/RAM upgrade so the TV can run the latest firmware (if so, that's really unsexy) or will be new features? My bet is the former, since catering for the latter is not easy from a technical standpoint.

Which leads me to my final problem with upgradable TVs ... if these upgrade modules exists so that the TV's hardware can be bumped up to run whatever firmware release comes from Samsung, what happens if you don't buy the module? Are you stuck with a web-connected system with no hopes of an upgrade a year down the line?

I see what Samsung are trying to do here, but to me it seems gimmicky. It's like those big magnifying lenses you can put in front of the TV to make the screen bigger or, if you're older, that colored film that was sold in the back pages of comic books that promised to turn a black and white set into color (and no, I'm not old enough to remember that!). In theory, the idea of an upgradable TV makes sense (like an upgradable computer or upgradable car), but in reality the majority of consumers don't want upgradability, and those that do are probably switched on enough to realize that this idea won't amount to anything.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Samsung

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  • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

    "The only think keeping the PC upgrades industry afloat is gamers and hardcore enthusiasts."

    Although I should note that gaming is exploding right now. The older generation doesn't do it too much, but the younger generation does it plenty, and is even teaching their kids about games. IMO it's gonna be as strong as TV and movies.

    What's interesting is that if you're right, then Moore's law is dead. We don't need to explode the GHz and number of transistors anymore. Just 10 or so years ago, you would have predicted that Moore's law wouldn't stop in your lifetime.

    And now? Now you're advocating its decline. You don't want it to continue anymore, you see it as useless.

    Personally, I've always thought that there would be an end to Moore's law eventually. I still think we haven't reached that point yet, but IMO it will eventually plateau rather than continuing its exponential growth.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @CobraA1 As I read it, this article takes the opposite tack: that technology will continue to advance en masse, so that upgrading modules within a fixed-form television won't be practical.
      jsamans
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @CobraA1 I think it has more to do with most people not caring about the random features as long as it still plays their movies and cable just fine.
      Aerowind
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @CobraA1 This is all I read from the pundits nowadays: people don't care about hardware (today's article about tablets), people don't care about customizability, people don't care about features, now it's people don't care about upgradability either. I refuse to embrace this image of the general population as primitive cave-creatures who don't want to think, understand, learn, or accomplish anything.
      I think these are ad-hoc explanations given when a product fails (quite possibly for much different reasons). Have you ever seen tv writers declare, after a bad sci-fi show or fantasy show bombs, "People don't care about sci-fi or fantasy". and then see shows like Lost or Once Upon a Time take off soon after? I think it's the same effect... there's rampant generalization from a bad show in a genre to all shows in the genre. X show or movie bombed because it was a poor quality show in the genre, not because people don't want to see shows or movies in the genre.
      jgm@...
      • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

        @jgm@...
        Incidentally, Lost was terrible.... so glad it got binned.
        12312332123
      • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

        @jgm@...

        Well, I would have replied to Traxxion, but couldn't. I just wanted to say that Lost was a great show, as was Roswell, Kyle XY, Angel, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, etc. So, just because Traxxion didn't like it doesn't mean it was a terrible series. It just wasn't Traxxion's cup of tea.
        mustang_z
      • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

        @mustang_z

        I did enjoy most of Roswell. Buffy was OK I guess. Angel was by no definition a great show, being a mere spinoff and Kyle XY... I don't even know what that is? In my honest opinion, Lost was by contrast absolutely terrible, boring, predictable, drawn out drivel. The writers were giving up by the 4th series, but they should have given up immediately. My wife will watch pretty much anything and liked Lost, but couldn't be bothered after the third season. Suffice to say, it wasn't my cup of mercury, let alone cup of tea :)

        Firefly - now that was a great show!
        12312332123
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @Adrian: to summarize: you "won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV" because you will wait until you can buy the rumored Apple TV.

      There you go. Now most people can understand you.
      markbn
      • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

        @markbn:

        Now that makes more sense! Didn't get much out of Adrian's article because if a TV is connected to the Internet it should be able to do firmware upgrades without hardware upgrades. So, his article seemed pointless and without facts. I'm fairly certain Samsung is planning on having "real" hardware upgrades, not the upgrading of its firmware.
        mustang_z
  • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

    Going by Samsung's track-record in the Android Smartphone market, it's a good bet they'll just stop supporting upgrades after one cycle. I'm not inclined to buy another Samsung Smartphone because of the lurch they've left me in with my < 1 year old Epic 4G, and I think I've learned my lesson with Samsung -- never trust them for support. They're an Apple-wannabe without the customer service ethos built in.
    marlin_s
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @marlin_s Ditto! My T-Mobile Vibrant has never had the latest Android OS. It took almost a year and a half before I got Froyo which was current when I bought the phone. The lack of upgrades has me seriously looking at Windows 7 Phone.
      NerdHerder
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @marlin_s I'm inclined to agree. The concept is great. The reality will probably be vaporware. Then again, if they never upgrade the module, it will just be like every other TV out there which can't be upgraded. In my mind, the big question is how much of a premium are we paying for the possibility of future upgrades?
      BillDem
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @marlin_s

      "Going by Samsung's track-record in the Android Smartphone market, it's a good bet they'll just stop supporting upgrades after one cycle". I agree.

      This "deal" reminds me too much of Windows Vista Ultimate and the promises by MS of extras and specials. MS never kept its word. What proof is there that Samsung will not also renege on its promise - especially if sales are flat?
      Wakemewhentrollsgone
  • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

    Unless they let you swap out the screen as well, it is never going to be truly future proof.
    antlev
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @antlev Oh, you can swap our the screen. You just have to buy it along with all of the other modules, in a new case. ;-)
      jsamans
  • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

    I like this idea in concept, but I'm with you...I think reality will be a let down.

    Case in point: I was all excited that the firmware in my 2011 LG HDTV could be updated online. Alas, LG has not published a single firmware update to bring the 2011 line up to the feature level of the 2012 line, which has a bunch of additional apps and features. And why should they? They want me to buy a 2012 model.

    Point being, if a manufacturer cannot even be bothered to update the software, despite the capability being there, what makes me think they will bother to do so for the hardware, which is an order of magnitude more complex than a firmware update (must be physically shipped to consumers, must be physically installed, etc.)? It'll never happen.
    Win8AnUglyDisaster
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @johndow1

      Why would ANYONE buy ANYTHING from LG? They are Goldster, the oldest and most notable ripoff's of cheap and substandard products in the ENTIRE electronics indistry!
      dah021555@...
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @johndow1

      The one thing we all know: Follow the money. If the money's not there, you'll get what you paid for. But for those of us gadget freaks out there, some might buy into it.
      Celticuser
  • Why I WOULD be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

    Today, the TV, the phone, and other devices, all they are SMART. That means that actually they are computers. And because you'll never buy a computer with a fixed functionality (software), you should never buy a smart device without an upgrade capability also. That's the future: computers everywhere, i.e flexibility everywhere.

    For example, if Samsung could support panoramic videos (aka interactive videos) with only an upgrade that would be very cool!
    bitflow
    • RE: Why I won't be buying Samsung's 'future-proof' upgradable TV

      @bitflow You mean like those fancy smart phones everybody has? Can't exactly add more ram to those.
      Aerowind