Can You Still Buy TVs That Are Not Smart TVs?

Back when I worked in a big-box electronics store, we loved getting new products in – especially new televisions. But after a while, the picture quality didn’t seem to get that much better, and all the improvements seemed to be in so-called “smart” features.

Since many people use external streaming devices like FireSticks, Roku or Chromecast, that leaves many people wondering, “Do I have to buy a smart TV if I’m not going to use those features?” 

You can still buy TVs that are not smart TVs, but you’ll most likely sacrifice sound and picture quality. Every year that passes, technology advances, and it becomes more challenging to purchase a new TV that is not a Smart TV.  

This article will give you a basic overview of what exactly a smart TV is compared to a “dumb” TVs. Then we’ll cover which non-smart TV’s are still on the market, and how to turn your current smart TV into a “dumb” TV.


Dumb TV vs. Smart TV: Overview

A Smart TV is simply a television that has an operating system and built-in access to streaming apps like YouTube or Netflix. By extension, non-smart or’ dumb’ TVs lack any sort of built-in OS, or streaming apps. In order to watch content on a ‘dumb’ TV, you need to connect it to your cable service provider, or an external device like a Chromecast, Roku or Fire TV.

Smart TVs first became popular in the late 2000s. They connect directly to the internet and to various streaming platforms such as Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify. Many smart TVs can browse the internet, rent movies, and search for your favorite shows. Several brands also have apps available so that you can use your cell phone as a remote control. 

Its impossible to say this without sounding old, but smart TVs have completely changed how we watch TV. They offer an unlimited amount of content simply because they can connect to almost any app & platform.

By contrast, “dumb” TV’s don’t connect to the internet for content.

Dumb TVs rely on your cable service provider for all content. You can still plug in external content devices, such as a Roku or FireStick, but that would be a separate purchase and hardware. 

Sceptre UTV 50" Class 4K Non-Smart LED TV
$299.98
  • 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) with 8 million pixels - four times more than a 1080P Full HDTV.
  • MEMC 120 (Motion Estimation and Motion Compensation)


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12/05/2021 12:04 am GMT

Can You Still Buy Non-Smart TVs?

You can still buy non-smart TVs, but they’re getting harder and harder to find. Several of the models I found were older models, with stores trying to transition to new versions. Others were indoor\outdoor TV’s or business TV’s, that might not be the best option for many consumers.

With every passing year, dumb TV’s become increasingly difficult to find.  

What Are My Options?

Below is a chart of some available TVs that do not include Smart TV features and where to purchase them. This list does not have every available option, but it gives you a starting point to see what is out there. 

Also, as previously mentioned, these televisions are quickly disappearing. Just because they are on the list today does not mean that they’ll be available a year or two from now. 

TV NameSizeResolutionPurchase Link
LG 32LM500BPUA HD TV (2019 Model)32 Inches (81.28 cm)720PLG HDTV from Amazon.com
Sceptre LED TV (2018)43 Inches (109.22 cm)1080PSceptre LED TV from Amazon.com
Sceptre UTV 50″ LED TV U508CV-UMC50 Inches (127 cm)4KSceptre LED TV from Amazon.com

Used Options

If you can’t find a new TV that you love, a used, older TV might be a good option. Most televisions last 5-10 years, at least. In fact, many people upgrade perfectly good TV’s just to get more “smart” features. If you’re not interested in the latest-and-greatest features, then you should be able to find something to buy second hand. 

Places like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Goodwill, and Offer Up are great places to find older electronics, often at a steep discount.

Keep in mind, when buying used, it’s best to do a thorough inspection of all features, and ask the buyer why they’re selling it, if possible. 

LG 32LM500BPUA 32" Non-Smart 720p TV (2019 Model)
  • HD Display
  • LED Backlighting
  • Triple XD Engine
  • HDMI


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Why Buy a Non-Smart TV?

This all begs the question: with all the new technology available, why do people try to find a television with fewer capabilities?

Here are a few reasons why “dumb” TVs could be a smart decision:

Reliability

Since there’s no underlying operating system that can break, dumb TVs are often more reliable than smart TV’s. Many people believe that the more technology that goes into something, the more can go wrong!

Security

“Dumb” TVs are also considered more secure since they do not connect to the internet. Many people, myself included, aren’t comfortable with how much of our personal data we give to companies like Google and Apple.

What’s often overlooked is how much access these devices have to our homes. Not only do they have access to other devices on our home network, but they also contain video and audio recorders to “personalize” our experience.

We’re already aware that most devices today, track our browsing and viewing history to create personalized ads, and suggest new shows based on what you watch. Some people see as a benefit, but many are hesitant to give companies that much private date.

For more information, you might want to check out my article on how to use Android TV without a Google account.  

Better Experience

Smart TVs usually have some sort of automatic updates, that theoretically help you stay up to date. However, as we’ve seen with the NVIDIA Shield, some of these updates change the UI, enable ads on your home screen, or add “features” that benefit the manufacturer more than the end-user.

Smart TV’s usually usually have a steep learning curve before you’re familiar with them. Some users choose to stick with what they know. With all of the options, logins, and apps available, a “dumb” TV is a pretty appealing option for people who just want to sit down and watch a TV show.  

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12/05/2021 12:04 am GMT

FAQ

Can You Make Your Smart TV “Dumb”?

If you already have a smart TV, but don’t want all the smart features, you can turn it into a dumb TV by not connecting it to the Internet. 

Disconnecting a smart TV disables the pre-installed apps and keeps the TV from performing updates. It also keeps your watch history secure. This gives you a “dumb TV” experience, without having to compromise on the display and sound quality.

Will Buying a Non-Smart TV Save Me Money?

This is counter-intuitive, but buying a non-smart TV will not actually save you money, unless you buy a used TV.

Smart TVs are the standard these days, and cost about the same price, if not cheaper, than the few “dumb” TVs available. 

This wasn’t always the case. When Smart TVs first arrived, they came with a very high price tag. In 2013, Samsung announced they were bringing their 85 Inch Smart TV to the US for $39,999. 

Thankfully, prices have come down a lot since then. 🙂

Tim Wells

Tim Wells got his first computer at the age of ten and hasn't stopped tinkering ever since. After discovering Android TV boxes in 2013, he created a popular Android PC Review website and guided it to over 8 million pageviews before stepping away in 2018. After a brief hiatus from the industry he's back at the helm of AndroidTVNews.com to bring Android TV and TV boxes to the forefront of the streaming world. When he's not writing, he spends as much time as he can with his beautiful wife and his bulldog.

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