The LG CX family of OLED screens offers the most astounding image quality I’ve ever seen from any display or monitor, OLED or LCD alike. I picked one up for myself last year both as part of covering the Xbox Series X and because, after 15 years of wanting one, I felt like OLEDs had finally become affordable enough to justify the purchase.
According to The Verge, however, LG at least occasionally plays full-sound video ads when it feels like doing so, including while you’re attempting to download app updates.
Just got served a legit commercial while updating the apps on my LG OLED TV.
This isn’t the future I signed up for. pic.twitter.com/TmQflsCxsl
— Chris Welch (@chriswelch) March 10, 2021
The problem may have begun last summer. Reports on LG Smart TVs including ads more generally date back to late 2019. This kind of grasping, greedy monetization reflects the fact that corporations will stop at nothing to carpet-bomb consumers with ads, even when doing so degrades the customer experience. Luckily, you don’t have to put up with this. There are two basic ways to stop it.
Method 1: Stop Using ‘Smart’ TV Features
The primary purpose of your TV, from the modern manufacturer’s perspective, is to hoover up as much information about your viewing habits as possible and relay it back to the company. One way to prevent this is by refusing to connect your TV to the internet except when absolutely necessary. My LG CX 55-inch TV has been online once in the five months since I bought it. Enabling full compatibility with the Xbox Series X and getting 120fps and FreeSync operational required an OS update. Once done, I turned the Wi-Fi off and deleted the network password off the TV.
What have I lost access to as a result? Absolutely nothing. I can boot the TV and Xbox (or TV + PC) and be watching content on the service of my choice in seconds. If I want to stream services off a PC, I use the PC connected to the TV. If I want to game, I game. The TV handles PC and Xbox gaming and streaming beautifully and I have no reason to think it wouldn’t work just as seamlessly with a PS4 or PS5. I have full access to all of its internal features related to color and picture quality and absolutely zero chance of being force-fed advertising while I’m changing settings.
Method #1 is my own preferred solution to this problem, but I have no use for “smart” TVs in the first place. Not everyone feels similarly. Some people want to be able to use the features they paid for without watching a bunch of ads. If you fall into this group, you’ve got your own set of options:
Method 2: Block Ads at the Router
LG CX owners who believe their relationship with LG starts and stops at the point where you pay them money and they hand you a TV have options to block this kind of spam. This great Reddit thread details how to block adware on multiple TV brands, including those made by Samsung and LG. There’s also information on blocking ads on a Roku and Amazon’s Fire Stick. Sony and Android TVs are also covered.
There is no reason why the manufacturer of your television should be allowed to show you ads in a time, place, or manner of their choosing. Televised ads, if you recall, were once offered in very specific places — we called them “commercial breaks” — during which it was your opportunity to use the restroom, get a drink, make popcorn, or perform some other task that didn’t involve paying attention to whatever somebody wanted to sell you. Today, companies pretend that buying a $5 widget means you’ve asked to be advertised to and tracked across devices forever. You haven’t. So don’t put up with it.
LG device owners should block the following addresses at the router:
If you can’t block addresses at the router (most can, but not all), connecting to the internet through a different device as in Method #1 or using an ad-blocking bit of software like Pi-hole on a Raspberry Pi or other low-power device is also a solution.
Buying a product from a company does not automatically indicate an interest or desire to hear from the company again. It does not invite the beginning of a relationship in which one party is free to annoy the other with advertisements, any more than exchanging a friendly greeting with a stranger invites them to move into your home. I absolutely recommend the LG CX, but only if you intend to use it as a dumb display or otherwise block its advertising. I do not consider an LG CX a good deal at $1,500 if it only comes in “Mandatory LG Advertising” flavor and would require at least a $750 price cut before I’d recommend it.
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