Samsung Series 8 SyncMaster S27A850T review: Samsung Series 8 SyncMaster S27A850T

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good PLS proves itself as a viable alternative to IPS. Incredibly thin. Good blacks. Power-saving features. Energy frugal. Incredible height adjustment. Allows 90-degree vertical rotation.

The Bad Pricey compared to the competition. Some banding and discolouration in gradients. HDMI port doesn't cope well with interlaced content or judder.

The Bottom Line Samsung's SyncMaster S27A850T is an incredibly pretty, thin monitor, which proves that PLS is a viable IPS alternative. We did find some banding in gradients, and the HDMI movie performance isn't great, but for beautiful sharp imagery and high-level computer use, it's incredibly appealing.

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Update: Samsung's website is misleading — when you click on the S27A850, it points to the A850D rather than giving options for both the A850D and the A850T. Be aware that while the D has USB 3.0 ports, the T is limited to USB 2.0, and retailers often do not discriminate.

Samsung is definitely providing something different with the S27A850T. For a start, it's a Plane to Line Switching (PLS) panel — not IPS, not TN, not VA. Samsung claimed way back in 2010 that PLS is an evolution of IPS, offering better viewing angles and screen brightness. The specs speak to identical viewing angles as IPS, but with slightly different panel behaviour. We've asked Samsung for more information on how PLS works, but have yet to hear back.

The screen itself is semi-matte, and some readers will be happy to know that it doesn't sparkle anywhere near as much as Dell's anti-glare coating.

The panel housing is also exceptionally thin for a monitor of this size, going from approximately 2cm at its thinnest to 4cm at its thickest. It helps that the power supply has been broken out into its own brick, but even this isn't imposing. If you're so inclined, you can attach the brick to the back of the panel, or leave it free hanging.

Samsung SyncMaster SA850T front

The Samsung monitor is all business, and we like it.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Specs at a glance

Size 27 inches
Resolution 2560x1440
Aspect ratio 16:9
Pixel pitch 0.2335
Panel technology PLS
Viewing angles
(10:1 contrast)
H: 178°
V: 178°
Response time 5ms GTG
Max vertical refresh 60Hz
Connections DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, 4xUSB downstream, 1xUSB upstream, 3.5mm line out
Accessories DVI, power cables

Stand and ergonomics

Samsung's rectangular base is utilitarian plastic, dressed in faux brushed-aluminium styling. The screen does wobble a bit after adjustment, but nothing too bad, considering the thinness of the panel. Tilt, swivel, 90° vertical rotation and height adjustment are available, with height adjustment in particular being impressive, ranging from 7cm off the desk to 22cm. A loop of plastic is on the neck to allow for cable management.

Samsung SyncMaster SA850T stand

Impressively, for a 27-inch, Samsung's stand allows vertical rotation.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Connections

Samsung SyncMaster SA850T inputs

From the left: one USB upstream, four USB 2.0 downstream and a 3.5mm audio jack.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Samsung SyncMaster SA850T inputs

From the right: power jack, DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Buttons and on-screen display (OSD)

Samsung

Functional and easy to use.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Samsung front mounts its buttons, and although they aren't back-lit, a context-sensitive UI goes some way to assisting navigation in dark scenarios. Hit any button except the power button, and the general menu will pop up before performing any other functions, further aiding use.

Samsung SyncMaster SA850T OSD

Context sensitive and with front-mounted buttons. The only way it could get better is if the buttons lit up when being used.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

At the first stage of the OSD, Samsung prefers to keep things hidden and simple, with access to a deeper menu, its image presets, brightness, input switching and eco modes initially available.

Samsung calls its image modes "Magic Bright" and "Magic Color", and as usual we suggest that you leave them set to standard. If you intend to calibrate, set it to your own custom profile.

Thankfully, full colour, brightness, sharpness and contrast controls are provided in the deeper menu section, also allowing you to set HDMI black levels. Gamma and colour-tone options are also available for further tweaking.

The S27A850T does not support 1:1 scaling — only aspect stretch (auto) and full-screen stretch (wide).

Performance

By default, the Samsung has a yellow colour cast, unless you opt to use Samsung's Full Magic Color preset, so some tweaking will be required to get things in a calibrated state. Setting colour tone to custom and turning off Samsung's Magic presets is a good start.

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Where to Buy

Samsung Series 8 SyncMaster S27A850T

Part Number: CNETSamsung Series 8 SyncMaster S27A850T

Typical Price: $1,099.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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