At the 2013 CES Samsung made a point to demonstrate the excellent accuracy of their monitors. They had an example of the automated calibration routine they go through at the factory. Using a Konica Minolta CA-310 meter, 25 points on the screen are measured to ensure uniformity and accuracy in every high-end monitor they produce. Included in the box of the S27B971D model that I am reviewing, there is a sheet of results showing the accuracy of the display. Very few vendors have displayed this level of confidence in their monitors, or commitment to calibration, so seeing how well Samsung can live up to their words is something I wanted to find out.

Samsung is one of the very few vendors making their own panel today. Most 27” WQHD panels out there are IPS models from LG. Some vendors use higher quality panels than others but they almost all come from the same source. Samsung produces their own PLS panels and one is used in the S27B971D display. PLS claims lower power consumption and lower manufacturing costs, than a comparable IPS panel. I can’t verify the latter, but we can check the former later in the review.

One thing that is true of the Samsung displays that I have reviewed is that they look stunning. The S27B971D is a gorgeous piece of industrial design with nice metal touches, curved lines, and an overall stunning look on the desktop. This design comes at a price however: the display lacks pivot or swivel functionality, and there are no VESA mounting holes for a different stand. As the base has all the electronics built into it this would be an impossibility anyway. You can adjust the height and a bit of tilt, but you’re stuck otherwise. Given the base design I’m unsure why they couldn’t have integrated at least swivel into it, but it is missing.

Another Samsung hallmark are the touch-sensitive controls. My last experience with these was a disaster as they would ignore commands and made even changing inputs a challenge. These are much better behaved, but they still sometimes miss a finger press or two. It makes the monitor look great, but I’d rather have buttons I can actually press and get a tactile response. Perhaps integrated into the front of the base, or much larger touch sensitive controls in the base, would work better.

When they do work the OSD that Samsung provides is well laid out. Navigating the menus is easy and the choices are intuitive. If the controls worked 100% of the time then the OSD would be one of the best on the market. As it is it responds at least 90% of the time, but the missed ones really can get to you (particularly if you use the OSD regularly, as I'm apt to do in a monitor review).

There are five preset modes in the S27B971D display: Standard, High Brightness, Cinema, sRGB, and Calibrated. Using standard you have access to all the controls including brightness and contrast, white balance and gamma. Using sRGB or Calibrated locks those down. You can still adjust the brightness in sRGB mode but in Calibrated everything is disabled. If you wish to adjust the Calibrated settings you can do so using the Natural Color Expert software from Samsung and a meter. They are then locked away so they can’t be adjusted by yourself or anyone else. High brightness pushes the maximum light output past 300 cd/m^2 but at the expense of accuracy while Cinema is designed for Blu-ray players and such over HDMI.

On paper the S27B971D looks like a nice display, and according to the included calibration report it should be really accurate. I needed to test to find out for sure.

Samsung S27B971D
Video Inputs DVI-DL, DisplayPort, HDMI
Panel Type PLS
Pixel Pitch 0.2331mm
Colors 16.7 Million
Brightness 220 cd/m^2 (standard), 300 cd/m^2 (bright)
Contrast Ratio 1000:1
Response Time 5ms GtG
Viewable Size 27"
Resolution 2560x1440
Viewing Angle (H/V) 178/178
Backlight White LED
Power Consumption (operation) 63W Max
Power Consumption (standby) 0.5W Typical
Screen Treatment Anti-Glare
Height-Adjustable Yes
Tilt Yes
Pivot No
Swivel No
VESA Wall Mounting No
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 25.4" x 18.4" x 9.7"
Weight 16.5 lbs.
Additional Features 7W stereo speakers
Limited Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Power cable, power brick, DVI cable, DisplayPort cable, USB cable, MHL cable
Price $990

 

Brightness and Contrast
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  • hbsource - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    As someone once said, 'There's no such thing as a bad product, just bad pricing.' That seems to be the case here. Reply
  • Da W - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    For that price i got 3 ASUS PA248Q monitors, which are pretty good. Reply
  • hero1 - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Tell me about it. That is way more than the Dell U2713HM that I have. Samsung screwed up here. Reply
  • Silma - Saturday, November 02, 2013 - link

    Very happy with the Dell U2713HM, far less expensive and superior in almost all ways to the Samsung. Reply
  • Gothmoth - Saturday, November 02, 2013 - link

    the dell 2713HM is complete crap fro real work.
    it´s a gaming monitor but no match for people who need a good colormanaged monitor.

    no sane person intersted in accuracy would use the dell over a eizo or nec.
    the samsung is better then the dell but no match to eizo or nec monitors aroun 1000 euro.
    Reply
  • wavetrex - Sunday, November 03, 2013 - link

    Who said every monitor must be for GRAPHICS work ?
    I can work my programming just fine on the 2713HM and do everything else on the computer without noticing any real "color" problems. Excellent monitor for the price !
    This Samsung however breaks the bank. 27" WQHD really need to come down in price, not up...
    Reply
  • cheinonen - Friday, November 01, 2013 - link

    The PA248Q is only 1920x1200 so Apples to Oranges, but yes the price is wrong. If the measured performance had matched the data sheet, it would have worked at $1,000 for a certain audience. That after a WQHD display with really accurate color and uniformity but that doesn't need a color gamut beyond sRGB. As the post-calibration numbers show, it is capable of very high performance.

    Unfortunately it didn't meet that. I don't know if mine was a bad sample or if they measure a different way, but it didn't hit the level of performance the price point would require. It's a nice display, I've been using it post-calibration and it's really great, but most people lack $1,000+ in calibration gear to bring out that performance. Hopefully Samsung can get it right in the next generation, because it has a lot of potential.
    Reply
  • deeps6x - Friday, November 01, 2013 - link

    "The PA248Q is only 1920x1200.."

    Quite frankly I'd rather have the extra 120 pixels in screen height than the higher resolution.

    2560 x 1600 monitors please.
    Reply
  • Bakes - Friday, November 01, 2013 - link

    I have to agree with you. I think 16:10 just seems more usable. I don't mind that movies are letterboxed. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, November 01, 2013 - link

    Have you used a 27" 1440p monitor? Sure, 1600p is great, but they usually cost twice as much and there is much less competition. I came from a 24" 1920x1200 monitor to a Samsung S27A850D (luckily without the complaints many people had with it, lots of backlight bleed and other stuff), and the narrower picture doesn't really bother me, the higher resolution in all axes is much more important for me. And since Win7 with the easy side-by-side view of applications, productivity is even higher. Reply

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