5 Ways to Dim Your Smart TV

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You just want to turn on your TV and play a video game or use your Apple TV or Roku to watch a favorite show, but every time you have to tinker with your TV’s interface, there are ads everywhere. Ads in the bar that shows entries, ads on the screen where you installed apps – it looks like they are everywhere. It’s almost impossible to get a “dumb” TV these days and still have anything like modern features. There are ways to interfere with the constant onslaught of ads on your devices, however, and we offer five of them, organized by increasing complexity and cost.

Some of them are as easy as being lazy, while one involves setting up Linux on a Raspberry Pi. There’s an option for every skill level and commitment, and you can combine many of these options to get the most efficient scenario. The ultimate goal, however, is to allow you to get the most out of your TV without letting its smart features get in the way.

Do not connect to the Internet

Tips for how
Tips for “shrinking” your smart TV

The best and easiest way to stop your TV from showing you ads is to not connect it to the internet. If you never plug it into Ethernet or enter your Wi-Fi credentials, the TV can’t connect. This means no updates, but it also means no ads. You can still temporarily log in to download an update if your TV manufacturer releases a firmware update that enables an important feature, like LG and Sony have done with recent TVs. This is especially worth considering if your TV has microphones and a camera, as it increasingly does.

Disable Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)

If you need to connect your TV to the internet, check to see if your smart TV has a feature called Automatic Content Recognition, or ACR. When enabled, ACR will attempt to identify anything you put on your screen. This includes live, cable, streaming, and disc media. This information can then be used to show you dynamic advertisements related to the content you are watching.

Like so many other features, ACR is an industry standard name that every manufacturer changes on their device. If you’re setting up your TV for the first time, this should give you the option to turn it off immediately. Consumer Reports has a great guide to disable this feature on some of the biggest brands.

Use a decoder

Roku streaming device

Instead of installing apps on your TV, use a set-top box like a AppleTV, Nvidia Shield, Chromecast, Amazon fire stick, Where Roku. Many set-top boxes have ads, but it’s usually just one ad on the main screen, making it easy to ignore. Apple’s offer, it should be noted, does not not have announcements.

As a bonus, popular set-top boxes usually have better app support with more frequently updated apps, while Smart TV apps can eventually fall victim to the TV being outdated or not powerful enough to play modern content. . The box can do what it does best – stream content – while all your TV has to worry about is displaying the picture.

Something to explore as well is which TVs will let you set them up without requiring you to use a tethered interface. For example, sets that use the Google TV operating system (not Android TV), like TCL’s R646 Mini-LED TV, will let you choose to use the default Google TV, which is minus one TV interface and more a glorified facade. end for Google’s media store. You can, however, turn off the Google TV setup and switch to basic mode. In doing so, the TV’s only commercial politely suggests that Google TV might be a good thing. This effectively allows you to use the TV as a dumb TV.

Get an AV receiver

AV receiver
AV receiver

This is arguably the most effective option on this list, as it will work with almost any TV. An audio-video receiver, or home theater receiver, is a receiver that can handle video signals from your devices and send sound to your speakers. It can be somewhat complex to set up, as we found when we recently tried to buy a fully HDMI 2.1 compatible receiver, but it’s doable and can be very effective. With a proper receiver, you’ll plug your devices – Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Switch, a set-top box – into the receiver rather than the TV.

Then you can switch inputs on the receiver while leaving your TV on the same input all the time. In other words, it minimizes the amount of stuff you have to do with a digital interface and instead lets you deal with simple buttons.

Another benefit here is that many modern devices come with HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), allowing your TV and device to communicate with each other via HDMI. Turning on your PlayStation will turn on your TV. Using the volume button on your Xbox Media Remote will change the volume of the receiver. You’ll still need to keep the receiver at a distance for more complex actions, but you shouldn’t have to hit it very often.

Configure a Pi-Hole

Pi-Hole is a silly and crude name for a powerful little device. A Pi-Hole is a network-level ad and tracker blocker. This device you assemble and configure yourself using a DIY computer like a Raspberry Pi 3 or 4. There are tons of guides on the internet so we won’t go into detail here. There are excellent guides on YouTube and many text-based ones available. This is by far the most complicated option on this list, but it can be the most effective.

Once configured, this device will protect all other devices on your network from ads and trackers. This includes your computers, phones, and even your built-in devices like TVs and set-top boxes. A Raspberry Pi computer can be had for as little as $35 and may require the purchase of additional items like storage, but even with accessories it’s still cheaper than most set-top boxes and just about any receiver. So if you’re ready to get the job done, this option will allow you to continue using your smart TV’s features without being assaulted by ads – the best of both worlds.

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