Samsung SyncMaster T27B750 £399.99
15th Aug 2012 | 16:10
Samsung's Series 7 LED monitor with AV connections
Today's PC monitors give you masses more for your money than models from just 12 months ago. So does the slick new 27-inch Samsung SyncMaster T27B750, Samsung's latest Series 7 screen, have what it takes to compete in the LED panel arms race?
Firstly, let's make one thing clear. The Samsung SyncMaster T27B750 is not the holy grail of PC monitors.
By that we mean a high DPI screen using either IPS or VA panel technology and supporting 120Hz refresh rates.
As it happens, no such monitor currently exists. So we can hardly hold Samsung to account for not delivering where the rest of the market has also come up short. However, with a full price of £400 in the UK and $550 in the US, expectations are for something special.
Depending on your preferences, Samsung delivers. Where the Samsung SyncMaster T27B750 really nails it is as an all-round multimedia machine with a great feature set and strong AV connectivity.
As a straight PC monitor, however, it's less compelling.
The spec list is massive, but here are some highlights. For starters, there's an integrated DVB-T/C tuner, a pair of HDMI ports, digital audio connectivity, component video and more. Nothing terribly unusual, you say?
Well, how about integrated wireless networking with Wireless Display (WiDi) support? There's an MHL (Mobile High Definition Link) port, too.
The former enables you to stream video content to the Samsung SyncMaster T27B750 via a range of devices. The latter, meanwhile is something we've seen before on the T27B750's smaller sibling, the Samsung SyncMaster S24B750V.
MHL is all about effortlessly connecting mobile devices to HD TVs. Currently, a number of Android handsets, including Samsung's Galaxy smartphones, some HTC handsets and a few others support MHL.
Simply hook up the handset using the MHL cable and the handset's interface immediately pops up on the HD TV or monitor's screen. It's that easy. You can then use all the features of the mobile device on the larger display.
In theory you could even use your smartphone as a desktop PC. Perhaps more realistically, MHL works great for playing games and video.
But wait, there's more. Samsung's Smart Hub is also supported, so you can add full smart TV functionality for less than the cost of a dedicated Samsung TV such as the Samsung UE40ES7000. Plug a mass storage device into one of the USB ports and it will record digital TV, too. Nice.
It's a seriously slick physical object, too, thanks to its funky asymmetric chassis, slim bezel and high quality gloss finish. The vibe is very much high-end consumer electronics rather than office or work station PC.
If the overall multimedia feature set looks great, some of the fine details relating to its panel technology are less impressive. Unfortunately, that has an impact on image quality.
The two biggies here are the panel type and native resolution. The monitor market is currently in transition as cheaper displays with low-cost IPS panels are proliferating. So, it can be hard to predict what panel type a monitor will sport based on price alone.
Given that 23-inch IPS monitors can be had for under £150/$200, you might expect the £400/$550 Samsung SyncMaster T27B750 to have a high quality panel, too. Instead, it's cheap TN tech. OK, it is LED backlit, which helps. But TN is an odd fit with what otherwise looks and feels like a premium product.
The native resolution of 1920 x 1080 also shows the Samsung SyncMaster T27B750's mainstream origins. That's Full HD, of course, and absolutely fine for a 23 or 24-inch screen. But if we're talking PC functionality rather than video playback, 2560 x 1440 is preferable at 27 inches. Otherwise, you've got more screen diagonal but no added desktop space.
Put it all together and you have a multi-purpose display that disappoints as a PC monitor. By TN standards, the image quality is good. The colours are fairly vibrant and the black levels perfectly tolerable.
But if you're familiar with IPS technology – perhaps you have an IPS monitor or a smartphone or tablet with an IPS panel – you'll also notice the relatively poor viewing angles. Samsung includes its Magic Angle feature, which is supposed to offset poor TN-derived viewing angles.
It basically tweaks the colour balance and contrast to compensate for the shifts that occur with TN panels. But it's such a hilariously heavy-handed and ineffectual kludge, it's hard to understand why Samsung bothers.
To a lesser extent, the same can be said for the other image enhancement features, including dynamic backlighting. In the end, there's no substitute for a high-quality panel.
There are a few more niggles that prevent the Samsung SyncMaster T27B750 from being a great PC monitor. It may look sexy, but the stand offers tilt-only adjustability, so it's not exactly configurable.
Then there's the connectivity. As an AV device, the mix of dual HDMI ports, VGA and component, along with the aforementioned wireless and USB connectivity is great. For PC usage, a DVI port would be preferable, especially if you have an AMD video card, which can be problematic with HDMI.
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Be careful what you ask for. In the case of the Samsung SyncMaster T27B750, you're effectively putting the request in for a jack of all trades. And we're not convinced you're getting a master of any.
There no question the LED monitor's feature set is great, what with the wireless video streaming and MHL support. If you're genuinely likely to use those features, the Samsung SyncMaster T27B750 is definitely work a look. There aren't many alternatives that can match those capabilities.
As a straight-up PC monitor, however, it's mediocre.
The Samsung SyncMaster T27B750 ain't that pricey, so it's nice to see your investment rewarded with a great looking monitor that simply looks expensive. The feature set in terms of AV connectivity and support for connecting mobile devices is also outstanding.
TN panels are as TN panels do. They're just not as good as IPS or VA panels. Not even Samsung's undoubted industrial might, along with an LED backlit screen and some clever image enhancement tech, can change that. Lack of DVI connectivity and a tilt-only stand also limits the appeal for PC users.
If it's a stylish all-rounder with great multimedia features and mobile device support you're after, then look no further than the Samsung SyncMaster T27B750. But if it's a really good PC monitor you want, there are several superior alternatives.