Samsung SyncMaster 27A850D, 27” PLS Monitor Review
For today’s professionals 24” is simply not enough screen real-estate to be truly efficient but stepping up to a 30” monster is usually constrained by a large footprint. Meanwhile, most gamers aren’t quite as desk space limited but simply don’t have the disposable income necessary for a 30” purchase. So here we have two distinct market niches which are essentially looking for the same type of product and several manufacturers have stepped up to the plate by offering high resolution, wide color gamut 27” displays. Until recently these 27” displays fit into one of two categories: IPS-based products that cost almost as much as their 30” siblings or poor quality 1080P monitors which did nothing other than stretch a limited number of pixels over a huge amount of real estate.
Earlier this year Samsung tried a path less travelled with their 27” Central Station monitor, but it really wasn’t designed for a particularly demanding clientele. On the other hand, their brand new SyncMaster 27A850D could be what professionals and other demanding users have been waiting for. It is designed and marketed directly towards the business class consumer but this also means there’s plenty to like for gamers, photographers and even those who are less technically inclined but just want drop dead gorgeous picture quality.
Like many other products market to the professional crowd, no expense has been spared when it came to packing this monitor with features while ensuring that ridiculous marketing jargon and unnecessary frills didn’t get in the way of excellence. You won’t see boasts of 240Hz or even 120Hz abilities here nor are there look-at-me racing stripes or clear Lucite front fascias. Even boasts of “1080p” capabilities have been thrown into the gutter. What we have here is a panel meant for serious work at an ultra high resolution of 2560 x 1440 with full 100% sRGB coverage and a response time of 5ms.
For the past couple of years IPS panels have been the de-facto standard for picture quality aficionados, but this new 850 takes a different approach. Rather than rely on an In Plane Switching panel, Samsung as taken their PLS – or Plane to Line Switching – technology which has been made famous on some tablets and is using it as the basis for their latest backlit LED creation. PLS may be a newer – and proprietary – technology but it does have some tangible benefits over IPS like enhanced viewing angles with noticeably less brightness degradation when viewed at extreme angles. This coupled with the fact that PLS can offer just as wide a color gamut and just as rich and vibrant a picture as IPS means on paper the SyncMaster 27A850D may just be able to woo consumers away from other options.
Unfortunately, monitors that have such lofty expectations in such a demanding market often command a premium and the 27A850D is no exception. A price of around $800 places it firmly outside the reach of anyone looking for an inexpensive big screen monitor but among the limited 27” IPS-totting competition the price of entry certainly isn’t outrageous. There may not be all that many competing products but considering Dell’s U2711 hits $925 and HP’s HP ZR2740w routinely goes for $750, the new 850 series will live or die by its performance.
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