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Bruce Barbour

I thought I would do reviews of some products that I have purchased. As I am only motivated to write if something annoys me, unfortunately all of the reviews will be negative! You have been warned.

Samsung 80 cm Smart TV

Review Dated February 2020

I have to say that the Samsung customer support centre have been very prompt with their response to my queries - even if they haven't resolved everything. They emailed an initial response on the same day! and said that a further response was coming as they further investigate the issues raised. (No further response received a couple of weeks later.)

Query

Samsung Response

I have a Samsung 80 cm Smart TV purchased at the end of April 2019.

Firstly it has a good picture and reasonable sound (for back facing speakers). This is 80% of the primary requirements for a TV.

However I am disappointed in the operating system.

"We are sorry to learn about the issues that you are experiencing with your television."
Firstly the Smart TV. When it is connected to my Ethernet it consumes 100 to 150 MB per day – that is on days when I don’t use it as a Smart TV – that is, I am not watching Netflix, Iview, Youtube or anything else from the internet. So that is 3 – 4.5 gigabytes of data per month for just sitting there. And that is significant when I only have 10 GB per month account (I am a small user!) It is not just the data usage. The issue is what is the TV doing with all this data? – is it listening to me, is it sending my viewing habits back to some central command post. So basically I do not leave the TV plugged into the Ethernet – I only connect when I want to watch something – and pull the plug afterwards. That is an annoyance. Said that this was due to the applications continually checking and updating themselves and some applications run in background. Perhaps that is so - I have no way of checking.

I will recheck the data use now that I have re-initialised the system as advised by Samsung. It is a pain if it keeps consuming all this data.

Consumption of data seems to have decreased since I re-initialised the system - must have removed some unwanted applications. Though it is a bit hard to determine exactly how much data is being used.
In the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) there is no search function to find a program that you know is on at sometime but don’t know exactly when. So you have to manually scroll forward half an hour at a time to try and find it. Said they would refer it to their development team. May be included in a future software update.
The Onscreen Display (OSD) messages come on often after pressing buttons when it doesn’t need to come on. Some of the OSD messages fill up about 40% of the screen and if you do nothing they stay on screen for a (relatively) long time (much longer than necessary) before going off by itself.  Or you have to press a button to make it go off. An annoyance. I notice that in at least one instance this has been resolved - probably by the software download I did recently.
There are still other instances where it could be better done. Perhaps in a future upgrade.
There is no earphone jack for plugging in headphones or for connecting to a stereo system. There are no RCA connection points to connect to an old (pre HDMI) stereo. I think that I could buy a little box that connects to the HDMI ARC port that would allow this – but this is extra cost. This was not put to Samsung.
There are other ways of achieving these requirements - though I still prefer the old way!

Recording Function

All this is bad enough but the recording function is really buggy. Perhaps I have been spoiled by my old Panasonic hard disk recorder which is simple to operate and has none of these problems. You could also argue that its a TV, and not a recorder. However if they offer the recorder functionality they have an obligation that it must work reasonably well.




Not put to Samsung
I connected a 1 TB hard disk (LG) to one of the USB ports.
 

(It wouldn’t accept a USB stick which I tried first up - but this is how it was designed. The instruction manual indicated this restriction - so fair enough.)
Told Samsung this. Hard disk seems to be working OK so no issue.

That's the way it is designed - so I accept this.
If I am watching something and decide I will record the rest and go to bed there is no single button way of doing this. I can pause the program and then select record and that will start recording. But the issue with this is that it will stop recording right at the time the EPG says that the program ends. Quite often the EPG is not correct and the program goes beyond that time. I have lost the end of a program on a number of occasions, which is frustrating. In the normal programming mode from the EPG you can set it to record up to 10 minutes past the end of the EPG stated program end. It ignores this for recording a currently playing program. To make sure it records the end of the program I have to set up a manual recording and set the start time for a couple of minutes time and the end for ten or fifteen minutes past the EPG advised time and hope that this is sufficient. Said they would refer it to their development team. May be included in a future software update.
Other issues with the recording. In the EPG you can select the program to record. If it detects additional programs of the same name it will ask if you want to record the series. You can say yes to this hoping that it will keep recording these programs for however many weeks or months the series last for. But it doesn’t do this. It might record for a week or two but them it “forgets”. So you have to keep on checking that it is going to record or risk missing a program in the series. To get around this you have to set the recording up manually for a set time each day or week as the case may be. I will have to see how this works now that I have re-initialised.

The forgetting of scheduled program series is still occurring occasionally.
There is also a limit to the number of programs that you can set up to record. I thought it was about 6 but recently I only had two programs scheduled for recording and when I tried to schedule a third it said that I had exceeded the allowable number of schedules. Why the heck is there any limit on the number that can be scheduled – there isn’t on my Panasonic recorder. And if there has to be a limit it should be a lot more than six or two or whatever the number is. This has been resolved by re-initialising the TV - as advised by Samsung. I have set up at least 10 recording schedules and haven't struck a limit.
Hopefully it will remain resolved. I wouldn't like to have to re-initialise it all the time - even though it only took 10 minutes.
When playing a program and rewind it to re-watch a section it will jump back an additional 30 seconds from where you stop the rewind. Why? Has not improved with the re-initialisation or software download
There is no jump forward on a recorded program so you just have to go forward at the fastest speed until you find what you want. There is only three fast forward (and 3 fast backward) speeds. Said they would refer it to their development team. May be included in a future software update.
So many little annoyances. It is like it is a beta version that hasn’t had all the wrinkles ironed out of it before going on sale. For an industry leading brand, not a cheap brand, I expected better.
I have sent many of these issues to Samsung. I will update this page if I get a response to the email and a fix to the issues. Responses in this column. I will update it if they provide further updates

Westinghouse Oven

Review Dated February 2020.

My Westinghouse model electric oven which I bought and installed into my new house blows hot air into the room when it is being used. Apparently this is to keep the electronics of the oven controls from over-heating. This is appalling and lazy design. They could have easily installed more insulation to protect the controls and relocate them if necessary. This blowing of hot air into the room makes the oven unusable on warm summer days and inefficient on all other days. 

For some reason ovens in Australia do not have an energy star rating, which means the manufacturers can get away with lower energy efficiency standards and lazy design. Without the Star rating it makes efficiency comparison to other brands and models difficult. (Why is there no Star rating on ovens when other kitchen kitchen equipment is rated?)

I will never buy another Westinghouse product unless they get their act together and can show that their product is efficient (and does not act as a room heater). It is a pity because they are one of the few Australian companies still in manufacturing in Australia.

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