THE GOOD: The Samsung SyncMaster P2770HD has a ton of connection options, built-in speakers, and great overall performance.
THE BAD: Has only one HDMI port; lacks an S-Video port; its menu system is inefficient compared with others; playing movies delivers a slight greenish tint.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Samsung SyncMaster P2370HD is a great choice for those looking for a 27-inch monitor-HDTV combo.
The 27-inch Samsung SyncMaster P2770HD is a larger version of the P2370 that we reviewed last year. It's essentially an HDTV that can double as a monitor. It has nearly all the TV connections you'd expect and even comes with a fully functioning remote control. It can be found at major online stores for about $430, which is not a bad price considering it's essentially a 27-inch HDTV. While its movie playback performance is hampered by a slight greenish tint and its clouding is very apparent on dark screens, the P2770HD has solid overall performance that stands up well to some of the best monitors we've seen, such as the XL2370 or the larger 27-inch HP 2709.
Design and features
The 27-inch Samsung SyncMaster P2770HD is a larger version of the P2370HD that we reviewed. The panel measures 2.5 inches in depth and 26.3 inches in full width, compared with the Dell UltraSharp U2711's much greater depth of 3.4 inches and larger 25.4-inch width. The Samsung's bezel measures 1.3 inches on the sides and 1.9 inches on the bottom where a light-gray Samsung logo resides. On the edge of the bezel is a plastic transparent overlay. As different colored light passes through the overlay, it gives the impression that the display is changing color. The screen has a slightly frosty matte finish and the neck of the display shares its design with the P2370HD and XL2370, which is still one of the most aesthetically interesting designs we've seen. The neck is made of transparent glass without the bluish crystals found on the P2370 and XL2370. However, the lack of blue crystals diminishes the aesthetic interest of this display. The bottom of the bezel sits about 3 inches from the desktop, but unfortunately, the screen height isn't adjustable and there isn't a screen rotation or pivot option for portrait mode. The capability to tilt the screen back 25 degrees is the monitor's only ergonomic feature. The oval-shaped footstand is 12.5 inches wide by 9.8 inches deep, but even with such a wide footstand, the display wobbles and slides considerably. However, the display only felt unstable with the screen tilted back to its fullest.
The P2770HD's connection options include one HDMI port, a VGA port, a DVI port, a component port, a composite port, and a coaxial connection for an antenna or cable. Also, there's a port for normal audio and a digital audio out. All of the ports are on the back of the display in the lower right-hand side of the panel and face backward. This style of placement makes each connection easy to access; however, there is a headphone jack poorly placed back here, too. Above the connection options are four screw holes for mounting the display to the wall, VESA-style, though you'll have to supply your own mount.
Pressing your finger against the bottom right-hand corner of the bezel brings up the hidden onscreen display button array. The red, glowing buttons disappear after a couple moments without activity. The array consists of a Menu button, an Up and Down button, an Enter button, and a Plus and Minus button; however, the OSD is best navigated with the included remote control. We found navigating the Samsung's menu a less efficient experience than with other TV-like monitors, such as the LG Flatron M237WD. While changing the audio to SRS TruSurround took four steps on the Samsung, doing the same on the LG only took three steps. The options function very much like a typical HDTV. The Picture option includes controls for brightness, contrast, sharpness, and color temperature. Audio options for the built-in speakers include TruSurround--which simulates having a 5.1 or larger surround sound system--and a number of presets for movies, music, and so on.
Our in-lab cable box is a bit dated and doesn't have an HDMI port. So we attached the monitor via a component cable to the box and watched a little HD cable programming. We found that the Samsung has a consistently high-quality picture. Again, we did not have an opportunity to test this with HDMI.
The Samsung SyncMaster P2770's 16:9 aspect ratio supports a "Full HD" 1,920x1,080-pixel native resolution. This continues the trend of monitor vendors moving toward 16:9 aspect ratio from 16:10 ratio because high-definition content--in particular 1080p movies--can fit onto a 1,920x1,080-pixel screen in full-screen mode without stretching the image.
Pixel-response rate: 5ms
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Connectivity: HDMI, DVI-D, VGA, component, composite
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI, HDMI
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Panel Type: TN
We tested the Samsung SyncMaster P2770HD with its DVI connection. The display posted a composite score of 94 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, coming in a few points lower than the other 27-inch monitor we tested recently, the Dell UltraSharp U2711. In our Dark Screen test, clouding, or backlight bleed through, was noticeable on the top and especially the bottom middle edge of the screen. Also, we noticed a slight greenish tint in our Color Tracking test, suggesting that there's a slight color-tracking problem. The P2770HD achieved a brightness score of 267 candelas per square meter.
We used the P2770's Entertainment preset to check out "Kill Bill Vol. 1" on DVD and several 1080p movie files from Microsoft's WMV HD Showcase. We also looked at the same movies on Samsung's XL2370. In both "Kill Bill" and the 1080p movies, we found that while the XL2370 had consistent brighter colors than the P2770HD. For example, in a skiing scene, the snow along the mountain looked slightly greenish in comparison to the XL2370's representation, which looked closer to white. This isn't an egregious difference, but one that's noticeable when looking carefully with both displays side by side.
As good as movies looked in the Entertainment preset, we found that the Dynamic Contrast preset worked best for movie watching. With Dynamic Contrast on, we only noticed the screen darkening on scenes where the screen is 90 percent black or more, such as the end credits and during fades to black. In the DC preset, blacks looked darker and the colors slightly more full.
We looked at World of Warcraft and Unreal Tournament 3 and noticed no signs of input lag or any streaking or ghosting during fast movement. Games looked bright without the color problem we saw in movies.
The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front of it, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colors and gamma correction as they were intended. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from nonoptimal angles. The Samsung SyncMaster HD2770 uses a TN panel, and when viewed from the side or bottom, we perceived the screen to darken about 6 inches off from center. Of course, when viewed from the optimal angle, we had no problems.
We turned the built-in speakers to their highest volume without hearing any distortion in the sound.
In our power consumption tests, the Samsung SyncMaster P2770HD had an On/Default power draw of 59.3 watts, which, while fairly high , looks better when compared with the Dell UltraSharp's U2711's 93.72 watts and the HP 2709m's 85.51 watts. The Samsung's standby power is a low 0.8 watts. Based on our formula, the P2770HD would cost $18.24 per year to run, compared with the U2711's $28.78 per year cost and the 2709m's $26.11 per year cost.
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.
Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster P2770HD with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty that covers the backlight. 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. Documentation and support software for the P2370HD was easily accessible on Samsung's Web site.