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November 18th 2011 12:47 pm

What is an appropriate amount of power draw for setup boxes/DVRs?

I saw Dave Zatz post this link on Twitter:


First of all, it is about $#@!%&*&$ time! Second, I thought that this quote was telling:

The Energy Star 3.0 specification will yield HD DVRs that consume less than half of the energy of previous-generation models -- some of which draw 40 watts or more -- while they also will provide more processing power and home-networking capabilities. NCTA also noted that some cable markets have converted to all-digital systems using low-cost digital terminal adapters (DTAs), which use less than 4 watts.

Over the longer term, the cable industry's move to IP-based video distribution, all-digital TV, multiroom DVR and network-based DVR promises to cut the power drain of set-top boxes even further. For example, AT&T's IP-based HD DVR uses 18 watts in "power on" mode and just 12 watts in "light sleep" state.

I think that 18 watts is a reasonable amount for a DVR to draw when in use. It is higher than I would like to see, but it is reasonable. However, I don't think that 12 watts is a reasonable amount for a sleeping device. That needs to be in the 1-3 watts range. Devices like the Apple TV and Roku manage it and there is no reason that a cable company device can't manage it when it's hard drive is spun down.

I also think that the 40 watt comment is whitewashing. The Motorola devices that I have used have frequently pulled 50-60 watts. I can't speak for the Scientific Atlanta/Cisco devices, but I doubt that they are any different. It is also typical for Cable Labs that they don't even pretend that lower power devices will be shipping in full before the end of 2013. It is also lame that they aren't going to fix the current boxes. Does anyone doubt that a couple of good engineers could cut the power usage of current devices by 20-30% just by cleaning up and optimizing the software?

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