Black Friday is here, and Christmas is right around the corner. This means we’ve entered the biggest shopping season of the year. Woo Hoo, let the games begin!
Of course if you are not waiting in long lines at the store or looking for a parking space at the mall, it’s probably a good idea to moderate the shopping by spending time with friends and family. No need to feel too guilty about shopping, because much of the shopping will be for gifts that help make our relationships stronger, or just take a friend with you on the next shopping trip.
Today I want to go shopping for an Internet TV. This post is partly inspired by the start of the Christmas shopping season, but also because of feedback I received on my last two posts. Thank you for the comments. Please keep them coming.
I guess the best place to start is to consider what options you have when buying an Internet TV. Here are a few things for you to think about …
Factors to Consider:
Content: TV, Movies, Netflix, YouTube, Home Videos, Music, Photos, etc.
Content Source: TV signal (Broadcast, Cable or Satellite), Internet Connection (WiFi or Ethernet), Home Photos/Video (Bluetooth or WiFi to Home PC Storage). etc.
Display: Screen Size, Pixel Density & Refresh Rate
Controllers: TV Remote Control, Keyboard/Mouse, Audio Control, Gesture Control
TV Applications: Web Browser, Netflix, YouTube, etc.
It’s sometimes easier to understand what you’re buying when you know a little bit about the technology used inside a product. One way to think about an Internet TV is to imagine a PC built inside the TV. It’s not quite the same, because you don’t have access to the PC’s Operation System (e.g. Windows) and desktop user interface. However, an Internet TV is different from a traditional TV because you do have an internet connection (WiFi or Ethernet) and access to content from the Internet (e.g. Netflix, YouTube, etc.) just like you do on a standalone PC.
I strongly recommend you visit a local electronics store and see how the Internet user interface works on the TV works before you make a purchase. Don’t make the mistake I made a few years ago when I bought an “Internet” TV on sale after Christmas, and I did not find out that the TV did not include a general web browser application until after I got it home. I think most new Internet TVs now have the web browser application. Also note: during the research on an earlier post, I read that Panasonic Viera TVs (past models?) did not include the Netflix app. Double check that the Internet TV you intend to buy supports the applications you expect before buying. This might save you from the dreaded “Buyers Remorse”.
I took the following picture at a local Future Shop store (owned by Best Buy) to show you an example of applications found on an Internet TV. This is for a Samsung Internet TV in this case you were wondering.
The last last thing you may want to think about is whether you really need a PC tightly coupled inside your TV, at all. An alternative configuration is to simply connect your standard HDTV to a laptop PC using a HDMI cable (your laptop must have an HDMI interface for you to get the true value of the High Definition visuals). When you want Internet connectivity on your TV screen, plug in the the laptop with the HDMI cable. When you don’t need it, disconnect the cable and use your laptop as a regular laptop. Your controller will now be the laptop, of course. You won’t have the other controller options mentioned above, but this may or may not be important to you.
If you want to add something to the topic or if you have any other questions, please write a comment. Otherwise …
Sorry for sending you around the world to get more information on Internet TVs. I got these links from a quick Google search. You’d think that the international TV manufacturers would make it easier for us shoppers to understand what we’re buying at a generic level. Once we’re ready to buy, they could THEN send us down to country specific purchase points. Ugh.
I upgraded to Bell Fibe on a Friday afternoon a few weeks ago. I didn’t noticed until Saturday night that it broke my Netflix!
[Update November 13, 2013: Or Was It My Fault??? – see updated information below].
It was my original intent to write my next blog about how to purchase the best internet service, but I can’t believe that Bell Fibe broke my Netflix. So, this post is about what happened to me, and how you can avoid the same hassels from Bell Fibe, possibly by avoiding Bell Fibe in the first place.
The truth is upgrading to Bell Fibe broke all apps on my Sony TV not just Netflix. If you “upgrade” to Bell Fibe, be prepared to spend extra hours talking to Bell support to get them to do the right thing and not block internet service to your TV.
The background for this story was my Bell non-Fibe internet service monthly bill went from $57 after tax to $64 after tax over the summer. I used this as an opportunity to explore how Tek Savvy Internet serivce compares with Bell. I’ll write a blog on that topic in the future. After dealing with poor service from the Bell Loyalty department, I finally decided upgrade my existing Internet service with Bell to Bell Fibe as an temporary solution to lower my monthly bill to $41 per month before tax. Was that one of my mistakes? Maybe, but let’s continue with the Netflix story for now. Again , it looks like I’ll have to write another post to share my customer experience with Bell Sympatico later.
Here is the basic story.
Thursday: Old Bell Sympatico Internet Service: Netflix Working on my Sony TV
Friday: “Upgraded” to Bell Fibe 15/10
Saturday: Netflix not working on my Sony TV
Saturday: Bell Chat Support won’t help and hangs up on me.
Next step: Call 310-SURF and mention CRTC
Today’s blog is to tell you Bell’s reaction to my problem report. [Please look for the chat exchange I had with Bell support below]
Here’s a screenshot of the Bell Fibe router admin panel. Notice that the “TV Status” is disabled. Clearly Bell Fibe does not provide true Internet service, because the Internet does not discriminate by what types of devices are connected to it. Bell, I think we have a problem.
It looks like I’m not alone. I did a quick google search for “Bell Fibe Broke Netflix”, and I found this video of someone with a slightly different problem. I know blogging about Bell Fibe problems might not be the most captivating of topics, but I really wish Bell tested out the Netflix problems before rolling out their new Fibe product, grrrrrrrr.
I’m pretty certain there’s a configuration setting somewhere that will fix this problem, because it was working perfectly before upgrading to Bell Fibe. My fear is that Bell has protected this configuration setting on their side of the network. Oh well, wish me luck, and don’t worry I’m sure Bell customer service will give me more to write about in the future.
Bell Live Chat from Sept 28, 2013
chat representative will be with you in about 0 minute(s). Thank you for waiting.
Chat representative Dietrich has joined the session and is ready to help. To start, please provide your name and home phone number.
Dietrich: Hello! Welcome to Bell Internet Services. How may I help you today?
you: hi, I just had a new modem installed by bell on Friday afternoon
Dietrich: Hi. Good evening!
you: the tech person made sure the internet would work with my pc – good
you: but I’m now having trouble connecting to the internet with my sony tv – not good
you: it worked with the previous modem
you: I tried switching ethernet ports on the modem, but no go
Dietrich: I understand that you are unable to connect to your Bell modem with the Tv. Am I right?
Dietrich: To validate your account,may I have your B1 number and the complete billing address in this format street number, street name,city, province & postal code?
Dietrich: Thank you for the information.
Dietrich: Are you trying to connect wirelessly or wired with the TV?
Dietrich: Okay! I am sorry that we do not support configuration in TV as we do support only Internet configuration in computers.
Dietrich: For this, you will have to contact your Tv support.
you: are you serious? 😮
you: it was working fine until Friday afternoon.
Dietrich: Yes. I am sorry for that.
you: the new modem broke my existing service
you: one second, I’ll be right back
Dietrich: Okay! Are you been prompted for any information for connecting your modem?
you: prompted on my TV?
you: no, I have a valid MAC Address and IP address assigned to the TV when I check the modem admin UI
Dietrich: Okay! Yes. On your TV.
you: the modem understands the TV exists on the ethernet/IP network
you: I’ve never ever been prompted on my TV
you: with the new modem or the old one.
you: just plugged in the ethernet and go
you: the previous modem worked fine
Dietrich: Okay! If you are in need of any username or password, I can certainly help you in that and if not, I am sorry that you will have to contact the TV support as the modem works fine with the computers.
you: No problem, I’m calling Tek Savvy on Monday morning to switch from Bell. Your service is very very poor. 🙁
Dietrich: I am really sorry to hear like this from a valuable customer like you.
Dietrich: I apologize for the inconvenience.
you: no cut and pasting your text please
you: I’d prefer to talk to a real person
Dietrich: I am sorry for that.
you: me too
Dietrich: To speak with us over the phone , Kindly contact Bell us at: 310-SURF (7873) from Bell phone line or Non-Bell phone line: 1-800-773-2121
you: do you understand that my internet service was working fine until the modem was changed?
Dietrich: Yes. I do certainly understand that.
Dietrich: Also your Internet works fine with computers now.
you: you are an internet service provider, not a device provider
you: so why do you care what device I’m using on the internet?
Dietrich: If your TV prompts for any username or network name, I will be able to help you in regards with that and in connecting any modem configuration.
you: I guess Tek Savvy will be more helpful than you.
Dietrich: But since that does not asks for any information from the modem or Internet connection, I will not be able to assist you in this regard.
Dietrich: I’m sorry to hear that.
you: Can you please confirm that you will not support my Sony TV on the new modem that Bell installed on Friday?
you: That’s the key question I’m asking.
Dietrich: It is not just Sony TV, We do not support configuration in TV. For this you should be subscribed to Fibe TV services and could you confirm the light status corresponding to TV in your modem?
you: Please confirm … your internet service does not support TV devices unless I want to subscribe to the Fibe TV?
Dietrich: If that is just a plug and play, our Internet service would support, but we at support level does not support the configuration of Bell Internet in TV.
you: ah, thank you.
Dietrich: Do you have any other questions or concerns that I can assist you with?
you: My device worked plug and play until you changed the modem.
you: the new modem does not allow plug and play
Dietrich: Okay! It seems that you have upgraded the plan to Ontario DSL Fibe 15/10 and the new modem is only suitable for the new plan that you are subscribed to
you: can you please confirm that the Ontario DSL Fibe 15/10 plan will not support unrestricted internet access to a Sony TV?
Dietrich: It is not the plan that restricts the access, but the modem that you are using now. However for the specifications of plug and play regarding the modem, please check the manufacturer web page of the modem.
you: are you serious?
Dietrich: Yes, It is not the plan that you are subscribed to. It is the modem configuration that we do not support.
you: and you understand that Bell installed this modem yesterday afternoon. I did not choose this modem.
Dietrich: So, for further information key in for the Sagecom F@st 2864
you: Does Bell accept any responsibility for downgrading my service when I switched to the new Fibe plan?
Dietrich: Yes, This is the modem that Bell provides for residential Internet connection.
Dietrich: Could you please explain more specifically?
you: Okay, let’s try this 🙂
you: 1) My internet service was working fine for all my device yesterday morning
you: 2) Bell installed a new modem in my house yesterday afternoon
you: 3) Today you tell me that the modem that Bell installed broke the internet service that was working fine yesterday morning
you: 4) and then you say it’s not the Bell Fibe plan, but the modem Bell installed that broke the service
The chat session should begin shortly, thank you for your patience.
The chat session should begin shortly, thank you for your patience.
Could not send
It seems to me you’re not accepting responsibility for breaking a service that was working fine yesterday morning
November 13, 2013 UPDATE:
This is one of those embarassing times in my debugging career when it turns out that the first idea I had about the source of a problem turns out be wrong.
So, here’s what happened today. I finally got around to looking at the Internet TV problem that began a few weeks ago. I started debugging by going back to basics -> checking out the cabling. To my surprise I noticed a problem with the ethernet connection from my DSL modem to my TV. Whoa!
It’s been awhile since Bell Fibe was first installed, so I wasn’t sure if the connection problem existed at the time of my orginal complaint. I know I definitely moved the cables around after the Bell Fibe upgrade, so it’s possible the connection problem was introduced after upgrading to Bell Fibe. However, if the connection issue was there from the start then I might have been blowing a lot of hot air. Shoot! I hate when that happens.
So, I fixed the ethernet connection issue and retried Netflix on my Sony Internet TV. Guess what? It worked! Woo Hoo!
Lesson to be learned from my embarassment? Check the cabling before asking for help. If a friend or family member is also available, it would not hurt to ask them to independently check the basic cabling connections too.
By the way, I’m still not happy with the way Bell managed my pre-Fibe Internet service (see previous posts). At least now it looks like all my devices are working at the same service level as before upgrading to Fibe. Whew!
I think I’ll go forget about the public embarassment of my debugging skills by watching a little Netflix on my Internet TV using the Bell Fibe Internet service. 🙂