‘Smart Devices Are Turning Out To Be a Poor Investment’

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Android Police, written by Dhruv Bhutani: As someone who is an early adopter of all things smart and has invested a significant amount of money in building a fancy smart home, it saddens me to say that I feel cheated by the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on smart devices. And it’s not a one-off. Amazon’s recent move to block off local ADB connections on Fire TV devices is the latest example in a long line of grievances. A brand busy wrestling away control from the consumer after they’ve bought the product, the software update gimps a feature that has been present on the hardware ever since it launched back in 2014. ADB-based commands let users take deep control of the hardware, and in the case of the Fire TV hardware, it can drastically improve the user experience. […] A few years ago, I decided to invest in the NVIDIA Shield. The premium streamer was marketed as a utopia for streaming online and offline sources with the ability to plug in hard drives, connect to NAS drives, and more. At launch, it did precisely that while presenting a beautiful, clean interface that was a joy to interact with. However, subsequent updates have converted what was otherwise a clean and elegant solution to an ad-infested overlay that I zoom past to jump into my streaming app of choice. This problem isn’t restricted to just the Shield. Even my Google TV running Chromecast has a home screen that’s more of an advertising space for Google than an easy way to get to my content.

But why stop at streaming boxes? Google’s Nest Hubs are equal victims of feature deterioration. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on Nest Hubs and outfitted them in most of my rooms and washrooms. However, Google’s consistent degradation of the user experience means I use these speakers for little more than casting music from the Spotify app. The voice recognition barely works on the best of days, and when it does, the answers tend to be wildly inconsistent. It wasn’t always the case. In fact, at launch, Google’s Nest speakers were some of the best smart home interfaces you could buy. You’d imagine that the experience would only improve from there. That’s decidedly not the case. I had high hopes that the Fuchsia update would fix the broken command detection, but that’s also not the case. And good luck to you if you decided to invest in Google Assistant-compatible displays. Google’s announcement that it would no longer issue software or security updates to third-party displays like the excellent Lenovo Smart Display, right after killing the built-in web browser, is pretty wild. It boggles my mind that a company can get away with such behavior.

Now imagine the plight of Nest Secure owners. A home security system isn’t something one expects to switch out for many many years. And yet, Google decided to kill the Nest Secure home monitoring solution merely three years after launching the product range. While I made an initial investment in the Nest ecosystem, I’ve since switched over to a completely local solution that is entirely under my control, stores data locally, and won’t be going out of action because of bad decision-making by another company. “It’s clear to me that smart home devices, as they stand, are proving to be very poor investments for consumers,” Bhutani writes in closing. “Suffice it to say that I’ve paused any future investments in smart devices, and I’ll be taking a long and hard look at a company’s treatment of its current portfolio before splurging out more cash. I’d recommend you do the same.”

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