Samsung SyncMaster S27B970 review:

Samsung SyncMaster S27B970

Overall, the movie looked vibrant while keeping more than enough dark detail to retain a satisfyingly cinematic look.

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I'll just let this speak for itself. James Martin/CNET

Games: I prefer monitors that display games with vibrant color and highly contrasting blacks and whites. When colors also pop with fullness and depth, games will usually look great. Dragon Age II is a game that can look pretty drab at times, but definitely benefits from rich, bright, but still accurate colors. I looked at the game on the S27B970 in the High Bright preset, which turned out to be the best setting to get a high vibrancy without oversaturating the colors.

To test refresh rate, I used DisplayMate's motion graphics test, which moves a box of colored blocks around at various user-controlled speeds. Each block leaves an impression of itself behind as it flies across the screen. The longer the streak left by the blocks, the more image blurring you'll likely see when the monitor shows quick movements, as when playing a first-person shooter. The effect can be subtle, but noticeable to those really looking for it.

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Vibrant and sharp. Crysis 2, running at 2,560x1,440 pixels. Most impressive. James Martin/CNET

Also, PLS and IPS monitors typically display more streaking than on TN displays, so it's not surprising that the blocks in this test left fairly long streaks behind them. Not the worst I've seen, but significant nonetheless. As I said, however, the difference between a monitor with a fast refresh rate and a slow one is really subtle and most people would not notice it.

Photos: Faces in photos looked healthy and showed no signs of that annoying sickly green hue that plagues many monitors. Clothing and other objects looked natural with accurate color, comparable to what you see on high-end monitors like the HP LP2480zx.

Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a third of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing colors as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors aren't designed to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on a monitor's panel type, picture quality at any other angle suffers. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when not viewed from optimal angles.

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From slight or extreme angles, the S27B970 retains its image integrity. James Martin/CNET

The S27B970 uses a PLS panel, so it can be viewed from many different directions while retaining its color quality, sharpness, and correct gamma value. However, since the screen is very glossy, direct sunlight will have an noticeably adverse effect.

Power consumption: The S27B970's power consumption earned a rating of Fair, with a Default/On power draw of 43.6 watts; the Dell U2711 drew 93.7 watts in the same test.

In our Sleep/Standby test, the S27B970 drew 0.46 watt and the U2711 pulled a higher 1.19 watts. Based on our formula, the S27B970 would cost $13.33 per year, whereas the U2711 would cost $28.78 per year.

Brightness (in cd/m2)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung SyncMaster S27B970

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung SyncMaster S27B970

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung SyncMaster S27B970

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster S27B970 with a three-year parts and labor warranty that covers the backlight. This matches the best monitor warranties out there, like Dell's. It also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number, as well as 24- to 48-hour turnaround e-mail and Web chat support.

Final thoughts
The Samsung SyncMaster S27B970's $1,200 price will definitely give some pause. And at that price, the S27B970 should have included Samsung's Smart Hub, which provides streaming video, games, and apps, including Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, and Twitter. This would have been a great way to usher in the company's first consumer PLS display.

People looking for incredible performance and beautiful design, and don't mind taking out a second mortgage to get it, will not be disappointed with the S27B970. If the monitor's XHD resolution appeals to you, but the features and design (and price) don't, the HP ZR2740w is a great, much cheaper alternative.

What you'll pay

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