Google TV’s “Basic” Mode Will Make Your Smart TV Dumb Again

A photo of the Basic TV setup screen on a Hisense Android TV.

Over the next two years, Google will slowly replace its standard Android TV software with the newer, smarter Google TV system. But among all of Google TV’s fancy UI elements and content curation features lies an odd little feature—a “basic TV” mode that turns your smart TV into a conventional “dumb” TV.

First discovered by 9to5Google, the new “basic TV” mode saves you from dealing with all those pesky smart features that you don’t care about. It could also come in handy when your smart TV starts to slow or grow buggy with age. We suggest using a streaming stick with smart TVs for this very reason—smart TVs just don’t have enough horsepower to run their operating systems at full speed, especially after a big update.


Like a Roku TV that hasn’t been connected to the internet, Google TVs running in “basic” mode open to a rudimentary homescreen with a dashboard button and (presumably) icons for you to choose an HDMI or OTA video source. The basic TV homescreen also shows a banner asking you to try Google TV. While it’s easy to go from “basic” mode to the standard Google TV experience, you have to perform a factory reset if you want to turn those smart features off again.

Sony and TCL plan to release the first Google TVs later this year. People who buy those TVs will have the option to use them in “basic” mode during the first setup. Of course, because there aren’t any Google TVs on the market yet, we don’t know much about the “basic TV” functionality or UI. Our friends at 9to5Google had to test “basic” mode on an ADT-3 dongle, which lacks the HDMI or coaxial inputs that are the crux of “basic TV.”

It’s possible that manufacturers will upgrade their existing Android TVs to the Google TV system. If that happens, and we hope that it does, it could save a lot of older Android TVs with lag or crashing issues from going into the dump. Either way, upcoming Google TVs from Sony and TCL look like a fantastic option for people who don’t want a smart TV.

Source: Google via 9to5Google

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

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