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Google-powered TVs will let you disable smart features altogether

Set up process of a Google TV with the Basic TV option highlighted
Image credit: 9to5Google

Google introduced a brand-new Google TV experience last year with the new Chromecast with Google TV, and it's been expanding it to other devices since then. Some TV manufacturers, such as TCL, have also vowed to launch TVs powered by Google's new experience, but as it turns out, you might not have to use Google TV if you end up buying one of these TVs.

As spotted by 9to5Google, and confirmed by Google, it looks like TV sets that ship with Google TV as the built-in software experience will allow users to disable smart features completely. During the setup process, users can choose to configure the device as a basic TV, which means it will only enable the input ports such as HDMI, and live TV, should users plug in an antenna directly to it. Of course, you can also set it up as a standard Google TV with access to the Play Store and its apps and streaming services, even after you've set it up as a basic TV.

Settings page on a Google TV running as a Basic TV

There are a few situations where it might be useful to set up a basic TV. Users without a stable internet connection might not have any need for a smart TV, users may just be looking for something that lets them use their cable service, or they might just not want to share their personal data with Google. Another scenario pointed out by 9to5Google is that the hardware that powers smart TV experiences can become outdated more quickly than the TV itself. This way, users can set up a set-top box a few years down the line and disable the smart features built into the TV itself. Roku also offers a similar experience, as Roku-powered TVs can be set up to be used without an internet connection.

This isn't a feature that's going to be rolled out via a software update, since it probably wouldn't make much sense for a set-top box or dongle to have its smart features disabled instead of just removing it from the TV. This will simply be a part of the setup experience in TVs powered by Google TV, such as the ones TCL announced last month.

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