Samsung Series 9 S27B970D £800
27th Sep 2012 | 12:30
Big, expensive and life-altering? Well, two out of three ain't bad
Like most PC peripherals, monitors mostly sell on price. That's because consumers are largely a feckless bunch of mouth-breathers who can't see past pricing and a small handful of headline specs. It's £125? It's 27 inches? It's shiny? It's sold.
In that context, Samsung slinging out a premium-priced 27-incher is either bold or bonkers. Samsung's own Series 8 model is around the £500 mark, and recent months have seen a glut of £200 efforts being bought from Korean eBay merchants.
Meanwhile, you can pick up a number of 30-inch alternatives for roughly the same money as this 27-inch screen. One thing is for sure - the Series 9 will have to be life-alteringly good. So what do you get?
First up is the PLS panel. It's the same type used in the Samsung Series 8 27-inch screen, which is effectively Samsung's take on IPS technology with one or two twists. So far, so good.
Next up is what you might call premium industrial design. That includes a proper metal frame, a brushed metal rear enclosure panel, soft touch controls and a general lifestyle vibe. The stand is height and tilt adjustable, which puts it somewhere between tilt-only cheapo monitors and more widely adjustable pro displays.
Then there's connectivity, which not only includes HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort, but also MHL or Mobile High-Definition Link, which allows you to hook up Android phones. And that's about it. There's no integrated TV tuner or app support. This is a pure PC monitor.
The Series 9 will therefore live or die on a combination of image quality and physical desirability. Unfortunately, we're not entirely convinced by either.
The chassis and stand are superficially sexy, but we'd rather have more adjustability and easier access to the inputs. The latter are buried in the base, which makes plugging things in tedious.
Clear as mud
The Series 9's biggest problem involves image quality. That's not a result of a flawed LCD panel - it's lovely. The problem is that it's behind a so-called Crystal Clear Glass panel, so you can't actually see that lovely panel very well at all. It's a shame, because Samsung's PLS technology is lovely.
You get all the benefits of IPS technology, including superb viewing angles and colour accuracy, along with what certainly seems likes improved contrast and definitely involves a smoother, less sparkly anti-glare coating.
Still, the good news is that you can buy the Series 8, which has the same PLS tech, in a more unassuming but actually more ergonomic enclosure, minus the stupid panel cover. Okay, you miss out on the MHL, but it's £300 cheaper, so it's a no-brainer.