Samsung S27A850D review - FlatpanelsHD
Samsung S27A850D review

Review: Samsung S27A850D

16 Mar 2012 | Rasmus Larsen (@Flatpanels)


Samsung’s new 24-inch S24A850D and 27-inch S27A850D are the first monitors to utilize Samsung’s new PLS (Plane to Line switching) panel that boasts the same characteristics as the IPS panel technology. We have received the 27-inch variant that offers 2560x1440 pixel resolution, 5 ms (g2g) response time and 178/178 viewing angles. It also comes with input connectors such DisplayPort and DVI.

Samsung S27A850D looks like a direct competitor to Dell’s 27-inch U2711. But can Samsung’s PLS panel compare to the popular IPS panel? And is it a better value-for-money product? FlatpanelsHD will find out.

Price and retailer:

US retailerUK retailer


Size: 27" Wide
Resolution: 2560x1440
Response time: 5 ms (g2g)
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Color support: 16.7 million colors
Signal processing: 8 bit for each color
Viewing angles (H/V): 178/178
Dot pitch: 0.23
Panel type: PLS panel
Wall mounting:
Dimensions (HxWxD): 44.2cm x 64.3cm x 4.2cm (without stand)
Weight 6.6 kg
Built-in speakers:
Ergonomics
Tilt
Swivel
Height
Pivot
Inputs
VGA
DVI
DisplayPort
Audio (type)
S-video
Composite
Component
HDMI (only on T variant)
Other 4 port USB hub

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Our first impressions

Samsung S27A850D looks like all other office monitors and could be mistaken for the Dell’s UltraSharp monitors. It has a matte, black finish and a wide bezel.

Samsung S27A850D review
Samsung S27A850D review


The base looks like polished metal but it is actually made from plastic. Real polished metal would have been a nice touch but unfortunately the Samsung has chosen plastic. On the other hand, S27A850D offers great ergonomic adjustability. You can rotate the monitor to both sides, tilt it, adjust the height and turn the monitor 90 degrees into pivot.

Samsung S27A850D review
Samsung S27A850D review


Input connectors are found on the back and S27A850D includes DVI and DisplayPort (HDMI only on model ending with T). The power supply is external, which also means that the monitor is relatively thin – at least compared to the typical office monitor. A 4-port USB hub was found on the other side.

Samsung S27A850D review
Samsung S27A850D review


In the menus the following picture setting options are provided: brightness, contrast, sharpness, response time, HDMI black level, gamma, color tone and RGB settings (red, green, blue).

You can also choose from these picture presets: Custom, Standard, Game, Cinema and Dynamic Contrast.

Energy Consumption

Compare power consumption measurements on different TVs and monitors with our interactive power consumption applet here.

You can see our energy measurements on Samsung S27A850D below.

Standby 0.4 W 0.4 W
PC (Custom preset) 39.1 W 23.8 W


After calibration we measured energy consumption on 23.8 W, which is great for a 27-inch monitor. In comparison, Dell’s 27-inch U2711 consumes 60.7 W after calibration.

Test tools

We use the DVI input for testing. The graphic card is Geforce GTX260.

The monitor has been measured and calibrated with a LaCie Blue Eye Pro. We also examine the monitor with the help of our monitorTest. And finally we test the monitor in games, movies etc.

Picture quality on Samsung S27A850D

Out-of-box picture quality on Samsung S27A850D is measured below in the Standard picture preset with Eco settings deactivated.

Samsung S27A850D review


The graph says this:

The number on the left is the delta value. Delta is a difference between two factors; here it’s the difference between the measured color on the panel and the actual color that is our target.

  • A delta value lower that 2 results in a visible deviation from the actual color.
  • A delta value over 4 or 5 results in wrong colors.
  • A delta value between 1 and 2 results in precise but not perfect colors.
  • A delta value lower than one results in almost perfect colors. The target is 0.
  • Everything between 0 and 1 is barely visible to the human eye.


  • The out-of-box calibration report clearly shows that S27A850D does not perform very well in the Standard mode. The black and grey tones are way off and most colors also come in with a delta value above 4. This basically means that colors are inaccurate.

    It happens because Samsung has boosted gamma and it was measured between 2.4 and 2.67, which can make colors seem more saturated but it also means that colors are not very accurate. The color temperature was also too low, making pictures appear slightly too reddish/warm.

    The measurement above was done in the Standard picture preset. I changed to the custom color profile and took a new measurement.

    Samsung S27A850D review


    The custom preset is not better. The brightness level is now measured to 285 cd/m2, which is extreme (brightness is set to 100% in the menu) and the gamma values are still too high, and the range is even higher. We aim for a 2.2 gamma curve.

    Compared to Dell’s U2711, Samsung seems to focus less on accurate picture quality with the predefined settings. This is a shame because 27-inch monitors typically target photographers, graphic artists or other professionals. We can obviously try to improve picture quality during calibration so we moved on. See our calibrated result below.

    Samsung S27A850D review


    After calibration Samsung S27A850D gave us a pleasant picture with low color deviations and accurate gamma tracking close 2.2 (our target value). However, notice how the color gamut in the left quadrant is not 100 % in line with the sRGB standard. Even after several tries, Samsung S27A850D continued to skew the gamut, which means that some blues and greens are slightly off. It did the same thing in the other picture presets.

    My calibrated settings are.


    Picture preset: Custom
    Brightness 29
    Contrast 75
    Sharpness: 60
    Response time: Faster
    HDMI Black level: Normal
    Eco mode Off
    Red 43
    Green 46
    Blue 51
    Color mode Custom
    Gamma Mode1


    Note: We have used an ICC profile

    I moved on to examine color gradation. Color accuracy is only half of the equation and a monitor’s ability to distinguish the different color steps is equally important. We use color gradients for examination and S27A850D did quite good. Most monitors suffer from “bands” in the lower-end of colors but S27A850D exhibited only very few problems. The color gradients looked fairly smooth and the PLS panel is a good performer in this area – obviously not on par with high-end IPS panels in monitors such as Eizo CG243W but still better than the average inexpensive eIPS based monitor.

    Samsung S27A850D uses an anti-reflective coating on the LCD panel. IPS panels are often associated with a grainy / crystallized surface due to the coating and Dell’s monitors also suffer from this. I tried to compare a Dell U2410 and the Samsung S27A850D side-by-side and it is clear that Samsung’s PLS panel has a less grainy coating and thus a more pleasant reproduction of white backgrounds (in documents and on web pages).

    Samsung S27A850D utilizes a 2560x1440 pixel resolution in the 16:9 aspect ratio. For games and movies the 16:9 format is optimal but some advanced users will benefit from the 16:10 aspect ratio that leaves more pixels in the vertical axis. Unfortunately, 16:10 is only used on 30-inch monitors today. Besides that fact, S27A850D leaves plenty of desktop space for space-consuming tasks. It is a wonderful monitor for side-by-side document applications and other applications. Once you try a high-resolution large monitor it is hard to return to anything smaller than 27 inches, trust me.

    Below I have measured black depth, brightness and contrast.

    Black level 0.37 cd/m2 0.17 cd/m2
    Brightness 286 cd/m2 120 cd/m2
    Contrast ratio 773:1 706:1
    Contrast ratio +/- 50


    After calibration black depth was measured to 0.17 cd/m2 which is relatively high; even compared to IPS panels that typically hold the worst black levels amongst the different LCD panel technologies. Samsung’s PLS panel technology therefore does not seem to improve black depth over typical IPS panels and for comparison Dell U2711 was measured to 0.12 cd/m2 black depth. This is a noticeable difference; especially in a dimly lit room.

    Shadow detailing, on the other hand, is fairly good. We were able to distinguish most details in the dark areas, except for the two grey tones closest to black. This should provide fairly good levels of details in dark images, movies and games, although not perfect.

    Many IPS based monitors suffer from clouding / bleeding so we were obviously interested to see if Samsung has better luck with their PLS based monitors. Below you see a photograph of S27A850D in a completely dark room.

    Samsung S27A850D review
    Samsung S27A850D review


    Our Samsung S27A850D unfortunately had some bleeding as evidenced in the picture above – but it was not a critical issue.

    Response time and games

    The LCD technology is still not competing with plasma or OLED technology for the response time crown. The IPS LCD panels are generally considered fairly fast and the inclusion of overdrive technology helps boost pixel response time but we did not expect Samsung to revolutionize the category with their PLS technology.

    And they didn’t. Samsung S27A850D exhibited very similar response time characteristics compared to IPS based monitors such as the popular Dell UltraSharp models. From the menu it has three Response Time settings – which are actually three overdrive settings - called Normal, Faster and Fastest. The default is faster.

    The “fastest” option unfortunately introduced a fair amount of overdrive trailing because the overdrive system is too aggressive. The default “faster” option is the best one. Overdrive trailing is almost eliminated with “faster” and blurring is reduced to the level of IPS panels. Some blurring occurs during fast motion but that is true for all monitors today.

    Samsung S27A850D is a fairly fast monitor compared to the general LCD monitor segment and is a good choice for casual or semi-professional gaming as well as movies. However, for FPS (first person shooter) gaming is it not an optimal solution and if you want the best solution for FPS games, I recommend looking at 120 Hz TN based monitors instead. See our recommendations list here.

    Viewing angles

    The viewing angles are very wide and Samsung’s S27A850D has the characteristics of a IPS based monitors. Color intensity is maintained from most angles, except for the most extreme.

    Samsung S27A850D review
    Samsung S27A850D review


    Samsung S27A850D review
    Samsung S27A850D review


    However, the PLS panel technology suffers from the same drop in contrast, and we did not notice any significant improvements over IPS. From the side a black background looks like this.

    Samsung S27A850D review
    Samsung S27A850D review


    Conclusion

    Samsung’s S27A850D – and the 24-inch S24A850D – monitor offers a slim design with the classic black matte bezel used on most professional monitors. The picture settings options are adequate for most users but it offers nowhere near the level of picture customization of Eizo’s monitors. The ergonomic adjustability is great, on the other hand.

    When it comes to picture quality, Samsung’s PLS technology is very identical to the IPS panel technology that has been around for years. The characteristics are the same and it also offers wide viewing angles and pleasant colors like most IPS based monitors. The most popular IPS based monitors are without doubt those from Dell, and the direct competitor is the Dell 27” U2711. Priced almost the same in most countries, it is an interesting comparison.

    Unfortunately Samsung has some fine-tuning to do. The out-of-box settings are not very accurate and there is no accurate sRGB profile for photo editing or graphic work. The color gamut was also slightly off and even though we managed to get a quite good result after calibration, Dell U2711 still offers better pre-defined profiles and calibrated pictures for advanced users. Black depth on S27A850D is not on par with U2711 either. These are not critical issues but it just leaves Dell U2711 as the best choice in our opinion. On the other hand, S27A850D has a more pleasant anti-reflective coating.

    All in all Samsung S27A850D is a fair contender in the IPS market and may appeal to photographers and graphic artists but it does not bring anything new to the table compared to the IPS monitors that have been around for years.

    Price and retailer:

    US retailerUK retailer



    Picture quality
    Better coating than IPS
    Good ergonomic adjustment options
    High resolution
    Viewing angles
    Power consumption


    Out-of-box settings
    No HDMI
    Black level
    Clouding
    Color gamut not spot-on




    Samsung S27A850D debate

    For questions and comments please visits this thread in our forums: Samsung S27A850D debate



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