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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LCD screen has somehow been replaced by an array of tiny LEDs.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.