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Are Samsung TVs doing a Volkswagen in energy tests? Koreans hit back

Motion Lighting mode is a feature, not a cheat, says biz

Samsung has responded quickly to claims that its televisions were designed to cheat in official power consumption tests.

Independent European testing lab ComplianTV has claimed that some of Samsung's televisions degrade their performance and lower the brightness of the screen during standard IEC testing, and then return to normal for real-world use. This allows the sets to earn a far better energy-use sticker than they deserve, it is alleged.

The as-yet unpublished research fingers the "Motion Lighting" setting as the culprit. Specifically, when a particular video that's part of an IEC test suite is played, the TV flicks into Motion Lighting mode that conveniently lowers power consumption, we're told.

The South Koreans argue this is totally normal: motion lighting kicks in when high-speed motion is displayed on the TV screen, and effectively lowers the brightness.

"Samsung is meeting the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law," alleged Rudolf Heinz, the project manager of ComplianTV's product lab on Thursday.

In the wake of the Volkswagen defeat device scandal, which is still rolling on, there's a lot of heat on manufacturers and whether or not their gear passes tests by cheating. Samsung said ComplianTV's claims are rubbish.

"Motion lighting is not a setting that only activates during compliance testing. On the contrary, it is a default setting which works both in the lab and at home; delivering energy savings and helping us to reduce our environmental impact," Samsung said in a blog post on Thursday.

"Motion lighting was introduced in 2011 across all our TVs as part of a range of features we have developed to help reduce the environmental impact of our TV technology. We are immensely proud of these technologies and look forward to innovating further in this area."

Several European countries have expressed concerns that testing mechanisms are being subverted – especially when manufacturers run the examinations themselves.

"The Swedish Energy Agency's Testlab has come across televisions that clearly recognize the standard film (IEC) used for testing," the Swedish Energy Agency told the European Community earlier this year.

"These displays immediately lower their energy use by adjusting the brightness of the display when the standard film is being run. This is a way of avoiding the market surveillance authorities and should be addressed by the commission." ®

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