YouTube disappearing from 50 Sony Bravia sets highlights why smart TVs suck

Smart TVs look like a great idea, but they have a serious downside as demonstrated by Sony's recent announcement.

If ever there was a cautionary tale about why it’s a bad idea to buy Smart TVs, this is it. Sony recently announced on its UK support site that 50 different 2012 Bravia TV models will lose their YouTube app on September 30, as first reported by 9 to 5 Google.

The reason for this loss is due to hardware limitations of the models following a change to YouTube’s specifications. Google announced in August that YouTube would be moving all its traffic to HTTPS. The company warned that over time it would phase out insecure connections, which means some devices would lose access to YouTube.

Samsung users of the affected Bravia TVs recently started complaining of freezing issues, black screens, and error messages when using YouTube. It appears YouTube’s HTTPS switch may be the cause of these issues—though Sony has not confirmed this.

You can find a complete list of Bravia models affected by this change on Sony's support site, which includes TV sets ranging in sizes from 20 to 89 inches.

Why this matters: As I said at the beginning, this is a cautionary tale for any prospective TV buyer. Smart TVs are generally a bad buy, pure and simple. While those apps look enticing, they are restricted by the rather expensive hardware that runs them and Smart TVs are often lower down the priority list for updates by app developers. Accessories such as an Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku, however, don’t cost that much and are easily replaceable once they fail or also hit the limits of their internal capabilities.

If you already own a Smart TV it might be wise to pick-up one of these gadgets if some of apps on your TV have already failed or started lagging in updates. If you’re looking for a new TV, save yourself some money by picking up a dumb TV and a modestly priced set-top accessory or streaming stick.

Sony’s 2012 televisions are only the latest victims of YouTube’s modernization. The original iPad and any other device older than the iPhone 4 famously lost access to YouTube in 2015 after the video site shut down its older developer programming tools.

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Ian Paul

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