Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
I bought the Sony Bravia W950D 50 inch Android-TV five years ago. To say it was an excellent TV for its time is an understatement. Sony’s Triluminos LCD screen was one of the best on the market at the time. The set even included an attached soundbar, and being an Android TV it naturally brought the power of the Google Play Store and its extensive library of TV apps, including Plex, Kodi, YouTube, Netflix and the Works. At the time, the price of the TV was around $1,400 here in India, and because I managed to get a decent discount, I was pretty happy with the whole deal. It was my first real Smart-TV experience after upgrading a BenQ 27 inch monitor which I used with a Fire TV Stick for streaming and Klipsch Pro Media speakers for audio.
I thought I was all about Android TVs for life.
When Sony TV came into my life, I thought I was all about Android TVs for life. Five years later the TV went bankrupt and I’m convinced I don’t want an Android TV anymore. At least in the near future, given the state of things.
Do you own an Android TV device?
what happened to my tv
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
During my time with Sony’s once high-end LCD, it encountered several hardware issues. Within two years, the motherboard went bankrupt. Replacing it cost me an arm and a leg, but I was so attached to the Android TV experience that I went ahead and fixed the thing without creating a huge stink about the whole thing. ‘test.
The lifespan of a smart TV is not what you think it is.
Fast forward to a few months ago, and the panel has given up for good. Since Sony no longer manufactures the TV, the TV now sits redundantly and lifelessly hanging on my wall, reminding me of the few good years I had with it, but the many frustrating years that followed.
It’s important to understand that the lifespan of a smart TV sitting in your living room isn’t what you think. It’s not like Grandma’s old box that got her through most of her life and part of yours. An LCD TV can provide 50,000 hours of viewing time, i.e. lifetime lasts between four and five years (if lit all the time), while a The LED panel can last up to six years. OLEDs are believed to have a longer lifespan due to newer technology and better hardware, but my issue with my old Sony TV, or any current Android TV on the market, is not the longevity of display technology. It’s something entirely different; it’s the terrible software update experience.
The Android TV update conundrum
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
When I bought the Sony TV it came with Android Marshmallow out of the box. Within a year it was updated to Nougat, and I was quite amazed that Sony followed Google’s annual Android TV releases. The next update didn’t come for a while, and by that I mean I only got Android 8 on my Sony TV in 2020, the year Google released Android 11 for TVs .
During this period, I saw the gradual decline of the Sony TV as its user interface became unbearably slow, application crashes became frequent, and other random software bugs went unaddressed. It really wasn’t what I expected from an expensive smart TV. Undoubtedly, the picture quality remained intact until the TV’s last breath, but the software experience was poor to say the least.
I only got the Android 8 update on the TV in 2020!
Even now, in 2022, Android TV makers aren’t committing to long-term software updates on their most coveted TVs. Whether it’s Sony at the top of the pyramid or other brands like Xiaomi, TCL or Hisense, it’s almost impossible to find information on how many updates these smart TVs will receive when you buy them. The reason is that hardly any Android TV manufacturer promises a set number of software updates. I only remember OnePlus commit to three years of updates for its Android TVs in 2019. But flagship brands, as well as other budget Android TV makers, have remained largely silent on the updates front.
Related: The best smart TVs to buy in 2022
As if an absolute lack of engagement wasn’t enough, these brands fail to deliver adequate and timely updates in the first place. My dear Sony TV has only received two updates in its five-year lifespan. Some newer sets can get three updates, if you’re lucky, at whatever snail’s pace the brand decides to roll them out. Surely that’s not enough.
A television is a long-term technology investment.
Unlike a smartphone, a TV is a long-term technology investment. It’s a big gadget that nobody buys every year or two. In fact, I’m pretty sure people don’t buy a new smart TV unless and until their existing TV stops working. If you’re investing over a thousand dollars in a TV, the least you can expect is a four to five year update commitment to match the life of the panel. Without it, these TVs become an absolute pain to use.
Opt for a streaming box instead
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
When my Android TV UI started crawling on its knees, the only thing that saved me was a Fire TV Stick. This inexpensive streaming dongle breathed new life into my multi-thousand dollar television. I’ve spent the last two years with a streaming stick plugged into the back of my Sony TV, providing me with a smooth interface, everything I needed streaming appsvoice input capabilities and a promise of upgrades that I knew wouldn’t pinch my pocket.
There are several reasons to recommend Android streaming boxes over Android TVs. For one, they are not as expensive and therefore easier to replace when their lifespan is exhausted. Second, the devices I mentioned above get a lot more Android updates than actual Android TVs. The Chromecast 4K with Google TV, for example, is running Android 12 with an October level security patch right now. the Nvidia Shield TV is the epitome of longevity. Heck, the 2015 Shield TV also runs Android 11 right now. This is an example of a powerful Android TV set-top box that is older than my Android TV, but still looks newer.
I also have a 55-inch LG B9 OLED, which I’ve been using for three years. It gets constant software updates, probably because LG makes its own webOS, and the UI hasn’t slowed down one iota since I got it. I really appreciate that LG even provides a handy tool online resource to track software updates and changelogs for all its major TV models. While the television, its screen, magic remote controland everything else is great, it doesn’t have a huge app library or the ability to side loading stuff.
Until the Android TV OEMs fix the update issue, I’m staying away.
However, if and when I want the power of the full Google Play Store on my LG TV, I’ll just grab an Android TV stick or box rather than a full-fledged TV running Android TV. I would hate not to have Sony’s gorgeous screen in my wife cave, but until the Android TV OEMs fix the update issue, I’m staying away.