The Samsung Series 9 S27B971D, Samsung’s latest addition to its Series 9 family of desktop monitors, bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor, the Samsung Series 9 S27B970D. Both use a 27-inch PLS (Plane-Line Switching) panel to deliver bold, vibrant colors, both use the same circular base and adjustable stand to support the cabinet, and both carry exorbitant price tags. However, this time around the folks at Samsung switched out the glossy panel treatment for a non-reflective matte treatment and dropped the edge-to-edge glass design. Calibrated at the factory, the S27B971D’s color accuracy is outstanding, as is its off-axis viewing performance, but its grayscale performance could use some work.
Design and Features
Like its predecessor, the S27B971D is a sharp-looking monitor. For this model, Samsung did away with the one piece shiny glass surface used on the Samsung S27B970D and went with a matte anti-glare coating that is non-reflective. The 27-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 panel is framed by textured black bezels capped off with a band of silver trim. Two moderately loud 7-watt down-firing speakers are embedded in bottom edge of the cabinet, but as with the Samsung S27B970D, a dedicated audio input is missing, which means there’s no way to bring audio to the monitor when using a DVI signal.
There are no buttons, ports, or LED indicators on the cabinet itself; everything is contained in the base. As a result you can’t mount this model on a wall. The base is round with a silver metal over black plastic finish. A thin silver mounting arm connects the cabinet to the base and provides 4-inches of height and 17-degrees of tilt adjustability but does not allow you to swivel or pivot the panel.
At the point where the mounting arm meets the base is a smallish control panel with four touch sensitive buttons including a power button, a menu key, a color mode key, a brightness key, and an input select key. At the rear of the base are HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort video inputs, an upstream USB port, and the power jack. The HDMI port supports MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) technology so you can connect the monitor to compatible smartphones and tablets and other MHL peripherals. There are two downstream USB ports on the right side of the base, but as with the earlier model, they support the older and slower USB 2.0 technology rather than the faster and more current USB 3.0 technology.
The OSD menus consist of Picture, Color, Size and Position, and Setup sub-menus. Picture settings include brightness, sharpness, contrast, dynamic contrast, and HDMI black level. There are also three response time settings that aid in reducing motion blur. The Color menu offers five modes including Standard, Cinema, sRGB, High bright, and Calibration. The Calibration mode, when used with the included Natural Color Expert software, allows you to save a custom color profile. Unlike the NEC MultiSync PA271W, there is no Adobe RGB mode. Other settings include individual Red, Green, and Blue intensity levels, a range of Color Temperature modes from 4,000K to 10,000K, and Gamma presets ranging from 1.6 to 2.7.
Samsung covers the S27B971D with a one-year warranty and includes DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI- MHL, and USB cables in the box. It also comes with resource CD containing drivers, a user guide, Natural Color Expert software, and a multi-screen utility that allows you to create multiple screen partitions.
The S27B971D is pre-calibrated at the factory, which explains it’s excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy. As illustrated by the CIE (International Commission On Illumination) chromaticity chart below, reds, greens, and blues are all inside their respective boxes (each box represents the ideal CIE coordinates for color accuracy).
Grayscale performance was similar to what I saw with the Samsung S27B970D; the panel did a good job of displaying swatches of light gray from the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test but the transition from gray to black was sudden at the dark end of the scale (the swatches should gradate evenly from gray to black). Colors appeared sharp and accurate and the picture remained bright when viewed from an extreme angle.
The PLS panel did a good job of displaying small fonts from the Scaled Fonts test. Text set to 5.3 points (the smallest on the test) was legible and well defined. The panel’s 5-millisecond (g-g) pixel response did an admirable job of handling fast gaming action without much blur, and while some motion artifacts were apparent from time to time, you have to be actively looking for them to really notice them.
The S27B971D used 43 watts of power during testing while operating in regular mode. With the Eco Saving option set to 75-percent of full power it used 32 watts, and the 50-percent setting reduced power usage to 21 watts. However, the 50 percent setting is way too dim. By way of comparison, the NEC PA271W used 82 watts in regular mode, 77 watts in Eco mode 1, and 50 watts in Eco mode 2.
Rich, accurate colors and a striking design make the Samsung Series 9 S27B971D a good choice for users seeking a PLS monitor that looks as good as it performs. Its three digital inputs and built-in USB hub offer a variety of connectivity options, and the addition of a matte anti-glare screen means you won’t feel like you’re staring into a mirror when the screen goes dark. However, at just under a grand this is one pricey monitor; for that kind of money I’d expect better grayscale performance and newer USB technology. Our Editors’ Choice, the NEC MultiSync PA271W, offers outstanding grayscale reproduction and is packed with features for the same money, and it has a panel that pivots 90 degrees.
|Native Resolution||2560 x 1440|
|Supported Video Formats||1080p|
|PC Interfaces||Digital (DVI-D), HDMI, DisplayPort|
|Video Inputs||DVI, HDMI|
|Diagonal Screen Size||27 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc