Smart tv more like fart tv
June 15, 2021 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Tell me about professional displays in lieu of TVs for home use.

I'm ready to add another screen to my home, something in the 60" range. I have no use for a tv by the way people use tvs these days. I don't need or want smart apps or cable. I don't want my remote to listen to me. I don't need a DVR. I plug my tv into my computer and do absolutely everything I'm interested in doing (chiefly: watching streaming content) using my tv essentially as a big monitor.

A few months ago, probably here on mefi but I can't find it now, I read someone mention getting a professional display instead of a television to avoid all the bloat and crapola that comes with tvs these days. That appeals to me.

What should I be looking for when I search for professional displays? Or will a regular television tv be ok for me? I have seen this question--is this still true, don't connect the tv to the internet and it'll behave? I see things like this and it makes me think maybe we should just launch smart tvs straight into the sun.

I don't know anything about tv features and I don't really care that much about specs because my eyes can't tell much of difference between trash and the blackest blacks. They do not see that extra $600 worth of nits. My current tv is a 46" RCA that was already last year's model when I bought it a full decade ago, and it is still just great for my purposes. What my eyes DO care about is "ooh bigger tv" and "now that I have two tvs I can put this old tv in my bedroom."

Please do not provide advice on my home media setup, I am very comfortable with that. I simply want a big tv, the dumber the better, that will replicate my computer screen but BIGGER. I would like to spend $600-700 (or less of course but this seems reasonable based on initial research)
posted by phunniemee to Technology (18 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You will have much more choice, and a better chance of a good price, if you shop for a smart TV. Never plug in a network cable, never join the wifi, and it'll work just fine as a dumb display. If you never connect it to the internet, it can't track you.
posted by fedward at 10:33 AM on June 15, 2021 [11 favorites]

I have a "smart" TV that I simply haven't given the password to the WiFi to. I use my own streaming box, and that's it. Also my own universal remote. Without batteries I'm pretty sure the TV's remote isn't listening to me. Seems to work fine, so if privacy is your main concern, that would probably work.
posted by praemunire at 10:34 AM on June 15, 2021

Dumb TVs are effectively no longer a thing, and the "professional displays" are not cost effective for the home consumer. I very much wanted that to not be the case but this is the world we're in today.

I ended up going to Costco a few months ago, picking a model by size and specific inputs I wanted, and then connecting my Roku to it and replacing the whiz-bang gyroscopic TV remote with a standard universal remote from Target.

The TV apparently has an app store and 3 privacy policies you have to accept but I've ignored all of that. I never see the TVs interface unless I switch to the game console input before the console is on, and then all I see is a European cityscape with a "no input" message.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:41 AM on June 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

This is kind of orthogonal to your as-dumb-as-possible goals, but it seems like something an "I don't really want a TV" person might at least be intrigued by, so... I've been looking at the Samsung Frame which is appealing to me because it doesn't look like a water cooled gaming rig with neon underglow, which is what most TVs look like IMO. It's over your budget, and the "art" feature seems like pure kitsch that I would never use. But if someone gave me one then I'd put it in my living room, which is perhaps not something I could say for the standard recommendations in your price range (e.g. TCL Series 5).
posted by caek at 10:48 AM on June 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

We have a professional display in our basement that we got from an organization that was replacing equipment, so a used one might be in your price range. As noted above, it has features but you don't have to use them. You'll need to make sure you know how to change the input to the cord you're using and also maybe change the display mode using the remote. Ours was on a setting that made a regular drama look like a reality show, so we changed it to another display mode that was less annoying. If you're using it as a computer monitor, that may be easier then dealing with video.
posted by soelo at 10:49 AM on June 15, 2021

I own an escape room, and we have a bunch of TVs around that we just want to show an HDMI signal and do nothing else. Every TV I've bought has been cheap and "smart" but yeah, I don't plug it in to the network, and I don't tell it about wifi, and just set it to HDMI1 and my only interaction with the TV itself is turning it on and off.

It's probably cheaper for them to put Roku or Android or whatever software on there than it is to write their own minimal OS that handles all the crap that they need for various media codecs and formats and menus and and settings that people need just for all the non-smart uses. So the upshot is that TVs are extremely cheap now (and weigh next to nothing), and you can just ignore all the so-called smart TV features.

If you really want to not have all that stuff you an get a monitor instead of a TV, but it will have a narrower viewing angle - they're really meant for one person sitting 1-3' in front of it, vs watching it from anywhere in a living room.
posted by aubilenon at 10:51 AM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I "repurposed" a 2011 flat-screen Toshiba 40+/- inch TV into exactly what you are planning to use it for. If it accepts a Chromecast dongle then you're golden and cast most everything on there like a huge monitor.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 10:51 AM on June 15, 2021

Here are a few non-smart TVs sold by random Wal-Mart brands:

65" for $359

55" for $330
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:03 AM on June 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

There are some concerns that Smart TV's may be attempting to use backchannels to find ways to contact the mothership, such as connecting to unprotected wifi or even cable company "CableWiFi" semi-private hotspots. There are potential avenues into your TV in the form of broadcast signals, and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that a Samsung TV might one day backchannel through your Samsung smartphone to establish a connection to report on your TV.

That having been said, I've been using a trio of high end 4K televisions as monitors for several years, and it works out well.

Going forward, it is going to be hard to find a television that does not have the potential to be "smart"; LCD TV's have always had microprocessors in them, and the microprocessors are now so cheap that today's lower tier TV's have better "smarts" than a high end model from ten years ago. The professional displays are basically similar hardware in a sturdier package, just without all the software, and at a steep cost, because they know that businesses will pay.

Some smart TV's can be placed into "hotel" mode, which can provide some extra control over what happens, which won't get you all the way to "professional", but may give you an option to power on to a particular HDMI input, for example. I did this for my folks because they're elderly and found it befuddling to navigate multiple remotes trying to figure out how to "get the TV back" when they changed input to DVD or streaming device.
posted by jgreco at 11:07 AM on June 15, 2021 [7 favorites]

Another source is finding surplus "LCD signage" displays used by businesses and commercial venues (more like stadiums, not hotels).

Here's an eBay seller that has a number of displays for sale. This one offers local pickup only, so not optimal, but at least you can get an idea of where to start looking.

The downside of "commercial" models is that sometimes they lack speakers, multiple HDMI inputs, and even remote controls (they're expecting commands from the HDMI input). But you might find something that works. Just read the listing carefully and ask questions if you don't see what you need.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:18 AM on June 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

FWIW, when I looked for "professional" displays recently many of them were still "smart" TVs and a bunch of them ran Android.

Panasonic has some decent models; the TH-65CQE1 might suit your needs? It's rated for 16hrs/day; I was going to buy it before I just decided to do as discussed above (crippling the smart functions) and getting a consumer model instead (more bang for the buck at the expense of that hassle).

B&H has a decent listing of commercial units that I found useful at the time.
posted by aramaic at 1:02 PM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

There are still a lot of video projectors that have inputs only and no internal apps. If you have a white, grey or black wall you don't even need a screen (depending on the projector's brightness and contrast ratio). I have owned one for 20 years, now using this.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:32 PM on June 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

Cheddar's video "What have TV's become So Inexpensive ?- is a nice primer to the way in which the manufacturers had started deriving income from consumers. With respect to the information collected - it is worth pointing out that most manufacturers allow their default "track everything" settings to be turned totally or partially off. That solution is not going to satisfy the finicky or the paranoid in its own right - but it may be a trade off for a bigger TV at a lower price.
posted by rongorongo at 3:00 PM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing the point of just getting a consumer TV and dumbing it down/not connecting it to the Intarwebs.

We do some video presentation stuff at my job (live event production) and so we've looked into getting "professional displays" and they're really too pricey for us to bother with. (TBH, a lot of times if you see a flat panel display somewhere being used for presentation stuff, especially if it's not permanently installed, there's a damn good chance that it's just a regular old big-box-store TV connected to a laptop or something via HDMI.)

Part of the reason "professional displays" are pricey is that they're meant to run hours and hours and hours a day, if not 24/7/365, and even though they may not have consumer bloatware they have a bunch of specialized software/connections/specs to allow for integration into a complete system - so you'd be paying for stuff you won't ever use or care about.

And on top of that I'm pretty sure it's a question of market share - "professional" displays are meant to be bought by a relatively small handful of companies that will either write them off as an expense and/or pass the cost on to their mega-buck corporate clients, so there's a small market segment that's OK with paying top dollar. Whereas the potential market for regular consumer TV's is, y'know, everyone in the whole world, so there's a price race to the bottom going on in general.

So, yeah, I guess it's a question of how you want to spend your money and how much you care about the bloatware issue - you can spend more just to not get bloatware, but it'll still have features and specs you don't care about, or you can spend less and get a regular TV and keep it dumb.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:54 PM on June 15, 2021

Best answer: Hi! I am you. I bought a smart TV. I have never once connected it to the internet. It's been perfect. So set a budget and buy a size you want and don't worry about all the extraneous crap - you can interact with exactly none of it. Just plug in your machine and go on about your life.
posted by pdb at 4:59 PM on June 15, 2021

(It might be worth paying attention to people who are kind of doing the inverse of what you are talking about - using a consumer TV as a computer monitor - see this guy using an 55 inch LED OLED tv for example. The rationale here is the same as others have mentioned above: you get a higher quality display for your price-point than you would do with a normal computer monitor. Like you, these people would probably not be using the smart networking features - just the connection from the computer. As a monitor - a 55 inch display is somewhat huge - but many would like it just like that).
posted by rongorongo at 1:13 AM on June 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Part of the reason "professional displays" are pricey is that they're meant to run hours and hours and hours a day, if not 24/7/365, and even though they may not have consumer bloatware they have a bunch of specialized software/connections/specs to allow for integration into a complete system - so you'd be paying for stuff you won't ever use or care about.

Most TVs are rated for at least 10,000 hours, which is 416 days of running 24X7. That's what you are paying extra for with professional displays. All the in-store displays the mega-company I work for buys for work are just regular tvs, since the price point for tvs is so low, if they only last a year or two it's fine. Most last at least 2 if not longer.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:36 AM on June 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, guys! I followed my own advice and got a 65" LG something from Costco. It arrived about an hour ago. I skipped all of the setup and toggled straight to the HDMI input and I will never look back. This thing is real dang big.
posted by phunniemee at 4:04 PM on June 19, 2021

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