The folks at UK's #LiveInstall tweeted yesterday that Samsung's latest update (v1160) for Internet-connected TVs is a dog. Reportedly, the update has rendered some Samsung TVs unable to communicate via HDBaseT, meaning HDMI sources connected to HDBaseT switchers or extenders can't be played.
The affected TVs go dark.
The new software is said to have “serious incompatibility issues with the HDBaseT chipsets used in most HDMI over CAT5/6 distribution products,” the Tweet said. “This software version was released on 25th January but may not have been downloaded/installed by many TVs yet.”
The warning: Shut off auto-update immediately on web-connected Samsung displays, notably the new 6000, 7000 and 8000 series.
The message continues:
This update from Samsung at present seems to render all of the HDMI inputs on these TVs unable to connect to or receive a picture from any devices utilising the HDBaseT chipset which includes video matrices, exteder kids and spliiters.”
HDBaseT is a widely used technology from Valens Semiconductor that extends HDMI signals over long distances of Category 5+ (Ethernet) cables.
The initial #LiveInstall Tweet was inspired by Blustream, a UK-based maker of HDBaseT switchers.
— #LiveInstall (@LiveInstall) January 31, 2017
False Alarm or a Real 'Thing'?
At this point, it's hard to tell who has been affected by this allegedly bad Samsung update. Commenting on Twitter, some dealers say they've seen issues since the update; others report no problems.
Chris Pinder, founder of the A/V switching company HDanywhere tweeted, “confirmed” on the disruption.
The HDBaseT Alliance posted, “Not aware of probs. w/ Samsung – checking, will update.”
UK-based integrator Electric Orange mentions at least one customer affected by the update:
Just asked my customer to turn off auto updates. And it looks like it's too late. TV not working!
— Electric Orange (@elecorange) January 31, 2017
Several folks have commented that video works fine in 1080p, but fails in 4K mode.
— Nick (@Cooperboy76) February 1, 2017
Nick's assessment above seems to resonate with other dealers and vendors, who suggest down-rezzing to 1080p for now.
Multiple parties seem to be reaching out to Samsung, which hasn't commented publicly on this alleged snafu. CE Pro is reaching out as well.
Blustream principal Phil Davis tells CE Pro this is not a false alarm: “We are pretty certain of the issue and hear Samsung are working on a fix. We have dealers with basic point to point kits that are working. No one is certain of the exact problem but we know the latest firmware on the TVs has knocked out HDBaseT compatibility.”
The company issued this alert to dealers:
The Samsung firmware update effects 6, 7 and 8 series screens. On majority of Samsung screens they are shipped with ‘Auto Update’ active, meaning that as long as the screens have internet access they will update to this firmware version and then cease to work. It is strongly advised that the auto update feature is turned off from within the settings menu in the Samsung screen. Please see below screen shot of the auto update feature within an 8 series screen.
Software update (version 1160) for Samsung TV's has just been discovered to have serious incompatibility issues with the HDBaseT chipsets used in most HDMI over CAT5/6 distribution products. This software version was released on the 25th of January 2017. The software release was issued to their 6000, 7000 and 8000 series TV's.
This update from Samsung at present seems to render all of the HDMI inputs on these TVs unable to connect to or receive a picture from any devices utilizing the HDBaseT chipset which includes video matrices, extender kits and splitters. This will obviously affect many manufacturers including Wyrestorm, CYP, Blustream, HDAnywhere etc.
If you have any affected customers please follow these steps:
1. Switch off your Samsung TV
2. Switch off your broadband router to prevent the TV from connecting to the internet when it's turned on
3. Switch the TV back on again
4. Follow the excerpt from the user manual in the attached file to navigate to the Auto Update settings and set this function to ‘Off’
5. Exit the setting menu on the TV
6. Turn on your broadband router again to re-enable your internet services
It’s also worth noting that having read the manual for the 7000 series TVs it states that the Auto Update function is automatically enabled when you accept all the Smart Hub T&Cs during the TV setup process, so even if you think you have not enabled this function it probably will be anyway.
How Does Something Like This Happen?
“It's an HDCP timing issue,” says Martin Ellis, principal of the HDMI switching company Pulse Eight, and a long-time member of HDMI standards boards.
Samsung's disruptive update is not unlike others that affect HDCP timing, thereby crippling video distribution.
“It affects non-HDBT products also,” he says. “In the UK, connecting Sky directly into the TV can cause it to happen every so often.”
LG has “HDBT issue that threw us,” Ellis adds. “Their 2016 models don't work with HDBT and we have to use a workaround.”
Assuming Samsung “caused” this TV fiasco, the company could roll out a fix, says Ellis, “but obviously it's not great for the end customer, and they will blame the A/V installer.”
Meanwhile, Pulse Eight is looking more deeply into the Samsung issue — the company has 6000 and 7000 Series TVs in the lab — but Ellis does not believe the issue is a universal phenomenon.
In any case, “I'm happy to go on record saying that we are not affected by the issue in version 2.3+ of our software.”
Ellis says he knew about the potential Samsung problem “and we pro-actively fixed the issue on our end last week and a silent update went out to our customers.”
He adds, “Because we can hotfix stuff (such as fixing HDCP timings) in our kit in hours, the moment someone mentioned it to us, we sorted it and silently fixed it, not thinking anything of it.”
Meanwhile, CE Pro has reached out to other vendors to share their experiences.
“My advice is that if you are installing a managed system, then make sure you manage all aspects of the install. Disable auto-updating features of products you cannot remotely manage,” Ellis says. “Leaving things to auto-update when you (the installer) have no control of it could be terminal for a relationship or leave you seriously out of pocket.”
Ellis notes there are numerous network-monitoring services that provide insight into the health of networks and connected devices.
“Sadly,” he laments, “often all they can do is monitor, because the manufacturer doesn’t expose a management interface. If all vendors followed our mantra of giving the installer ultimate control then this industry could avoid these damaging updates.”
That begs the question: Should installers even connect “smart” TVs to the network in the first place?
Responding to the Samsung thing, dealers on RemoteCentral.com are disussing that topic. One integrator comments:
You can't really win if the TVs are connected to the [network] after you successfully configure things. LG has problematic firmware as well that broke HDBaseT. Sony breaks IP control nearly every release and even when it does work not all functions are 100%. Yet another reason I never want a TV on the [network]. Want streaming devices?…use a Roku, Fire, AppeTV.
The merits of connecting include IP control from home-automation systems; integration with third-party services such as Amazon Alexa; and better-quality streaming through TV-based apps.
CE Pro will keep you posted! Please share your experiences in the comments section below.