Smart-TV Features Scored for a Busy Product Manager

For second time in about a year I am buying a TV. This time I am looking to add a smallish TV to my home office (hurrah for social isolation and yay for more screen time) and like last time I am worried that smart TV vendor, and by some I mean all, are not quite aware of the things we middle of the road consumers want in a smart-TV.

Nowadays it is pretty hard to buy TV without smarts. In optimal world I would be able to buy a TV with 8 HDMI connections and a decent speakers with very fast but limited SW. Sadly, I have a feeling we are not living in the best of the possible timelines.

Secondly, I wish all Smart TV vendors understood these:

  • Don’t try too hard: even the smartest smart TV is the dumbest smart device in my house
  • All features you put in need to last as long as the panel. Taking away Netflix app away from us because Netflix doesn’t want to support your 2014 app platform is even worse than not having the app in the first place
  • Fast is better than slow 100% time (lack of speed is an universal problem with SW in 2020 but we can visit this some other day)
  • You are neither Apple nor Google. Stick to your strengths. Writing app platforms is not one of them

Now with these principles in mind, let us score the most important features for you my dear smart TV product manager:

  • Every HDMI port +1000 points
  • Built-in Chromecast support +500 points
  • Built-in Airplay support +500 points
  • Any other *cast support +100 points
  • App platform +1 points
  • App platform that is not supported through the expected lifetime of the TV panel: -100 points
  • Every other feature that make the basic TV operations slower: -10 points per feature
  • Every second spend on SW updates instead of using the TV: -10 points per second
  • Every ad I see in the User Interface: -100 points
  • Every confirmation dialog: -100 points. TV has very few destructive operations it should have even fewer confirmation dialogs
  • Every password dialog, no points, making people type in passwords with a TV remote is a sackable offence
  • Remote I can use in a dark room: + 100 points

Thank you for listening, I will be waiting for that 8 HDMI port TV with a decent panel and acceptable speakers in your 2021 product lineup.

My top one pet peeve is that people don’t put weekdays into their invites. “Please join us on Feb 7th”(bad) vs. “Please join us on Friday the February 7th” (good)

Year 2019 in Review

My somewhat random top 3 of 2019

  1. Great Sports year

This year was in personal terms the best sports year ever. Not only did Finland win two Ice Hockey World Championships (U20 men, men), Finnish women pretty much won it as well even if they ended up getting silver medals on official books.

Even better than that my home town team - the colours I have myself worn as a kid - won the Finnish ice hockey championship with the all time great goal. It is probably just me but I can’t watch this video without at least a single tear in the corner of my eye

And in the completely ridiculous science fiction turn of events Finnish men qualified to their first major Football tournament ever Suomi - Liechtenstein Yle Urheiluruutu 15.11.2019 - YouTube. Again I can’t watch this without completely tearing up. Decades of disappointments washed away: Big Day Today in Finland // Timo Koola

  1. Blogging restart

One of my new year’s resolutions was to get rid of Twitter that was becoming a toll on my mood. Basically I had decided to drop it already maybe two years ago at some point but didn’t really know how. At some point in 2018 I sat down to list things that I thought were really useful about Twitter and I found two unequivocally good reasons:

  • Following some SW engineering people that didn’t have an RSS feed
  • Following accounts that shared material about learning Chinese language

Every other part of Twitter that I enjoyed came with some major downside, mostly unnecessary noise and snark.

First I just made two Twitter lists I followed on Tweetdeck, but I found out it was too easy to just fall back to noise and clamour of my own timeline. Realising that I have not achieved what I was looking for I crafted a plan for 2019:

  • Move over the lists to another account with no followers
  • Find a new place to write at
  • Find a reason and motivation to create content
  • Quit Twitter on my main account

In September I did all this and have not looked back. I am happier, or rather my mood doesn’t just swing from good to “WTH is wrong with humanity” several times a day. I read more and most importantly I wrote more. My eventual goal of finding a specific topic I can offer value to and to build an audience around is much closer to being achieved.

  1. Chinese learning

For 2017 (I actually started already in November 2016) I made a new year’s resolution to spend 30 minutes a day learning Chinese words. I later revised it down to 20 minutes but still more than three years later I spend on average 40 minutes a day learning Chinese characters and words. I have probably missed my goal on less than 10 days during this period. My initial goal was just to learn to read “newspaper level texts, maybe roughly 3000 characters” and eventually I have raised my goal to achieve some kind of fluidity also in spoken language. I have published my Skritter status page on Twitter every few months but here is the status as of January first 2020

Skritter status board. 3148 characters learned, 5983 words learned

Amazing morning walk in a forest where winter is doing its best to win over the last bits of autumn (loc: Hämeenlinna, Finland)

Currently reading

My current book queue is themed “read books that went to Amazon Video”. Just finished “The Good Omens” (enjoyed it immensely) and just started “The American Gods”, and there is “The Man in the High Castle” waiting in my Audible queue. After that I am going to read Discworld Series from start to finish. Sadly I’ve missed most of Terry Pratchett’s books, but on the other hand I’ll get to experience his universe as a first time reader.

Big Day Today in Finland

Big day for Finnish sports today. First ever qualification for major tournament for men’s national team in football (soccer for you USians) is dependent on a home win on Liechtenstein.

Reasonable assumption is three points for Finland and a spot in UEFA Euro 2020. Implied probability of win is well north of 90% in betting markets.

If this happens it will be an emotional moment for us long term sufferers, er, fans of Finnish football. I mean the closest we ever got to qualify ended with a last minute own goal: Finland vs. Hungary world cup qualification October 1998. Being there in person ranks pretty high on my list of emotional roller coaster rides. Then we have 31(!) other attempts that also ended in tears. Whatever the result today I think a lot of us will tear up to mark the end of (or in the worst situation continuation of) decades of disappointments.

I love how nowadays there is a separate selection of non-alcoholic and low alcohol beer in grocery stores here in Finland. I mean look at this - so beautiful

beer fridge at a local grocery store in Kallio, Helsinki

KHL ice hockey referees announce video calls with a PA system that have this Russian art film feel about it