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TV industry gets its own 'dieselgate' over 'leccy consumption tests

Software that detects government tests, where have we heard that before?

The idiot box is smarter than it seems: a spat has broken out between America's Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Consumer Technology Association about the energy consumption of televisions.

The NRDC reckons TV makers are configuring sets to perform well on government tests, while in the living room they become energy hogs.

Its specific claims are:

  • The TVs perform well on the US Department of Energy-mandated energy use test – but that's based on a clip that doesn't match real-world video content (that seems like a slip-up by the DoE to El Reg);
  • TVs from Samsung, LG and Vizio are designed to disable energy-saving features if the user changes their screen settings, but there's little or no warning about this. This, the NRDC says, can as much as double the power consumption; and
  • UHD TVs turn into energy hogs when they're playing high dynamic range (HDR) content, but HDR isn't included in the DOE's test (again, surely that means the DOE needs to update its tests?).

The NRDC says European testing seemed to match another observation it made: that during the DOE test loop, some TVs seemed to exhibit “inexplicable and sustained drops in energy use”. It suggests that software is specifically detecting the test loop and adjusting the TV's performance to suit.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) isn't happy. It's issued a canned statement condemning the NRDC's “war on the TV industry” and saying the test is the result of a “personal vendetta by NRDC's so-called scientists.”

The CTA does, however, seem to acknowledge that users' screen settings do drive up power consumption: “The TV settings used in the energy efficiency testing processes can be and are used in the real world, unless consumers want a different viewing experience”, it states. ®

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