Samsung S27A850 LED Ultra HD Monitor

Print

Product: Samsung S27A850 LED WQHD Monitor
Provided By: Samsung Canada
Price: Shop Samsung Monitors

 

Introduction:

Samsung is no stranger to the LCD market.  They make LCD panels that set the bar for others to follow and in fact are the ones making the displays for Apple's new iPad.  They know how to cram a bunch of pixels onto a panel and the screen we are looking at today has quite a few.  We are looking at the S27A850 unit that comes in boast WQHD resolution.  For those of you not up to date on that particular specification, that means the screen comes in at 2560x1440.  It follows a 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the 16:10 aspect ratio of my trusty 30" 305T display (2560x1600).  This screen has a few other features other than just a nice high resolution and I can honestly say that the screen can go bright enough to light up your entire office.  That being said, we took time to calibrate it and see how it performs and how Samsung sets it up for delivery.

Box

We put it to the test both in landscape and portrait modes and test out the "Eco" features of the unit as well to see if they are practical in the real world, or if Samsung has just included them to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about this large monitor purchase.  You'll want to keep reading to find out if this $700 LED-backlit LCD is worth spending over 2x what a 1920x1080 27" display costs.  While you certainly get a few more features, as well as 1.6 million more pixels - it still costs a pile of cash and we'll find out how it stacks up as we continue.

 

First Impressions:

The bundle includes a bit more than I'm used to when reviewing an LCD.  As you'll notice in the image below, Samsung uses an external power brick to provide power to the S27A850.  This allows them to make the LCD slimmer overall and keeps the heat off the panel.  This is not a bad idea, but is just one more thing to try and keep tidy or tucked away.  As we'll notice in a bit, the power brick itself actually connects to the rear of the LCD, but it connects at the top.  I like the fact that it snaps into place, but it would be a lot nicer if it hooked up on the bottom and was positioned so that when rotated to portrait mode, it kept the cable closer to your desk.

Bundle

Also included in the bundle are the standard manuals, quick install guides and documentation on a CD.  What you don't see as often is a USB 3.0 cable.  This LCD also functions as a USB 3.0 hub and has three USB 3.0 ports.  It also packs in a pair of Dual-DVI ports as well as a Display Port to complete the bundle.  Samsung included a DVI cable, but skimped on the Display Port cable.  This sucks as my laptop has Display Port - but no DVI.  It would be nice to include a $10 cable as well.  I'm sure that for the price of this premium LCD they could certainly afford to make that sacrifice.

 

Front
Front
Back
Back

 

Close Look:

As we continue on through the back of the LCD, we take a look at the ports and power brick assembly that we mentioned above.  The USB and audio in/out ports are located on one side of the display with all of the video connections located on the other side.  The layout of the video ports is well done as there is room to easily tighten the screws for the DVI ports and still plug in a Display Port cable as well.  The cord you see at the very top of the second picture below is the power input cable...  It's about as high on the display as it can be and this doesn't make any sense to me.

USB & Audio
USB & Audio
Video Ports
Video Ports

 

Height adjustment of the S27A850 is pretty extreme actually and it drops almost right to the desk but can be raised nice and high to allow for the portrait mode when you rotate the screen.  Overall, the flexibility of the height adjustment is really good and it feels pretty stable when at full height.  The base isn't all that heavy and if it were heavier it would feel a lot better.  The extendible part feels like it could be a bit better constructed as well in order to give it a great solid feel.

Front Raised
Front Raised
Front Lowered
Front Lowered
   
Side Raised
Side Raised
Side Lowered
Side Lowered

 

The overall look of this display is pretty good, but Samsung skimps on a few details and the finish of the display so that it just doesn't "feel" like a great unit.  Feeling is only a tiny part of the deal though and on the next page we'll cover some specifications and see how it stacks up - before we take and see what kind of picture we can get out of it.


Samsung S27A850 Features & Specs:

To get a full list of the specs and features of this unit please head on over to the Samsung product page here. Below is a hefty summary that has been pulled from their page and pasted here for your convenience.  As always, if you want all the goods, please check out the manufacturer's website.

Conserves Energy and Preserves the Environment
Engineered with the ecologically responsible homeowner in mind, the Samsung monitor reduces power consumption by 40%, making it much more efficient than conventional monitors. By reducing the number of LED and defaulting to standby power, which requires less than 0.3W as opposed to the typical 1.0 W, the Samsung monitor is poised to make a difference. How big a difference? If your monitor saves 120 W each day, that’s the annual equivalent of eliminating 10.8 kg of CO2 emitted from an oil-burning power plant—which produces the same effect as planting four pine trees.


See more content with unbelievable screen resolution
The Samsung SA850 Monitor showcases an astounding WQHD display with 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, which is four times the resolution of HD (720 p). It is perfect for businesses and industries that rely on access to extremely fine monitor detail. The wide screen, which features dual link DVI and display port, allows for more detail to be viewed and is ideal for work places such as hospitals, clinics and studios. The enhanced screen resolution provides greater efficiency and quality, and really is the must-have business tool.

Picture Perfect, Natural-Looking Images
Whether it’s video from an HD camcorder or photos from your digital camera, sRGB support makes sure that nature looks just as natural on your Samsung Monitor as it did when you shot it or filmed it. No matter what digital device the image was captured on, it’s as picture perfect on screen as Mother Nature intended it to be. So you can view, edit, and save images in their original format with no picture quality degradation whatsoever — which translates to 100% pure digital satisfaction.

Buttons
Buttons

See Your Work from the Best Possible Angle
Provide employees with an optimal viewing experience in the office with the reasonably priced Samsung Business Monitor. While conventional monitors have a viewing angle of 170 degrees horizontally, the Samsung monitor has an extra wide viewing angle of 178 degrees. The additional 8 degrees is particularly useful when sharing on-screen information with one or more coworkers or presenting your ideas to clients. The Samsung Business Monitor has improved its vertical viewing angles by 18 degrees, making it the perfect display for giving presentations in front of a large audience or when viewing other content such as a video.

Portrait Conveniently Adjust Monitor Height, Tilt, and Perspective
The Samsung LED Business Monitor SA850 has been designed to help boost work efficiency, delivering a tailored experience with its choice of viewer settings. The height-adjustable stand ensures that the screen can always be set at the optimal eye level, which enhances the visual experience while also helping maintain the viewer’s body posture. Other features include the tilt and pivot capabilities, which not only increase comfort levels but also introduce new ways of working. The SA850 Monitor can rotate 90° degrees, allowing for more appropriate view depending on the work. So, now you can take convenience and efficiency to amazing heights with the Samsung LED Business Monitor SA850.

One monitor, twice the capabilities
UtilizingSamsung’s dual input feature, two PCs can now be viewed simultaneously on the one monitor screen. The SA850’s Picture by Picture capabilities allow for a far more flexible approach to work and ensure that content can be easily accessed, even if they require different PC access. This is perfect for businesses handling large and complex content from two PCs, but prefer to view it on one convenient screen.

Control Power Consumption
Eco saving makes saving energy easy, it adjusts the brightness of your Samsung monitor based on how much energy you want to save. And with the choice of three energy saving modes (50%, 25% and Power Saving off), you can really tailor your monitor use to meet your own personal needs. Samsung’s commitment to saving energy is designed to help both you and the environment, and with up to 50% saving on consumption, you can really make a positive impact on your eco footprint. Take the effort out of saving energy and take control with Eco saving.

Gentle on the Eyes and on the Environment
Save electricity and hassle with Samsung’s Eco light sensor. By adjusting screen brightness to match your surrounding environment, the SA850’s Eco light sensor creates a brilliant visual display while also minimizing your energy consumption. You will benefit from a more comfortable viewing experience that is far better for the environment. Monitor brightness is adjusted to match your ambient light, which ensures that the screen is highly visible and appropriately set for your eyes. So, in a dark room the screen will reduce brightness, but when sitting in a room with plenty of light, it will increase brightness. The Eco light sensor is simply perfect for modern living - helping you conserve energy and keep comfortable.


Save Energy with New Smart Motion Technology
Step into the future with the SA850 monitor, which utilizes the very latest in motion sensors to create a monitor that hangs on your every movement. With a built-in PIR (Pyrolectric Infrared Ray) sensor, the SA850 automatically detects movement within a specified area in front of the screen. This allows your monitor to automatically dim or power off, and then power back on or brighten once detecting a nearby viewer. This Eco motion sensor is the easiest way to conserve energy. 

 

Specifications:


Specs

 

On the next page we'll cover some of our testing methods before we jump into testing.


 

A Word About Testing:

In everything we try to be fair, accurate and as objective as possible when it comes to testing hardware.  In the past, LCD reviews were done completely subjectively, but we have purchased some equipment that takes some of this out of the equation.  Take a look at our LCD Testing methodology over here to get a better idea of how we test LCDs.

We won't spend much time in the menu; it is pretty standard although a little stripped down in terms of contrast, color adjustments and the like.  The only real setting in the menu that will help you tweak your screen is the "Brightness" and "Contrast" control.  We've also recently updated our Datacolor Spyder software and this gives us even more options for precision testing. 

 

Color Accuracy: 

We started things off by breaking out the LCD Spyder and finding out how well this unit is set up and how well it produces accurate color.  We did this using the DVI connection.

Uncalibrated
Uncalibrated
Calibrated
 Calibrated
Target + Correction
Target + Correction

 

As you can see above, the color was pretty close to perfect and although the software created a new color profile for this display - the color profile didn't change a whole bunch.  Once the test is done, you can choose before and after comparisons, and there was a slight difference.  The calibrated settings were slightly "warmer".  The biggest thing that had to be done to properly calibrate this display was to turn down the brightness to 49%.  This met the required 200 Candela brightness requirement. 

 

Contrast Ratio & Uniformity: 

With the display now showing "perfect", we proceeded to take our contrast readings.  We used our luminance meter for our traditional contrast settings and it yielded the results below.

 

 Black Spot
White Spot
Contrast Ratio
0.43 244.7 569:1

 

I realize that the maximum luminance could have been a lot higher, but when we test LCDs we make sure that they are calibrated properly and then give you the results that you will see when using them - not the maximum "theoretical" numbers.  After we finished with our luminance meter, we also used the Datacolor Spyder (with its update) to perform contrast readings as various brightness levels.

Contrast

We use our luminance meter in a dark environment to measure brightness uniformity.  To measure brightness, we use a bright white screen and measure across the screen in a grid to get our readings.  The brightest spot is considered to be 100% and the blackest point (with a black screen) is considered to be reference 0%.  The other values are obtained by calculating the difference between the two.  The screen is often brightest near the center.

3D Luminance
 3D Lighting Uniformity
2d Luminance
2D Lighting Uniformity

 

 

Again, we used the updated Spyder software to get a lighting uniformity reading at different brightness levels.  While we take readings with the luminance meter at 77 points on the screen, the software takes readings at nine points and then blends and smooths them out to give you a general idea.  Please note the uniformity and brightness levels below.

Uniformity @ 50%
Uniformity @ 50%
Uniformity @ 67%
Uniformity @ 67%
   

Uniformity @ 83%
Uniformity @ 100%
Uniformity @ 100%

 

As you can see the backlight drops off in certain areas of the display, but never drops below 83% of the brightest point.  While that may sound like a lot, often other "premium" displays from other companies can vary as much as 20%.  The Samsung S27A850 comes in with a maximum 17% variation.  That could be better for sure, but it's not too bad.

On the last page we'll cover some real-world applications and see how it holds up playing movies as well as day-to-day tasks before we wrap things up.

 

Performance - Text:

The majority of my use and is text and internet browsing and I used theS27A850 in this regard as a primary display on a gaming PC for several weeks and was very pleased with the overall text quality.  The resolution on this 27" unit is very high at 2560x1440 and for many people the text size may be a bit on the small size.  I love the ability to have two web pages open side-by-side at a width of 1280px each.  It's a great thing - and extremely handy if you're working on documents, researching or even editing reviews.

Attached Power  

Performance - Video/Photo:

I didn't have much time to watch movies, but I did make sure to watch some HD movies on the S27A850 display.  The downside to having such a high resolution monitor is that standard definition movies look pretty bad.  Even Blu-Ray scales up a bit and doesn't look as crisp - although it is very acceptable.  When it comes to working with photos, once the display is calibrated properly, it is pretty much flawless.  I know there is a lot of debate on whether this is a 6-bit or 8-bit panel, but when calibrated and working on 14-bit RAW images, I never had any issues or noticed any color degradation.

 

Performance - Gaming:

I'm spoiled when it comes to gaming on LCD displays.  I currently use a 30" Samsung 305T or a ASUS 120Hz 3D Monitor and am used to having things run like butter.  Thankfully the S27A850 can deliver a very good gaming experience.  The 5ms GtG rating is fast enough for most games and I noticed there was less "ghosting" on this unit than on the 305T and even the MD230X3 Eyefinity setup we tested a while back.

Even though the screen was completely calibrated for color and brightness, I found that I had to boost up the brightness a bit in game when compared to an uncalibrated display in order to see better in maps like MW3's Village.  Overall, it was a great experience and once I adjusted in-game brightness levels, all was good to go.

 

Eco Action:

Eco(nomical) functions of this display include a motion sensor that can dim or turn off the backlight after 5, 10, 20, 30 or 60 minutes.  This can be adjusted independently of the ambient light sensor.  The ambient light sensor can be tuned to high, medium or low sensitivity.  I recommend medium as a good tradeoff or you'll find that when you pass your hand near the LCD and create a shadow on the sensor the display will dim.  Medium is a much better choice that high in this regard.  Once the ambient light sensor is engaged, you can adjust the current display brightness to be dimmer, the same or brighter than it is by default.  You can also turn on the "Eco Icon Display" that pops up and shows the display dimming or brightening up - depending on the situation.

It comes off as more of a gimmick than a handy feature, but for most of the day I do leave it on.  It's odd to see your LCD adjusting brightness on the fly.  When actually working though, I turn it off so that the brightness stays where I put it.

 

Conclusion:

There is probably a lot more we could cover with the S27A850 LCD from Samsung - such as USB 3.0 port speed and such.  In the end, if you're buying this 2560x1440 panel, you are probably buying it for the resolution and not the USB functionality.  The panel itself is very good and I have absolutely no complaints regarding the screen itself.  It is clear, and has a very fine dot-pitch; making it a great display for photo work.  I do love the ability it has to rotate on the stand to view long text pages easily.  I've used this when doing some coding work at BCCHardware and it's wonderful.

 

The overall build quality of the bezel and stand make it feel like it should be a cheaper display however.  While it won't fall over or break, it doesn't feel as solid as the stand and display that are on other monitors, such as the older 245BW unit that was very popular.  Samsung sacrifices some form for some function here and I'm not sure if it's the best way to go.

The "Eco" options are fun - and while they certainly could help the environment as far as auto dimming your display and auto-off and on when movement is detected, they won't be used by a lot of "professional" people.  If you're editing video or working on photos - or even gaming, you want the display to stay at a certain brightness, and not adjust automatically.  To their credit, Samsung managed to keep the color temperatures the same under different brightness conditions and this is a bonus as the image on the screen will still reflect the true color of the source - and it's not dependent on the brightness to keep things even.

At the end of the day, I could certainly recommend this display to anyone that wants more resolution that the standard 1920x1080 display and although it comes at a very high premium over 1080p 27" displays, for the individual who needs extra resolution - it's a bargain.  Consider that the 305T and other 30" displays that offer 2560x1600 are still priced around $1100 - the $700 price tag of this display that offers 160 less lines of resolution is not a bad deal.

 

Pros:

  • High resolution - 2560x1440
  • 3x USB 3.0 Ports
  • Lots of height adjustment
  • Display can rotate
  • Multiple inputs
  • Good color quality

 

Cons:

  • Construction feels a little cheap
  • No Display Port Cable
  • Premium price for the extra resolution

BCCRating 

Silver

 

I'd like to thank Samsung for sending us this display for the review.  It will be a shame going back to a "small" 24" screen that only allows a width of 1920.  If you have any questions or comments, please post them in the forum at the "Comments" link below.