Vizio exec: we'd have to charge a premium on "dumb" TVs to make up for the money we'll lose by not spying on you


This is what Amazon did (does?) with the Kindle. Except paying less for the ad-full version was considered a discount.


hmm well just don’t plug it into the internet?

but unfortunately that is not an option with your car like a tesla or other constantly “phone home” models, imagine what they are doing with all your data, and are you sure the microphone in the car is not sampling you? how would you know?


Can you not just refuse to give the TV internet access? I am still using an old (and awesome) 60" 1080p SXRD from 2006, but when I do upgrade, that was my intention. “Smart” features IMHO are best left to your receiver and set-top box (i.e. AppleTV or equivalent).

I’d be fine with plugging in for updates or whatever, presuming there isn;'t a usb-key update option, as long as I can remove the layer-1 connectivity afterwards.


Sorry, dummy here. Can you ELI5 “air gapping”? Pretty please.


As someone who has worked in (the infrastructure side of) online advertising for well over a decade now, I think I can answer that. with tech, you can design a build these tools once, and deploy to millions of locations to return data. Trying to get the same scale from labour sources would be prohibitively expensive.

Same idea with posting flyers vs sending spam - you can spam untold millions for near zero cost. Try even getting a flyer posted to every service pole in your city - the cost would be many thousands of dollars I’m sure.

Tachnology offers situations where you can enlist devices that are capable of information gathering to gather data for you, or advertise, with nearly no cost for the advertiser or marketer. It remains the shittiest feature of email to this day.


“air-gapping” means not physically hooking a computer up to a network. It made more sense prior to wireless networks when you had to physically attach a cable between a computer and the network. If you failed to do so, there was gap of air between the two so you could be pretty sure they weren’t able to talk to each other.

Since wireless networks are now so common, the term is no longer as obvious in meaning. Generally it means to not connect physically, but also not connect via wireless (usually by turning wireless functionality off or failing to provide network passwords to a requesting device.)


Retail (analogue) surveillance != wholesale (digital) surveillance

… except in East Germany. As I understand it, the Srasi there managed to get one half of the population spying on the other, and vice versa. But, if I read my history correctly, that didn’t work out so great in the long run.


Of course if someone really wants your data they’re going to get it.


I’ve got an older Panasonic Viera smart tv that we’ve been happy with but you’re right. Not many apps left that actually work or are worth the time to fiddle with beside Netflix and PrimeTV. Although Plex finally got around to providing a native app just last year.


Look into “digital signage” or “commercial displays”. These are TVs made for things like digital menu boards in restaurants, video walls, digital advertisements, etc.

They’re usually based on the same panels as TVs but with all the signal processing, smart features, and so on stripped, and with nice subtle thin black bezels. They may not have speakers - but you shouldn’t be using a TV’s built-in speakers anyway.

The other way to go is home projectors, which have thus far mostly avoided the smart TV nonsense, since they’re aimed mostly at home theater enthusiasts who likely will be using some other device as a source and going through a receiver for input switching anyway.


When you refuse, it nags and shows error messages (on my Sony Bravia at least).

I eventually relented and went through the setup and at the end I went back in and rejected their privacy policy so in theory, no data should be collected.


I know, right? Mailing in the surveillance printouts to Vizio is such a drag too. In the old days they at least used thermal paper.


You can(unless TVs start shipping with Aircrack-ng running in the background or something) deny it your internet access; but I’d be less optimistic about denying it internet access generally.

With a nontrivial number of major ISPs doing the ‘our awful routers allow you to expand our wireless coverage at no cost to us!’ thing; it’s not at all unlikely that you’ll be in range of at least one hotspot that is open for use if you have the agreement of the relevant ISP. Unless Vizio is currently having a knife fight over cord cutting with Comcast or something, I suspect that the price they would pay for wholesale access to xfinitiwifi(replace names with your local equivalent if necessary) for periodic data dumps during low traffic hours would be very low indeed, likely better than any of the IoT-focused cellular offerings; and without the need for an added cell modem.

As far as I know the current generation just uses incessant nagging; but the unwholesome synergies between cable companies that want to know what their eyeball serfs are up to even when they aren’t using the company set top box, and control hotspots colocated in a vast number of homes, and TV vendors who are in need of a connection that doesn’t require user compliance but just happen to have uniquely privileged access to anything people do with their TVs seems like it doesn’t exactly require an MBA in advanced evil to recognize.

There’s also a more creative approach; available because of what I can only assume is raging surveillance envy by broadcasters.

It doesn’t necessarily allow the TV to exfiltrate; but thanks to a standard more ambitious than sensible content embedded in a broadcast signal is treated by some TVs as trustworthy web content to be dutifully rendered; with predictable results.


It’s called a computer monitor.


Hah! I never plug in my computer!



Hang onto it as long as you can! This carrot-and-stick method of getting more money out of consumers is spreading. No single sale is enough - now everything has to involve a subscription, data, ads or some combination of the three.

In vehicles, consumers now get black boxes, with optional subscriptions for security, navigation, and entertainment services. Home security and shopping devices/systems now use similar revenue models. If the companies that sell these products could disable the “dumb” devices and force everyone to upgrade, they probably would. The best defense is to keep your old electronics running (and disconnected) for as long as possible.


It’s not the nicest TV ever, but it does work for my needs. It’s a decent size and i only really use it on the rare instance i decide to play a console game, which is not often. Other than that i don’t use it so a nicer hi-def TV would be wasted on me and i certainly like that it doesn’t have any “smart” features whatsoever.


Make up for the money you’d lose? If at all, in executive bonuses, I’d bet. Poor babies.


Cost, probably. With digital tech you can spy on tens of thousands of people at the same time, and at a tiny fraction of the cost of doing so the old fashioned way; where as the method you describe, you would need to hire a listener for every person you were trying to collect data on.


You would have gotten along just fine with Yossarian (Catch-22) ^^’.

I bought a 42" Sony Bravia low-end, “dumb” panel for $100 off Craigslist as a monitor, and it a) looks great and b) has ZERO connectivity, beyond standard inputs (component, S-Video, HDMI, and DVI connectors). An HTPC beats a “smart” TV any day! I have a Chromecast (that I literally I never use) attached to one HDMI port but that’s it, beyond the PC; I don’t even use cable video. Who needs cable TV, when you have Netflix, Prime, Hulu, and The Pirate Bay…?