Many of those 'step up' features that are usually turned off anyway (or should be) are blocked out in the firmware for the less expensive models. The features are there, but not enabled.
It's called marketing. Same guts, different models.
Free, abundant OTA television separates this country from many others. ATSC1 has only been in force since 2009. The wireless industry has enough spectrum. Enough of 'planned obsolesce'.