Why Does my TV Have a USB Port?

If you own a relatively current flat screen and have ever plugged things into the back of it you've probably noticed a USB port amongst the other plethora of plug-ins. Now why the heck does your TV have a USB port? Well, we accidentally found out and it's blown our mind thinking about the possibilities.

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While sleuthing around online for a solution for our Samsung LCD's muddled visuals (more on that in another post) we discovered that our TV had, not one, but two firmware updates since it was released. What? Our TV has firmware?

We know, we know. "You write about gadgets and you didn't know your TV has firmware?" Let us clarify. We know TVs have firmware, but it never occurred to us to check if our TV needed updating. Not wanting to be too behind the times (the update was from February 2008 after all) we got to work.

This specific update was said to correct, "Intermittent red blur when watching moving picture." The procedure was pretty simple: download zipped file, unzip it using Windows, drop the expanded folder on a USB memory stick, plug the memory stick into the port on the side or back of your flat screen and follow the onscreen instructions. Your TV restarts and you can only hope the mysterious red ghost has been exorcised.

While our first foray into the world of televised firmwares was relatively uneventful -- update 1006.1 has yet to change our viewing experience -- it did make us hopeful of what firmware in televisions, and making it easily updatable, could mean. As we all move towards using TVs with both traditional programming, as well as the web and video games, our TVs have a chance of advancing along with the software it currently displays.'

Whether or not manufacturers use firmware as an opportunity to improve their customer's long term experience with their products is up in the air, but we hope they consider it.