Samsung TVs Reportedly Use Less Power in Efficiency Tests Than in Real Life

Illustration for article titled Samsung TVs Reportedly Use Less Power in Efficiency Tests Than in Real Life

A series of tests by EU-funded research group ComplianTV suggest that Samsung TVs use more power in real-life conditions than they do when undergoing efficiency tests.


Some Samsung TVs feature a ‘motion lighting’ feature that’s supposed to reduce brightness, and thus power consumption, when fast video motion is detected. But, as The Guardian reports, the EU study showed that, while the feature kicks in during international electrotechnical commission (IEC) test conditions, in a day-to-day setting no such power reductions are observed.

While ComplainTV had published anonymized findings earlier this year, more detail was provided at a Royal Society event earlier this week. While there’s no evidence that Samsung has been acting illegally, The Guardian has approached the European commission, which has now “pledged to outlaw the use of defeat devices within the bloc’s TV ecodesign regulations, and said that any allegations of their use would be fully investigated.”


Comparisons with Volkswagen’s practices are, perhaps, inevitable. A Samsung spokesperson told The Guardian:

“There is no comparison [between motion lighting and VW defeat devices]. This is not a setting that only activates during compliance testing. On the contrary, it is an ‘out of the box’ setting, which reduces power whenever video motion is detected. Not only that, the content used for testing energy consumption has been designed by the International Electrotechnical commission to best model actual average picture level internationally.”

You might think a smattering of TVs using more energy than expected may not bring the Earth to its knees, but it’s estimated that televisions consume up to 10 percent of a household’s electricity use. Certainly, it’s been enough for a number of EU states — including Sweden and the UK — to complain. Could this be the start of TVgate?


Image by Maurizio Pesce under Creative Commons license


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allan jones

‘we’re going to tell you how we’ll test so you can score well on the test.’

‘what d’you mean, they only do the work necessary to make it pass the test?’

pure stupidity on the part of the testers - if you have a test that isn’t real life usage, then of *course* manufacturers will build to perform well on that test (because you made it law to perform well, too, didn’t you? of course you did). and this doesn’t just apply here - it’ll apply to car emissions, tv power, cpu performance, video cards, children’s education - anything that uses a standardised test will ultimately be optimised to pass that test - especially when your score will be used as a measure against the competition by customers.

your real-world viewing never happens to trigger that particular bit of software? that’s a shame. the test does, though. that’s what we’re obliged to build against as that’s what we’ve been told is, in fact, the average usage. so, basically, you’re using it wrong.

imo, the real problem here is with a test that doesn’t match real world usage, rather than the manufacturer ‘gaming’ the test.