My ideal TV has no tuner, no speakers and no smart platform

65-inch LG C4 TV on a wooden stand. A golfer is being sprayed with champagne on the screen.
(Image credit: Future)

I’ve had my current TV for about a year now, and do you know how many times I’ve used its built-in tuner? None. I’ve not even plugged in the aerial. I’ve not used any of the built-in apps, either, and the built-in speakers have emitted a sound only a handful of times, and only because the connected sound system didn’t automatically switch on as it should have.

In many ways, it’s great that TVs do so much, but outside of picture quality, they’re the best at very little, and I’m one of the lucky few who has separate devices for live TV (Sky Stream), streaming (Apple TV 4K) and sound (Sony HT-A9).

I’m well aware that puts me in a privileged position but I’m far from the only one, and to those of us who’ve forked out for extra kit, it can feel a little galling to also then have to pay for TV features that we will never use – and that even get in the way sometimes. I would love to be able to buy a TV with none of those things. Getting rid of the speakers would be the most useful part, as that would allow for the TV to be significantly slimmer.

“Just buy a monitor”; I can hear you say. But, of course, monitors aren’t generally manufactured at living room sizes. They also usually lack the sort of picture processing necessary for a great movie performance. Displaying movies as well as possible involves specific processing for things such as contrast and motion handling, and monitors generally don’t approach these things in the same way because they’re not intended for that purpose.

So it really is a TV that’s designed to be a TV, but without the tuner, speakers and smart platform that I’m after. Sadly, though, I have little hope of ever being able to buy such a thing. While there are certainly others in the same boat, we’re a small market, and no manufacturer is going to spend the time and effort designing, manufacturing and shipping a model just for us. If they did, its niche appeal would likely make it more expensive than those TVs that do have the features we don’t want, which would sort of defeat the whole purpose.

That’s a shame, of course, but let’s face it – it’s not a huge inconvenience to work around those extraneous features. And who knows, perhaps one day a manufacturer will produce a TV that is so good at all of those things that separate devices are no longer worth adding. I can’t say I’m holding my breath, though.


These are the best TVs available right now

Grab a bargain with these TV deals

Here are the best soundbars, recommended by our review team

Tom Parsons

Tom Parsons has been writing about TV, AV and hi-fi products (not to mention plenty of other 'gadgets' and even cars) for over 15 years. He began his career as What Hi-Fi?'s Staff Writer and is now the TV and AV Editor. In between, he worked as Reviews Editor and then Deputy Editor at Stuff, and over the years has had his work featured in publications such as T3, The Telegraph and Louder. He's also appeared on BBC News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4 and Sky Swipe. In his spare time Tom is a runner and gamer.

  • Friesiansam
    If you object to the high price of all the features, buy a last year’s model and, get a hefty discount.
  • ultraminiature
    When I decided to get a 32" 4K monitor I continued to use the 49" 1080p TV as the second monitor. I was used to moving a window frame from the main monitor to the TV screen but now most of the time it would bounce back as too large or not in the right space to move across. I stopped using the built in Freeview as it did not display the HD channels. I use a PCI Freesat and Freeview card to get those.

    So I got a 65" display panel. Not the last word in picture technology but it will not burn in a spread sheet grid if left on a few hours on either.

    I decided it would be cool to have a touch screen. Four pen active display panel is more useful that I expected and I do use it often.

    Unfortunately it does have speakers but they only are used if the surround sound system has not connected all the WiSA speakers at re-boot. There is a slot where I can insert an i9 Windows laptop type hardware PC for an all in one.

    This is a 65" tablet on a trolley that I can move around for best position and even room to room as well as to simply clean behind the screen.

    In the early 1980s Philips made a 32" screen with removable stereo speakers, a separate box for the TV receiver that stood on a cabinet with room for laservision and VCR. The CRT TV was not as good as my 21" computer monitors. I had on rental for nearly a year but then used a VCR connected to a CRT with VGA and SCART inputs. No speaker, No built in TV reception with the audio going to my hi-fi set up.

    With Freely launched which at the moment only directs you to ITV X or iPlayer both Freeview and Freesat are loosing channels (no standard definition BBC channels on Freesat, GREAT TV removed from the electronic programme guide) all the smart features needed should be available from a web interface or computer app. But we will need fast broadband and that is not free. IT is unclear what current model TVs will be able to get a Freely app on their smart interfaces or if we will be forced to buy a new TV to get any channel in 2030.
  • fazalmajid
    Most TV makers no longer make a profit on the hardware and instead make money from selling your viewing habits (as detected by the Smart TV features, and even if you use an external streaming box like an AppleTV, by video fingerprinting techniques) to advertisers. You would have to pay extra to not have those features. You can choose not to connect the TV to your home network, but some manufacturers like TCL will disable the TV until you do so, in which case you should absolutely return it as defective and get one from another brand.
  • fiftysomethingguy
    If you factory reset a Sky Glass TV and don't setup WiFI you get very close. All you have is 5 icons, Setup Wifi, Live TV (for the tuner) and 3 HDMI inputs.
  • chadthaking
    I haven't used the tuner or "smart" installed software on a television in over 10 years. XBMC and now KODI provide all the "brains" I've ever needed.

    What I'm now looking for a way to "root" a television and reimage it with custom ROM.
  • mjaggard
    Friesiansam said:
    If you object to the high price of all the features, buy a last year’s model and, get a hefty discount.
    It's not just the price, it's the time spent waiting for the TV to start up to the point where it will display an HDMI signal - reviewers never quote this time for reasons I don't understand.
    As mentioned in the article, the hardware makes the TV physically bigger, more power hungry, quicker to become obsolete (yes fine I'm not using the smart features but it's bad form to have your virus ridden TV sending out DDoS requests)
  • HappySounds
    Absolutely agree. This would be a wonderful thing, and I don't think people like us are that small a market. Pretty much every single person who has an AV amp would benefit from this - the built-in features in a TV are simply a replica of the features provided (better) by an AV amp and whatever set-top boxes you have connected to it. And there must be quite a large number of AV amps purchased every year - I wonder how this number compares to the number of TVs purchased?

    If there was an option in the settings to turn off everything but the monitor function that would achieve the same result - maybe WhatHiFi could use their influence to get a manufacturer to do that with one model in their range as an experiment?
  • 12th Monkey
    HappySounds said:
    And there must be quite a large number of AV amps purchased every year - I wonder how this number compares to the number of TVs purchased?
    I suspect it's a vanishingly small percentage. I only know of one other person who has an AV amp, and not many who have soundbars.
  • hammillrevisited
    I have such a TV. A pioneer 5090 Kuro. I have a 4k projector too. I will be very said when the Kuro dies.
  • Jasonovich
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    It’s galling to have to pay for features I never use, but the reality is that a TV without them is not going to happen.

    My ideal TV has no tuner, no speakers, no smart platform : Read more

    You can have these features or the lack of it, really simple, just buy a PC monitor. They come in all shapes and sizes.
    For my diner, I'm using 4K Samsung 28" PC monitor, tuner is an Android TV device (has streaming apps such as Spotify, Deezer, Tidal etc) sound is SMSL class D amp with bluetooth and speakers are Dali Zensor 1.
    I use two remote devices, one for the SMSL and the other for Android TV device. PC monitor switches itself off automatically. It really is that simple.