Best monitors for movie-watching

Not enough room for a 40- to 60-inch TV, but still want to pretend your appreciation for the fine art of cinema is passionate and genuine? Well, here are five monitors that should satiate the cinephile in you.

Why would anyone want to watch a movie on a sub-40-inch screen? Well, ideally you wouldn't, but we don't all get what we want in life, now do we?

In a perfect world, all screens would span 50 inches diagonally and sport superhigh resolutions. Also, we'd all have enough space to fit them in every room.

Real life just ain't chock-full of unicorns and seven-year wizard colleges, though, and real-life dorms and apartments can be small. Doesn't mean you'd want to miss out on watching movies the way they were intended. Well, at least from a color, black-level, and contrast ratio perspective. We addressed the whole difference-in-screen-size thing earlier.


Deep blacks are the name of the game with the HP 2311x. It's a dangerous game of bottomless pits and caves that go on forever. Josh Miller/CNET

HP 2311x
When it comes to movie watching, a monitor that can deliver deep blacks without sacrificing brightness is ideal. While the 2311x can get a bit too dark, crushing dark gray in certain scenes, it still manages to provide movies with a very cinematic look. Read the full review of the HP 2311x.


Don't sit so close; you'll ruin your movie watching experience! Josh Miller/CNET

HP Pavilion 27xi
The HP Pavilion 27xi offers great overall performance but when it comes to movie watching it recalls the age old adage "don't sit so close to the TV." Using the Movie preset, the colors are more accurate and less saturated the farther away you are from the screen. Read the full review of the HP Pavilion 27xi .


As you can see, the monitor provides a vibrant and cinematic experience. James Martin/CNET

Samsung SyncMaster S27B970
If you're looking for a monitor with beauty and brains, look no further than putting a ring on the S27B970. Just like a wedding, it's a bit pricey and once you commit it's hard to get out of (with the DisplayPort connection that is). If you don't mind these few faults, dinner and a movie with the S27B970 would keep you happy forever. Or until the next best thing comes around. Read the full review of the Samsung SyncMaster S27B970.


Glossy is the name of the -- OK, I'm going to vomit in my mouth if I use that lame "name of the game" trope in this caption too. Creative, well-thought-out captions from here on out. Josh Miller/CNET

Apple Thunderbolt Display
The Thunderbolt Display has the same completely-useless-for-movies high XD (Extreme Definition) resolution as the previously mentioned Samsung S27A850D, but what it lacks in "upressing" your HD content, it makes up with a really, really glossy screen. Colors pop and buttery smoothness is experienced by all. Read the full review of the Apple Thunderbolt Display.


Don't mind that goofy-looking foot stand, the S23A750D's movie performance is the name of the--darnit! James Martin/CNET

Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D
Samsung's Ultra Clear Panel technology is put to great use here as -- despite its unfortunate-looking foot stand -- the S23A750D delivers the best picture for movies I've ever seen on a 27-incher. Read the full review of the Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D.


Great picture quality and built-in video apps secure the T27A950's place at the top. Josh Miller

Samsung SyncMaster T27A950
I just realized that 60 percent of the monitors on this list are from Samsung. I guess that's not too surprising, given the company's TV pedigree. The T27A950 is the best thanks to its combination of brilliant picture and built-in apps like Netflix and Hulu. Read the full review of the Samsung SyncMaster T27A950.


Looking for specs and pricing? Compare these monitors head-to-head.

Read the full CNET Review

Samsung SyncMaster S27B970

The Bottom Line: The Samsung SyncMaster S27B970's excellent performance and beautiful aesthetic outweigh some thoughtless design choices. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Samsung SyncMaster T27A950

The Bottom Line: The Samsung SyncMaster T27A950 is an HDTV/monitor meant for movies and TV with tons of features and a beautiful design, but some will find its price too high. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

HP 2311x

The Bottom Line: The HP 2311x is a great monitor deal, with good performance and a great assortment of connections for its price. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Apple Thunderbolt Display

The Bottom Line: The Apple Thunderbolt Display is an incredible-performing and beautiful-looking monitor with a superfast connection, and we recommend it if you own a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D

The Bottom Line: The Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D is a bit expensive and the 3D is disappointing, but its excellent performance in (non-3D) games and movies makes it worth the asking price. / Read full review

About the author

Eric Franklin is a section editor covering how to and tablets. He's also co-host of CNET's do-it-yourself and how-to show, The Fix and is a 20-year tech industry veteran.

Xiomara Blanco is an associate editor for CNET Reviews. She's a Bay Area native with a knack for tech that makes life easier and more enjoyable. So, don't expect her to review printers anytime soon.

 

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