The “City Hideout”

Big-screen televisions: The new SUVs

Are big-screen televisions the new SUVs? Researchers at National Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, recently conducted a fascinating experiment: They ran a two-minute clip of Shrek on a whole range of TVs, from small analog ones to massive, table-top-sized high-definition sets, while measuring the power usage. The result? The new big boys chew more than twice the energy of the old-school TVs — check out the chart above. Interestingly, high-definition images require more power for their increased picture quality.

While energy-efficiency technology certainly does exist that could reduce the power-suck on these new sets, electronics companies aren’t building it in yet. That’s a big problem because, as the Christian Science Monitor reports:

“The price of these big-screen TVs is coming down, so more and more people will soon be able to afford them,” says Noah Horowitz, a senior NRDC scientist. “If we do nothing, it will lock-in power consumption at higher levels. People keep a TV five to 15 years, so we really need to get started making them as efficient as they can be.”

Already, TVs account for four per cent of energy usage in the home, and the NRDC figures that’ll increase by 50% in the next four years, as everyone buys new, ginormous sets. I gotta admit, having wandered by Circuit City to check out the latest plasma monsters, I already crave one. And I don’t even watch TV! I just want it as an output device for my game consoles.

(Thanks to Techdirt for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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