The Quick Report

5 Reasons You’ll Regret Buying a ‘Smart’ Appliance

Advancements in AI mean smart devices are only going to become more prevalent, and smart appliances are becoming more abundant in the marketplace. Here are 5 reasons you should stick with “dumb” appliances.


5 Reasons ‘Smart’ Appliances Are a Dumb Choice

In the “Internet of Things,” it seems like every electronic device that can be made “smart” is using connectivity and AI to expand its capabilities.

But the reality is, many of these overhyped features are simply things you don’t need. For example, do you need a “smart” refrigerator to remember your grocery list, or can you just jot it down on a piece of paper?

These smart features come at a premium price, so you’re paying extra for features that don’t necessarily give you substantial benefits. 

Let’s look at five reasons to choose “dumb” appliances as long as they’re still available.

1. More Features, More Things That Can Break

The more features and components something has, the more potential things that can go wrong with it. 

In the old days of analog appliances, in terms of electronic parts, repair was often less costly. For example, you might need to replace a small part such as a capacitor or diode.

But with digital appliances, when a certain component or function stops working, often the entire motherboard has to be replaced. The cost can be substantial.


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2. More Expensive to Operate and Maintain

As already noted, the more features something has, the more it typically costs. While that’s fair, you have to consider that such devices tend to cost more to maintain as well.

Worse, sometimes they cannot be repaired at all. As previously mentioned, electronics-wise, you’re replacing an entire motherboard rather than a single electronic part. It typically costs twice the amount to repair a “smart” appliance as compared to a “dumb” one.

Further, labor rates for the repair our often higher as well due to the necessity of meeting repair technicians with both mechanical and computer electronics knowledge. Depending on the particular smart appliance you have, it may even be impossible to find someone with the knowledge to repair it.

Some manufacturers also try to discourage DIY repair, which means when smart appliances break down they sometimes need to be replaced altogether.

3. Obsolescence

Like their cousins computers and smartphones, “smart” appliances can have many of the technology-related predicaments other devices have. One of those is obsolescence.

Technology is always progressing and for a variety of reasons a company could move to a new version of a certain appliance, which makes the previous versions obsolete. Therefore, they stop making parts or servicing the old models. The company could go out of business, or shut down the division that made your appliance model.

4. Connectivity Issues

Sometimes it could be the fact that the appliance is “smart” that leads to issues. For example, some models have features that only work with an Internet connection. If you don’t have a connection, your appliance won’t work. If the chip in your device that connects the Wi-Fi fails, your appliance won’t work.

Here’s another scenario. Suppose you have a smart device that only works with older 2G and 3G networks. When those were shut down devices suddenly didn’t work. Unless the manufacturer upgrades the software that made them work, they could stop working altogether. They also can become a security risk. Because the march of technology continues, this scenario is likely to repeat in the coming years.

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5. Privacy concerns

Smart devices (appliances included) send enormous amounts of personal data to manufacturers. For example, Consumer Reports found that common smart kitchen appliances were sending up to 19 megabytes of data back to their manufacturer every week.

Although some of the data undoubtedly is related to the operation and function of the appliances, all of it isn’t. Some of that data informs the manufacturer about your habits. Manufacturers use your personal data for their own purposes and/or sell it to third parties. This information is used to send you targeted advertising.

The bottom line concern here is that users have no idea what is being tracked and transmitted. There’s no accounting of what your data is actually used for. It’s easily arguable that the benefit to you is minimal.

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