X-bit Laboratories has published a Samsung S27A950D review which is available for your viewing pleasure here. The SA950 tested was a pre-production sample and some subsequent tweaking may have been done by Samsung to their retail units. The full review is certainly worth a read if you’re interested in the monitor but we have summarised the key points and discussed specific elements below.
The review begins by looking at the design – in particular the ‘eye-catching’ aesthetics of the monitor with its large flat base, super thin profile and asymmetric neck that sprouts up to the right. X-bit points out that these attractive elements are aided by the implementation of white LED (WLED) backlighting – but despite the thin and somewhat fragile-looking outward appearance stability isn’t compromised. It is also noted that this large stable base design does eat into desk space a bit and the stability and design comes at the expense of ergonomic flexibility – even the limited tilt functionality of the monitor was a little stiff. The glossy (‘Ultra Clear’) screen surface is cited as ‘a definite downside’ when it comes to reflections – which are readily apparent in the picture below.
It is worth remembering that the picture was taken with the monitor switched off with a large window facing it in broad daylight so this doesn’t necessarily reflect (no pun intended) what you will see in most situations. Other features of the monitor and accompanying 3D glasses are then explored including the touch-sensitive controls of the SA950, which are apparently superior to Samsung’s previous implementations of the technology in that they are responsive and intuitive to use.
The differences between the operation of the S27A950’s SSG-3100GB active shutter glasses and Nvidia’s 3D Vision solution are also touched upon and so are the effects of this on the viewing experience. Some flickering is observed by the reviewer using both implementations (each lens switching at 60Hz) but they found the Samsung 3D solution a little dim for comfortable daylight 3D viewing. This apparently wasn’t a problem for the Nvidia solution although the glasses themselves do dim the picture slightly.
The ‘full 3D experience’ (120Hz ‘Frame Sequential’) is only afforded to AMD Radeon HD 5000 or above graphics cards with other cards relying on a 60Hz half resolution ‘Side by Side’ mode. Despite this 3D image quality remained ‘excellent’ on several game titles tested on several different GPUs (including an old Radeon X1650). It should be noted at this point that all modern GPUs can utilise 120Hz 2D output on the S27A950 over DisplayPort (cable below) and DVI Dual Link.
Moving on to the image quality attributes now – X-bit Labs recorded a nice bright maximum luminance of around 336 cd/m2 (77 cd/m2 in 3D) and a pretty respectable contrast ratio of around 800:1. Luminance uniformity was also good with a maximum deviation of 12.1% from centre on whites and no ‘critical’ backlighting defects noted. A few simple adjustments were made to the ‘out of the box’ settings to improve the image, including lowering the contrast from the default of 75 (which bleaches whites) to a value below 70.
Colours on the Samsung S27A950D are nicely balanced by default with comfortable ‘colour temperature’. The colour gamut that is a little surprising according to the measurements made in this review as it conforms roughly to sRGB for the most part (as you would expect from a WLED backlight) but extends beyond this slightly in certain directions to deliver potentially superior ‘pure’ reds and greens. This could be partly down to the Ultra Clear screen coating, which allows for a more direct transmission of light without diffusion compared to a matte surface.
The response times were very pleasing as measured according to the reviewer’s standard protocol with all transitions occurring within 4 milliseconds and the majority of grey to grey transitions falling in at around 2.4 milliseconds. This may not seem like much as ‘2ms’ has been thrown about a lot – but it is very rare that measured values come anywhere near this. Obviously such aggressive RTC (response time compensation) often results in errors and to this end the SA950 was no exception resulting in some high recordings (14.8% average).
It is best not to look too much into the ‘RTC errors’ picked up in this review as they can be too subtle for humans to actually notice. Current users of the monitor have reported pretty much unanimously that the of the S27A950D is simply phenomenal. Some users have also looked specifically at responsiveness (here, for example) and have been unable to detect any visible RTC errors when specifically looking for them. It is also possible this is something Samsung managed to fine-tune for their retail stock.
Obviously the all-important subjective analysis is sadly lacking in the X-bit Labs review, but a small line was given on input lag towards the end of this section. No specific values were provided, most likely because providing these accurately requires specialist knowledge and equipment such as an oscilloscope or sensitive photodiode. Nonetheless no input lag was perceived by the reviewer in either 2D or 3D operating modes which can only be a good thing.
We hope to review the Samsung S27A950D and/or other members of the SA950 and SA750 series ourselves shortly – and you can be guaranteed that the crucial subjective analysis will feature heavily. We also hope to compare the Ultra Clear panel coating to other ‘semi-glossy’, ‘glossy’ and matte screen surfaces both descriptively and photographically to see how they fare in terms of unwanted reflection.