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Samsung denies using software to cheat TV energy efficiency tests

An independent research group has claimed that Samsung TVs showed higher energy consumption in real-world situations than in lab tests. According to a report from The Guardian, the EU-funded ComplianTV says that a feature named "motion lighting" dimmed the brightness on Samsung TVs, "[raising] the possibility of the TVs detecting a test procedure and adapting their power consumption accordingly." Samsung, however, has denied that it's cheating EU compliance tests, claiming that the software is a standard "out-of-the-box" feature used on all its TVs. The company also rejected comparisons with the recent Volkswagen scandal, in which the carmaker used software to foil emissions tests for some 11 million cars.

"Samsung is meeting the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law."

"Motion lighting is not a setting that only activates during compliance testing," said Samsung in a blog post. "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." However, the company acknowledges that not everyone will watch TV with "motion lighting" engaged. "If the customer chooses to alter their display settings or switch to a different mode then the feature switches off, which gives our customers a simple choice of whether they choose to prioritize power efficiency or performance in their TV." The project manager of ComplianTV's product lab told The Guardian: "Samsung is meeting the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law."

The research group's paper is currently unpublished, making it difficult to judge the fairness of their tests. However, reports suggest that this sort of cheating is not uncommon for TV manufacturers. A letter from the Swedish Energy Agency to the European Commission excerpted by The Guardian states that the country's compliance testers have encountered TVs that recognized the test films and adjusted the power output accordingly. "These displays immediately lower their energy use by adjusting the brightness of the display when the standard film is being run," said the letter. "This is a way of avoiding the market surveillance authorities and should be addressed by the Commission." The Commission has said that it is investigating these claims.