Not So Smart HDTV

Our move into Smart TV land has been nothing if not eventful. It has always been our practice to record one or other programme when confronted by a clash of timings, or simply an inconvenient programme timing, but more recently connecting tablet or laptop PC via HDMI to catch up on missed programmes.

More recently we started to think of a smart TV, although not many of them had the major terrestrial channels [BBC iPlayer, ITV player, 4 on Demand, Demand 5] on Catch-Up. Eventually we decided to audition the Panasonic Viera 32″ Smart HDTV, which each of these services but, unfortunately the local Panasonic store was finding that model difficult to obtain. Meantime having viewed several tech reviews online it seemed that contrast and blacks weren’t a strong point of this range.

Having initially been disappointed by the lack of local availability, and seen these reviews determined me to look elsewhere for a Smart TV. Samsung offered access to all the aforementioned catch up services as standard so we ordered one to be collected from our local Waitrose store on Saturday. The only minor difficulty was the assembly of the TV stand but setup of all programmes and wireless internet connection went without a hitch. Picture quality was sharply excellent on HD channels, with rich deep dark colours where black was truly black, and we felt happy with our purchase.

On Monday a blue logo appeared on the right hand (as viewed) top corner reading “Book Me” next to a green dot. Once it had appeared it remained on screen no matter what channel I switched too. A search online disclosed that this was an all too familiar problem with Samsung Smart TV’s, the sign appearing alongside any of the sundry BBC trailers. They first seemed became aware of it around the time of Wimbledon (a good five months ago) and I discovered that some users had the problem resolved via ‘Remote Support’. I duly obtained a PIN for this service only to discover that the support office, which I had to phone, was only open between 9.00am and 6.00pm, so I was too late on that evening.

Prior to this I had registered the purchase with Samsung, online, full rigmarole of name, age, full postal address, date of purchase, specific TV model etc; even though the set was covered by an extended guarantee+accidental damage cover from the retailer.

The following day, after listening to what seemed endless adverts for sundry domestic products, I managed to get through to the appropriate support person. On getting through, I was asked to repeat all the information re. purchase, home address and more as Samsung Support evidently have no access to Samsung Registrations – a promising start! When I quoted the current personal PIN, displayed on the set, I was informed that their remote server was down so, they’d have to talk me through a procedure for ‘Factory Reset’ which would sort out the problem.

With the set in standby mode I had to press three buttons (Info, Menu, Mute or something like that) and then switch on the TV. Twice this exercise failed in bringing up a panel on the left side of the screen and just displayed the normal picture. Third attempt was successful and the panel, from which I had to select ‘Options’, appeared. Next I entered ‘Factory Reset’ and had to repeat the whole set-up procedure.

By this time my beloved took over the ‘phone as I was getting really stressed (verging on a full-blown panic attack), and she was given a personal support reference number which would speed up the process in the event of further problems.

Next day it seemed, at first, as if the problem was well and truly solved but the message did briefly flash up on two or three occasions but quickly disappeared. At lunchtime today the infamous “Book Me” logo re-appeared and stubbornly remained in situ, even when we changed channels. My darling OH decided to ‘phone the support line again and quoted the personal reference number given, to speed up the process but, she was also asked name, full postal address, model of TV, when purchased etc. The person then suggested to input the same keys as we’d already applied two days earlier, which I’d fortunately written down in sequence, and ma belle quoted back at him. At this point he decided that it was a faulty set and we should return it to the retailer for refund or exchange.

Judging by the (apparently) common occurrence of this problem a refund seemed the obvious option as this rigmarole had exhausted both of us; at tea-time I disassembled the stand and repackaged the TV ready for return.Two further trips were made to the store as I realized, when setting up (once again) our old UnSmart HD ready Sony Bravia, that I’d still got the power cord for the Samsung. No sooner had my beloved set off with the power cord than I also discovered a smart card adapter and extended IR cable belonging to the offending not too smart Samsung product.

This evening, as I told a friend of these problems, the friend asked if it was a Samsung as their inlaws had a more expensive model pack up twice within about twelve months of purchase – a capacitor having blown on each occasion. At least I’ve forestalled such future problems.

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