Build quality on the S27A850D is generally good. The stand and metal are sturdy and solid, and only on the chassis is there a little more creak than we would like. Adjustability is excellent, covering pretty much everything. You can tilt it 25 degrees backward and three forward, adjust the height (lifting the screen’s base from 6cm to 20.5cm off your desk), swivel it and pivot it through 90 degrees to have it in a portrait orientation (this you can do without having to tilt the screen back, as on some rivals).
Connectivity is likewise impressive, though it doesn’t match some offerings from Dell or Hazro. This monitor has some very unusual arrangements and features, and its connection setup is primary among these. You see, ports are arranged to either side of its protruding centre section, with twin DVI inputs and DisplayPort on the right, while the left houses 3.5mm audio in and out, and that much-appreciated three-port USB 3.0 hub.
We’re really loving the USB 3.0 hub, as it’s the first monitor to offer this and dedicated hubs are quite expensive. While some might bemoan the lack of HDMI, this is primarily a display aimed at professionals and business use, so its absence is not surprising and hardly critical, especially since a DVI adapter can be used.
Having the connections pointing out to the sides rather than the bottom makes plugging cables in and out a piece of cake, while still allowing flush wall-mounting. A cable clip on the arm ensures there’s no untidy clutter. Also noteworthy is the SA850’s ability to display two digital signals from its DVI ports side by side simultaneously. While many rivals have picture-in-picture (PIP), they usually only support it on analogue connectors such as component or VGA.
Yet another interesting feature with this Samsung is its external power brick. The cable running from the screen to it is very short, it has its own power switch and the power lead comes out of it at a right angle. But there’s method behind the madness: ingeniously, the brick can be clipped into a holder at the rear of the chassis, thus turning it into an ‘integrated’ PSU of sorts. Not only does a removable PSU allow for great flexibility, but it also reduces potential heat-related issues and is good for wall-mounting (which the S27A850D supports with 100 x 100 and 100 x 200 VESA mount holes). Altogether, it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into this monitor’s design.
This being a ‘Professional’ display, Samsung hasn’t hesitated in sticking the monitor’s buttons front and centre, with plainly visible labels. However, the buttons are neatly integrated, and to be honest we far prefer this more practical approach to the hidden controls that can often be difficult to distinguish between without having to crane your neck to see around the side.
Overall the buttons have a good action and intuitive secondary function shortcuts. Our one concern is that the equivalent to the Enter key (when navigating the OSD) is set to the other side of the proximity and light sensors from the rest of the controls, making navigation an absolute nightmare in darkness. We hope this is something the company will fix in future iterations.
The OSD itself, meanwhile, is the usual well-laid-out Samsung affair, if not quite as colourful as we’re used to. Every option you might want is there, including colour temperature and RGB levels, dynamic or static contrast, GAMMA and response time overdrive settings. There are a few niggles, such as that colour temperatures are set by selecting variations on Cool, Normal or Warm rather than giving you the actual temps in degrees Kelvin, but these are minor concerns.
One real disappointment is that there is no 1:1 pixel mode. The only aspect ratio options are Wide or Auto, so if you feed this monitor a 4:3 resolution it will inevitably stretch it. However, while this is an annoyance, its impact for most users is likely to be minor. Speaking of stretching, it’s also worth noting that the S27A850D does a great job of scaling non-native widescreen resolutions.