Saturday

Samsung SyncMaster T27B750 review


The T27B750 offers a lot for the money. At $500 you get tons of connections, MHL compatibility, Smart Hub, and a beautiful design.
However, even at a price nearly half of what its closest cousin, the $1,000 T27A950 is going for, I can't help but be disappointed with the TB750's performance.
Sure, it's cheaper and the performance isn't bad by any stretch, but the glossy, ultraclear panel featured on last year's Samsung's monitors is sorely missed here.




Design and features
The T27B750 looks a lot like the T27A950 I reviewed in 2011. However, instead of a mostly flat, angular, silver body, the T27B750 sports a mostly white, much more curvaceous body. Corners are smoother and the design sports an overall streamlined look. The foot stand is humped, with a Plexiglass casing over its white plastic chassis.
The panel attaches to the foot stand on the right side and can be tilted back about 25 degrees, but no other ergonomic options are included. The panel is 25 inches wide, with a 0.7-inch-wide bezel and a panel depth of 0.7 inch. The bezel is glossy piano black and extends down to the lower right where the onscreen display (OSD) array resides. The array consists of six, non-tactile buttons: source, menu, volume up and down, and channel up and down, with the power button on the far right.
On the back, in the lower left corner, is a collection of rear-facing (thank you, Samsung!) connections you can see below. What you can't see from the picture below are the two USB ports hidden around the left corner.
OSD (short for onscreen display, but I'm sure you already knew that)
The OSD can be called up via the Menu button on the display or the included remote control and while using the OSD array to navigate works fine, the remote works much better. When connected via the HDMI (DVI) input, only two presets are available: Entertain and Standard. Standard is too dark by default and I much preferred using Entertain, thanks to its more vibrant and accurate colors (but that's a tale for the Performance section).
Typical picture options are included: backlight (brightness control), contrast (white level adjustment), brightness (black level), and sharpness (well, sharpness). Other standout picture options include color temperature presets and two HDMI black-level preset settings.
The built-in speakers get five different presets, each apropos to different tasks like playing music, watching a movie, or listening to a podcast or audio book. You can directly connect the monitor to a wireless (wired is included as well) network, or configure the All Share settings.
Smart Hub looks to be identical to what CNET TV editors, David Katzmaier and Ty Pendlebury have seen on Samsung TVs this year. It's shockingly still a media portal for Samsung apps, video streaming, All Share devices, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and other apps. I agree with the TV guys that the interface is a bit cluttered and could stand to be streamlined a bit. However, with the amount of useful apps available, Smart Hub makes a pretty good case for getting all your Internetting needs met without ever having to attach a PC.
Design and feature highlights

ConnectivityHDMI (PC), HDMI (TV), Component, Composite
Ergonomic options20-degree back tilt
Resolution1,920x1,080 pixels
Aspect ratio:16:9
AudioBuilt-in speakers, headphone jack, audio in. digital audio out
VESA wall-mount supportNo
Included video cablesHDMI
BacklightW-LED
Panel typeTN
Screen filmMatte w/AG coating
Number of presets2 (PC), 5 (TV)
OverdriveNo
Picture optionsBacklight, Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness
Color controlsColor temperature: Cool, Standard, Warm1, Warm2, Red/Green tint (TV), Color saturation (TV)
Gamma controlNo
Additional featuresUSBx2, MHL

Performance
I tested the T27B750 through its HDMI (DVI) input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included HDMI cable. The display posted a composite score of 93 in CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
DisplayMate: In the Entertain preset with the contrast adjusted to 88, the T27B750 displayed light gray up to level 254 (pure white is 255); the highest level possible. At the lower end of the grayscale, with the same settings, I could barely make out the level four dark gray (black is 0). Not the lowest black level in the world, but this was the best it could do while also keeping the white nice and bright. With the contrast any lower, the dark gray was more visible, but the white began looking more like light gray.
In Color Tracking, I noticed a green hue in the grayscale using the Standard color temperature. Switching the temp to Warm 1, mitigated the green tint a bit however.
When viewing DisplayMate's Dark Screen test, which consists of a plain black screen, clouding was noticeable along the lower left side and a bit at the top left edge, but nothing egregious and nothing that was noticeable when watching movies or performing any other tasks.
Movies: I tested the T27B750 using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." Using the Entertain mode with the aforementioned settings (contrast at 88, color temp set to Standard). With HDMI black level set to low, movies look more cinematic.
It's really difficult to not directly compare the monitor's movie prowess with last year's models, which sported glossy screens and Samsung's Ultra Clear Panel tech. These two features really pumped up the perceived contrast, allowing colors to pop, whites to stay bright, and black levels to remain low. Without those technological advantages, the T27B750 is still pretty good with movies, but never approaches very good or great, unfortunately. Blacks are muted and the screen has a greenish hue that couldn't be exorcised. Still, the picture was sharp and most dark detail could be seen. It's not bad, just not great in comparison to its predecessors.
Games: Personally, I prefer monitors that display games with vibrant color and highly contrasted blacks and whites. When colors also pop with fullness and depth, games will usually look great. Dragon Age II is a game that can look pretty drab at times, but definitely benefits from rich, bright, but still accurate colors. I looked at the game in the Entertain preset with the aforementioned settings. The game looked colorful (or as colorful as Dragon Age II can look) with a high and satisfying vibrancy. While adjusting the HDMI black level to low dramatically increased the contrast, too much dark detail gets crushed as a result, unfortunately. I prefer keeping the setting at normal and adjusting the brightness setting to about 50-55. There is a slight green tone here as well that I wasn't able to completely obliterate.
To test refresh rate, I used DisplayMate's motion graphics test which moves a box of colored blocks around the screen at various, user-controlled speeds. Each block leaves an impression of itself behind it as it flies across the screen. The longer the streak left by the blocks, the more image blurring you'll likely see when making quick movements, i.e., turning in a first-person shooter. The effect can be subtle, but noticeable to those really looking for it.
In this case, the the T27B750 displayed short streaks, shorter than even the PX2370. Indicating a fast monitor that shouldn't give you ghosting problems in fast-moving games.
Photos: Faces were clear, but there was a noticeable green tint compared with the PX2370 that I couldn't shake with the included settings.
Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a third of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing colors as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors aren't designed to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on a monitor's panel type, picture quality at any other angle suffers.
The vast majority of monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when not viewed from optimal angles. The T27B750 uses an TN panel, so when viewed from the sides it loses some clarity and the colors don't look as rich.
When viewing the screen while standing or dramatically slouching (the gamer posture; it's OK, I can say that. I'm a gamer.), Magic Angle adjusts the display's gamma setting so text is much more legible and details in movies and games don't appear wreathed in shadow.
The antiglare coating succeeds at blocking out most reflections and unlike with glossier screens, direct sunlight only has a minimal detrimental effect on picture quality.
Power consumption: The Samsung SyncMaster T27B750's power consumption earned a rating of Poor, with a Default/On power draw of 47.2 watts, compared with the Samsung SyncMaster T27A950's 50.8 watts in the same test.
In our Sleep/Standby test, the T27B750 drew 25.6 watts and the T27A950 pulled a much lower 1.3 watts. Based on our formula, the T27A950 would cost $31.90 per year, whereas the would cost $22.08 per year.
Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster T27B750 with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty that covers the backlight. This matches the best monitor warranties out there, like Dell's. It also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number, as well as 24- to 48-hour turnaround e-mail and Web chat support.
Conclusion
The T27B750 excels in looks, offers plenty of connections, and the Smart Hub and MHL support are very welcome additions. I miss having a DisplayPort or DVI connection and although overall performance is good, I'd expect more from a $500 monitor, even given its huge collection of features.
If you can live with good, but not great performance and a lack of pure PC connections, the T27B750 offers a lot of bang for your buck. If you're expecting to watch awesome-looking movies, I'd recommend attempting to find last year's models on the cheap. They're still the best monitors out there for movie-watching.