Like all-in-one PCs, a two-in-one solution of television-cum-PC monitor are much desired, but rarely ever owned and drastically outnumbered by their normal, separate product brethren. There is a good reason for it: price. It seems slapping components in one cool case issues license for manufacturers to charge exuberant prices when similar spec-ed hardware could be bought for half its price.
But if the hardware provides enough juice to back-up its wallet busting price tag, consumers do usually take the hit on the chin and accept it. Apple seems to be doing well, right?
Samsung, usually a company of reasonable wares and prices, has taken a similar liberty with its Syncmaster T27A950 Series 9 LED spectacle. It’s a hybrid of a television, a PC monitor and the Goddess of Beauty. It is crammed with features – HDMI ports, speakers, USBs, 3D, you name it - and its looks? Let’s just that if this Syncmaster were a lady, I would be wearing my best suit to the office every day.
But does this cool case provide the necessary juice to justify its AED 3,499 price tag? That’s what we will be looking at in this review.
Whoever designed the T27A950 must have had an epiphany. The production of dull and drab must end now,
he must have thought. I am going to design a television that not only is not black but will leave everyone gasping for breath. Let practicality be damned, if it has to!
And so he did – the T27A950 is truly a work of art. It’s a showing from the designers of Samsung’s generous faith in them – conveyed via a short message which must have said “hey, you know, go nuts”. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the T27A950 is thee most gorgeous piece of hardware that I have ever laid my eyes on. Its metallic finishing, super slim body, and the swooping arch with which the screen emerges from its stand, unsupported on the other end, is ridiculously stylish and supremely elegant. It does make everything else on the desk look like crap though.
But like the Hummer, the T27A950 is big and bold and is only meant to be used in a single way – in this case, right on the desktop and not in the desert. Practicality was indeed given a damn while designing it and what you now have is a solid, rigid monitor that can do nothing else other than look pretty. Like a PC monitor should, it lacks height adjustment of any kind, and like a TV should, it lacks swivel and wall-mount holes. It only tilts 20 degrees slant, which is barely helpful.
But with whatever it has, the T27A950 is a spotless design all the way through. It doesn’t host the connections on its back, instead delegating the task to the 20 inches foot stand. It’s got 2x USB ports, 2x HDMI, and 1x of headphone jack, optical audio, and composite/component. There is no DVI or VGA sadly, so you will have to make do with the HDMI ports. If you have a PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 that you want to connect to it – yes, now is the time to decide which one of it you hate the most to deserve a component input.
Coming to the ‘operating’ parts of it, the on-screen display controls are hosted on the curve where the display and its singular stand begins to converge. They are touch-based and that means suffering the routine unresponsiveness. Thankfully, you have a nice big remote with nice big chunky buttons as a replacement. It does what a normal TV remote does, including providing access to Samsung Sm@rt Hub – an app store for the television which hosts apps for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and various games and video streaming services. Of course, if you have a PC connected, this becomes quite pointless.
The Sm@rt Hub must be accessed via the Internet of course, for which you will either need to pull a LAN cable or connect through Samsung’s WiFi dongle, which is not included in the package – quite a bummer for its price!
Screen & Color reproduction
The T27A950 uses Samsung’s Ultra Clear Panel, a coating added to the screen to reduce glare and reflections. Unfortunately, that hasn’t done much to help. The screen is highly glossy and reflects light and shadows quite heavily. While using Windows is quite alright, watching movies or playing games on it is an exercise for the neck.
In terms of performance, the display produced accurate colors although they appeared to be excessively washed out. This could be chalked down to the high level of bleeding throughout the canvas. Bleeding on the bottom edges is always visible, and not just in dark scenarios.
In our FlatPanelsDK tests, we also noticed poor color gradient production, with banding visible in almost all colors. On some colors, the banding was unusually terrible; making us reach out for the HDMI cable to see of it was plugged in properly.
Absolutely perfect. No purple tinge, no mysterious shadowing, and no blurriness. The text remained sharp and clean, right down to the tiniest of font size and on multiple color backgrounds.
The 3ms response time of the screen does a good job of keeping any sorts of ghosting at bay. We exercised the screen in our test, and through multiple movies and games, on grey and dark backgrounds, and the screen managed to pull through without much to complain about.
You have to be dead center to have the perfect mix of contrast and brightness. And that includes matching the height level as well. Anything below, or on the sides and you will instantly notice the drop in color accuracy. In fact, you will also notice a drastic shift in brightness as well – with the screen darkening gradually. That’s just unacceptable. Samsung’s ‘Magic Angles’ that compensates color and brightness for standing and leaning positions does nothing as well.
The T27A950 includes one of Samsung’s proprietary, active-shutter 3D glasses. Unlike Sony’s, they are light and flexible, hence stays easy on the nose and almost blends with your spectacles if you wear one. Only problem with it is that it doesn’t cup the eyes too well, leaving lots of open spaces on the top for light to get through. It doesn’t disrupt the 3D image, but it does prove to be distracting.
As for the 3D image, the quality is strictly average. The colors are washed, just like in the normal mode, but the brightness holds up. The image is slightly too sharp but that’s nothing a little tinkering in the setting can’t change.
The display does well to produce depth but it’s marred with crosstalk and extreme flickering. I am usually immune to the effects of 3D, but I got a massive headache within 5mins of using the screen in 3D. The flickering is just too much for my eyes to handle, plus the crosstalk in random places just makes fast moving scenes unwatchable. We tried Rio (side by side), plus a wide array of 3D demos and YouTube 3D videos and they all resulted in the same performance.
If looks could sell, we would be all AED 3,499 lighter. But the Samsung T27A950 TV-monitor hybrid disappoints in almost all fronts – be it color production, viewing angles, ergonomics and even 3D. At its price point, one would rather buy a 32” 1080p TV – they are dirt cheap nowadays, anyway.