Samsung 27" S27B970D Series 9 Super PLS LED Monitor Review @ ModSynergy.com
By: Michael Phrakaysone


For premium displays on the computing market, it has always been the case that you had to choose an IPS display, and for good reason, because for years IPS was the only display technology that was vastly superior to the inferior TN panels that dominate the monitor market for years. 

That was the case until we featured the Series 8 S27A850D from Samsung back one month ago in September.  That model featured and presented Samsung's first foray in competing with IPS technology with their very own continuation of the technology dubbed Super PLS (Plane-to-Line Switching) technology.  ModSynergy was highly impressed with the Samsung S27A850D as it left a lasting impression with what it offered as a full package.

Samsung hopes to provide consumers an alternative to IPS, and believes their Super PLS is the superior technology providing even better viewing angles, better image quality, and better brightness while somehow reducing manufacturing costs by 15% over their IPS counterparts.  For now Samsung is the only manufacture for Super PLS because they own the majority of the patents relating to the technology.  This is off-topic, but I hope someday we can see a Samsung AMOLED monitor on the market.

As with all types of technology, there comes the positives and negatives, and there comes a time when manufacturers aim to improve and push forward the innovation of the technology.  These improvements have been made to LCD technology in just a short amount of time.

The short description is that LCDs require a light source to illuminate the liquid crystals in order for an image to be displayed on the screen.  This used to be in the form of a fluorescent bulb, however, this has been proven not to be efficient.  So what manufactures have done to improve this is to use high power LEDs instead.  Using LEDs has improved efficiency and reduced energy consumption, while providing a brighter screen, and it opens up a huge opportunity of lowering the footprint of the screen dramatically, meaning a thinner screen and more space on your desk table.

Today we look at Samsung's second integration of Super PLS technology in their lineup with this time the Series 9 S27B970D.  What a great follow-up to the Series 8 S27A850D we had for you one month ago.  It will be interesting to see and pinpoint the differences between both models aside from the higher price tag.  One of the key differences being pushed off the bat by Samsung is the built-in calibration engine and factory professional tuning that the Series 9 S27B970D offers out of the box for unmatched visual experience, according to Samsung.

Please read on to see to see if the Samsung Series 9 S27B970D is all that it claims to be and the comparisons with the Series 8 S27A850D which offers the same Super PLS technology but in a different package.  What are the differences between the two?  What are the advantages or disadvantages between each model?  If you want to know which model is best for your needs, you owe it to yourself to continue reading.

About Samsung

“For over 70 years, SAMSUNG has been dedicated to making a better world through diverse businesses that today span advanced technology, semiconductors, skyscraper and plant construction, petrochemicals, fashion, medicine, finance, hotels and more.  Our flagship company, SAMSUNG Electronics, leads the global market in high-tech electronics manufacturing and digital media.
Through innovative, reliable products and services; talented people; a responsible approach to business and global citizenship; and collaboration with our partners and customers, SAMSUNG is taking the world in imaginative new directions.”

Samsung S27B970D Product Overview

Each manually calibrated Series 9 Monitor undergoes an expert, hour-long adjustment process before it reaches your home or office ensuring you get the highest-quality images right out of the box. And once it's yours the built-in calibration engine enables in-home adjustments for the perfect picture every time.

Whether it is for work or play, the Samsung LED Monitor Series 9 is ready to deliver a brilliant and true-to-life visual experience. New features such as the Natural Colour Expert and Accurate Color Presentation ensure that the monitor boasts sharper detail and richer colours. To create colours that are truly life-like, each monitor is professionally calibrated by experts, delivering colours that are as good as nature. And with PLS technology, viewers can enjoy these amazing colours from almost any angle. To complete the experience, the Series 9 monitor features a stunning design, with a hidden Crystal Clear Glass panel display, a Height Adjustable Stand, and a premium Solid Metal Frame.

Samsung S27B970D Product Features

Finely Tuned: Each manually calibrated Series 9 Monitor undergoes an expert, hour-long adjustment process before it reaches your home or office — ensuring you get the highest-quality images right out of the box. And once it’s yours the built-in calibration engine enables in-home adjustments for the perfect picture every time.

Experience colours the way nature intended: With the ingenious built-in color calibration engine and factory professional tuning, Samsung’s LED Monitor Series 9 delivers an unmatched visual experience. Viewers can immerse themselves in colours that are as rich and detailed as nature itself. Samsung specialists tune and perfectly adjust the monitor’s colour to produce the perfect experience. The best-in-class colour control technology provides accurate and genuine colour production. This expert touch that sits within the monitor ensures that transitions are smooth, colours are life-like, and the experience is truly unforgettable.

Perfect blend of function and style: The Samsung LED Monitor Series 9 delivers a premium yet soulful look and feel. The attention to detail ensures that every aspect of the design is stylish and serves a function. A Height Adjustable Stand offers the viewer a choice of height and angle, showing that a monitor can be both stylish and ergonomic. The slim bezel and Crystal Clear Glass hidden panel display looks absolutely stunning, while the Solid Metal Frame adds a sophisticated touch. When design and functional elements come together in such a harmonious manner, as seen with the LED Monitor Series 9, the end result is nothing short of magnificent.

See perfect colours from wherever you sit: Maximise your viewing experience with Samsung’s superior PLS technology (Plane to Line Switching). Regular screens suffer from what is called Colour Shift, which reduces the picture quality and colour when viewed from an acute angle. The Samsung LED Monitor Series 9, which can cover an amazing 178̊ viewing angle both vertically and horizontally, boasts a crisp and detailed picture by maintaining true-to-life colour, even when viewed from extreme angels, so the experience is always vivid and brilliant.

See more content with unbelievable screen resolution: The Samsung LED Monitor Series 9 showcases an astounding WQHD display with 2560x1440 pixel resolution, which is four times the resolution of HD(720p). 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 design and ad agencies and studios. The enhanced screen resolution provides greater efficiency and quality, and really is the must-have when delivering the best experience and high quality.

Experience colours on a new level: Watch over one billion colours explode into life right before your very eyes with Samsung’s LED Series 9 Monitor. With Accurate Color Presentation’s capabilities, viewers can experience colours as nature intended and with stunning clarity. Your favourite movies, games and pictures benefit from true-to-life detail with a wider scope of colours. With over one billion colours, you can immerse you imagination in colours that are unforgettable.

Enhance viewing from mobile to monitor: With Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), experience entertainment with full-size monitor luxury and higher-quality HD viewing. MHL lets you watch video and other content on the move, then easily connect the mobile device to a monitor with the included cable. You can finish viewing in stunning HD anywhere you want, and charge devices while connected, too. Combine portability with home comfort for an optimised view.

The total audio-video solution with built-in speakers: With a built-in Samsung Stereo Speaker, a 5 Way Speaker delivers high-quality stereo sound and a richer multimedia experience. You’ll enjoy enhanced movies and music, as if you were in a theatre or concert, thanks to Samsung’s outstanding audio. Experience total convenience and make the most of home or office space with cost-efficient built-in speakers.

See true colours with Photo Accuracy 100%: Nothing beats true-to-life clarity and colour. Samsung’s Photo Accuracy 100% ensures that your captured moments, whether on digital camera or camcorder, are represented exactly as you remember them. The Photo Accuracy distinguished itself with its sRGB colour, which is the standard colour of digital devices such as monitors, digital cameras and scanner, and brings your captured moments to life without the annoying distortions. The Samsung LED Monitor Series 9 screen reproduces colour for crystal clear, realistic images and is the perfect way to relive precious memories.

Upgrade to the next level with Mega Dynamic Contrast: Mega Dynamic Contrast Ratio delivers new levels of colour and picture quality to your viewing experience with images that are real-to-life. A breathtaking Mega∞ DCR (Static 1000:1) contrast ratio shows blacks at their absolute darkest and pristine whites and other colours at their brightest. You will notice the crystal clear picture clarity. It is like explosions of colours that make other screens seem dull in comparison. Enjoy your multimedia content with the professionalism it deserves.

Samsung Super PLSSamsung LED S27B970DSamsung monitorLED Super PLSSamsungS27B970D

Samsung S27B970D Product Specifications

Display

  • 27" / 68 cm (16 : 9) Screen Size
  • PLS LED Type
  • 285 cd/m² (High Bright Mode) 220 cd/m² (Standard Mode)
  • Mega ∞ DCR (Static 1000 : 1) on High Bright / Cinema Mode
  • 2560 x 1440 (Wide Quad-HD) Resolution
  • 5 ms (Gray-to-gray) Response Time
  • 178° / 178° Viewing Angle (Horizontal/Vertical)
  • 16.7 M Colors Support (8-bit Color Depth)

Design

  • Body: Black Glossy & Metal silver
  • Round stand type
  • HAS (Height Adjustable Stand) 100 mm

Weight

  • 7.9 kg Set Weight with Stand
  • 5.7 kg Set Weight without Stand
  • 10.7 kg Package Weight

Interface

  • HDMI available(1.4 Ver.) x 1
  • Dual Link DVI available x 1
  • Display Port available (1.1 ver.) x 1
  • Built -in Speaker 7 W x 2 ch
  • USB Hub available (Ver 2.0 1 Up, 2 Down)

Power

  • 100 - 240 V (50 / 60 Hz) Power Supply
  • Typ 53 W (W / O USB), Max 63 W (With USB) Power Consumption
  • Under 0.5 W Power Consumption (DPMS)
  • Under 0.5 W Power Consumption (Stand-by)
  • External Adaptor Type (63 W)

Accessories

  • Displayport cable, MHL cable(HDMI to micro 5pin), DVI-Dual-Link cable, USB 2.0 Cable included
  • E-manual, Install CD, Quick Setup Guide, Natural Color Expert Data Sheet included

General Feature

  • Eco Saving, Color Mode (Standard, High Bright, Cinema, sRGB, Calibration), Off Timer
  • Additional PC S / W : NCE(Natural color Expert ) V2 program
  • Win XP / Vista / 7Mac OS Compatibility
  • Windows Certification
  • Energy Star 5.0, TCO 5.0, Environment Mark
  • Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) supported

Dimension

  • 645.0 x 467.0 (567.0) x 247.0 mm Set Dimension with Stand (W x H x D)
  • 645.0 x 402.0 x 23.2 (29.2) mm Set Dimension without Stand (W x H x D)
  • 741 x 563 x 312 mm Package Dimension (W x H x D)

Calibration

  • H / W Calibration Engine available
  • Gamma, Uniformity, Color Coordinate correction
  • LUT (Look-up Table) Bit Depth: 16 bit
  • Gray Balance: ΔEab ≤ 1 on sRGB, Calibration Mode
  • Uniformity Correction : ΔEab ≤ 3, Luminance > 90% , Calibration Mode

Editors Note: Being an HDMI capable monitor, you would think manufacturers would start offering a HDMI cable as part of the package but that is not the case here.

First Impressions, Bundle, Connectivity, and Design Overview

Samsung Super PLS LED S27B970D

When we looked at the Series 8 S27A850D, it was being positioned as a business class monitor, so it came in a pretty standard looking cardboard colored box without any fancy.  Well with the Samsung Series 9 S27B970D and it being advertised as their newest premium monitor, the box that it came in was all about being fancy, after all this is their flagship product.  The rather large box was draped in black and silver accented colors, and the packaging had the smooth feeling material.  Up top was a convenient handle used for easy transportation.  In big bold silver colors was the slogan Experience color like never before on both ends of the box with a few symbols describing the features such as Samsung's Natural Color Expert, PLS, LED, Color Calibrated, and WQHD resolution of 2560x1440.

Opening up the box you are presented with an accessory kit box that is easily slotted within the Styrofoam protection.  This box contains the information booklet, installation CD, and all the various cables and power brick needed in order to get the Super PLS monitor up and running. 

Inside was also a Natural Color Expert Data Sheet that was tailor made and customized for this monitor.  The model and serial number was displayed across the top and provided the results of the monitor being calibrated in the Samsung factory before being shipped ensuring true to form quality once it met the consumers hand.  The form had measurement results and data going over such information like the gray balance, uniformity correction, gamma correction, measurement condition (color temperature, gray level, gamma curve, measurement device used), measurement points on the screen being tested (15 points across the whole screen), and the Delta-E results that is used to indicate how much the colors on this exact monitor that you purchased, deviates from the accepted standard (in this case it shows before calibration, after calibration, and the accepted Delta-E specification standard for comparison). 

With the monitor's main selling point being about Experience color like never before, I was very impressed at the level of assurance the Natural Color Expert Data Sheet gave.  Being factory calibrated in the factory, in my opinion, is a very big advantage the Series 9 S27B970D has over the competition.  This is even an advantage over the Series 8 S27A850D we reviewed previously.  Sure the S27A850D may have almost the same Super PLS panel, however, without being calibrated from the factory with top-notch equipment that costs quite a lot of money, with the Series 8 S27A850D you could never be assured that what you were seeing on screen was what or how it was intended to or meant to be viewed. 

I make the same argument about Studio Monitors (so far I've reviewed from M-Audio) over regular speakers in the audio realm.  Say you pick up a set of regular speakers from your local computer shop.  If those speakers have not been calibrated such as Studio Monitors are, you are not hearing sound the way it is meant to be heard.  You are not hearing sound effects in movies the way the producers intended for them to be heard.  This is because most speakers on the market today filter and influence in their speakers a certain sound feeling quality, a certain frequency is not balance but more tuned in what they feel will make audio sound better

This argument with calibrated vs. non-calibrated monitors such as is the case with the Samsung Series 9 S27B970D, is the same way.  With the Natural Color Expert Data Sheet showing your that this monitor meets a specification Delta-E standard, you are able to know and have assurance that what your eyes see on the screen is an accurate representation, and the way it was intended for it to be seen.  What your eyes see on the screen should not deviate from what your eyes will see in real life of that particular image/object.  

Once you remove the accessory kit box and Styrofoam protection, you can see that the screen is covered with a layer of material protected the whole screen.  You then see the top of the aluminum stand and a plastic cover protecting its finish.

Once you lift the Series 9 S27B970D Super PLS monitor out of the box, you can feel the heft that is 18.04lbs.  Most of the weight is really coming from the stand, because it's not only being used as a base. 

The stand is sturdy and is riddled with brushed real aluminum accents.  The actual screen is not heavy at all, especially the fact that it unconventionally forgoes the power supply and connections.  The actual screen is just the panel and nothing is around it, all it has is a Kensington lock in the rear.  The base is what connects everything together because Samsung has integrated all of the display connections inside the base along with the power jack.  To keep weight down further, the S27B970D uses an external power supply brick.  This makes everything as thin as possible as you are able to see in the gallery of photos.

One of the features that I loved with the Series 8 S27A850D was that it provided a bracket that housed the power brick at the back of the screen to promote better organization.  This brilliantly simple idea is not anywhere to be found in the Series 9 S27B970D.  So your power brick is either sitting on the floor collecting dust, or dangling off somewhere when in use.  This is an advantage for the Series 8 S27A850D.

The Samsung Series 9 S27B970D Super PLS monitor is so disturbingly sexy and elegant that it commands its $1399USD MSRP price tag.  It's drop dead gorgeous and glossy in every perspective that you view it.  It looks so high class that it's a monitor that would look at home in a million dollar home, or a modern design studio.  The exterior is one of the biggest differences the Series 9 S27B970D has over its Series 8 S27A850D brother.  The S27A850D exterior was not glossy but more business oriented black plastic throughout (exception is the brushed aluminum stand), and the screen was a matte finish (something I usually prefer over glossy) compared to the S27B970D that has a crystal clear glass screen and brushed hairline aluminum finishes throughout giving it a clear edge in sophistication and emotion over the S27A850D.  The S27B970D is just absolutely stunning in a purely sexiness scale.

However, has Samsung prioritized form over function with the Samsung Series 9 S27B970D? 

My lasting impression with the Series 8 S27A850D was that it prioritized function over form. 

We'll point out more differences as this review continues, because there are really advantages and disadvantages for both Series 8 and Series 9 Super PLS monitors, I believe this will come down to what you want from a personal preference design, aesthetic, and connectivity viewpoint.  Pay careful attention.

Purchasing the Samsung Series 9 S27B970D, you will find these items bundled in the box…

  • Samsung 27-inch Series 9 S27B970D LED Super PLS Monitor
  • Accessory Box
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Software CD with user manual and monitor driver
  • 14v AC Power Adapter + Right Angle Cord
  • Dual-Link DVI Cable
  • DisplayPort Cable (full-size, without locking mechanism)
  • MHL micro 5-pin to HDMI Cable (Mobile High-Definition Link - connect Smartphone to display)
  • USB 2.0 A-B Cable

Editor's Note: Notice that with this bundle, again there is no straight HDMI cable included.  Also notice that you DO NOT have a 3.5mm to 3.5mm Audio IN cable included, this is because there is NO Audio IN jack on the Series 9 S27B970D. Notice as well there is NO headphone jack on the Series 9 S27B970D, whereas the Series 8 S27A850D DOES have the Audio IN jack AND headphone jack.  I will give you a scenario later on that makes having an Audio IN jack an advantage.   

Out of the box, the Samsung Series 9 S27B970D is fully assembled from the factory, and there is no need to mount the base or things such as that.  You literally take the monitor out of the box, connect a display wire, power brick, and you're ready to go in a few minutes.

The Stand - It has touch sensitive buttons too

Samsung Electronics

The stand that comes with the Series 9 S27B970D is beautiful because it flows with the rest of the design, especially if you see the monitor on its profile.  The aluminum bar connects the Super PLS panel and the base that has the connectivity options.  It also allows the Series 9 S27B970D to become height adjustable, and able to tilt up and down, but that's about it.  The design of this bar limits and really hampers what could have been possible with what the Series 9 S27B970D can do.  It can only adjust its height and tilt a couple of degrees up and down, nothing else.   

When you go back and read my Series 8 S27A850D review, you can clearly see the neck design on the S27A850D is significantly better in many regards over the Series 9 S27B970D.  It can adjust in height and tilt like the Series 9 S27B970D can, however, it can do more.  It can swivel left to right, and it can rotate to portrait mode, something the Series 9 S27B970D CANNOT do.

This is what I meant about the Series 8 S27A850D and how it seemingly prioritized function over form.

With the Series 9 S27B970D you cannot swivel the screen left to right without lifting or pushing the base to do so manually.  I'm not even sure why Samsung couldn't have made the base have swiveling capabilities, as the neck doesn't have to be the only one that can add this function.  The neck though does limit the ability of positioning the screen in portrait mode, a significant advantage on the Series 8 S27A850D.

With the Series 9 S27B970D there are no tactile buttons to be seen anywhere on the monitor.  I had no clue where the buttons were supposed to be on this monitor until I powered it on for the first time.  Interestingly enough, there are illuminated sensitive touch controls at the end of the base as it flows down beneath the lower bezel on the screen.  I think this is quite cool and keeps everything looking clean, however, I think Samsung should have included a small remote control that could access the OSD and make adjustments and changes.  Having the sit up and reach forward to touch the sensitive buttons ended up being something I didn't enjoy having to do too often.  Since no remote is given, I think I actually liked the tactile buttons on the  Series 8 S27A850D better because with touch sensitive buttons in general, there is a bit of a lag to get used to when executing the command, and sometimes it doesn't register your touch, unless you press a little harder.  With tactile buttons, you press, it clicks and gets the job done faster.

As I mentioned before with the base of the Series 9 S27B970D, it contains the connectivity options at the back of the base.  When comparing how the Series 9 monitor sat on my desk as opposed to the Series 8, the S27A850D's stand was able to sit flush against the wall, whereas the S27B970D cannot sit flush against the wall because the cables stick out and hit the wall and might bend or break.  The connections are at the very rear, whereas with the Series 8 S27A850D, the connections are side mounted, which turns out to be better for me. 

This brings me to the point of the DisplayPort cable that was included.  As I was trying to have the monitor sit as closely to the wall, the cable somehow slipped out of the socket.  Some DisplayPort cables have locking pins out them to prevent them from falling out of the socket.  Samsung included one that had no locking pin mechanism.  I could see why. 


The connections are integrated into the round base on the S27B970D, however, the top of the base sticks out a little further over the connections (like a lip).  This covers the top of the connections basically to hide them a bit and make things look nicer so it doesn't stick out.  However, it functionally hinders the possibility of using a DisplayPort cable with a locking pin mechanism because (as you will see in the gallery), if you were to use a cable with a locking mechanism, you would have a hard time removing it as your thumb wouldn't be able to press the locking mechanism to remove the cable.  You would have to stick something in between the cable and the lip of the base in order to remove it.  I used a dongle to illustrate my point.  This comes back to my argument between function over form and form over function.  You can create a killer looking design, but can also do it at expense of actual function.  This is one of those examples. 

Some monitors have the problem of wobbling if you do something to shake the table, and the Samsung S27B970D also exhibits that issue because the panel is pretty light and its floating off the neck.   It wobbles just a tad so it's not a huge problem.

Visual Overview

Front

The first time I lay my eyes on the Samsung S27B970D, I was blown away by just how thin it is!  The screen panel is almost thumb finger size thin.  This obviously is one of Samsung's thinnest monitor's yet.  The bezel in front of the screen is equally thin, although its lower bezel is larger.  Some people might say this and to a degree I can see their point.  The Series 9 S27B970D will undoubtedly be compared to the Apple Cinema Display (or the Apple Thunderbolt Display as they now call it) in the way it looks.  There are both strikingly beautiful  yet also almost the same, there are characteristics that are shared by both so I would understand when someone says it looks like an Apple. 

Front

Underneath Bezel

Throughout the sides of the screen you can see the accented aluminum look.  Underneath the bezel contains the speaker ports.  Yes two speakers sit underneath and are down firing in form.  There are two built-in 7-watt speakers totaling 14-watts of power.

Notice there are security bits securing everything into place. 

bezel

Rear

There's not much back here, but it definitely looks beautiful because of the black brushed hairline finish.  An orange sticker sits on the left side of the monitor where a silver Samsung logo is also placed above the sticker.  There is another small sticker right in the center the panel that indicates the model code, serial number and version of the monitor. 

On the lower right hand corner of the panel lays a single Kensington locking mechanism 

rear

Connectivity

All the connections are at the bottom of the base stand.  Here you find 1 DC 14v power jack, 1 HDMI/MHL jack, 1 Dual-Link DVI, 1 DisplayPort 1.1 jack , 1 PC IN USB port for the 2 USB 2.0 port hub at the side of the base.

Samsung

Editors Note: The Series 9 S27B970D has a 2-port  USB 2.0 hub.  The Series 8 S27A850D contains a 3-port USB 3.0 hub.  Advantage Series 8 in this regard.

The Series 8 S27A850D has more connectivity options over the Series 9 S27B970D.  It has 2 DVI ports, a 3-port USB 3.0 hub, an Audio IN jack and a headphone jack.  The Series 9 S27B970D lacks these additional ports and features.  The only advantage is that the Series 9 S27B970D has an HDMI port, something the Series 8 S27A850D lacks, it only maintains DL-DVI and DisplayPort.

Earlier I talked about the scenario where having an Audio IN jack (such as the Series 8 S27A850D has) is better than not having it. 

Well the scenario is this. 

If you use the Dual-Link DVI port, you can use the highest 2560x1440 resolution, but you CANNOT use the internal speakers because there is NO Audio IN jack (DVI only transmits video).  Well that makes no sense...

Then let's use the HDMI jack instead.  Great, I can use the internal speakers now!  Oh wait...I CANNOT use the highest resolution of 2560x1440 because HDMI only goes up to 1920x1080! Shucks....

The only possible way in this case to use the highest resolution of 2560x1440, and the integrated speakers at the same time is by using the DisplayPort connection if you have it (carries both video and audio at the same time).  That is the problem, some folks do not have DisplayPort, and if they do, they might have a mini DisplayPort connection, which requires them to go out and spend $20+ on a mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter dongle.

If Samsung would have added 1 Audio IN jack, you wouldn't have had this issue with DL-DVI.  You could use your DL-DVI to obtain the highest resolution of 2560x1440, and also obtain audio to use the integrated speakers by way of the Audio IN jack.  But as you can see with the base, there's no more room to add anymore connections.  Is this another indication of the form over function debate?  I think it is.

The On-Screen Display - The Flexibility of Options

The OSD is one of the areas where the Series 9 S27B970D has a big advantage over the Series 8 S27A850D.  Once you head into the menu, you realize there are a ton of options available to tweak, much more so than what is offered on the S27A850D.  The options that are missing from the S27A850D, just to name a few, are obviously calibration menus, color temperature Kelvin temperature (4000K-10000K), and Gamma selection (1.6-2.7).  These are the kinds of options that magazine designers use every day and understand from the inside out in order to have a correct matching color profile from all their devices and equipment.

OSD

It's good to note that depending on which color mode setting you choose from (Standard, High Bright, Cinema, sRGB, Calibration) the amount of options that may or may not be available vary.  For example, if you select the code mode called Calibration, there are a number of options in the OSD that become grayed out, or unavailable.  It becomes unavailable because these settings are pre-mapped from the factory (remember the Natural Color Expert Data Sheet?) and are ideal for accuracy.  But why would you ever want to switch color modes when the whole point of the monitor is that its factory calibrated?  I would suggest sticking with either Standard, sRGB or Calibration color modes.

The Series 8 S27A850D may not have been factory calibrated from the factory, and in that regard, it's at an obvious disadvantage to the Series 9 S27B970D, the only way you can close that gap is by investing in a color calibration tool.  They range from the more inexpensive models such as the DataColor Spyder, or really expensive models that Samsung actually used in the factory, such as the Konica Minolta CA-210/CA-310, xrite i1Pro series, i1Display Pro, or xrite ColorMunki Design/ColorMunki Photo calibrators. 

Natural Color ExpertColor CalibrationCalibration

When you use these above expensive color calibrator equipment that is supported by Samsung (not the Spyder), the color calibration is done at hardware level (the best way) because it works in conjunction with the monitors 16-bit depth LUT, and the included Natural Color Expert software.  Yes Samsung includes their own full featured software that is compatible with the more expensive color calibrators listed above.  To calibrate your monitor, you connect the supported calibrator to the USB hub, open up the Natural Color Expert software, change the monitor color mode to Calibration, and follow the steps in the software to calibrate the monitor.  In this mode just about all options are grayed out, this allows the calibrator to do its work, and save the profile directly onto the monitors OSD color mode Calibration.  That is some really fine stuff!   

Now if you purchase the Series 8 S27A850D because it has the same Super PLS technology, well you don't have the amount of fine tuning options that is available on the S27B970D.  It's not factory checked and calibrated in the factory.  There is no way to calibrate the monitor at hardware level, however, at software level by using a color calibrator such as the DataColor Spyder or similar, I am confident that you can at least close that gap and have equally as good as a result, it would create a Windows color profile in this case.  It would actually be simpler for some people, as the software handles all the brightness, black level, color temperature, gamma settings automatically without you actually knowing the specific values.  For the heck of it, I tried at the software level (with monitor color mode as Calibration) calibrating the monitor with the Spyder2 to see if there were any differences at the hardware level settings already set in the Calibration color mode setting, and the result surprisingly wasn't much different, although you can notice slight adjustments when comparing before and after results. 

Performance - How does it perform?

Uniformity, Clouding and pixels

There is no clouding issues at all. This is not like those pesky TN panels.

Uniformity of the screen is excellent.  The 15-points measurement that the Natural Color Expert Data Sheet said that was done at the factory, well it seems spot on.  This can be attributed to the 16-bit LUT (Look-up Table) bit depth processing technology inside the actual panel driver.  Some other competing products have a lower LUT (or no LUT at all) bit depth that is inferior to this one.  Having a higher LUT number will allow more precise tonal transitions on the monitor and this is a big thing being pushed by Samsung with their Experience color like never before slogan.  In theory the transitions between colors should be finer and more precise, this translates into things like blacks and shadows in images or movies when being viewed on the monitor.

I only see one stuck pixel if I am being very picky, I did not even notice it at all until I had a black background.  The good thing is that it's near the edge of the screen where it doesn't really affect viewing.  

The Series 9 S27B970D contains an 8-bit color depth Super PLS panel.  There are other competing IPS panels that offer a wider gamut range through its 10-bit color depth panel.  But 8-bit depth is usually the standard and is still top-quality.  You might not even know the difference if it was right in front of you.

 I don't believe there is a way to wall mount this if you wanted, there is no VESA mount points.

Check out these amazing shots, much more in the gallery. Photos don't do the monitor justice. You have to see it to believe it.


Performance – Usage

From a purely picture quality perspective, the Series 9 S27B970D is absolutely on another level when compared to the Series 8 S27A850D. 

I believe this is due to a number of factors.  One is obviously being factory calibrated.  The second is that the S27B970D has a semi glossy glass screen compared to the matte screen on the S27A850D.  As much as I prefer matte screens (I prefer less reflections), the glass screen on the S27B970D is just on a different level, and doesn't showcase a fine grain texture to your eyes if you look closely, something  matte coatings can give off.

Having a glass screen on the S27B970D allows you to perceive things differently than if it were on a matte screen.  It allows a cleaner picture, better sharpness, eye-popping colors (you can perceive this to be too much), and a clear picture overall.  For example, I remember looking at a certain photo with the Series 8 S27A850D, and I found the same image and viewed it with the S27B970D.  It looked better, on another level better.  It was razor sharp, eye-popping, just impeccable.  But you really do have to have the monitor sitting in the right environment to fully enjoy it.  I could sit the Series 8 S27A850D just about anywhere and not be annoyed by reflections or light shining on the screen, and I really appreciated that.   

The viewing angles also appear to be better than the S27A850D.  You can be sitting in any direction and you won't have issues seeing what is on screen.  There is no much color shift at all, certainly worlds better than a TN panel.  Text looks sharp on screen and there are little to no issues when font size is tiny.  Some monitors have a hard time with tiny font, this one doesn't. 

Whites are white, and blacks are really black.  Out of the box this was evident in movies.  I needed to adjust HDMI black levels and the contrast/brightness a little bit to suit my taste, because I felt that the blacks were just too black, and that the shadows were suffering because of it.

Pressing the power button and having an image on the display takes only 2 seconds, making it super quick.

I notice the same amount of ghosting (lag) as I did with the S27A850D, it's not the best, but it's certainly not the worse and will not pose much of an issue.  There are actually three options for response time in the OSD (normal, faster, fastest).   I can play games such as Street Fighter IV, Formula 1, and watch Blu-Ray movies on my Playstation 3 without issues.

The only issue I have with the S27B970D are the reflections.  The glossy glass screen makes it hard to take photos, and it makes it hard for me to not notice reflections.  It's almost like a mirror at times.  I have blinds behind me and I can see them on the screen.  I close my blinds and I can still see them.

I bring the S27B970D downstairs so I connect my Playstation 3 to it, but I have to tilt the monitor away from the direction of the window so I won't see it on screen.  You have position it away from any windows or any bright light sources to have the best possible experience. 

Having a glossy surface means that you notice as well more dust, and more fingerprints the more you play around with the monitor.  Again glossy vs. matte is a personal preference and depends on your surrounding environment.  I think I like the tradeoffs of owning a matte screen more than I do a glass screen, but that's just me.

The two internal speakers totaling 14-watts is down firing as I mentioned earlier.  You know what I'm going to say already.  I'm going to say invest in external speakers.  However, with the fact that there is no Audio IN jack, that kind of ruins my suggestion.  I don't get not having an Audio IN jack, or having a headphone jack for that matter (look at my previous scenario earlier in the review to see why not having an Audio IN jack was a bad idea). 

Speaker sound quality is not the best.  It can get pretty loud depending on the source, however, it doesn't feel like it's coming toward you (as it is facing downward).  It doesn't sound 100% vibrant, not crystal clear, the treble and highs on this far is much higher than the lows and mids.  It does sound better than notebook speakers.  Good thing was that I didn't notice distortions, even at super high volume levels.  Sadly I noticed there were no OSD audio adjustments, which was very surprising.  Sound quality was not reflective of the premium price tag.  I believe the speakers on the Samsung S27B750V I reviewed previously was better in terms of sound quality.

Conclusion

This is an interesting review.  You must take all of the comments I made from start to finish and form your own conclusions that suits your own personal preferences.  When compared to the Series 8 S27A850D, it has the same type of Super PLS technology on board, however, it comes in a completely different package than the sexy Series 9 S27B970D.

I believe it comes down to whether you prefer form over function, or if you prefer function over form.

I would say that there are advantages and disadvantages to both.  I feel the Series 9 S27B970D is form over function, and the Series 8 S27A850D is function over form.  It's clearly obvious just by looking at them.

The Series 9 S27B970D has the clear advantage of being factory color calibrated from the factory letting you Experience color like never before.  This is also bolstered by the semi glossy glass screen that allows images on screen to appear clearer, with better sharpness, better viewing angles, and better eye-popping colors.

However, the Series 8 S27A850D isn't too bad itself.  I definitely remember my impressions on the monitor.  You can argue that the picture quality performance gap can be closed if you invest in a color calibration equipment. 

The Series 8 S27A850D also has advantages over the S27B970D in terms of functionality and connectivity.  Functionality wise, the S27A850D can reposition itself in portrait mode, and it can swivel from left to right, something the S27B970D cannot do.  Connectivity wise, the S27A850D has an Audio IN jack, headphone jack, power brick integration, a second DL-DVI port, and a 3-port USB 3.0 hub, something that the S27B970D lacks completely.  The S27B970D has only a 2-port USB 2.0 hub, and doesn't have the extra DVI port, Audio IN jack (which is apparently important as noted earlier in the review), no headphone jack, and no integration of the power brick that promotes organization.   

But if it comes down the performance, the Series 9 S27B970D is the clear winner.

The choice is yours. 

In a certain online retailer in Canada, I found the Series 9 S27B970D selling for $1149.99CAD.  The Series 8 S27A850D sells for $849.99CAD.  Is the Series 9 S27B970D worth the extra $300CAD?  You can decide for yourself if the extra $300 is worth it.  Make no mistake though, both Super PLS LED monitors are top-notch performers in their own regards.

I just wish it wasn't so expensive, it's out of reach for my pockets and I imagine many others as well.

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