An update on the SA850 series PLS plane to line switching computer monitors

The Samsung SA850 series has been turning an awful lot of heads recently – but those heads have been suffering from severe neck ache due to lack of any concrete information. This is a potentially very promising technology as it could present a viable alternative to LG Electronic’s IPS panels that are featured in so many ‘professional grade’ computer monitors – and competition is always a good thing for the consumer. Information gathered by TFT Central sheds some further light on the SA850 series and the PLS technology within. This information suggested that the series will include two main PLS panels; the 27″ ‘LTM270DL02′ with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 and the 24″ ‘LTM240CL01′ with a resolution of 1920 x 1200. A third ‘unknown’ 23″ panel is also in production with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.

A press release was issued in June by Samsung that caused a lot of confusion – stating that the 24″ version has a 1920 x 1080 resolution rather than a 1920 x 1200 resolution. The 24″ member of the SA850 has been officially named the S24A850DW – and it will be a 16:10, 1920 x 1200 part as all the information (bar erroneous press release) suggested. The Samsung Netherlands website now lists this model suggesting it should be released shortly. Other information confirmed by the now official specifications include the colour processing – 6-bits per sub-pixel with Hi-FRC dithering to make this up to 8-bits per sub-pixel. Early indications suggest a retail price of around $500 USD but no official confirmation on this or pricing information outside of the United States yet. A 23″ 1920 x 1080 PLS panel also exists according to this Samsung document – which could well have caused some earlier internal confusion regarding the resolution of the 24″ model.

Full confirmed specifications for the 27″ SA850 include; true 8-bits per subpixel colour support (possibly 10-bit+ using FRC), 300 cd/m2 typical luminance, ‘S-PLS’ panel technology, 1000:1 typical static contrast, 178°/178° horizontal/vertical viewing angles and a ‘standard colour gamut’ of 72% NTSC. Typical response time is given as 12ms ISO (see the monitor technology article for an explanation) and other available information suggests a 5ms grey-to-grey response time for the SA850. Although it isn’t designed to be a gaming monitor, primarily, we are sure many people will be looking to use it as one and Samsung would like to accomodate this as far as possible.

As we deduced from the earlier slides the SA850 will be WLED-backlit. Further information about the layout of the LTM270DL02 (SA850) backlight suggests that the monitor will be illuminated from one side only using 80 white LEDs and of course a diffuser – it is possible that this may be a decision taken by Samsung for the purposes of enhancing the luminance (and colour) unifomity of the SA850. Such problems often plagued computer monitors using LG’s IPS panels so it will be interesting to see how the S-PLS monitors compare.

Information given by Samsung’s PR agency earlier suggested that the SA850 will use a semi-glossy coating similar to the ‘Ultra Clear Panel’ coat used on the upcoming SA950 (and related PC monitors). In the specification sheet this coating is described as ‘haze’; this is pretty undescriptive as all matte screen surfaces are asigned a particular ‘haze’ value and a low haze value would be considered ‘semi-glossy’. Almost all monitors using LG’s IPS panels are rightly criticised for going all-out on the anti-glare to such an extent that it affects the image contrast and clarity.

We will of course review the SA850 and other iterations of the ‘S-PLS’ technology as soon as we can as it has certainly sparked our interest. Samsung Electronics America had stated a July release date for the Samsung 850 series (SA850) in the US but as with their other new monitor series there appear to have been some setbacks. Availability elsewhere is not yet known.