I’ve been using the Samsung SyncMaster SA550 for about a month now and, as promised, here are my final thoughts of it. If you didn’t already, make sure you check out my first impressions of this monitor here. (This review will make a lot more sense) As mentioned, I’ve had this monitor attached to my 2011 Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro for about a month now and it’s been treating me great — to be blunt and honest. I had my doubts of attaching the Macbook Pro to a 23” display, with it having intel’s integrated HD 3000 graphics and all. ( A little more on that below.) My thoughts on this monitor overall, while it is a tad bit pricey, have not changed much. And if you’ve read my first impressions then you must know that this is a good thing! This monitor has really eased my workload, so even though it was about 250 bucks, I can easily say it has paid for itself. I have a lot of good things to say about this monitor so let’s get down to it! Here is my full review and final impressions of the Samsung SyncMsater SA550.
To start off I would like to address a question that I’ve been asked countless times. “Does the monitor get that nasty yellow tint?” As I’ve mentioned in my first impressions, I have had no problems with any yellow tinting. My brother’s iMac has a slight yellow tint problem so no worries guys (and girls ;D ) I know what I’m talking about here. If I open a blank word document and maximize it, it looks white as snow. (Without that yellow stuff you find time to time!)
The monitor has a refresh rate of 2ms and to this day I have not noticed once any ghosting problems. But I have noticed some pixilation lag which I mentioned below in the Macbook Section; it’s more likely to be a graphics card issue rather than a monitor one though.
The LED backlit display has a crisp resolution of 1920×1080 and it is simply a pleasure to work on. ( As cliché as that sounds!) In my first impressions I said that the colors aren’t as vibrant than glossy monitors, while that may be true, I’ve noticed I’ve been watching more movies on this monitor than my glossy Macbook Pro’s. Not just because of size but I have noticed that after a long period of watching movies or shows on any glossy monitor my eyes start to hurt a bit. (My friends HP monitor) But with the Samsung, while it isn’t the most vibrant, it is a great companion monitor to watch movies on. And I do watch plenty of movies! And whether I’m watching DVDs or simply watching youtube videos the Samsung SA550 gets the job done right.
When it comes to doing work such as photo/video editing this monitor is A-MA-ZING. I can’t go back to editing on my Macbook Pro’s glossy monitor after using the Samsung for so long– again not because of size—but rather the colors aren’t as accurate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Mac guy and I love the Macbook Pro but when it comes to work the Samsung attached to it just blows it out the water. At first glance, there isn’t much about the Samsung that separates it from your typical glossy. However, I do a lot of photo editing and I’ve edited the same picture on the Samsung, the Macbook Pro, and the iMac. Once I’ve actually printed out the photo, I can easily say that the Samsung had the much more accurate colors; hence my opinion that the Samsung was the best to edit photos on.
NOTE: I am using an HDMI cable with this monitor which is NOT included in the box. Definitely get an HDMI cable if you’re planning to get this monitor for the best results.
Aesthetics and Build
I understand that looks don’t change but I had to bring it up again. As with a lot of new products that you buy the first impressions are always, “This machine looks incredible”. However about a few weeks later the looks seem to lose its lust. And I usually fall victim to this of course. However when it comes to this monitor I must say that it has not lost its appeal. It just sits nice and sleek next to my Macbook Pro and I CONSTANTLY get reminded by friends and family of how “Pro” it looks.
Setting up the monitor is a breeze. It has a few pieces that pop together in place. (Pieces are pretty much self-explanatory) The entire feeling hallow argument that I stated in my first impressions actually no longer bother me at all. I go to electronic stores often and I can say that as of 2011 a lot, if not all Samsung monitors, have the same hallowed feel to it.
Keep in mind that the actual display is plastic. (Including the what looks like a glass border around the display)
I stated in my first impressions that I didn’t like how the touch sensitive buttons felt unresponsive. I’ve tried tampering with it daily JUST to see if my opinions on it would change: it hasn’t. I really never need to use them but for the sake of having my final impressions of it I had to give it some time. I like physical buttons like my friends HP monitor. It feel faster to navigate through menus on my friends HP monitor with the physical buttons. On my Samsung I feel as if I have to be gentle with it to get the touch sensitive buttons to register. While not a huge deal it does slow you down. And of course I’m sure a lot of us won’t be changing the monitors’ settings hourly so it wouldn’t be a big deal regardless.
I think this monitor is a great deal. While it is a tad bit pricey at about 250 dollars, you do get what you pay for. I know you can find many monitors online for a great bargain but don’t stump this monitor out yet. It’s hard to explain but you won’t notice how nice this monitor really is until you’ve used it for a long period of time and then try out another. You not only appreciate it more but you also really get the sense just how nice and accurate colors are. Thumbs up to Samsung!
Connecting to a 2011 13” Macbook Pro? (For those interested)
For the actual set up, it is a tad bit annoying because the Macbook Pro doesn’t have a dedicated HDMI port. Instead it has a Mini display port or my case the Thunderbolt port. You pretty much have to buy a little connector that you plug right into the Mini display/Thunderbolt port and on the other side you’ll have your HDMI port that you simply connect an actual HDMI cable to. The Samsung SA550 doesn’t come with an HDMI cable so you’ll have to invest in that as well. Once connected you’ll have to go into system preferences and click display. There you can calibrate your screen, set the monitor to mirror mode or have it extend your desktop.
Note: When using it in mirrored mode I did notice the resolution didn’t fit the Samsung’s monitor well. So I had to use it in clamshell mode. Simply close your Macbook and use a mouse or keyboard to wake the machine up. (While the lid is still closed) And there you have it; the Macbook Pro on your Samsung SA550 with the monitors crisp maxed out resolution.
Performance when connected to a Macbook Pro?
For those curious about the actual performance of this monitor being attached to the baseline 2011 Macbook Pro 13” look no further. A lot of people have asked me whether the Intel HD 3000 was capable enough to run an external monitor smoothly. And my answer? It works PERFECETLY fine when doing your basic task. No lag, no ghosting, nothing. However, I have noticed when I am doing work in Adobe Illustrator the Samsung Monitor pixelates. When I hover over the dock, a simple task such as adding a watermark to our TechShift pictures will cause the monitor to pixelate for a moment, which gets pretty annoying quickly. (ONLY THE DOCK GETS PIXELATED) And yes, without the monitor there is no lag or pixilation with any of my software.
If you’re not on a tight budget then this monitor is definitely worth considering. There isn’t too much to complain about. It is able to connect to a computer or laptop just fine. It’s built, while it’s not the best, isn’t too far behind from what other monitors have to offer. I have enjoyed watching movies and videos on this monitor but I’ve even more so enjoyed more editing on it. And, while the touch sensitive buttons aren’t my ideal, at the end of the day I must consider that this product is a monitor and it does exactly what it needs to do without any compromise to the actual display. So if you’re in the market, check out the Samsung SyncMaster SA550. The TechShift team and I definitely recommend it.