Should you be worried that your smart TV is obsolete?

Smart TVs have been with us for about ten years. Personally I got my first smart TV in 2011. Pretty much all TVs today have some “smart” component so we’re getting to the point where most people just tend to call them TVs. But let’s go back to basics.

What is a smart TV?

The big difference between a smart TV and a “regular” TV is the internet connection. Whether wired or wireless, a smart TV connects to the internet and downloads apps, streaming video, and new software.

Smart TVs came to the world when TV makers realized that small screens (phones and tablets) were starting to take people’s attention from TV watching. By adding new capabilities, those TV makers could keep people buying new TVs instead of investing all their money in phones.

At the same time, services like Netflix and YouTube were just coming into their own and bringing them to televisions just helped them grow exponentially.

Can a smart TV become obsolete?

Absolutely. The sad thing is that while smart TV manufacturers can update software over the internet, eventually, they tend to stop doing it. My 2011 smart TV got updates about once a month the first year, but by 2014 it hadn’t got an update in a long time.

As a result, when YouTube changed its technology, my TV stopped showing YouTube videos. Recently, Vizio and other manufacturers have said that they will stop supporting Netflix on their older TVs. Netflix has worked aggressively to improve its technology and quality in recent years. As a result those older TVs, with their older processors, may not even be able to work with newer apps.

But is this a problem?

We live in a disposable society. That may not be the right choice for our planet, but that’s not the point of this story. Recycling programs are important and making devices more sustainable and upgradeable are real, important goals. I get that. But working toward those goals is not going to help your eight year old TV use AT&T TV Now or HBO Max.

The fact, as it stands today, is that your average device is going to last 5-7 years. Eventually, new devices will get cheaper and better and they’ll catch your attention. That 46″ television might have seemed awesome ten years ago but today you can get a 70″ 4K version for less money than you paid back then.

So, if you look at it this way, it’s not a problem. By the time most smart TVs become obsolete you’ll probably have bought something different. You may have moved that TV to another room or even recycled it already.

And, well, streaming sticks

It’s really cool that you can get a streaming stick for under $50 now and it will connect to any TV and give the most modern content and apps. This is a great way to give new life to an old smart TV. Most smart TVs have USB ports so you can connect one of these devices and it can be completely hidden and completely powered by the TV.

Don’t worry, be happy

While it’s true that your smart TV may not seem as amazing now as it did several years ago, it’s no reason for concern. That TV you have is still going to work and it should be easily upgradeable for a small amount of money.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.