Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a PC monitor or a 3D TV? Scratch the first two options, and mix what's left, because the Samsung T27A950 is an unapologetic hybrid of both monitor and telly. Packing a 27-inch, 1080p, LED screen, Freeview HD tuner and active-shutter 3D technology, this wafer-thin screen wants to be all things to all users. And it very nearly succeeds. It's available now for around £700.
Certainly it's going look as good on your work desk as it would in your living room. The design is dramatic: the pencil thin panel is side-mounted above a pedestal stand which, rather ingeniously, contains a tuner, connectivity options, and other gubbins. It's a once-piece unit, so no assembly is required. To help keep things slim, juice comes from an external power brick.
The rear of the pedestal offers up two HDMI ports, component connections, a Scart socket, an Ethernet jack and a pair of USBs. You also get a Common Interface card slot, RF aerial input and digital audio output.
The same only smaller
The 120Hz panel itself is actually exactly the same as that found in Samsung's Series 8 LED TVs, as it the edge-mounted LED backlight. One key benefit of LED edge lights on a panel of this size is that lighting uniformity is much easier to maintain. Backlight bleeding is minor.
As a general use monitor, the T27A950 works well enough. It uses a standard twisted-nematic panel. It's fast enough to avoid blurring with HD TV sources and high resolution games, although we found that off-axis viewing does cause colour and contrast to diminish. You can combat this to a certain extent with a 'magic angle' mode that adjusts colour and contrast according to the viewing angle.
Response time is rated at an unremarkable three milliseconds, while the optimal resolution is 1,920x1,080 pixels at 60Hz. Unlike Samsung's TVs, the panel supports sRGB for an extended colour range.
The package includes one pair of Samsung's active shutter glasses, plus SyncMaster TriDef 3D Game Launcher software for yout PC. It should be noted that the only way to connect a PC to the T27A950 is via HDMI.
Hold on to your retinas
Image quality is good for general PC usage. Text is crisp and movement clean. Switch to TV mode, and you'll benefit from impressive dynamics, solid black levels and sumptuous colour.
The T27A950 offers the same picture adjustment parameters as you'll find on a normal Samsung TV. You'll want to dial back some of the settings if you're working close up, or else you'll boil your retinas.
To improve motion resolution, use Samsung's Motion Plus proprietary control. It minimizes panning judder and enhances the detail of moving objects.
One aspect of this screen which does benefit from close proximity viewing is 3D -- the effect can be really immersive. We ran 3D Blu-rays, and hooked up an Asus G53JW gaming laptop, and both yielded similarly impressive results. We were aware of some 3D crosstalk, but the stereoscopic picture remains bright, with vibrant colours, despite the dulling nature of the active-shutter specs.
The pedestal stand incorporates a pair of forward firing speakers. While a little bass-light, they're effective enough for TV viewing and gameplay.
No need for Smart TV?
The T27A950 offers direct access to Samsung's Smart Hub Internet portal, home of assorted apps and IPTV streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, YouTube and LoveFilm. Assuming you have connected a PC to the screen, all this stuff is just a click away already, though. It's difficult to judge how much of an attraction Smart Hub is in this context.
Overall, the Samsung T27A950 gets a thumbs up. Its audacious design, 1080p images and 3D performance all warrant praise. While this isn't a screen for serious gamers, it's a good option if you want a multipurpose monitor. Availability is limited -- Harrods and Selfridges are your best bet -- and it's not cheap, but you will get a uniquely versatile display for your cash.
Edited by Jennifer Whitehead