Samsung's Volkswagen moment? Some of its TVs suspected of cheating power efficiency tests
Diesels, now TVs?Samsung likes to brag about its 'smart' televisions. Well, maybe they're a little too smart for their own good. Drawing an uncomfortable parallel with Volkswagen's emission rigging scheme, the European Commission is now investigating the South-Korean company to figure out whether its televisions' are designed to modify their power consumption when they detect that they are being tested for energy efficiency. This alleged fraud has been uncovered by independent labs, once again.
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Samsung denies the charges:
Samsung strongly denies that its TVs’ “motion lighting” feature is designed to fool official energy efficiency tests or that it constitutes a defeat device. The company says it reduces screen brightness in response to numerous types of real-world content including fast-moving action movies and sports and slower moving footage such as weather reports - not just during test conditions.
“There is no comparison [between motion lighting and VW defeat devices],” a Samsung spokesman said. “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.” (source)
This sounds like a plausible defense, except that the lab who tested the TVs found that this power-saving feature activated during testing under international electrotechnical commission (IEC) test conditions, but not under real-world viewing conditions. Oops.
This means that someone buying this TV because they saw low-power consumption - and a lower electricity bill - advertised on the box or somewhere else won't actually be getting what they think they're buying.
I'll be keeping an eye on the results of this investigation. I wonder how many more products are designed to cheat pollution and energy-efficiency tests... What a world we live in.