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Samsung S27A850D - Image quality, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



  • Recommended by TR
Samsung S27A850D (SA850 27in)


Our Score:


Of course, no matter how good a monitor is in other regards, image quality is still the primary consideration. So how does Samsung’s 27in PLS hold up? Well, despite a few relatively minor negatives, overall it’s frankly spiffing.

While contrast isn’t quite as good as on the best PVA-based displays, blacks are reasonably black and whites are pure. There is some noticeable contrast shift, which can, for example, make it appear that there is backlight bleed when viewing a black screen in a dark environment (there isn’t, as backlighting is impressively even with no visible bleed). However, while this issue is slightly worse than on the best IPS monitors we’ve seen, and can become a little bothersome once you start noticing it, PLS has advantages too - and from here on the news with our S27A850D is only good.

Contrast might not be the best, but it’s certainly sophisticated, thanks to a dynamic contrast system that actually works and a light sensor that dims or brightens the display according to its environment. Dark detailing is also on a par with the best of the rest, as you would expect from a premium panel.

Colours, meanwhile, pop off the screen with such vibrancy they almost look oversaturated, though they’re actually quite accurate after minimal calibration. The semi-matt finish helps prevent too much reflection.

Unlike with contrast, colour accuracy remains perfect no matter how far to the side you sit, and with this in mind viewing angles do actually appear superior to IPS as Samsung indicated. Though it’s a difference that might not affect real-world usage too frequently, it’s nonetheless impressive, and simply the best performance in this regard that we have seen from an LCD display.

Overdriven to 5ms GTG (overdrive is adjustable and can be turned off), it’s also fast enough for all but hardcore gamers, though if you want the best performance in this regard, a quick TN panel like that found in the BenQ XL2410T is still the way to go - the one area where that cheaper panel tech is superior.

Overall then, if you can live with the slight contrast shift issues and average black level, this is a stunning monitor. There’s not even the slightest hint of banding or other artefacts to detract from a very strong overall performance.

It’s also worth noting that, unlike CCFL-backlit displays, the S27A850D stayed nice and cool, emitting almost no heat, nor did it suffer from the mild buzzing that’s an annoyance on some monitors. Energy use is concurrently lower too, with its 60W average putting it into the same class as the LED-backlit Hazro HZ27. Its extensive Eco modes aside, the S27A850D also sports a proximity sensor that can put the display into standby if it doesn’t detect anyone nearby – a neat feature for large businesses.

Where value is concerned, Samsung has hit the nail on the head, with its 27in display retailing for around £540. This is competitive for a 2,540 x 1,440, IPS-equivalent monitor, and when you throw in the superb adjustability, multiple digital video connections and USB 3.0 hub, it’s actually excellent value – especially with the current price likely to go down once it becomes widely available.

Hazro is undoubtedly Samsung’s biggest competitor here. Apart from the aforementioned budget Hazro HZ27, the company also offers a ‘professional’, fully-adjustable 27in IPS display with a matt finish in the shape of the HZ27WB. However, it does only have one DVI input, offers no resolution scaling or even an OSD, though you do get all-metal construction, a thinner 16mm bezel, a wide colour gamut (a stonking 110 percent NTSC thanks to its extended CCFL backlighting) - and it’s available for a mere £491. Moreover, we haven’t reviewed it yet so can’t say whether it’s a great alternative (keep an eye out for a review soon).


Though it’s not quite the perfect evolution we were hoping for, we’re still impressed by Samsung’s brand-new 27in PLS-based monitor. It’s slim and fairly well-built, and has generous connectivity, class-leading adjustability and innovative features galore. On that all-important image quality front its 2,560 x 1,440 panel holds up very well indeed against rival IPS, with only increased contrast shift tarnishing an otherwise excellent showing.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Image Quality 8
  • Value 8


October 4, 2011, 2:42 pm

"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."

HDMI won't go higher than 1920x1200, so including it on a screen of this resolution seems a bit pointless to begin with..


October 4, 2011, 3:08 pm

Actually, xenos, that is not true with the newer revisions to the HDMI spec :). HDMI to DisplayPort or DVI adapters are cheap enough though.


October 5, 2011, 9:33 pm

You're both right - HDMI 1.4 supports 1920x1080 at up to 60Hz (which is what most creatives would want as a minimum refresh rate for professional design work) - whereas it can also support the much higher '4k' family of resolutions, such as 4096×2160 but only at slower refresh rates (from what I gather 24 Hz).

Whilst 24P is fine for movies - it results in a stuttery experience with desktop apps and makes your mouse pointer feel slightly spaced out!

Maybe HDMI 1.5 will move the standard forwards - but suspect it'll be a few years before we see 4K editions of Star Wars being launched.


February 27, 2012, 3:18 pm

I've recently returned a Dell U2711 as I found the anti-glare coating ruined the image, particularly areas of white, giving the image a rainbow sparkle effect.

Does anyone know what the anti-glare coating is like on this screen?


September 26, 2012, 5:53 am

@Jasonn : the anti-glare coating is what you could call, "semi-glossy" ... if you look for it, and at certain angles, there are definite reflections visible but they are subdued (though still being somewhat well defined).

Having come from a U2711, myself ... I can say quite matter of factly that the S27A850D anti-glare (semi-glossy) coating is *miles* better than the horribly aggressive and grainy coating on the Dell (as well as most other monitors other than the actual, full glossy screens). The whites are amazing on the S27A850D...truly stunning, actually.

My only complaint with the first unit I received was genuinely HORRID backlight bleed. I mean, *serious* bleed. I returned it and my new monitor is practically 100% bleed free . .. with a *tiny* area at the top that is noticeable when I really look for it (but non-existent to my otherwise occupied eye when watching a movie with black bars or when gaming in dark scenes). Had the Series 9 monitor not come out and had it not been so well reviewed, I would most likely have kept the S27A850D as it's really the most impressive monitor visually, that I've ever used...but I think I'm going to go ahead and return it in favor of the Series 9 since it has a full glossy screen, reportedly better out of box color and zero bleed. Also, the series 9 just dropped to 999.00 a lot of places on line.

Anyway ... hope that helps.

Oh yeah, don't know if you game or not but the response time and input lag is quite dramatically noticeable as better over the Dell U2711 as well ..



March 8, 2013, 12:16 pm

I just got my hands on this monitor. it is excellent, my only con about the thing is the included cables are way to short. I'm sure that most people can get away with 2 1/2 ft of video cable and a 2ft usb cable. unfortunately my pc is setup beside quite a large desk and there is no way to manoeuvre it all around to reach. I've noticed this with other Samsung monitors I've owned, all cables supplied seem to be a bare minimum. For a monitor that's designed for workstations Samsung really should've increased cable length, it doesn't cost them much and we shouldn't have to pay more for more cables considering the asking price.

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