Top critical review
50 people found this helpful
Beautiful colors, but uneven back lighting and back light bleed ruin the overall experience
on February 2, 2013
I want to start with thanking the awesome customer service of Amazon - I've had very few returns and exchanges over the years, and they've always been quick to respond and hassle-free to deal with, including with this monitor. The upshot of my review is that the back light bleed is so bad and uneven that I'm exchanging it for what I hope is an improved unit. But more on that later. Let's start with more positive attributes of the monitor.
Out of the box, this is a good looking monitor. From the base to the frame, this think looks sleek. The base is stable, as well, and when I tried to slide the monitor back on my desk I was surprised to feel that it resisted strongly - it grips the desk well and certainly won't slide on its own. The monitor can wobble a bit if I intentionally shake my desk, but as I have a very stable desk the monitory sits motion free during normal activities, such as typing and playing games. The monitor can easily be elevated or lowered, and tilted back, but don't expect much range in terms of tilting it forward.
Once set up, I plugged in the cords (using a DVI cable in lieu of HDMI) into the ports, which are a bit cramped in the back, but nothing I found too difficult to accomplish, and powered on my computer. After touting the benefit of PLS providing better off angle viewing, I was caught off guard by a frankly washed out screen from where I was standing. The horizontal viewing angles look better than other monitors, but the vertical angle actually turns out to have a very narrow sweet spot. So narrow, in fact, that even just sitting down in front if it, looking at it straight on, I can see color shifts between the top of the monitor and the bottom. To get the most even color experience, I had to tilt the monitor back (to face the ceiling slightly) despite sitting actually a bit too low for the monitor's height (my desk is tall and my eye level hits just below the middle of the monitor). Suffice to say, this wasn't a particularly inspiring start to a $1K+ monitor.
Colors and Resolution
This is why you buy this bad boy, and dang, do they amaze. The marketing doesn't lie here folks - the colors are rich, vibrant, and not over saturated. Details in blacks and whites shine through, and blacks still look deep and inky. The factory calibration was good, but left black levels a bit too high and whites and light greys were a bit yellowish. And yet Samsung installed the most feature rich set of calibration tools within the monitor's OSD, and it took very little time to tweak the display to my liking. It also comes with calibration software, which I didn't have a chance to try. But honestly, the colors look so fantastic that the calibration software may just be a nice to have.
The 2560 x 1440 is stunning as well. However, it's certainly not unique to the Series 9, and other manufacturers offer it as well, and for lower price points. So while it does dramatically improve the quality of the picture, it's not the reason you'd pick the Series 9 over the competition. You're buying this for the colors, plain and simple.
Features and Other Attributes
Others have commented that this lacks some additional features that other high-end monitors may come with. I'm really just a consumer looking for the best quality picture I can afford to get my hands on, so I'm not the best person to comment on everything else. A great set of OSD options to improve colors and gamma is all I ask for, and this monitor has those in spades. Now this does come with a glossy screen as opposed to matte. Everyone has their preference, and if you want a matte version, I read that one may be coming out later this year. I personally prefer glossy due to the low levels of ambient light in my study, and the amount of reflection I see in this model is as low or better than previous glossy displays I've owned.
For gaming purposes, I noticed no ghosting or input lag. Games look crisp and just plain beautiful. This is a 60Hz monitor, so anyone migrating from a 120Hz monitor may notice a FPS drop if they were getting more than 60fps before. Also, the higher resolution means more demanding graphical processing, and your games may take a further hit to their FPS. Highly populated areas in WoW, for example, are down to ~40fps for me when I got ~70fps before.
Quality and Back Light
So this was the deal breaker. After playing around with the monitor for a bit, I noticed that colors in the bottom right corner (and not the edge of the corner, mind you, but about 1/8th of the monitor's total area) appeared very washed out. At first I attributed this to the PLS display not really handling off-angle viewing as well as advertised. But then, just for kicks, I thought maybe I should test the back light. And by test, I mean the super-easy method of turning off all lights in the room, and changing the monitor's input to one that isn't broadcasting. In other words, observe a true black displayed image in a completely dark room with no ambient light. Now, every LCD monitor I've owned has had back light bleed - and I've owned quite a few, buying an upgrade every 2yrs including models from Samsung, LG, and Dell. And I'm not too picky about it. I'm fine observing some bleed in scenes that are completely black, as long as images that involve more normal amount of lighting are unaffected.
But what I saw was by far the worst back light bleeding in any monitor I've ever owned. And it was horribly uneven. There was minor bleed coming out of the top corners, a moderate but tolerable amount from the bottom left, but the bottom right bloomed like someone had stuck a flashlight there. It was night and day compared to the other areas of the monitor. And once I switched back to my DVI input and played some Diablo 3, the amount of washed out scenery in the bottom right was obviously far worse than the bottom left. I'm assuming this is a defect - if not, this degree of back light bleed certainly doesn't deserve the $1K+ entry fee. A bit more disturbing is that these monitors undergo a 1hr hands-on calibration per Samsung's description, and yet the personnel involved in the calibration felt that this was totally acceptable to ship out the door.
Samsung focused their efforts on color quality, and it shows. However, they ignored the rest, and I'm not sure it's worth dropping a grand for great colors while the rest of the package is average at best. I would rank this 3-stars if the price was right, but honestly the cost simply isn't justified. Even if my replacement model improves the back light, Samsung's QA process for an elite monitor needs to be better and I wouldn't raise my rating for that reason.