Appliances like washing machines or televisions risk losing features and functionality or posing a security risk after just two years as manufacturers fail to provide vital tech updates.
Consumer body Which? looked at popular smart TVs, dishwashers, washing machines, smartphones, inkjet printers, smartwatches and fitness trackers and found that hardly any brands even came close to matching their expected lifespan with their smart update policies.
For example, smart dishwashers cost almost £300 more upfront, on average, than traditional ones (an average of £746 versus an average of £455). Smart models offer remote control using an app – so people can start, pause and stop their washes using their smartphone, tablet, Alexa or Google Assistant. The app can determine the most suitable programme for dishes and choose wash cycles that are water and energy efficient.
However, these smart features are jeopardised when the product loses software support from the manufacturer, and the risk of online hacking also increases. LG dishwashers could lose support just two years after launch despite the estimated lifetime of dishwashers being 13 years.
LG’s smart TVs and washing machines similarly only have guaranteed support for just two years after launch. That is despite the estimated lifetimes for TVs and washing machines being nearly seven years and 11 years respectively. LG told Which? that its TVs might get up to five years of support for critical security vulnerabilities.
Which? also found that Sony only offers guaranteed support of its smart TVs for two years from launch, while for Samsung’s smart TVs it is three years. HP guarantees support for its smart printers for just three years, even though the estimated lifetime for inkjet printers is 13 years.
Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “It’s unfair for manufacturers to sell expensive products that should last for many years and then abandon them. This means the product could lose the features that justified the hefty price tag and potentially create a security risk or add to the electrical waste mountain if it has to be replaced.
“Manufacturers must up their game and provide vital tech updates for their smart products for longer, otherwise the government should consider further intervention in this area, including specifying a minimum number of years that these products have to be supported for.”
Which? approached 119 brands about hundreds of smart device products, across 20 different categories, and, as of November 2022, only half (49%) had replied with clear information on support periods. Big-name brands, including AEG, Apple, Epson, Hoover and Whirlpool, failed to respond with guaranteed update support periods.
Some companies such as Hisense, which supports smart TVs for 10 years, and Miele, which supports smart dishwashers and washing machines for 10 years.
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