Green HDTVs Could Save You Lots of Green

Going green isn't just good for the environment: It's good for your pocketbook. That was the message from Samsung executives touting energy-saving technologies for next-generation HDTVs, notebooks, mobile devices, and other products.

The pitch is simple: If your HDTV consumes less power, your electrical bill goes down--and Samsung is working hard to help you pinch your power pennies.

Samsung has already incorporated one of the top new energy-saving technologies in its current HDTV lineup (and those of other major vendors): LED-backlit sets. Scott Birnbaum, vice president of Samsung's LCD business (which makes panels for displays manufactured by Samsung and others) says that LED sets can consume 40 percent less energy than comparable LCD sets. As a bonus for the environment, they contain no mercury.

LED TVs (and laptops) can save even more power by using technologies that adjust the screen's brightness as appropriate. A technology called "local dimming" analyzes images and dynamically reduces power to dark areas; Samsung uses it in the new 8500 HDTV series.

Samsung also gave reporters a preview of a newer technology called "adaptive luminance," which reduces a screen's baseline brightness but kicks the intensity up in bright spots to make them pop; the executives at the demo compared the effect to that of a lit light bulb in a dark room. Samsung originally demonstrated the technology this spring at the Society of Information Display's show, so it is probably still a year or two away from appearing in a commercial product.

Because LED panels are expensive, many consumers may still prefer to buy cheaper LCD TVs. But Samsung is working to make those sets greener by using fewer but more-efficient CCFLs (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) and redesigned display panels.

Yet another green technology on display will likely make its first appearance in phones and portable media players. Called PenTile (and in development for several years now), it involves a new pixel structure that uses fewer subpixels (the red, green, and blue components that determine the pixel's color) by adding white to the mix. Fewer subpixels translates into less power consumption in a high-resolution image--and since battery life is a big issue with mobile devices, Samsung is marketing PenTile (which works in both LED and OLED displays) to those vendors first. The prototype displays at Samsung's event were impressive indeed, but there is no word on when we'll see them in products.

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