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Television IT Technology

Samsung TV Owners Furious After Software Update Leaves Sets Unusable (theguardian.com) 346

Thousands of owners of high-end Samsung TVs have complained after a software update left their recently acquired $1,800 sets with blank, unusable screens. From a report: The Guardian has been contacted by a number of owners complaining that the TVs they bought -- in some cases just two weeks ago -- have been rendered useless by an upgrade sent out by Samsung a week ago. Others have been posting furious messages on the company's community boards complaining that their new TVs are no longer working. The company has told customers it is working to fix the problem but so far, seven days on, nothing has been forthcoming. The problem appears to affect the latest models as owners of older Samsung TVs are not reporting the issue. The report doesn't identify the models that have been affected. But we scanned the forums and found that at least UE49MU7070, UE49MU7070TXXU, and MU6409 models are affected.
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Samsung TV Owners Furious After Software Update Leaves Sets Unusable

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  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @11:42AM (#55076029)

    Even when they are working correctly.

    • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @11:49AM (#55076095)

      Yes, and unambiguously so.

      Personally, if for some reason I was forced to have a "smart" TV, I would be very certain to make sure it never gets connected to the internet.

      There's also another relatively recent trend that plays into this: the idea that updates are always good and should be applied automatically. It was never the case that this was a safe practice. Updates need to be carefully evaluated before applying them.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 24, 2017 @11:55AM (#55076175)

        One problem with this is that a number of them refuse to let you "set up for the first time" without being given a network connection. And the fact that you can't ever undo an update is what makes it so dangerous to apply them, with a computer you have the option to reinstall, not so with a TV.

        • with a computer you have the option to reinstall, not so with a TV

          It sounds like these people don't know how to do computers right then, because their TVs are computers. From a hardware perspective, aren't they basically just low-end iMacs (with worse mobos but better screens)? They simply fucked up the software.

          • They simply fucked up the software.

            Indeed. There are multiple levels of failure here. Obviously they failed to properly test the update on all their models. But they also failed to have a simple and easy "roll-back" to the previous version. There is no excuse for leaving their customers with no working TV for a week. For $1 they can include an extra 5GB of flash, so there is no reason to delete the old version until the new version is installed and working for a while.

            • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

              What's bizarre is that these devices are all running 'stock' software from the factory. If they test the update at all, it ought to work the same on all of them, no?

              Then again, you're always hearing about how some iOS or Android update is causing problems for owners of some specific model of phone. Again, if these things are all on stock, shouldn't the update work on all of them? Maybe for phones it's a matter of various bits of their hardware or firmware only getting exercised if you're on a particular

        • by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @12:55PM (#55076759)

          That's when it gets returned. Not working because it isn't given a connection to slurp from, is just the same as not working due to a manufacturing defect.

      • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @12:10PM (#55076321)

        I own a Samsung smart tv. At first I connected via wifi but then wanted a faster more reliable connection in my apartment sometimes ran a cable and switched to Ethernet. I realized that I wasn't using the smart tv functions so I ditched the Ethernet cable.

        Wifi off Ethernet unplugged no big deal. Except I noticed random connections from an unknown MAC address to my wifi router during a router upgrade. So I watched it. It would connect for a day and then disconnect for weeks. I got curious and enables wifi on my tv again and guess the MAC address that was used. So even in it's wifi off but tv on state it would attempt to connect to wifi.

        That's when I banned the MAC address on the router. No misc packets for you sneaky tv.

        Personally I prefer using a roku and hardwiring it to the router. Easy to disconnect, faster speeds for streaming.

        • And now you got to check to see if your router isn't lying to you and letting the TV on anyway. They like each other better than they like you for ruining their fun. You are dooming them to living death by not letting them serve you as intended.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            What's cool is the crap some older Vizio smart TV's pull. If you allow outbound DNS and NTP but block everything else (so that your TV clock works but it otherwise can't connect anywhere) then the TV assumes you have a full internet connection and proceeds to try to initiate contact with relevant servers. You'd expect this to fail since (since you are blocking these packets) and for it to periodically try again on some reasonable schedule.

            Only Vizio in their infinite wisdom decided the appropriate retry was

        • by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @12:57PM (#55076765)

          If I had to have a smart TV, probably the best matter of course would be having it have its own SSID and VLAN, with a connection going through a VPN so geolocation registers some other place, and so it can't find anything useful on the LAN it sits on.

          Ironic that modern IoT devices have to be treated as hostile network entities in order to have decent security.

        • I'm guessing that all you did was deactivate the TV's wifi, or did you delete the wifi information and it still connected? That would be be pretty damned shady...

          I'd have filtered the MAC as well. HELLS no... But even then it's possible it's looking for open APs. :/

        • I didn't trust my Vizio not to connect itself to Wi-Fi without my asking, and it didn't provide a way to flat-out delete Wi-Fi networks. So I temporarily created a randomly-named guest network, connected my Vizio to that one, disabled Wi-Fi on the TV, then deleted that guest network. Now the TV has nothing to connect to even if it wanted to.

          I mean, I know I'm missing out on its shitty, ancient, unmaintained versions of the Netflix and Hulu apps, but I think i'll manage.

      • For my last TV, the "Smart" TVs were priced far cheaper for the same quality/features than any dumb monitor I could find when on sale. I bought the "Smart" TV, and tried using it. Blew me away that in 2017 when I can pinch zoom, swipe words, etc., that I was stuck arrowing around with a remote to type anything in any of the apps. What the hell? "Smart"?

        And once I realized that my TV was also going to start trying to show me ads while using some of the apps, it got disconnected and I picked up a che

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So what happens if that smart tv has built in wifi, and connects to some neighbour's unprotected open access hotspot?

      • There's also another relatively recent trend that plays into this: the idea that updates are always good and should be applied automatically. It was never the case that this was a safe practice. Updates need to be carefully evaluated before applying them.

        The problem is most people don't have the time/inclination/skill to evaluate updates. So the realistic possibilities for most end user devices are either updates get applied automatically or updates never get applied.

        The former leads to stuff breaking from time to time, the latter leads to unpatched vulnerabilities, incompatibility with updated versions of online services etc.

    • I agree. I fell for it. I bought at Samsung smart TV in 2013. Now all of the apps are being removed remotely because the creators don't want to support the old hardware anymore.

      It's not better than having a separate box, it's worse!
    • by SnarkSide ( 4929655 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @12:51PM (#55076715)
      They are stupid by design. The typical Samsung TV pushes updates without any option to decline. It just puts up a notice about the upgrade with an "OK" button. No ignore, cancel, or decline, no close, just "OK". I don't think they understand what consent is supposed to mean. Consent is not actual consent if there is no other available option. Samsung, I'd like your product team to eat broken glass, "OK".
    • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

      In theory I agree and I told myself I would never buy a smart TV. But, I found the TCL Roku TV to enticing to pass up. I trust Roku to make good software much more than I trust most TV manufacturers.

    • users are stupid...tvs are just boxes
    • Can you even buy a new TV that isn't "Smart"? Five years ago I bought my LED TV and to get to the range of features I wanted there weren't any dumb TVs. They all had some kind of networking involved.

      We did use the apps a few times, but as soon as my game systems had the same features I unplugged the ethernet cable.

  • Monitor (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 24, 2017 @11:42AM (#55076035)

    I put together a panel to monitor the situation, we recommend you screen all updates before applying.

  • I wouldn't pay $1,800 for a paperweight.
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      Presumably they worked when purchased so they paid 1800 for a TV that Samsung converted to a paperweight. I have to wonder, don't they test these updates on real sets?

  • Why? Just why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by H3lldr0p ( 40304 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @11:45AM (#55076065) Homepage

    I like my electronic toys. Have a lot of fun playing with them, but why all this integration? Why have televisions, something that should be nothing but a passive interface for signals to be made visible with, get turned into weird hybrids that have operating systems, computer parts, and memory?

    Is it a matter of people not understanding what they're getting anymore? Is it a matter of perceived value? Oh, my TV is three hundred dollars more expensive than yours! That must mean it's better. Somehow.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 24, 2017 @11:50AM (#55076105)

      To vertically integrate parallel consumer content streams to enhance end user metric marketability.

    • Oh, my TV is three hundred dollars more expensive than yours! That must mean it's better. Somehow.

      It's astounding how many people engage in this reasoning. Pretty much the entirety of business history has amply shown that more expensive does not automatically mean better, and sometimes means worse.

      It is impossible to judge quality by the price tag.

      • You get what you pay for...at best and only if you do you due diligence every single time. There are basically no 'quality' brands left, that's all been monetized.

      • Oh, my TV is three hundred dollars more expensive than yours! That must mean it's better. Somehow.

        It's astounding how many people engage in this reasoning. Pretty much the entirety of business history has amply shown that more expensive does not automatically mean better, and sometimes means worse.

        It is impossible to judge quality by the price tag.

        Apple has over 200 billion reasons to judge quality by the price tag. Just exactly how many more do you require?

    • I like my electronic toys. Have a lot of fun playing with them, but why all this integration? Why have televisions, something that should be nothing but a passive interface for signals to be made visible with, get turned into weird hybrids that have operating systems, computer parts, and memory?

      Is it a matter of people not understanding what they're getting anymore? Is it a matter of perceived value? Oh, my TV is three hundred dollars more expensive than yours! That must mean it's better. Somehow.

      I learned long ago you should just stop fucking asking why.

      Trust me on this. If you do start asking, you stand a very high risk of frying your common sense circuit.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      "Why have televisions, something that should be nothing but a passive interface for signals to be made visible with"

      So, do you limit those signals to baseband video (e.g. HDMI)? Because those are called monitors, not TVs. Or do you include OTA DTV signals? If you include DTV signals, why would you exclude digital signals received via WiFi or Ethernet?I suspect that more people stream content than get it OTA.

      Oh, and TVs have had "operating systems, computer parts, and memory" ever since the switch to DTV,
      • If TV-sized monitors were more common, they would be cheaper. Given the relatively low price of an external tuner, and the growing number of people who don't need a tuner at all, it would probably be better for almost everyone for the majority of displays to not include a tuner. For many people it's just an annoying, static and noise-filled input that they occasionally hit accidentally.

      • 99% of the people in the US with a TV use it as a monitor. Few people actually use OTA signals
    • Re:Why? Just why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aaden42 ( 198257 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @12:18PM (#55076393) Homepage

      I know we're all nerds here, but most of the market doesn't like having multiple devices & wires to configure. Given a choice between a TV that "has Netflix on it," versus attaching and configuring a separate Roku, AppleTV, or Chrome-ish stick, the vast majority of consumers will plug the TV into power, connect to their WiFi, and be much happier than if they'd had to deal with yet another box with yet another remote and more wires.

      Offering (and choosing to purchase) the integrated model is a rational choice. *Not* offering a plain dumb screen option is annoying to us nerds, but we're kind of a purchasing minority for this stuff.

      Inadequate QA on updates and bricking TV's is lousy business, but again it's a minority of customers who are capable of recognizing that the smart TV caused a greater problem than a separate device. Even that is debatable given the number of users who just use streaming at this point. If an update bricked their Roku and left their TV functional but with no available signal to watch... I guess mailing the bricked Roku back for service is easier, and it's cheaper to replace outright, but that's about it.

      • Offering (and choosing to purchase) the integrated model is a rational choice. *Not* offering a plain dumb screen option is annoying to us nerds, but we're kind of a purchasing minority for this stuff./

        I get that product convergence is a thing and that it can be useful when it happens well. Maybe it's this time we're living through. I don't remember what it was like when VCRs were first coming out, if there were similar difficulties with their connecting to televisions. I can remember the need to switch to channel 3 before you could watch a tape and flipping the selector box for Ataris before you could play. However, those became a thing. People learned how to make it work in short order. It wasn't wrapped up in this pseudo-mystical "only the nerds" can make it work bullshit I continually see being spouted.

        Was it decided that the public couldn't be counted on to learn to work the TV? Or was it the Boomers again with their constant whine about the pace of life?

        Learn. Unlearn. Relearn.

    • The same could be said about systemd.

    • A lack of other features. At the core of it, there's almost no functional difference for the casual consumer between a Samsung 60" 4K TV and an LG, Sony or (fill in manufacturer here) 60" 4K TV. There are styling differences and a few other differences that most non-videophiles don't care about all that much, and a few things like HDR that only click for people when they see it for themselves, but for the most part a TV is a TV these days. Pick the size and 1080p or 4K, pick the cheapest price and off yo

    • ...Why have televisions, something that should be nothing but a passive interface for signals to be made visible with, get turned into weird hybrids that have operating systems, computer parts, and memory?...

      Because more people than not want a nice flat screen they can hang on the wall and not have any other boxes to deal with. So the sceen now has to be "smart." Obviously, Samsung's screen are not smart enough. Or too smart. I haven't decided yet.

    • by juancn ( 596002 )
      It's the manufacturers that need something to push more units. Smart TVs obsolesce faster than dumb ones. So they push the convenience of not having to deal with multiple devices and most people fall for it.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      I like my electronic toys. Have a lot of fun playing with them, but why all this integration? Why have televisions, something that should be nothing but a passive interface for signals to be made visible with, get turned into weird hybrids that have operating systems, computer parts, and memory?

      Is it a matter of people not understanding what they're getting anymore? Is it a matter of perceived value? Oh, my TV is three hundred dollars more expensive than yours! That must mean it's better. Somehow.

      Because th

    • TVs have always had tuners in them, they were never pure display devices.

      In the mid 2000s governments started switching off traditional analog TV in favour of complex compressed digital systems to support more channels and/or free up bandwidth for other uses (TV used a LOT of prime radio spectrum). In the run up to this there was understandably a push to implement digital TV reception in TV sets. That basically meant a computer system with a digital tuner and a MPEG2 decoder. Newer broadcast HDTV standards

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday August 24, 2017 @11:58AM (#55076205) Homepage Journal

    The "right" way to do it (if it must be done) is to have an internal HDMI connection to which you connect an android stick, or whatever, for televisions which have the smart TV option. There is no need to even use a real HDMI port, you can use something much cheaper like a simple header connector. And then hide that behind a trap door, or at least make it easy to get far enough into the case to replace it. I know you save a few pence per TV set by putting it all on one PCB, but odds are good that they're going to have to take back these sets and reflash them at service centers via JTAG or similar because they didn't take that route.

    • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      Great idea. Only thing I'd change is to have an internal HDMI connector (since it's already a standard and HDMI ports are cheap) along with an internal USB port for power, or if you just want to stick a USB drive full of stuff in the back of your TV instead. I'd also require the HDMI port to have CEC so you can control the stick with your TV remote.

  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @12:03PM (#55076253) Journal
    my last TV purchase was a dumb TV.
  • This is why you need a good Firewall, so you prevent your TV from being reachable via the internet.
  • before the hordes of class action lawyers descend like a plague on them.

    Maybe people will become more educated. A large screen panel should be more like a monitor, and less like an internet connected media device.

    I wonder if the solution Samsung will come up with is a thumb drive with a new system image.

    Because if the existing devices are truly bricked, that's about the only way (short of device replacement) that is going to solve this.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Since I bought my Samsung, I've received many system updates to them. Never any new features, but the performance and reliability have tanked. My TV boot loops most every time I try to start it after having not started for a while. Whoever works on the operating system for Samsung are complete idiots.

  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by jon3k ( 691256 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @12:34PM (#55076559)
    It is Samsung, at least they didn't explode.
  • Relax. You may have lost your Kardashian drip feed, but the CIA can still see you.

  • Can you even get a TV that isn't a Smart TV anymore? I recently purchased a new TV and I couldn't find any 4K TVs there were not "smart" TVs. I didn't want a smart TV and certainly didn't want to pay extra to have that crap added to my TV, but none were to be found. I didn't want a "monitor" since I needed/wanted the TV tuner and wanted 55" or larger.
  • Are the affected TVs at least able to phone home for a new version of the update? Or are they total bricks?
  • The guys that had their TV's for 2 weeks or so are in a good position. Just take it back to the retailer.
    • by epine ( 68316 )

      The guys that had their TV's for 2 weeks or so are in a good position. Just take it back to the retailer.

      I used to have a special T-shirt I called my "watching other people work" shirt.

      It's also useful for watching other people "just" hump their giant TVs back to the box store way out at the box store urban fringe.

      Of course, those who deliberately situate themselves smack dab in the middle of boxurbia have nothing else planned for Saturday in any case. For this class of people, random "undo" errands are app

      • If they're way outside of that box store fringe, what's the chance that they even hooked their TV up to their home network?
  • I bought a cheap Samsung TV after our old plasma died, as a stop-gap until the OLEDs have been out for a couple of years (and have the bugs worked out of them.)

    Not impressed at all with the functionality of the built-in apps, nor the firmware upgrades. The extent of the release notes are always "Fix minor issues and enhance the performance of your TV" along with removing Twitter or some other app I wouldn't use on a TV anyways.

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

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