Samsung TVs may be using energy efficiency ‘defeat devices’

© Steve Marcus
Did Samsung peek at VW's cheat notes? Recent tests by an EU-funded research group suggest some Samsung TVs in Europe have higher energy consumption rates in real-life conditions than during testing.

The so-called ‘motion lighting’ feature reduces the TV set brightness and power consumption while undergoing International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) tests. However, an unpublished report from ComplianTV showed that no reduction in power consumption has been registered under real-world viewing conditions, according to the Guardian.

The world’s biggest TV manufacturer strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying it reduced screen brightness not just during test conditions but also while translating fast-moving action movies, sports and slower moving footage such as weather reports.

“The laboratories observed different TV behaviors during the measurements and this raised the possibility of the TV’s detecting a test procedure and adapting their power consumption accordingly. Such phenomenon was not proven within the ComplianTV tests, but some tested TVs gave the impression that they detected a test situation,” a February report from ComplianTV said. It did not name Samsung then.

The European Commission is investigating any indications of cheating and has promised to tighten energy efficiency regulations to find the so-called “defeat devices” used in TVs or other consumer products.

The issue of test cheating by global manufacturers is at the fore. Last month, it was revealed automaker Volkswagen had pollution control cheating software installed. The company admitted selling 11 million cars worldwide which manipulated emission test results.

“There is no comparison [between motion lighting and VW cheat devices],” a Samsung spokesman was cited as saying. “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.”