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Low Power Marketing Hype – And What They Don’t Tell You

Comments(0)Filed under: green, thermal, low-power, low power, system power, low-power design, Thanksgiving, SmartPower, LCD, low temperature, HDTV, LED, Black Friday, reliability

Here in the USA, we're just back from the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, I got caught up in "Black Friday," which is the day after Thanksgiving, and one of the biggest shopping days of the year, especially for consumer electronics. I'm afraid to say I was convinced enough by some compelling advertising for Black Friday sales to brave the crowds to get a new large-screen HDTV. Doing some minimal research, I had decided I wanted a new "LED" TV -- which is a term that causes some confusion, leading some to think that the LCD screen has somehow been replaced by an array of tiny LEDs. Not the case -- it's an LCD screen with LEDs used for backlighting in place of the older Cold Cathode (CCFL) method. The claims of greater contrast and more even screen were borne out by what I measured in the store with my carefully calibrated instrumentation (mark 1 eyeball).

But since this is a low power blog, what I found really interesting was the degree to which the leading manufacturers marketed the low power aspects of their products. LED TVs do indeed have better power consumption than CCFL LCD. But the "SmartPower" technologies and comparisons of annual electricity costs for the models were prominently touted, with both green and economic benefits stressed.

However, it occurred to me that maybe the largest benefit of low power in consumer electronics is not marketed. Lower power means lower operating temperature which means typically much greater reliability. Engineers who have ever been involved with burn-in testing (or at least those who know what a bath-tub curve is) know this to be true, and probably, we've all had equipment fail at home. I still regularly find the need to clear out DVD covers and other stuff the kids have left that blocks the airflow to my DVR before that fails - again! Why isn't this marketed as an advantage? Maybe because that would involve admitting how poor the failure rates are on so many other models that don't have these smart power features.

I'd be interested to hear about any experiences out there with your electronics!

Pete Hardee

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