Did a Recent Roku Update Dump on TCL and Hisense TVs

Writer William Joel at The Verge spent the 4th of July celebrations writing about a frustrating issue with his TCL TV after a recent Roku OS update to version 13.0.0. Apparently, the update introduced a feature called Roku Smart Picture, which is supposed to dynamically improves picture quality but inadvertently enabled motion smoothing, a feature disliked by many TV and film purists because it makes everything look like it was shot on a cheap video camera with bad lighting and make up.

And, despite trying various settings, apparentl Joel and many other Roku TV owners with TCL and Hisense models found no way to disable the motion smoothing. The issue sparked numerous complaints on Roku’s community forum and Reddit, but Roku has not responded to requests for comment or provided a solution, leaving users exasperated.

This issue isn’t new; a similar problem occurred in 2020 with different TCL TVs and remained unresolved for years. Given the history and current lack of resolution, Joel expresses doubt that the problem will be fixed soon and is considering buying a different TV, potentially one that doesn’t require internet connectivity.

Movies and TV shows are usually filmed at 24 or 30 frames per second (fps), giving them that classic cinematic vibe. Motion smoothing, or “action smoothing,” is a TV feature that ups the frame rate of what you’re watching by adding extra frames between the originals, often pushing it to 60 fps or more.

This feature can be great for streaming fast-paced content like sports or action movies, making the motion look smoother and sharper. But not everyone loves it. Some people say it creates a weird “soap opera effect,” making everything look too smooth and losing that original movie feel. Plus, motion smoothing can sometimes introduce visual glitches and distortions, messing with the picture quality. Filmmakers often prefer the traditional frame rates to keep their work’s intended look and feel intact. I mean, don’t take my word for it, here’s the world’s biggest movie star telling you how it is.

The Interesting thing about all this is that it isn’t actually a TCL or Hisense TV issue but it seems like it got to be one. I don’t know what’s up with Roku but the internet is not happy with its support and seems to be leaning towards the company being tone deaf. Motion smoothing, the soap opera effect, sucks. There is no other way to put it. While the theoretical underpinnings of its application may make sense to the tech crew, it reduces your viewing experience to zero for films and TV shows.

A word of wisdom to the people who keep making this stuff and shoving it down our throats, we don’t watch TV because we want reality. It’s like the complete opposite. We don’t need photorealism or immersive environments, and every color under the rainbow. We want to get lost somewhere else, somewhere magical where everyone looks great and we can’t see the same thing by looking out of our window or going for a walk. That goes for color, lighting, and film stock.

Why don’t you come up with a standard for sports broadcasting that triggers motion smoothing in only those instances where it is streamed. Something like that, and leave films and TV shows alone. I feel bad for TCL and Hisense, but what they are going to do? I don’t think they have much in the way of support to offer, either.