Today, as a public service, a Consumer Alert
Let me set the stage:
Brought home a new 55’ Samsung Smart TV … very excited.
Late afternoon … plugged it in … fired it it up.
Picture looked fine … facsimile below left.
After a couple of minutes, the picture began to get dimmer & dimmer … facsimile below right.
No problem, just fiddle with the picture settings, right?
Not that simple, my friends … much more to the story.
Tried lots of combinations of backlight intensity, brightness, etc.
Looking good … saved settings … couple minutes later, picture dimmed down.
What the hell?
Took a break, ate dinner, tried round 2 of settings’ fiddling.
Got a picture I liked… hit save … expecting the picture to fade.
No fade … clean crisp picture stayed on the screen for the rest of the evening.
I finally hit the magic combo of picture settings, right?
Well, not really …
The next morning I told my wife to come look … I had broken the code.
Turned on the TV … nice picture … which immediately started to dim to an unacceptable picture.
Not to worry … bought it at Costco … they’re great with returns.
Before loading the car, I Googled “my samsung tv dims what’s going on”.
Low expectations …. but got a hit.
The first line answer: Samsung Smart TV’s now have a “feature” called an “Eco-Sensor”.
Seriously, has anybody ever heard of an Eco-Sensor?
The factory’s default setting automatically turns on the Eco-Sensor … without warning, I might note.
What does the does the Eco-Sensor do?
In essence, it gauges the ambient lighting hitting the TV and, to reduce energy consumption, it automatically dims the picture in daylight and only allows it to match your picture settings after sundown … unless you turn on a bunch of lights … in which case, your picture settings are over-ruled and you get the eco-appropriate dimmed picture.
That’s why I was getting different picture quality in the evening (my settings) and a crappy picture during the day (the Eco-Sensor’s settings).
I was pointed to page 94 of the Owner’s manual under “Using Energy Saving Features”:
“The Eco- Sensor automatically adjusts the TV’s brightness level based on the ambient light level to reduce the TV’s power consumption. When the Eco Sensor is set to On, the screen is darker than usual.”
The good news: all I had to do was go to was drill down 3 or 4 levels on the settings … MENU > System > Eco Solution > Eco Sensor … and turn the damn setting from the default value(“on”) … to the “normal” setting (“off”) …. and my picture settings held – night and day.
I got the TV working at a significant personal cost … all said and done, I burned about a half-day of my life getting the “Smart” TV to behave remedially smart.
I came within a minute-or-two of hauling the TV back to a Costco for a cheerful refund.
I wonder how many of these TVs end up on a junk heap… just because of this auto-set feature?
My hunch … lots.
Then I wonder, how much energy is wasted making a TV … shipping it from Asia to to my local Costco … then handling the “reverse logistics ‘ from consumer to Costco to the junk heap … then melting it down.
My hunch: way more energy then is saved by dimming a good TV picture down to a crappy picture.
My view: Samsung should round up the engineers who designed the Eco Sensor … and, especially, the moron who decided to set the default to “on” … and encourage them to “do the right thing”