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Paul Siu

Lifespan of "smart" products

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Posted · Original PosterOP

With the increase popularity of smart tv, smart speaker, smart device, etc, I am wondering about evaluating a product by its lifespan. For example, a dumb speaker is essentially eternal. You can keep using it for decades. A smart device however appear to be subjected to update life. On my Blu-ray player, the amazon prime has stopped working because Amazon no longer support it.  At best, the device will get dumber as it age. The Blu-ray may no longer play Netflix, but could still pay Blu-ray, etc. At worse, it get sunset. For example, my mom's eye-fi stopped working one day because the vendor decided to obsolete it by purposely updating it so that it stops working. 

 

How do you evaluate smart product? If I get smart speaker for example, how long can I expect it to work?  Ideally, the product will continue to work even after updates are done. Which vendor have a long support life? I feel that Nvidia Shield for example seems to get really long updates. Sonos stuff also appear to have a long life. I am less confident on Google stuff which seems to treat everything as an experiment. 

 

Paul

 

 

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It's hard to judge the lifespan of a product, especially with technology.

I expect google homes / Amazon echos to last for a while, they're really popular products and evolution doesn't mean you have to render old devices obsolete. 

On the other hand, something more niche like for example a TV device (Roku & whatnot) that gives you apps are entirely dependant on whether or not the company stays alive with sales and if they find it worth keeping the old devices alive.  To stay alive they need to sell products, therefore they need to sell better versions, and so they need to update their stuff with new features that are not compatible with old devices. This, in the end, will render older devices obsolete fairely quickly (about 2-3 years tops ?)

Same goes for most kickstarter-esque smart devices..
Companies make an initial boom in sales, then can't support the progress of software because of lack of sales. So they shutdown and their products are kinda left on their own.

It depends on how big the company is (see Google/Amazon vs a Kickstarter) and how much people "believe" in the product (do they actually use it ? Do they demand more ?)


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It's an important question.  In my opinion there's two aspects that make up how long something's lifespan is - how long will it be relevent, and how long will it work?

 

To estimate how long it will work I like to look at the warranty.  There's no telling how much past the warranty you'll get and often you can get lucky with a product guaranteed for 1 year living to 5 or 10, but that's not a given.  What is a given though is a company will never warranty something for much longer than they expect it will last, because if they did they'd be paying out the nose for repairs and replacements.  Thus, if something has a 5 or 10 year warranty you can expect it to actually live that long.

 

To estimate how long something will be relevant, you need to look at how fast the technology involved is evolving.  For example, a "dumb" speaker is something that doesn't improve very quickly.  In fact, some would argue there has been no improvement (or even a regression) over the last many decades.  For this reason, it will likely be relevent for many more decades to come.  The only exception to this is an unexpected paradigm shift rendering the old tech obsolete, like for example a fantastic fax machine becoming useless since we now have email.  If a product includes rapidly changing tech like Bluetooth, smart home integration, etc. You can expect it will be dead pretty quick.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I was thinking in terms of more than warranty, which usually last about a year any way. Most people keep their device way longer than their warranty. I was thinking in terms of expectation of life of the product. Examples;

 

Smart TV
* The TV aspect, such as displaying video from a connected device should work pretty much forever.

* The build-in App feature will probably sunset after 5 years or so. You can replace it using a Roku or similar device and extend the streaming, but unlike the built-in app, you will probably not have a lossless passthrough.

 

Roku or Firestick or similar product

* Roku indicates that player made in 2011 will stop updating in 2015.

* Netflix ends support this year in 2019 for original player (2011)

 

Blu-ray

* Similar situation in TV where the Blu-ray part will work forever, but the internal app may stop working after a time.

 

Smart Speaker?

* Not sure about these. I don't have any and a lot of them haven't been around that long.

 

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8 hours ago, Paul Siu said:

Smart TV

Most smart TV's have shit software to begin with. You should always buy a device like a Roku, Fire TV or Apple TV or something like that. Buy a smart box from a company that knows what the fuck they are doing. TV wise, I feel most TV's probably last at least 5 years, they are built cheap as fuck these days. Though you might get longer. Same thing applies to smart Bluray Players, most of the time the software is just ewwww. 

 

8 hours ago, Paul Siu said:

Roku or Firestick or similar product

5 years seems like a good run for these products as well. BUT remember you can get a new Roku stick for as little as like $30 USD, so its not really an issue. 


You ever notice that many establishments have a sign that as "No Shirt, No Shoes, No service"? They never say anything about pants............ You know what that implies. You dont have to wear pants. 

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1 hour ago, Donut417 said:

Most smart TV's have shit software to begin with. You should always buy a device like a Roku, Fire TV or Apple TV or something like that. [...]

Personally I'd lump all those devices in with smart TVs and say you should really just use a PC.  When it comes to these little stick things, the implementation and feature-set varies from device to device, but they all have serious downsides in my experience/opinion, including:

  • Randomly not working and needing to be rebooted, or other
  • Still requiring another device like a phone or PC to control and send content to it, or if it is stand alone, it's a huge PITA to use because you can't type on a remote with 4 buttons very well
  • Limited functionality.  If you just want netflix or youtube it'll do the job but it's very handy to be able to pull up any website, google maps, etc. and certainly you can stream/cast your screen, but then you're just using another PC again anyway so why bother, just hook that up directly
  • Ads.  Unless you want to setup a pi hole or something, these devices work the way the manufacturer wants, not the way you want.

It's been so long since I used a chromecast or apple TV as a media device so I might be forgetting something but these are the main things I am glad to be free of.

To be fair, there are definitely downsides to a PC as well that must be acknowledged.  I'd say primarily it's the following:

  • Price.  We got lucky and a business was giving away old laptops for free, but if you had to buy a machine that works for 1080p, you're looking at probably ~$200 US, more if you want 4K.  That's obviously more than a chromecast, etc.  Then on top of that you need to get a nice wireless keyboard/trackpad thing to control it, which is gonna be another $50 or maybe $100.  However, given the advantages I couldn't have it any other way.
  • Convenience, or lack thereof.  Personally this was not an issue at all - I am capable and willing to set everything up the way I want, but not everyone is, and so that could be a major issue.
  • Problems.  Though by far less problematic than other devices, the PC has not been trouble-free.  For one thing, it tends to randomly change itself back into stereo mode from 5.1 surround.  This only takes about 2 seconds to notice and fix so I don't consider it a big deal, but it has to be said.  Second, we recently had an issue where surround completely stopped working and it took days to solve, but this was brought about by messing around with drivers that in hindsight was foolish on my part and wouldn't normally ever be an issue.  Though the potential for these problems exists and must be mentioned, I also have to mention that generally speaking, you can always fix whatever is wrong, and that's a nice change from the locked down products.
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12 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

Personally I'd lump all those devices in with smart TVs and say you should really just use a PC.  When it comes to these little stick things, the implementation and feature-set varies from device to device, but they all have serious downsides in my experience/opinion, including:

  • Randomly not working and needing to be rebooted, or other
  • Still requiring another device like a phone or PC to control and send content to it, or if it is stand alone, it's a huge PITA to use because you can't type on a remote with 4 buttons very well
  • Limited functionality.  If you just want netflix or youtube it'll do the job but it's very handy to be able to pull up any website, google maps, etc. and certainly you can stream/cast your screen, but then you're just using another PC again anyway so why bother, just hook that up directly
  • Ads.  Unless you want to setup a pi hole or something, these devices work the way the manufacturer wants, not the way you want.

It's been so long since I used a chromecast or apple TV as a media device so I might be forgetting something but these are the main things I am glad to be free of.

To be fair, there are definitely downsides to a PC as well that must be acknowledged.  I'd say primarily it's the following:

  • Price.  We got lucky and a business was giving away old laptops for free, but if you had to buy a machine that works for 1080p, you're looking at probably ~$200 US, more if you want 4K.  That's obviously more than a chromecast, etc.  Then on top of that you need to get a nice wireless keyboard/trackpad thing to control it, which is gonna be another $50 or maybe $100.  However, given the advantages I couldn't have it any other way.
  • Convenience, or lack thereof.  Personally this was not an issue at all - I am capable and willing to set everything up the way I want, but not everyone is, and so that could be a major issue.
  • Problems.  Though by far less problematic than other devices, the PC has not been trouble-free.  For one thing, it tends to randomly change itself back into stereo mode from 5.1 surround.  This only takes about 2 seconds to notice and fix so I don't consider it a big deal, but it has to be said.  Second, we recently had an issue where surround completely stopped working and it took days to solve, but this was brought about by messing around with drivers that in hindsight was foolish on my part and wouldn't normally ever be an issue.  Though the potential for these problems exists and must be mentioned, I also have to mention that generally speaking, you can always fix whatever is wrong, and that's a nice change from the locked down products.

only problem with using a pc...if your on a hdr 4k some sites and apps wont do hdr content. amazon is a good example. hell amazon site wont do 5.1 on a pc...device app only.
cbs all access ended pc support and only went device app is another
netflix pc app is finicky with hdr.
only drawback ive seen in the last year thats been happening with pc streaming, and ive been a cord cutter for 10 years.

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1 minute ago, circeseye said:

only problem with using a pc...if your on a hdr 4k some sites and apps wont do hdr content. amazon is a good example. hell amazon site wont do 5.1 on a pc...device app only.
cbs all access ended pc support and only went device app is another
netflix pc app is finicky with hdr.
only drawback ive seen in the last year thats been happening with pc streaming, and ive been a cord cutter for 10 years.

Good to know, and to be clear, our setup is still just SDR 1080p so I can't comment on what the experience is like with leading edge tech, but it wouldn't surprise me that these companies would try to lock things down as much as possible.  It's very much in their interest from many different angles.  Thankfully we have not had an issue with wanting content that's unavailable, but how to deal with such an issue should it arise is an important consideration too.

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Just now, Ryan_Vickers said:

Good to know, and to be clear, our setup is still just SDR 1080p so I can't comment on what the experience is like with leading edge tech, but it wouldn't surprise me that these companies would try to lock things down as much as possible.  It's very much in their interest from many different angles.  Thankfully we have not had an issue with wanting content that's unavailable, but how to deal with such an issue should it arise is an important consideration too.

yea i swear thats what they are doing just so people buy devices instead of using your pc...its frustrating and like i said its been the last year this has been happening

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Just now, circeseye said:

yea i swear thats what they are doing just so people buy devices instead of using your pc...its frustrating and like i said its been the last year this has been happening

If they get too aggressive and annoying, they will drive people to illegitimate means of obtaining their content.  It's happened so many times before.  Some people tolerate more than others but everyone has their limit, especially when you're a paying customer.

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24 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

PC

PCs are to cumbersome for TV use. Also they are not power efficient. They use a lot motors juice than a Fire Stick. 
 

I have a high end desktop and Plex server in my room. Having another PC just would chew up too much power. Plus me and my moms room are on the same 15 amp circuit. So there is a limitation there. 


You ever notice that many establishments have a sign that as "No Shirt, No Shoes, No service"? They never say anything about pants............ You know what that implies. You dont have to wear pants. 

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1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

PCs are to cumbersome for TV use.

Personally I find it way easier and more convenient than navigating with a remote or using a PC anyway and then casting.  I'm not sure what you mean by this tbh.

1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

Also they are not power efficient. They use a lot motors juice than a Fire Stick. 

That's true, it's more power than a little stick, I should have added that to my list but I didn't think of it at the time.  But recently when testing a variety of devices around the house we measured our HTPC at ~20 W iirc, and between load (playing video) and idle was not significantly different so I don't think it should be a deal breaker.

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1 minute ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

not sure what you mean by this tbh

Try controlling a pc from bed with a keyboard and mouse. It’s not going to be fun. Keep in mind I use Plex for Live TV so when I’m laying in bed and flicking thru channels and streaming services. The Amazon and Roku remotes are very easy to use for this. 
 

4 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

breaker.

Again when you only have 1400 watts between two rooms and Window air conditioning is used in the summer months, 20 watts might mean something.


You ever notice that many establishments have a sign that as "No Shirt, No Shoes, No service"? They never say anything about pants............ You know what that implies. You dont have to wear pants. 

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1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

Try controlling a pc from bed with a keyboard and mouse. It’s not going to be fun. Keep in mind I use Plex for Live TV so when I’m laying in bed and flicking thru channels and streaming services. The Amazon and Roku remotes are very easy to use for this.

Minus the bed part that's exactly what we do and it's great.  Try typing on a remove where you have to click 14 times to select a character, and then move on to the next and so on and it's not going to be fun :P Or, navigate using a PC anyway and then cast the page - why cast when that could just be it for real, no extra step needed?

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9 minutes ago, Donut417 said:

Try controlling a pc from bed with a keyboard and mouse. It’s not going to be fun. Keep in mind I use Plex for Live TV so when I’m laying in bed and flicking thru channels and streaming services. The Amazon and Roku remotes are very easy to use for this. 
 

Again when you only have 1400 watts between two rooms and Window air conditioning is used in the summer months, 20 watts might mean something.

i went this route for bedroom htpc"s works great lol
 

 

pic.jpg

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1 minute ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

Minus the bed part that's exactly what we do and it's great.  Try typing on a remove where you have to click 14 times to select a character, and then move on to the next and so on and it's not going to be fun :P Or, navigate using a PC anyway and then cast the page - why cast when that could just be it for real, no extra step needed?

I’m not casting dude. The fire stick has built in apps. Casting involves streaming content from your phone. Have you used a Fire stick or Roku? The controllers and interface are built for the TV. 
 

Hell the 4K Roku my mom has, has power and volume control for the TV as well. No need to change remotes. 
 

Plus the other issue with PC hardware. It produces a bit of heat. Having 2 decent machine in this room already is not fun in the summer time when we can get triple digit temperatures. 


You ever notice that many establishments have a sign that as "No Shirt, No Shoes, No service"? They never say anything about pants............ You know what that implies. You dont have to wear pants. 

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1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

I’m not casting dude. The fire stick has built in apps. Casting involves streaming content from your phone. Have you used a Fire stick or Roku? The controllers and interface are built for the TV. 

I'm just saying since those are the two kinds of devices out there - built in apps or casting.  We had an Apple TV which is on the built in apps side of things and I'd imagine the interface is fairly similar, is it not?  Judging by a quick image search it looks that way to me.

1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

Hell the 4K Roku my mom has, has power and volume control for the TV as well. No need to change remotes. 

That sounds handy.  I'm just saying keyboard and mouse is in no way too cumbersome for TV, and in my experience, the opposite is true.  Those remotes end up being incredibly cumbersome if you ever have to type something, which came up often enough to be annoying when we used them.

1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

Plus the other issue with PC hardware. It produces a bit of heat. Having 2 decent machine in this room already is not fun in the summer time when we can get triple digit temperatures. 

Yeah, and fan noise too actually, if it really gets going hard for some reason.

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6 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

you ever have to type something,

Half the apps you sign in on the phone. Besides account credentials there is nothing to type. At least I don’t type much. Plus there is the matter of the interface. I don’t think standard Ubuntu with the Gnome desktop will be fun to use laying in bed. Plus I also read with Plex Live TV it’s better to use an app, because over a web browser it’s buggy as fuck. I know of no Plex app for Ubuntu. Also Netflix is iffy in Linux as well. 
 

For the record I’m done with Windows and it’s shitty updates. 


You ever notice that many establishments have a sign that as "No Shirt, No Shoes, No service"? They never say anything about pants............ You know what that implies. You dont have to wear pants. 

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1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

Half the apps you sign in on the phone. Besides account credentials there is nothing to type. At least I don’t type much.

The phone is an interesting element to it.  If it could connect with that so you could type there whenever necessary, it would go a long way to improving that aspect of it.  That or bundle the stick with a mini keyboard like pictured above.  I can't remember what product it is but one of them has a remote that looks like a normal remote on one side but has a mini keyboard on the other.

 

Even though it's entered very infrequently or even just once, credentials is definitely a part of it yeah, particularly because those are especially painful to type without a real keyboard due to all the special characters.  Regular searches though are what did it for me.  That's good that you've not found it necessary, I suppose that will vary by person depending in how they typically find their content.

1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

Plus there is the matter of the interface. I don’t think standard Ubuntu with the Gnome desktop will be fun to use laying in bed.

Well, it's a matter of opinion but personally I don't know of any reason it shouldn't be.  I have our HTPC setup with Windows so it's a bit different but desktop has shortcuts to everything we use - netflix, youtube, spotify, etc. so that's very much like the home screen of a roku, apple TV, etc. and then from there you just scroll and click what you want.  Whether that's with a keyboard + trackpad or arrow keys on a remote probably doesn't have too much in it, but I definitely don't find using the PC controls annoying or awkward at all.

1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

Plus I also read with Plex Live TV it’s better to use an app, because over a web browser it’s buggy as fuck. I know of no Plex app for Ubuntu. Also Netflix is iffy in Linux as well. 

I have tried netflix very briefly on Linux and didn't notice any issues but, as I said it was quite briefly so I could have missed it.  As for the rest, haven't tried those so couldn't say one way or another, I'll have to take your word for it.  It's not hard to believe though, some companies seem very into their apps to the detriment of everyone using a normal browser.

1 minute ago, Donut417 said:

For the record I’m done with Windows and it’s shitty updates. 

xD fair enough, I can completely understand being turned off a platform if you had to fight it on a routine basis, especially if you felt like you lost more often than not.  It's the same reason I avoid a lot of things.  Technology should make things easier and more convenient, not worse.

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@Ryan_Vickers just wondering. What specs are you using for a HTPC? 


You ever notice that many establishments have a sign that as "No Shirt, No Shoes, No service"? They never say anything about pants............ You know what that implies. You dont have to wear pants. 

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2 hours ago, Donut417 said:

@Ryan_Vickers just wondering. What specs are you using for a HTPC? 

An old Dell business laptop we got for free.  It has an i5 2520m iirc.  Handles everything we do fine and as a bonus replaces a standalone cd and DVD drive because it's so old it still has one 😛

The keyboard is a logitech, can't find the model though they must have discontinued it

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Yes ago, I wanted to create a HTPC. One of the possible candidate was Windows. There are several reasons:

* Windows has a awesomely long support. With windows 10, you can run it nearly forever as long as there is device driver support.

* Netlfix is supported on Windows, but not on OS like Linux or BSD (at least that was the case a few years ago).

 

Over the years, a number of trends have made HTPC, especially on the PC less appealing. Media device like Chromecast, Roku, and fire stick started appearing. Most are fairly inexpensive and serve the need of most users and have interface more appropriate to TV.

 

Support on the PC side has decline. Microsoft remove Microsoft Media Center, and then Home server. Plex recently remove their PC client. In addition, 4k UHD is a real challenge, all of this points to a future where PC on tv will remain a minority.

 

Paul

 

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