Samsung SyncMaster SA950 £580
4th Nov 2011 | 15:14
Is this the screen to win us over to 3D?
Samsung SyncMaster SA950: Overview
If you want a beautiful screen for your desktop it's tough to look past the simply gorgeous design of the Samsung SyncMaster SA950.
Just look at it, tis a thing of beauty. And it's 3D-capable too.
But 3D is the unwelcome party guest of the technology world. Going from room to room, talking slightly too loud, sweating visibly and giving its phone number to everyone.
Journalists (including probably us at TR at some point) keep reluctantly saying 'like it or not, it's here to stay', but let's survey the landscape in five years or so...
Anyway, Here's a 3D monitor.
And if any 3D monitor can rise above that hostile introduction, it's this SyncMaster SA950 from Samsung.
That bezel design is so elegant you'd be hard pushed to find anything nicer to look at on the screen than the screen itself - unless your mate linked you to those naughty Scarlett Johansen pics.
The screen that makes this Samsung SA950 is a LED-backlit TN, which means it's extremely slim compared to its LCD-backlit cousins.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we think most would agree Samsung has done a great job with the visual design here; from the inputs placement to the asymmetrical adjustment arm, this monitor makes a strong statement.
Samsung SyncMaster SA950: Verdict
If we ignore 3D for just a few precious minutes to scrutinise the 2D colour quality and sharpness, the results are surprising.
TN screens boast excellent response times (which is why they're used for 3D and as gaming monitors) but often suffer from poor black and white representation. The SA950 can't quite cut it against IPS screens, like the Asus PA238Q, but the blacks are inkier than other TN offerings we've tested lately.
Glassy finishes like the Samsung's do tend to offer better blacks, but the caveat is all the reflection it chucks back in sunlight.
Whites get a bit saturated higher up the scale though, possibly because the screen's naturally so bright.
All considered, If you're thinking of using this monitor for gaming or watching movies, we don't think the colour quality will be an issue for you.
Ok, time to hit the 3D button. Literally.
The Samsung SyncMaster SA950's touch interface features a '3D' button that flicks between 2D and various 3D modes. '2D-3D' was the only mode we could get a 3D picture out of; the others either did nothing at all or crossed over a pair of images to an unviewable degree.
We tweaked; we went through the software looking for solutions, but could still could only coax actual 3D from just one mode. Even then, there was hardly any depth to the image no matter how we adjusted the 'depth' option. Hmmm.
That's a shame, because someone needs to make the whole process easier than Nvidia's 3D Vision is currently, and Samsung has clearly tried just that.
One area it has made leaps and bounds though is in the 3D glasses themselves.
Crikey, they're comfy. Particularly after having to endure Nvidia's nettle-lined torture spectacles for so long.
Samsung's bespoke glasses are lighter and less, you know, headache-y.
Lastly, we come to the price. We couldn't recommend this monitor as a frugal purchase, but if you did buy one we'd be jealous.
Why? Because it's big, elegantly designed, slim, and boasts good picture quality.
What the 3D lacks in effectiveness, it almost takes back in usability in comfort. Overall, it's a worthy addition to your desk.
We've got to say it's that design that wins for us. It's a beautifully-designed device, all graceful lines with solid build quality too.
Samsung's 3D goggles too are impressive, far more pleasing on the eye and on the head than Nvidia's two generations of specs.
The 120Hz refresh rate of 3D monitors is once again a boon for those simply wanting a great 2D experience as well.
That price is quite simply too high for a TN screen, even one that boasts such a quality image.
The 3D implementation is a little limited too, though it's good to see Samsung try it's own method.
Some odd 3D problems can't stop us smiling when we look into this screen - and only partly because we can see our own reflection.