A Smart TV? But it was neither smart nor a TV

December 10, 2016

We recently helped set up up a ‘Smart TV’ for a client. The “TV” (reason for quotation marks will become clear…) was a VIZIO purchased from Costco for just under $400.  Here is the listed product name:

VIZIO – 50” Class (49.5” Diag.) LED – with Chromecast Built-in – Ultra HD Home Theater Display

Looks good, right? Only we quickly discovered that despite the built-in Chromecast, the only way to stream content was through an app on your smartphone or tablet. (Or you could buy a special tablet remote (not included!) that retails for $199.) So, every household member would need an app on their smartphone – unless of course you want to share your iPhone. No thanks. Ultimately, we got it working by installing my client’s existing Roku.

But later I realized something even odder. This VIZIO does not come with a TV tuner (hence omission of the word “TV” from the product description above). Without the tuner, this VIZIO cannot receive signals from a digital antennae, as is necessary to watch basic broadcast TV channels without cable. I can hear the conversation between the VIZIO marketers and their attorneys…’no problem, we will just remove the word ‘TV’ from the product description’. Fine if you have (and intend to keep) your cable subscription.

Lesson: Deep product research is the only way to have possibly avoided this product. The absence of the remote was noted by one angry Amazon reviewer and the absence of a TV tuner was noted in a Consumer Reports blog post. But frankly, not sure that I would have found either prior to purchasing. And sometimes you just want to pick up a TV to go with your Costco Apple Pie.

Have a tech tale of woe of your own? Send us a note! We’d love to help others avoid the same frustrations.

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