Samsung SyncMaster T27A950 review: Samsung SyncMaster T27A950

Even with the coating, we noticed a high number of reflections in a well-lit room, but the pop of the contrast hit us right square in the eyes, thanks to the deep black levels and the vibrant color that pops from the screen when playing an HD movie.

Games: For color quality and vibrancy in games, we looked at a low-level dungeon in Torchlight. Curiously, the Movie preset actually doubled quite well as a gaming preset, of which surprisingly there isn't one.

In the Movie preset, colors were more balanced than the highly saturated and distracting appearance in the other presets, while still delivering a vibrant look and feel to the visuals.

Photos: Faces had a slight tinge of green in them, as did blonde hair. Overall, however, the green tinting wasn't nearly as prevalent as we've seen on some lower-quality monitors when displaying photos.

3D performance
Unfortunately, unless you own an AMD HD 5000-series-or-above graphics card, the T27A950 doesn't support full-resolution 3D in games. You can still play them, but we found the quality to be below what we've seen on recent Nvidia 3D vision offerings. Also, if we attempted to play the game at the monitor's native resolution, the game was plagued with periodic pausing, making it unplayable.

The level of ghosting in Call of Duty: Black Ops was unacceptable. While background assets looked fine, the player models moved around with very visible ghost shadows on either side of them.

Also, whenever we went into aiming mode, we'd see two images of the gun model. If we relaxed our eyes for a couple seconds the display adjusted until we saw one image. However, if we looked anywhere else on the screen, and looked back at the gun, we'd see two images again. This isn't something we experienced playing the same game on the Acer GD235HZ , which uses Nvidia 3D Vision tech. We're looking forward to testing the S27A950D from Samsung, which is optimized for 3D gaming.

The T27A950 is optimized for movies, however, and movies in 3D look great. The monitor handled the 3D version of "Avatar" beautifully with no ghosting or perspective problems.

2D-to-3D conversion was also very impressive with subtle added depth and no visible ghosting.

Recommended settings: We used SpectraCal's CalPC to calibrate the Samsung SyncMaster T27A950 for bright-room viewing. The following settings are what the monitor had been adjusted to after calibration. Color temperature is set to about 7,300K, under the Standard preset.

Attribute Setting
Backlight 20
Contrast 70
Brightness 58
Sharpness 50
R-Gain 30
G-Gain 15
B-Gain 6
R-Offset 20
G-Offset 18
B-Offset 18

Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter 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 its panel type, picture quality at non-optimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when not viewed from optimal angles.

The Samsung SyncMaster T27A950 uses a TN panel, so its viewing angle from the sides, top, and especially underneath is narrower than it would be for high-end displays like the Asus PA246Q , which uses IPS panel technology.

As mentioned before, the T27A950 makes use of Samsung's Magic Angle feature. Magic Angle gives the option of changing attributes of the monitor to improve the way it looks from certain angles, affecting clarity of text as well as contrast.

The T27A950 has the best implementation of the technology yet. It includes only Lean Back and Standing Up modes, but the slider for each provides 10 degrees of customization, making each mode much more effective at displaying the viewing angle for which it's optimized.

Power consumption
Our power consumption test gives an indication of each monitor's carbon footprint as well as the yearly cost of said footprint. The results gleaned from the test don't factor into the monitor's overall review score.

Compared with the 27-inch Samsung P2770FH, the T27A950 draws more overall power. With each monitor calibrated to 200cd/m2 the T27A950 drew 7 watts more than the P2770FH, which indicates that more than just the screen brightness of the T27A950 is contributing to its power draw.

In the end, however, the difference in power draw between these two monitors doesn't equate to much difference in annual cost. Based on our formula, the T27A950 would cost $16.06 per year to run, compared with the P2770FH's $14.55 per year.

Juice box
Samsung SyncMaster T27A950 Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 50.8
On (max luminance) 56.9
On (min luminance) 25.6
Sleep 1.3
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 44.8
Annual power consumption cost $16.06
Score Poor

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

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Asus PA246Q
792:1 
Samsung SyncMaster T27A950
728:1 

Performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster T27A950 with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty that covers the backlight. 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.

Conclusion
With a beautiful design, 3D support, great built-in speakers, and the inclusion of Smart Hub, the T27A950 feels more like a Samsung HDTV than any previous monitor we've reviewed. While we loved its 3D and non-3D performance in movies, its 3D performance in games was disappointing. Also, while many will justifiably balk at the idea of a $750 TN monitor, the sheer number of features included here goes a long way toward making that price pill go down smoothly.

That said, there are cheaper alternatives if you don't need many of the features seen here. And if you want a Samsung monitor optimized for 3D gaming, consider instead the S27A950D or S27A750D. Still, as a small, 1080p-capable HDTV, the T27A950 is worth its somewhat high asking price.

Editors' note: This review was updated April 6, 2012, to correct the model name.

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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.