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Samsung may be about to Have it’s Own Volkswagen Scandal

Independent lab tests have found that some Samsung TVs in Europe appear to use less energy during official testing conditions than they do during real-world use, raising questions about whether they are set up to game energy efficiency tests.

The European commission says it will investigate any allegations of cheating the tests and has pledged to tighten energy efficiency regulations to outlaw the use of so-called “defeat devices” in TVs or other consumer products, after several EU states raised similar concerns.

The apparent discrepancy between real-world and test performance of the TVs is reminiscent of the VW scandal that originated in the US last week. The car company has admitted fitting software to 11m diesel vehicles worldwide which meant the cars produced less pollution during testing than real-world driving.

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.

The apparent differences came to light in unpublished lab tests by an EU-funded research group called ComplianTV which recorded consistently higher energy consumption rates for the company’s models in real-world situations than in official test conditions.

The lab studies found that Samsung’s ‘motion lighting’ feature reduced the TV sets’ brightness – and power consumption – under international electrotechnical commission (IEC) test conditions. These involve the playback of fast sequences of varied material, such as recorded TV shows, DVDs and live broadcasts.

There is no suggestion that Samsung, the world’s biggest TV manufacturer, behaved illegally, although energy efficiency campaigners claim that EU testing procedures are overly generous.

In response to a Guardian inquiry, the European commission pledged to outlaw the use of defeat devices within the bloc’s TV ecodesign regulations, and said that any allegations of their use would be fully investigated.

Several EU states have already complained about the problem, including the Swedish Energy Agency in a letter to the European commission earlier this year.