Samsung S24B750V

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Introduction

Samsung likes to push the boat out with the styling of their monitors. They took their aesthetic innovations to new heights last year with the release of the SA950 series of 3D monitors which featured a unique asymmetrical stand design. The SB750 series, which is new for 2012, features a similar asymmetric design but replaces metals with glossy coated plastics and features several changes to design and features. The series includes the 24” S24B750 (reviewed here), 27” S27B750 and hybrid ‘TB750’ versions with built in HDTV tuners.

The SB750 ‘Smart Monitors’ are distinctive from the SA750 and SA950 series in that they do not feature 120Hz refresh rates or native 3D capabilities. They also feature a matte anti-glare surface in place of Samsung’s glossy Ultra Clear Panel and include some new features such as an MHL (Mobile High Definition Link) port and built in ‘5-way speakers’. They are certainly intended to stand out and Samsung has done a great job of that on the outside, but what’s on the inside is also important. We will be taking the S24B750 through its paces and finding out whether the premium design and price tag can be matched by premium performance.

Specifications

The basic specifications certainly do little to separate the 24” SB750 from other (significantly cheaper) models. This is a 24” 60Hz LED-backlit TN panel monitor with a 2ms grey to grey response time priced at around £250 (300 USD) for the standard model. A slightly cheaper ‘H’ model is available in the UK for £230 – this model forgoes the speakers and MHL port and only includes one HDMI port instead of two. There is of course a lot more to a monitor than can be shown by its ‘on paper’ specifications and that is exactly what we will be investigating in this review.

Screen size: 24 inches
Panel type: TN (Twisted Nematic) LCD
Native resolution: 1920 x 1080
Colour support: 16.7 million (6-bits per subpixel + dithering)
Response time (G2G): 5ms
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Weight: 6kg
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 (Plus ‘MEGA’ Dynamic Contrast)
Viewing angle: 170º horizontal, 160º vertical
Power consumption: 30W typical
Backlight: WLED (White Light Emitting Diode)
Typical RRP as reviewed: £230 (H model), £250/$300 USD (V model

Features and aesthetics

The Samsung S24B750V adopts the asymmetrical stand design of the SA950 but replaces brushed metal with a quite fetching glossy monochrome design. An ‘all black’ version is also available in the US and other select regions, but our review sample is black and white as per all current UK versions. As with the 950 series the stand has a significant base footprint and isn’t too economical as far as desk space goes. It should also be noted that the bezels are somewhat thicker on this model at 17mm for the side edges and 15mm for the top edges – this is still relatively thin.

The S24B750 features a matte screen surface in place of the glossy Ultra Clear Panel found on its 3D counterparts. The haze value, which describes how readily this surface diffuses light, is moderate and not considered ‘low haze’ or ‘semi glossy’ as seen on some Samsung laptops and monitors. This does have an effect on the image, as we explore in the review and further in this article, but is relatively effective at handling glare.

As with the SA950, the SB750 has touch sensitive controls built into the stand neck. These are not illuminated nor as intuitively arranged as before. They are placed in a line without clustered directional arrows and feature a small ice white power LED to the right of the power button.

If you press any of the buttons to the left of the power button an on-screen menu pops up with button labels. A further key press is then required to activate the desired button. This is designed to minimise accidental initial key presses (for example changing source without meaning to) but does mean the menu pages are an extra key press away. Perhaps most frustrating in this ‘system’ is that you can’t customise any of the buttons, making something as simple as changing brightness a bit of a chore. The up arrow is used on its own to activate the MHL (Mobile High Definition Link) mode and the down arrow to adjust volume – possibly two of the rarest things you’d want to do as a PC user.

Complaints aside the OSD (On Screen Display) is similar to Samsung’s 2011 models. The S24B750V lacks the ‘Eco Motion’ and ‘Eco Light’ sensors found on the 3D models, so ‘Eco’ options simply alter the brightness. The options available in the OSD are shown in the video below. One thing that is particularly nice to see is that the HDMI ports can be set to ‘DVI mode’ which should ensure an optimal signal for PC use and proper treatment of the monitor by the GPU

From the side the monochrome theme continues. You can see that the stand curves upwards towards the centre and is coated in the high-grade Perspex favoured by Samsung. The monitor is a touch thicker than the finger-thin 3D models with a peak depth of around 28mm. This is due to the ports, assistive electronics and speakers being located behind the screen rather than inside the base.

From the side the monochrome theme continues. You can see that the stand curves upwards towards the centre and is coated in the high-grade Perspex favoured by Samsung. The monitor is a touch thicker than the finger-thin 3D models with a peak depth of around 28mm. This is due to the ports, assistive electronics and speakers being located behind the screen rather than inside the base.

The rear of the monitor is fairly flush and glossy white with speaker and ventilation grills at the top and a hinged attachment to the base at the bottom. This gives the monitor around 20 degrees of backwards tilt and up to 5 degrees of forward tilt as the only ergonomic adjustment option. As is common on Samsung’s entertainment monitors the stand is permanently attached and there is no opportunity for VESA mounting. Samsung has also been quite conservative with their inputs and outputs but have included important ‘multi-device’ and multimedia ports. From left to right as shown in the image below; DC power input, HDMI and multifunction HDMI/MHL port, VGA port, audio input and audio output. No USB, DisplayPort or DVI on this one – and a separate MHL port at the front or side (for easy access) wouldn’t have gone amiss, either. Despite the slightly awkward location of the MHL port it did work as advertised on a Samsung Galaxy S II that we tested. The monitor basically becomes a larger version of the phone, complete with audio, whilst also charging the phone.

For the sake of completeness the 5W up-firing stereo speakers were also tested. These did not produce the kind of rich and full sound that a separate and more powerful set of speakers can produce. As far as built in monitor speakers go, though, these were some of the better ones we’ve tested. The sound had enough depth and bass not to sound ‘tinny’ and could be set to a good volume without excessive distortion. We didn’t find the volume increase past ’50’ particularly significant, although this should be loud enough in most situations anyway. Samsung also provides some sound presets to play around with – ‘Standard’, ‘Music’, ‘Movie’ and ‘Clear Voice’.

Calibration

Modern TN panel monitors often need a bit of tweaking to get the most out of the image. The S24B750V proved no exception with an overly bright and washed out image. Perhaps most worrying was the excessive sulfurous tint to the image which really knocked colours off balance. Using a set of familiar wallpapers, images, the Lagom website and a Spyder4Elite colorimeter we tweaked the image using the available OSD options. After extensive testing using a multitude of settings we settled for the following:

Brightness= 50 (according to preferences and lighting)

Contrast= 75

Gamma= Mode 3

Red= 52

Green= 44

Blue= 50

You can see just how tightly the gamma curve of ‘Gamma 3’ (black line) fits with the common 2.2 target (light blue line). Due to panel limitations there is variation beyond this but it is nice to see this kind of result from one of the three main gamma modes. It is also important to note that different individual monitors and computer systems will display things slightly differently and that these settings should be used as guidance and not some sort of holy grail. For reference our test system was using an AMD Radeon HD 7950 connected via HDMI and using the default YCbCr 4:4:4 pixel format in Catalyst Control Centre.

Contrast and brightness

Using a KM CS-200 ‘Chroma Meter’ the luminance of ‘white’ and ‘black’ was measured under a range of settings and the resulting contrast ratio was calculated. For the first 6 rows of the table below the default values for contrast, gamma and colour balance under standard mode were maintained. The highest white luminance, lowest black luminance and highest overall contrast ratio are highlighted in black and the results under our test settings in blue.

Monitor Profile White luminance (cd/m2) Black luminance (cd/m2) Contrast ratio (x:1)
‘Custom’, 100% brightness 300 0.30 1000
‘Custom’, 80% brightness 252 0.25 1008
‘Custom’, 60% brightness 202 0.20 1010
‘Custom’, 40% brightness 145 0.14 1036
‘Custom’, 20% brightness 89 0.09 989
‘Custom’, 0% brightness 33 0.03 1100
Test settings, 75 brightness, 75 contrast (other settings customised) 184 0.19 968
‘Game’ 300 0.30 1000
‘Cinema’ 275 0.29 1021

The S24B350V gave a pleasing contrast performance with average static contrast (brightness only adjusted) of 1024:1. The peak white luminance was recorded as 300 cd/m2 which comfortably exceeds the 250 cd/m2 specified by Samsung. The monitor also went down an impressively dim 33 cd/m2 luminance at 0% brightness giving an excellent luminance adjustment range of 267 cd/m2. After adjusting the gamma mode and colour channels for the test settings there was a drop in contrast, but only a slight one. With a static contrast ratio of 968:1 performance in this area remains quite strong.

The monitor also has a ‘Dynamic Contrast’ preset which allows the brightness of the monitor to adjust dynamically to the ratio of dark and light in a particular scene. Samsung’s recent implementation, as seen here, reacts very rapidly to changes in the relative light and dark in a scene. Because most scenes are a complex mix of light and dark we see fairly limited appeal in this option, however. The rapid brightness changes can be distracting at best.

The backlight of the S24B750V we tested was very pleasing when it came to displaying blacks in the corners with no noticeable backlight bleed. When it came to overall uniformity it is best to view performance here by looking at ‘pure white’ which reveals even slight weaknesses very readily. The luminance of 9 quadrants running from top left to bottom right was measured using a Spyder4Elite colorimeter. The readings were taken using our test settings and are given in the table below alongside percentage difference from the brightest point.

Results here were very pleasing overall. The maximum deviations occurred at ‘quadrant 4’ (centre left) and ‘quadrant 7 (centre right). Luminance here was 165.5-166 cd/m2 under our test settings which is 10% dimmer than the maximum reading of 184.8 cd/m2 taken at ‘quadrant 5’ (centre of screen). Elsewhere luminance was between 1% and 9% of the central reading with the right side of the monitor showing only 1-4% deviation. It is worth remembering that although luminance uniformity is generally very good on the S24B750V, there are viewing angle limitations with the TN panel technology used. This means that the white point, gamma and colours will shift depending on their position on the screen. This is explored in greater depth in the ‘colour reproduction’ section of the review.

The contour map below represents the deviations graphically where darker greys represents higher deviation from the brightest point (i.e. relatively low luminance) compared to lighter greys. This image combines actual recorded values extrapolated values.

 

In the subjective testing phase the performance was also very good. In Battlefield 3 subtle details were visible at the low end in dark areas. This was true throughout the screen, even in the often troublesome corners. The bright lights, fires and explosions all complimented this nicely showing good relative intensity. Light sources didn’t have the level of purity you’d see on a glossy or low haze screen surface but that is to be expected. Dirt 3 told a similar story with excellent subtle detail in dark areas and good strong bright elements contrasting with this. Once again the matte surface texture was visible in bright areas, affecting the smooth and pure look but tackling glare from external light at the same time.

This pleasing contrast performance carried over to the Blu-ray adaptation of The Girl Who Played with Fire. There was no unwanted loss of detail and distinction between bright light sources and surrounding darkness was good. It was also nice to see good even black depth across the screen without even a hint of distracting bleed. We also assessed contrast performance using the Lagom LCD tests for contrast.

  • Performance on the coloured contrast gradients was good with distinct brightness steps in most cases. The only exceptions were the upper two red and purple bands which appeared to blend into one.
  • The black blocks were very impressive with every block appearing distinct from the background and one another. This was influenced by viewing angle with a given shade appearing lighter the lower down the screen it was displayed. Dithering was very well masked with only the slightest hint of fine temporal dithering if you look closely.
  • Performance in the white saturation test was reasonable. The second last checkerboard was difficult to see and the final pattern invisible. This was again influenced by viewing angle with visibility improving if you display the patterns further up the screen or lower your head.
  • The greyscale gradient was quite smooth. Some minor banding was visible at the low end (dark greys) and hints of dithering were present here and there. The matte screen texture was also visible, particularly on the medium to light greys and whites.

 

Colour reproduction

The S24B750V’s colour gamut (red triangle) was compared to the sRGB reference (green triangle) under our test settings using the reporting functionality of the Spyder4Elite.

The colour gamut matches is roughly in-line with the sRGB reference gamut but misses out on some red and green shades in particular on this 2D representation. It also covers some ground here slightly beyond the sRGB in green, orange and yellow shades. Really the colour gamut only indicates the potential range of colours a monitor is capable of displaying and as such is only one consideration when it comes to colour reproduction. The first title used to assess the ‘real world performance’ of the monitor was the popular first-person shooter Battlefield 3. This title had a pleasing level of vividness and shade variety on the SB750. The bright yellows of warning signs were particularly striking in their sulfurous intensity whilst glowing orange fires had a nice warming quality. Environments also had a good natural look to them (within the constraints of the game engine) with good earthy browns, neutral greys and a good range of lighter greens. Some of the deeper greens lacked a little depth but this was of very minor significance on this title. Our second test title, Dirt 3, showed a respectable level of vibrancy with the cars showing off some really nice bright and bold yellows, highlighter greens and electric blues. Some of the deeper reds, azures and dark greens could have been a touch deeper but are about as good as we’ve seen given the constraints of the matte screen surface and sRGB colour gamut. The environments had a good natural and distinct look to them with an impressive range of rich browns, dusty browns and muted green shades. Some of the deeper greens did lack a bit of intensity and lushness but didn’t appear to be ‘polluted’ with a yellow tint as you might sometimes see.

We also tested the colour reproduction of the S24B750V on two Bly-ray films. First up with The Girl Who Played with Fire which showcased a good natural look to the skin tones and environments within the film. Deep reds and warm oranges were displayed with respectable vividness and there were no particular issues with greens on this title. Our second film test title, Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder is a colourful animated affair. The vibrant look that this film craves was largely delivered with some eye-catching bright and neon yellows, oranges and pinks. Deep reds and blues were also nicely represented. Intertwined amongst these bold colours were some more muted pastel shades. Although variation in these was respectable it was also restricted by TN panel viewing angle limitations. Large blocks of colour (for example a character’s clothes or skin) appeared a slightly different shade depending on their position on the screen. This is something that is consistent amongst all TN panel monitors of this size and not a model-specific criticism.

Viewing angles

We have already explored some of the limitations to the colour consistency that viewing angles have on a 24”TN panel monitor. These limitations and how they manifest can be explored quite specifically looking at even subtle changes in colour and brightness on Lagom’s LCD tests for viewing angle.

  • The purple block appeared pink at the bottom transitioning to violet further up with ‘flashing’ between the two shades as you move your head.
  • The red block appeared somewhat pink at the bottom transitioning to a deeper red further up. The majority of the screen appeared closer to red which is pleasing for a TN panel.
  • The green block showed respectable consistency without too much yellow pollution. The bottom did appear lighter and more yellow than the top, though.
  • The blue block was impressively solid and blue throughout.
  • The Lagom text confirmed that the gamma curve of the monitor is largely dependent on viewing angle. If this wasn’t the case the text and surrounding grey would appear fairly neutral and blended. In contrast to this it appeared green at the top and transitioned to red at the bottom with some orange areas between.

The video below shows the results of the Lagom ‘text test’ from central and off-centre viewing positions. It is quite difficult to represent some of the subtle changes to gamma, colour and brightness that occur in relation to viewing angle on a video. We have included an ‘off angle’ view of the desktop to try to demonstrate some of the more extreme variation that occurs. Note in particular the relative weakness in vertical viewing angle which shows significant shifts in brightness and even colour inversion after a point.

Response times

The Samsung S24B750V features three customisable ‘Response Time’ settings that disable grey to grey acceleration (‘Normal’), enable it to a slight degree (‘Faster’) or significant degree (‘Fastest’). The pixel response behaviour under a typical ‘fast paced’ scenario on all three modes can be explored using a tool called PixPerAn (Pixel Persistence Analyser). For this test the tempo was set to maximum which represents ‘worst case’ as far as this test goes. The following pictures are taken with the response time set to ‘Normal’, ‘Faster’ and ‘Fastest’, respectively.

With response time set to ‘Normal’ you can see a fairly pronounced secondary trail and weak tertiary trail. This is typical of a TN panel monitor with grey to grey acceleration (pixel overdrive) disabled – this is exactly what the ‘Normal’ setting achieves. Using the ‘Faster’ setting causes the tertiary train to disappear whilst the secondary trail takes on a kind of dirty mosaic appearance. This is caused by the introduction of RTC (Response Time Compensation) errors from the overdrive. By using the ‘Fastest’ setting the trail takes a more faded and somewhat dirty appearance. This shows that RTC errors remain, but the trailing is less conspicuous in practice than in the other modes and is free from conspicuous inversions or halos. The ‘Fastest’ mode was therefore used in the subjective assessment that follows.

The first title used to subjectively assess the pixel response performance of the monitor was Battlefield 3. The overall experience was quite smooth with relatively little trailing. Whilst on foot trailing manifested itself as textures appearing to vibrate slightly, particularly when strafing. Driving a fast vehicle such as a jeep intensified this trailing it a bit of a blur, but overall this is expected and about as low as we’ve seen on a 60Hz LCD. The second game title, Dirt 3, had several racing modes that were free from distracting trailing. Although some blurring could be seen at times (particularly whilst cornering) the track remained quite visible and so playability was not impeded. This blurring certainly intensified during the frantic spins, doughnuts and other fast-paced antics of the Gymkhana mode but this remained playable. Objects and the courses themselves retained some of their original quality rather than blurring into a mess of colour, which was good to see.

There were no particular issues to note with trailing on the two movie test titles we used. The limited frame rate at which these films run was more of a limitation to the fluidity of motion and limits the pace of action to one that doesn’t really stress the pixel responses of the monitor. To round off the responsiveness testing on the S24B750V we also used a similar method to that used in this review to gauge a rough idea of the input lag of the monitor. This is one of the factors influencing how responsive a monitor ‘feels’ in relation to user input and in this case was pleasingly low at around half a frame (8ms). This is certainly low enough to please any class of gamer – anybody who has an issue with this low level of input lag would undoubtedly suffer from the limitations of the 60Hz refresh rate as well.

Conclusion

The Samsung S24B750V is one of Samsung’s latest editions to their range. The unique asymmetric stand of the SA950 series has been carried over to this model but it’s had a bit of a Perspex and glossy monochromatic makeover. The end result is a monitor that does look quite stylish and fetching, we feel, and could entice some users for those aspects alone. Despite the similarity in looks to the SA950 series and a model code similar to the SA750 series these monitors do not support 120Hz refresh rates or active 3D functionality. Whilst this functionality is lacking it would almost certainly lead to an increase in market price. This is not a ‘cheap’ monitor by any means but its launch price is nowhere near that of Samsung’s ‘premium’ 3D panels.

Some nice additional features on this model include an HDMI-come-MHL port to allow you to see and hear your mobile on the ‘big screen’ and some built in speakers that don’t sound like they were part of a high school science project. But it would take more than that for a hearty recommendation from us – we are, after all, very interested in the image that monitors produce. And with that said the S24B750 did show some notable strengths. Contrast performance was good with pleasing uniformity and no signs of excess backlight bleed on the unit we tested. The responsiveness was also up there with some of the better 60Hz monitors we’ve tested and made our test game and movie titles very playable.

When it came to colour performance the monitor also put on a decent show. It took a tweak of the gamma mode but we were particularly impressed with the gamma handling of this monitor which, in the centre of the screen at least, matched up with the desirable ‘2.2’ curve for grey values almost perfectly. Colours were not as vibrant as you’d see from a glossy or low haze screen surface, such as those used on some of Samsung’s current and near-future high-end models. They still had a respectable ‘punch’ to them, though, and showed a good range for a TN panel. Being a TN panel monitor the usual limitations of colour accuracy and consistency and viewing angles did of course apply but it made good use of such a panel type’s strengths.

At an RRP of £250 ($300) Samsung are certainly demanding a bit of a premium for this model given its panel type and lack of 120Hz capabilities. For those with the budget who are looking for a good all-rounder that looks nice on their desk the Samsung S24B750V is certainly worth a look. It provides an attractive combination of looks and performance but you do pay a bit of a premium for it.

Positives Negatives
Strong contrast performance without noticeable backlight bleed (results may vary) Matte screen surface texture is slightly visible at times, particularly when displaying bright colours
Unique monochrome and asymetric styling
Fixed stand design limits adjustability and alternative mounting solutions such as VESA
A good shade variety, respectable vibrancy and excellent gamma handling Vibrancy is held back a bit by the screen surface whilst the panel type (TN) restricts viewing angles and colour consistency
Some nice additions like dual HDMI (one port with MHL capability) and some decent built-in speakers No DVI, DisplayPort or USB. MHL positioning a little awkward
Good responsiveness with low input lag and relatively low levels of trailing No 120Hz capability and not the cheapest 24” model out there