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Samsung SyncMaster SA850

Exterior Design and Ergonomics

The SA850 belongs to a series of products targeted at professionals, so its exterior design is very serious. It has a square black case, the white name of the manufacturer being the single embellishment. This is a perfect example of practical and minimalistic design, in my opinion.

Samsung claims the SA850 to use a new antiglare coating. It is neither glossy nor grainy as in IPS matrixes (but I must acknowledge that latest IPS matrixes, including e-IPS ones, do not look as grainy as they used to). So indeed, the coating is matte but its reflection is soft, without visible graininess. It must be noted that the difference in the antiglare coating of the SA850 in comparison with modern monitors can only be easily seen if you put them down side by side. Otherwise, the SA850 looks like a regular TN- or PVA-based monitor with a matte screen. So, if you’ve been avoiding the classic IPS technology due to the shimmer effect (the grainy antiglare coating would produce a noticeable shimmer), I can assure you that the SA850 is free from it.

As an example I photographed my SA850 standing opposite the window:

Here is a photo of a matte TN-based Philips 245P for comparison:

And here is a glossy Samsung SA950 with a TN matrix:

As you can see, the SA850 produces a brighter reflection of the window than the matte TN screen but is greatly inferior in the function of a mirror to the glossy TN. Looking at the latter, you can see the window and the neighboring building and even discern the details of the interior of our lab.

Thus, PLS matrixes with new antiglare coating are somewhat glossier than the classic matte matrixes but their glossiness does not show up at everyday work. They are guaranteed to be free from the shimmer effect.

The monitor’s stand offers you almost all adjustment options possible: rotation around the vertical axis, tilt and height adjustment, and portrait mode. The stand is fixed in the bottommost position with a wire lock.

The rear view is as serious and featureless as the front one. The connectors are positioned somewhat unusually, facing sideways rather than downwards.

The selection of connectors is rather small with two DVIs and one DisplayPort. Analog connection is not supported. HDMI is out of the question, too. The DVI interface supports resolutions above 1920x1200 pixels by means of a second data link whereas HDMI always has only one data link and supports high resolutions thanks to high bandwidth. So, if you use an HDMI-DVI adapter, its HDMI component will limit the number of data links to one and its DVI component will limit the bandwidth to 165 MHz. As a result, it will not be possible to support the resolution of 2560x1440 pixels.

On the opposite side from the video connectors there is an analog audio input, a headphone output, and three USB ports. Take note of the characteristic blue color. Yes, the SA850 features an integrated USB hub that complies with the USB 3.0 standard! Of course, it is backwards-compatible with USB 2.0, and you can easily use your older USB peripherals with it. The USB connectors are hidden in the monitor’s case, so you can only find them useful for permanently attached devices like keyboard, mouse or web-camera but not for USB flash drives.

The control buttons are centered below the screen. The face panel itself is made from plastic but successfully imitates brushed aluminum. The buttons are mechanical and sink down with a soft click. They are labeled in light-gray.

You can see two holes in between the buttons. These are motion and lighting sensors. The former can turn the monitor off if there is no user in front of it for a while. The latter can adjust the monitor’s brightness depending on the ambient lighting.

The following options can be accessed quickly, without entering the main menu: ECO mode (this is the name for the sensor-based features described in the previous paragraph), manual brightness adjustment, video input selection, and Picture-by-Picture mode (visual content is displayed simultaneously from two video inputs, each at 1280x1440, i.e. half the screen). The function of the Eco button can be redefined in the monitor’s menu.

There is a power indicator next to the control buttons. It is tiny and blue and its brightness is very low. The manufacturer should be praised for such modesty.

The monitor comes with an external power adapter that has one interesting feature.

Do you see the empty slot above the top of the stand?

You can leave it empty or fill it with the power adapter, effectively transforming the latter into an “integrated” one. I guess this feature would be even handier if the power adapter were fastened upright, so that its thick and heavy cable went straight down.

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