My Android TV broke this year and I won’t be buying another one for a while
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
I bought the 50-inch Sony Bravia W950D android tv Five years ago. To say that it was an excellent television for its time is an understatement. Sony’s Triluminos LCD display was one of the best on the market at the time. The set even included a soundbar attached, and being an Android TV, it naturally brought with it the power of the Google Play Store and its comprehensive library of tv apps, including Plex, Kodi, YouTube, Netflix, and the works. At the time, the TV was priced at around $1,400 here in India, and since I managed to get a decent discount, I was pretty happy with the whole deal. it was my first real smart tv experience after upgrading from a 27-inch BenQ Monitor which I used with a Fire TV Stick for streaming and Klipsch Pro Media speakers for audio.
I thought I was deep into Android TVs for life.
When the Sony TV came into my life, I thought I was totally committed to Android TVs for life. Five years later, the TV went bankrupt and I’m convinced I never want to have an Android TV again. At least in the near future, given the state of things.
Do you have an Android TV device?
what happened to my tv
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
In my time with Sony’s top-of-the-line LCD, I’ve faced multiple hardware issues. In two years, the motherboard went bankrupt. Replacing it cost me an arm and a leg, but I was so committed to the Android TV experience that I went ahead and fixed the problem without creating a big fuss about the whole ordeal.
The lifespan of a smart TV is not what you think.
Fast forward to a few months ago, and the panel gave up for good. Since Sony no longer makes the set, the TV is now redundant and hangs lifelessly on my wall, reminding me of the few good years I had with it, but the many, many frustrating years that followed.
It’s important to understand that the lifespan of a smart TV sitting in your living room is not what you think. It’s not like Grandma’s old box that got her through most of her life and part of yours. An LCD television can provide 50,000 viewing hours, that is, its Life expectancy lasts four to five years (if it’s on all the time), whereas a The LED panel can last up to six years.. OLEDs are believed to have a longer lifespan thanks to newer technology and better hardware, but my problem with my old Sony TV, or any current Android TV on the market, isn’t the longevity of the display technology. It’s something completely different; It’s the software update ordeal.
The enigma of the Android TV update
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
When I bought the Sony TV, it came with android marshmallow Outside the Box. Within a year, it was updated to Nougat, and I was really surprised that Sony kept up with Google’s annual Android TV releases. The next update hasn’t arrived for a while, and by that I mean I only got Android 8 on my Sony TV in 2020, the year Google released Android 11 for TVs.
In that span of time, I watched the gradual decline of the Sony TV as its user interface became excruciatingly slow, app crashes became frequent, and other random software bugs remained unresolved. This really wasn’t what I expected from an expensive smart TV. To be sure, the picture quality remained intact until the TV’s last breath, but the software experience was below average, to say the least.
I only got the Android 8 update on the TV in 2020!
Even today, in 2022, Android TV makers aren’t committing to long-term software updates on their most coveted TVs. Whether it’s Sony at the top of the pyramid or other brands like Xiaomi, TCL or Hisense, it’s almost impossible to find information on how many upgrades these smart TVs will receive when you buy them. The reason is that virtually no Android TV manufacturer promises a set number of software updates. I only remember OnePlus committing to three years of updates to their Android TVs in 2019. But flagship brands, as well as other budget Android TV makers, have been largely silent on the update front.
Related: The best smart TVs to buy in 2022
As if the complete lack of commitment wasn’t bad enough, these brands don’t offer proper and timely updates in the first place. My expensive Sony television only received two updates in its five years of life. Some newer sets may get three updates, if you’re lucky, at a snail’s pace that the brand that makes them decides to implement them. Surely that is not enough.
A television is a long-term technological investment.
Unlike a smartphone, a TV is a long-term technology investment. It’s a great gadget that nobody buys every year or two. In fact, I’m pretty sure people don’t buy a new smart TV unless the one they already have stops working. If you’re investing more than a thousand dollars in a TV, the least you can expect is a four to five year upgrade commitment to match the life of the panel. Without that, these TVs become absolutely painful to use.
Get a streaming box instead
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
When my Android TV UI started to crawl to its knees, the only thing that saved me was a fire tv stick. This inexpensive streaming dongle gave my thousand dollar plus TV a new lease on life. I’ve spent the last two years with a streaming stick plugged into the back of my Sony TV, which gave me a smooth interface, everything I needed streaming appsvoice input skills and an upgrade promise that I knew wouldn’t pinch my pocket.
There are several reasons to recommend Android streaming boxes over Android TVs. For one thing, they are not as expensive and therefore easier to replace when their useful life is over. Second, the devices I mentioned above get a lot more Android updates than actual Android TVs. The Chromecast 4K with Google TV, for example, is running android 12 with an October level security patch at this time. The Nvidia Shield TV is the epitome of longevity. Heck, the 2015 Shield TV is also running Android 11 right now. That’s an example of a powerful Android TV set-top box that’s older than my Android TV, but still feels newer.
I also have a 55-inch LG B9 OLED, which I’ve been using for the past three years. It gets constant software updates, probably because LG makes its own webOS, and the UI hasn’t slowed down one bit since I’ve had it. I really appreciate that LG even provides a handy online resource to track software updates and change logs for all your major TV models. While the television, its screen, magic remote controland everything else is great, it doesn’t have a huge app library or the ability to side load stuff.
Until Android TV OEMs fix the update problem, I’ll stay away.
However, if and when I want the power of the full Google Play Store on my LG TV, I’ll just choose an Android TV stick or box instead of a full Android TV. I’d hate to not have Sony’s gorgeous screen in my lady cave, but until Android TV OEMs fix the update problem, I’ll stay away.