Some of the Baddest Boys on the Planet
Celebrating Earth Day and worrying about power consumption is all well and good, but we all know that in technology, "green" is just another word for "wimpy." Consider this inconvenient truth: If you're not happy unless all the lights on your block dim when you plug in your laptop, tablet, or HDTV, then this is the slideshow for you.
Our selection of power hogs will make your electricity meter spin faster than the tires on Al Gore's Prius.
So, in celebration of Earth Day--or Anti-Geek Day, as we like to call it--here's a look at 10 of the biggest, baddest power-sucking tech devices that hard-earned money can buy.
Digital Radio on Your TV
If there is a better way to listen to broadcast radio than powering up your big-screen TV to pump out a little audio and show a poorly designed graphic, I haven't found it. Listening to the specialty radio channels at the top of your TV dial consumes up to 20 times more power than listening to broadcasts on a digital radio device, according to the Energy Savings Trust.
Older Plasma HDTVs Go Nuclear
Television manufacturers have significantly driven down the power demands of plasma HDTVs in recent years, but older plasma screens really knew how to stress your local power station. A 42-inch plasma HDTV from just a few years ago would consume up to 822 kilowatts of power per year, versus 350 kilowatts for LCDs and 322 kilowatts for an old CRT (cathode ray tube) idiot box. In 2006, Britons were buying plasma TVs in droves during the run-up to that year's World Cup. The consumer frenzy prompted one British scientist to warn that if half of the homes in the UK had a plasma flat-screen TV, the country would need two nuclear power plants just to meet the extra energy demands, according to the Guardian.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Charges
Many point-and-shoot digital cameras offer 300 snaps or more on just one refill of their lithium ion rechargeable batteries. But the PCWorld Labs found that the Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS offers half as many photos on one charge. This camera will spend so much time recharging that you might forget you didn't buy this thing as an ornament for your wall outlet.
Pro tip: Take lots of photos of your backyard with this camera. It will help you remember what your lawn looked like before your own personal power substation replaced it.
Flat-Screen TV Madness
Plasmas aren't the only bad boys of the TV power-sucking world. Many flat-screen televisions over 42 inches can cost you up to $160 every year in electricity costs if you run them for 8 hours per day, according to the power company Southern California Edison. Compare that with a 30-inch CRT set, which SCE says would cost you less than $60 per year. To offset the higher costs, why not charge admission to your next Super Bowl party?
3D: A Whole New Dimension of Power
After you buy a 3D TV, four pairs of active-shutter glasses for the family, and a new Blu-ray player, you can wind up spending at least $2500. But don't forget to take out some money from your kids' college education fund every time you turn on a 3D movie for them. Many critics have found that these TV sets use more energy in 3D mode. Popular Mechanics ran a test in mid-2010, and found that power consumption rose significantly when they switched from a 2D show to a 3D program. The worst offender at the time, according to Popular Mechanics, was the 50-inch Panasonic TC-P50VT25, which jumped from a maximum usage of 172 watts in 2D mode to as much as 332 watts in 3D mode. Is Avatar really worth it?
Tech gadgets left on standby mode account for as much as 1 percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, according to TreeHugger.com. One of the biggest standby hogs is the DVR sitting in your entertainment center. DVRs can drain about 30 to 40 watts whether they're working or waiting to record Modern Family. That can cost you between $30 and $60 every year in power consumption based on an average electricity price of $0.17 per kilowatt-hour.
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