The Samsung Smart TV isn’t

4 minute read

Hardware Samsung Smart TV Rating: 1/10

So to celebrate my tax return this year, I decided to get a larger screen to watch stuff on. I chose a Samsung Smart TV from JB Hifi and unpacked and switched it on.

The quick version is this: I’m never making that mistake again.

The good

The picture was so clear and pure it felt like I was looking into an alternate dimension. I could make out fine details.

The bloody awful

The menu system on the other hand was an utter piece of crap. Why was I having to fight to remove things from the menu? Why was I being advertised at by Mcafee virus something or other for smart TVs? Why couldn’t I just have a Simple menu for Simple people?

Soon I worked out that I could get a flat menu with just what I wanted on it. But it was not simple to set up.

Samsung audio settings
One volume button to rule them all!

And this was merely the cake for the icing which is the volume control. Something so simple and yet Samsung in their wisdom managed to make it complicated.

It’s auto-set on startup to match the “ambient” environment or some such claptrap. Allegedly it’s like this to avoid advertising blasting you when there’s an ad-break, but since I don’t watch free-to-air it’s a useless feature. And even more useless since it’s nearly impossible to control.

So why not use the control on the remote then, I hear you ask.

Well that’s because the remote has one button for volume. And it turns it off (mute) or on (ambient whatever). The menu system and setup don’t give you the information on how to change it either.

Here’s how you change the volume on a Samsung Smart TV

Press the power button on the bottom of the screen. The physical button I mean.

If you do it just right you get a hidden menu.

Keep tapping the button until it reaches the “Volume UP” icon, then press and hold.

The volume will then increase. Do the same on the “Volume DOWN” icon if it’s too loud.

Whoever designed this needs to be locked in a room for a few years to study User Interface standards, because this is 2018’s crap medallist.

There’s a better solution. Sort of…

You know how in the “old days”, you plugged things in and pulled them out. A plug could be a headphone jack, RCA plugs, what have you. You connected them at one end, and sound came out the other.

But that’s not modern, say the manufacturers! We want you to enjoy your Daytime TV in FULL DIGITAL SURROUND SOUND because it’s BETTER.

Better for them in fact. Because I, like many others, don’t have a surround sound system and frankly don’t need one. I’m in a one bedroom flat, not a concert hall. The only way to get audio out of the TV was via a Digital Output plug, using what’s called a Toslink fiber-optic cable.

But what this really boils down to is this:

I am forced to purchase ADDITIONAL equipment in order to CONTROL THE VOLUME.

But is it possible?

I was damned if I was going to pay a bucket of cash for an entirely new amplifier. There was a workaround that involved the following:

  • 1x fibre-optic Toslink cable to connect from TV to audio (not included with the TV)

  • Digital/Analog converter box — available online and from Jaycar - a little box that connects to the Toslink cable does something clever to the signal, and splits it into the traditional RCA left and right plugs.

  • 1x RCA cable with left and right cable

  • 1x stereo Amplifier and speakers

And it should have worked.

Except when I plugged it in, there was the endless buzzing of an apocalyptic insect future.

Samsuing support should be able to help?

Yeah, nah.

They suggested I purchase a Samsung Sound Bar to plug the Toslink cable into.

Or pack up the TV and take it 8KM to an authorized service center.

Was it broken?

No. After an hour’s search online I found the issue was actually a default setting.

The TV is set to output 5-speaker surround by default.

And it’s understandable as that’s what the Digital output is designed for.

It’s just a pity Samsung support didn’t know that.

How to convert to 2 speaker stereo

The Internet gave me the solution.

  • Open Settings on the digital TV

  • Select Sound > Sound Output

  • Choose Audio Out/Optical.

  • Close the menu.

Samsung audio settings
Dig deep enough, sooner or later you find the oil
  • Next, select Expert Settings.

  • Choose Digital Output Audio Format > PCM (because PCM obviously means Stereo. Silly me!)

And close. Then fire up the amplifier, make sure the volume is at an acceptable level and try it out.

The bottom line

I ended up selling the TV to a stranger on Gumtree who would hopefully never find me again. I bought a Philips 4k monitor and plugged it into a computer where I can store my audio and video, and play DVDs to my heart’s content. And the computer has a single headphone jack to connect to my Stereo amplifier.

And thus, I reclaimed my sanity and will never buy another Samsung device as long as I live.