As ever, the most important element of any display is its image quality. For the Series 9 TA950’s £650 asking price you expect a great picture, and to an extent, that’s exactly what you get. We say to an extent because, unlike the larger (32in and up) televisions in Samsung’s premium range, the 27in model uses a TN panel rather than PVA. TN panels carry inherent disadvantages, especially in regard to poor viewing angles. However, the superb TN on Samsung’s own Series 9 900X3A has shifted our expectations of what these panels are capable of, so let’s find out it its most premium TV monitor can match up.
Well, vertical viewing angles aren’t all that hot with some significant contrast shift, which can be a potential problem – but only if you’re viewing the screen from below (from above is highly unlikely). Even then, if you’re likely to be in a fixed viewing position – for example, when using this as a bedroom TV where you’ll always be watching from bed – Samsung’s Magic Angle can adjust the screen’s settings to compensate, which works well.
Unfortunately, even from the ideal angle, there is still some minor light bleed from the bezel’s edges, and some slight backlight inconsistency gives rise to subtle clouding. While this is very disappointing on a top-of-the-range product, it tends to vary between models and doesn’t bother everyone to the same extent, so ideally it’s a case of ‘try before you buy’.
In every other scenario, the image quality from this TV/monitor is impressive. Horizontal viewing angles are superb. Contrast is excellent, and the TA950 is one of those rare TN-based beasts that can distinguish every greyshade on the scale with ease. This means you will get excellent dark and light detailing and, thanks to Samsung’s mastery of edge-LED backlighting, blacks do look truly black.
Both perceived black depth and colour vivacity is enhanced by the screen’s glossy finish, though this does also cause annoying reflections when ambient light sources are present. If you can live with this, however, you get pictures with remarkable punch.
Gamers should also be happy, as the panel’s 120Hz refresh rate combines with a fast 3ms response time to give you minimal ghosting. Unfortunately, unlike Samsung’s televisions there’s no Game preset to turn off all extraneous processing, which is a real shame. Still, you can configure one of the other modes to get as close as possible.
3D, meanwhile, is as good as it gets as this size (since they don’t make plasmas this small), with minimal crosstalk and vibrant colours even when wearing the glasses contributing to a decent sense of immersion when sitting close enough.
So there we have it. Samsung’s Series 9 hybrid puts in a very strong showing but it’s not perfect, and for its £650 price, many people will expect it to be. So for most folks, we would probably recommend going for one of Samsung’s 32in 3D TVs, such as the UE32D6530. Not only is 3D definitely a case where bigger is better, but you’ll also get a PVA panel, which should give wider viewing angles. You will have to buy 3D glasses separately, but altogether it will only set you back around £50 more.
If you are particularly size-constrained or want a display you can carry around under one arm at need, this is an interesting proposition. It’s certainly stuffed with enough features and extras to go some way towards justifying its high price, and its lack of rivals does make it the best 27in all-rounder available. Whether that makes it worth buying is an altogether different matter.
Samsung’s 27in Series 9 TA950 is the slimmest and most attractive TV monitor hybrid available. It’s stuffed with all the connectivity, features and extras you could want. It’s an accomplished media player, offers Apps for social networking and video content, includes a wireless dongle, backlit remote and active 3D glasses, and its audio talents are sufficient to convince. However, for all its assets and picture quality strengths, there are a few caveats you wouldn’t expect from a product in its price class. This is largely due to Samsung’s use of a TN panel, so if you’re not tight on space, a ‘straight’ PVA-based 32in 3D TV is a more compelling alternative.
Score in detail
Image Quality 8