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MELTDOWN: Samsung, Sony not-so-smart TVs go titsup for TWO days

Sets can't reach the internet, turned into dumb boxes

Samsung UHD SmartTV

Samsung smart TVs have been turned into dumb goggle boxes for the past two days – after the devices have been unable use the internet. Coincidently, Sony smart TVs are also having troubles using the web.

A Samsung spokesperson told The Register it is investigating reports that some of its web-connected tellies and Blu-Ray players are unable to stream video from YouTube, iPlayer, Netflix and other sites. The issue appears to affect Samsung D and E series TVs worldwide.

The televisions' Smart Hub software, which helps people find stuff to watch and apps to use, is refusing to work – in fact, any software on the sets that tries to use the internet just simply won't work, Reg readers have told us.

The South Korean electronics giant, already in hot water over its snooping living-room hardware, added in a statement:

Samsung is aware that some consumers have reported challenges when trying to connect their Smart TVs to the Smart Hub. We are investigating the matter, and are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

We've been trying to figure out what on Earth has gone wrong, and it appears to be a weird issue with DNS and servers. We know that Samsung TVs contact www.samsung.com to check that they have a working internet connection. For one reason or another, the sets can't reach that server, and incorrectly figure the internet connection is down. At that point, apps trying to use the web are blocked.

But www.samsung.com is up and running, and resolves through various aliases to 23.67.135.46:

$ host www.samsung.com
www.samsung.com is an alias for www.samsung.com.edgekey.net.
www.samsung.com.edgekey.net is an alias for www.samsung.com.akadns.net.
www.samsung.com.akadns.net is an alias for china-www.samsung.com.edgekey.net.
china-www.samsung.com.edgekey.net is an alias for china-www.samsung.com.edgekey.net.globalredir.akadns.net.
china-www.samsung.com.edgekey.net.globalredir.akadns.net is an alias for e1722.g.akamaiedge.net.
e1722.g.akamaiedge.net has address 23.67.135.46

It appears the TVs' firmware can't resolve www.samsung.com to that IP address, or isn't happy with it; perhaps the firmware can't handle the aliases or stops after the first one, or rejects the IP address or the server on the other end – it's not clear at this stage.

What we do know is that the firmware next tries to use ns11.whois.co.kr to resolve www.samsung.com, but that system refuses to look up the dot-com domain. Another dead end. That's the point where the TV gives up.

According to sleuths commenting on the outage, the TVs expect to talk to a machine with the IP address 23.66.247.46 to confirm they have a working internet connection. So here are your solutions:

  • Set up a custom DNS nameserver on your network, and configure it to resolve www.samsung.com to 23.66.247.46. Then go into your TV's settings, and configure the set to use your custom server's IP address as a DNS nameserver. Reboot the box, and it should work.
  • If you're running GNU/Linux (such as OpenWRT) and a caching nameserver on your home router, you can run dnsmasq --address=/www.samsung.com/23.66.247.46 on your router to easily set up a working alias. Make sure your TV is configured to use your router as its DNS nameserver, reboot and it should be fine.
  • If you're really desperate, someone has done the above for you on a temporary virtual machine. If you're willing to trust a random stranger, and we think you shouldn't, configure your TV settings to use the DNS nameserver 151.80.14.237. Reboot the box, and it should work.
  • Wait for Samsung to fix the problem.

According to Reg readers, this outage has been ongoing for a couple of days now: although the TVs work as normal with broadcast signals, they are locked out of Netflix and other stuff that requires an internet connection.

Samsung outage map

isitdownorjust.me's map of affected Samsung TVs

Matt Birtwhistle in the UK told us the cockup has crippled his Samsung set since Tuesday evening. "I reckon 90 per cent of my viewing is internet-based so you can imagine I'm quite hacked off with the situation," he said.

"The extra cash I shelled out for a 'smart' tv isn't looking like money well spent."

A fellow Reg UK reader added that, like Birtwhistle, he has been unable to get into the service for two days now with his Samsung smart TV.

"I have a Samsung E series TV and a Blu-Ray player with the Smart Hub as well, and neither of them work," he wrote in. "Samsung have made the diagnostic pages make it look like its a problem with one's internet connection, but it isn't."

"An outage this big for this long is unacceptable," thundered Mark King in Canada.

"There needs to be redundancy in place to allow users to bypass this BS. I'm furious: all of the services that we pay for we cannot access through our 'Smart' TVs. Thanks a bunch, Samsung."

Sony's not my homie

Where Sony's smart TV outage fits in with this, we don't know at this stage – it appears to be a coincidence. Since Tuesday, users have complained they haven't been able to stream video across the web.

The Japanese giant's support forums reveals punters are frustrated with the downtime.

Thus far, Sony has yet to respond to a request for comment, though moderators in the support forum have been telling users to perform a factory reset on their sets should they be unable to access internet services. ®

Updated to add on February 27

Samsung has told us the TVs should be working again.

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