@Bert, i know this is one of your pet peeves and I do agree when you said: A smart TV should be a "thin client," at least.
But no TV manufacturer that I know of are willing to make that leap of faith -- devaluing their own products (by NOT adding features) and assuming that consumers wil figure it out in connecting a TV to a PC.
There is defintiely a shift underway these days in the way people consume TV. The days of watching cable with advertisements and all seem to be more or less over. It depednds on what kind of TV viewer you are, I suppose. But the internet, and the range of options--including on Demand and TIvo which have made people used to not getting their television experience the old-fashioned way--have trained us for something else. Now it's only newscasts, as you say, and sporting events which go on live or almost live, so that the timing is important. Otherwise, people prefer to consume their television shows at their own pace and generally don't want to bother with the old ways of watching television.
Ever since 2010, I've had the smartest LG TV ever. How? Simple. Connect a PC to the LG TV. Use a remote mouse, sitting on the couch next to me, to navigate TV sites and launch TV programs (mostly on demand, but some sites also offer some live streams).
What could be easier?
With people so web-savvy these days, with their tablets and smartphones, I continue to be baffled that this smart TV concept is made to sound so intractible. A smart TV should be a "thin client," at least. A web browser. Connected via Ethernet or WiFi, to the home's broadband router. And the TV manufacturers should not feel obliged to also provide the TV web service (in fact, please do not). There are plenty of TV portals out there already.
I hardly ever need to use my PVR anymore, and mostly I watch live TV for newscasts only. So Internet TV works, and it's no more difficult to use than a PC for shopping on the web.