Samsung denies accusations it cheated in TV lab tests


Samsung has denied recent claims its TVs have been built to cheat at tests following allegations that Volkswagen-style "Defeat Devices" could have been used to fool regulators about environmental standards.

The claims, which were made in The Guardian this morning, suggested the South Korean firm's televisions used a feature called "Motion Lighting" to reduce power consumption during lab tests in a way that would never happen in real life, therefore giving a false indication about how much power one can expect it to consume.

Writing on the company's corporate blog, Samsung Tomorrow, the company strongly denied that it was attempting to trick test results - and that Motion Lighting was a normal part of TV operation.

It said: "It is a standard out-of-the-box feature, which is switched on when the customer takes delivery of their TV, and remains on whenever the customer chooses to watch their TV in Standard viewing mode."

Power balance

The way Motion Lighting works is that when there is a lot of action happening on screen, such as during an action scene or a sports match, the brightness will be reduced automatically, to help keep power consumption low. The feature has been standard in all Samsung TVs since 2011, and can be switched off by viewers if they want to watch safe in the knowledge they too can participate in slightly killing the planet a little more than is necessary.

The problem, according to the Guardian, is this feature only tends to activate during lab tests when TVs are made to show fast sequences of different material from different sources (such as DVDs, live broadcast and so on), presumably to such an extent that channel-hopping like that in real life would be unrealistic.

Could engineers have designed the TVs so that if they detect usage similar to what would occur in a test then Motion Lighting would kick in when it otherwise wouldn't?

Research was carried by an EU-funded group called ComplianTV back in February, which published a report stating the following:

"The laboratories observed different TV behaviours 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."

Samsung says that it "firmly rejects" any allegations, and while there is no suggestion the company has broken the law, Complian project manager Rudolf Heinz told the Guardian that "Samsung is meeting the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law".

Apparently the European Commission has now said it plans to outlaw "defeat devices", and will be investigating any allegations.