LG Smart TVs are incredibly dumb.

Smart TVs are dumb.

There, I said it. Lots of people agree too:

What, exactly, am I talking about?

Here’s an example taken from my own LG 42LS5700 “Smart” TV:

It took approximately 30 seconds for me to complete 2 simple tasks:

  1. Turn on the TV
  2. Change the input (to my PC)

That’s it! Simple, right? Hit the power button, wait a second, then cycle through inputs until you find the right one. Done! Except that LG has over-engineered this common task into a ridiculous procedure that takes an excessive amount of time, effort and attention to complete.

User interaction involved was:

  1. Press power button on remote;
  2. Press either the precariously placed “Q-menu” button at the bottom of the remote [shown] or press the Home button, which takes longer to load;
  3. Click the “Inputs” app on screen*
  4. Waiting for app to load
  5. Select appropriate input**
  6. Done.

* The pointer disappears from the screen at strange intervals. Often the pointer will have disappear just before you manage to click the on-screen button you’re searching for.
** You will have to scroll back from screen of inactive inputs if your last input used is now inactive. (Seriously, wtf LG?)

And this is just one situation!

There are so many broken user experiences with this system it’s baffling that the product made it through user acceptance testing. Maybe before adding more useless “Premiere” content, LG, you should spend time building a better OS experience. Then try to engage the users, and make them want to use “Premiere”. As it stands now, I try to avoid interacting with the “smart” features of my LG TV at all costs!

Anyone else have similar experiences?

Add to the discussion on Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5514994

Update: I tweeted at @LGUS asking if they had any comment on their Smart TV’s poor performance. Unsurprisingly  their response questioned whether I had contacted LG support. I suppose I could waste my time on the phone, but I don’t see the point. Blogging for commiseration is much more satisfying.


  • Eyal
    October 27, 2013 - 12:53 PM | Permalink

    I have the smart TV 55 LED I bought a year ago. I don’t need to the super slow smart tv capabilities but I all I needed was a SIMPLE SWITCH BETWEEN INPUTS!!!!!!!
    The folks at LG TV GUI team are just a bunch of incompetent morons.
    Seriously folks, that’s the most simple ask anybody would like to have, power on, switch between digital/analog sources.
    Instead you have to go through an app, really?!?! My wife hates me for that each time she tries to watch cable after the kids watched PC/BD

  • Daveo
    October 11, 2013 - 4:06 PM | Permalink

    Damn…wish I’d checked this *before* I bought my new LG “Smart” TV.
    As everybody else says, as a TV, it’s great, but for browsing the web, it’s useless. Worse than useless actually because it gives you little tastes of what’s out there then either crashes or drops part of the content.
    I am massively disappointed.
    Can anybody recommend an external device that would allow me to actually surf the web *properly* with this brick?

    • October 11, 2013 - 4:26 PM | Permalink

      Daveo: I bought an AppleTV and haven’t looked back. It does pretty much everything I want. I also connect my PC to my TV from time-to-time if I want to play a game on the big screen. It’s great for web browsing too.

    October 11, 2013 - 1:49 PM | Permalink

    I Think that you just had a 1 in a few bad apple, I recenly brought a 32ln5700, and I took much less time to do what you did in the video… just HARD LUCK for you this tv is a great tv, I must admit that using the internet is real balls witht the remote…

  • Lin Carson
    July 5, 2013 - 6:12 PM | Permalink

    I spent over $1000 for a LG “smart TV” two years ago. As a basic hi-def TV set it works very well, but the so-called “smart” features are virtually worthless. I have excellent hi-speed internet in my home, but the LG set’s web browser is so slow that we never use it. When we do try to use it to b rowse the web, it cannot play any video content because the LG set does not support Flash version 9. That is incomprehensible— how can you design a device nowadays with a web browser that doesn’t support Flash? Then, if you browse the internet for any length of time, you get an “out of memory” message and have to exit the browser function.
    Lg very seldon updates its software— I believe they have only had two releases for our set in two years, and those updates added very little new functionality. If you want a “smart TV”, do yourself a favor and buy a standard TV set and attach it to a standalone Roku box— it will give you a smart TV that actually works!

  • Brian
    June 25, 2013 - 8:21 AM | Permalink

    I have 2 LG Plasma so-called Smart TVs. The so-called Smart TV functions are virtually useless particularly because of the inability to use the built-in web browser as one would on a computer and directly download apps and updates for it such as Flash 10 which is required for software including BBC iPlayer (I live in North America). That has forced me to use a computer connected to the LG HDTV and use it as a dumb monitor. Another annoyance is the indirect method of selecting inputs for display. That should be facilitated directly from the remote through pressing a single button on the remote to switch inputs instead of having to go through a menu to do it. Now that I have been “educated”, I am a lot more conscious about what to look for when I buy another HDTV, probably not a Smart TV.

  • Lee
    June 1, 2013 - 5:03 PM | Permalink

    I have an LG smart TV. I really like it, actually. I don’t like it for the internet browsing (although I think it might be reasonable, with the wifi keyboard support — anything I’d want to do on the web would require a keyboard anyway).

    What I like it for is the DLNA and WiDi — being able to share videos from other devices to your TV. For instance, I accidentally pushed the “wrong” fullscreen button on my phone’s youtube app, whilst sitting in front of the TV, and the video appeared ON the TV! Very nice.

    I suspect the webcam feature would also be pretty great, though it’s ridiculously expensive for a webcam. As others mentioned, it should support a much wider range of STANDARD peripherals, not LG-specific ones.

  • April 9, 2013 - 5:27 AM | Permalink

    We’ve got a number of the Samsung TVs of different generations (including the most recent) and the Smart TV functionality is awful. Quite why it is so slow is mystifying, but it is unusable.

    What’s also interesting is they clearly think it is acceptable given they shipped it and continue to promote the functionality…

    Frustrating, because if they just gave it some decent CPU (Raspberry Pi is better!) it would be quite a nice setup.

  • Andrew Hime
    April 9, 2013 - 12:41 AM | Permalink

    Well, they did buy Palm from HP…

  • Chris
    April 8, 2013 - 8:16 PM | Permalink

    I have 40″ Samsung. It remembers which input I am using luckily. The problem I have is that I paid AU $800 for it because it is the smallest nice TV I could get. If they took out all the “Smart” features I’m sure they could have knocked $100 off the price. What I really want is a large monitor so I can just watch TV on my computer, but that doesn’t exist at this size and price point.

  • April 8, 2013 - 6:44 PM | Permalink

    I’ve noticed the massive shortcomings of “Smart TVs” too, I can’t fathom why major manufacturers don’t just licence XBMC for their TV’s. It’s clearly the best home theatre software around, has great plugins and support, it seems like a really obvious solution rather than each company building their own sub-par offerings.

  • Harrison
    April 8, 2013 - 5:38 PM | Permalink

    I have a 40″ Sony Bravia “Smart” TV and I have never ever used Facebook or Twitter on my TV. Changing inputs is much simpler on the Sony, but still not 100% there. After pressing power it will switch to your last used input and start playing immediately but when you press input to change source, you’re usually given a “Please Wait…” overlay until it’s finished loading. The only semi useful feature I can see is that this TV has a built in Track ID service, a la Shazam, which I thought was cool but have never ever used it.

  • April 8, 2013 - 5:10 PM | Permalink

    Glad to see other people notice this. The sad thing is that its not only in TVs. I saw a case where Another case was when manufacturer x decided to move the stop and start button on the microwave, all users have to stop and pause to find the buttons before operating the device.
    All it takes is to write down the 10 most common uses for the device and make sure they are 1 stroke away but instead they look and try to add 100 features that no one will ever use. For someone with OCD on user experience this really bugs me :(

  • April 8, 2013 - 3:58 PM | Permalink

    I have a similar LG TV the 55″ smart one, its so annoying! The pointer disappears like you say, you cant even plug in a hard drive to record shows as it just does not detect it. Its laggy and horrible, just use an xbox or anything other than the TV interface! At least the picture is good once you finally get it started.

    So disappointing, should have got a Samsung..

  • EPiddy
    April 8, 2013 - 3:53 PM | Permalink

    This vaguely reminds me of the painful process navigating the menus and screens on my “smart” Sony Blu-Ray player… oh well, at least I don’t have to mess with it near as much as my TV :o

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