Design and Ergonomics
The SA950 is eye-catching indeed. As a matter of fact, it is hard to question Samsung’s superiority over most other manufacturers in terms of the exterior design.
The monitor has got a flat base out of one side of which there grows a stalk of black glossy plastic. This stalk curves and transitions seamlessly into the monitor's front panel.
Despite the original design, the monitor is very steady due to the large surface of the base. Besides, the base contains all the electronics and connectors whereas the top part with the screen is rather light and slim. The SA950 makes use of a white LED backlight, which has a positive effect on the weight and thickness of the LCD matrix.
The downside of this design is the lack of any adjustment options, save for changing the tilt of the screen. The monitor also takes up quite a lot of space on the desk. On the other hand, limited screen adjustment options are typical of most home/gaming monitors. As for the large footprint, I guess the SA950 won’t be bought for a small and cluttered desk, its original exterior contributing a lot to its price.
Changing the tilt of the screen requires some effort. The hinge is stiff. You have to press the stand down with your left hand and grip the right edge of the monitor with your right hand. Then you just tilt the screen to the position you prefer.
The glossiness of the LCD matrix is a definite downside. The monitor stands against a window in the photo above and you can easily see in its screen not only the window but also the interior of the test lab and the scenery beyond the window. It’s fashionable nowadays to install glossy matrixes into home monitors but fashion doesn’t make them any more ergonomic. Not only light sources but even your own face is going to be reflected in the monitor's screen!
The top of the stand and the back of the screen are made from solid sheets of aluminum with a textured, rough surface. The sticker listing product benefits can be easily peeled off from the stand so that nothing prevented you from enjoying the elegance of simplicity.
The monitor’s connectors can be found at the back of the stand. The selection of digital inputs is full and sufficient: HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort (the latter was labeled as Digital Audio Out on my monitor; this must be a mistake they didn’t care to correct in a presale sample). There is a headphone output here, too. The monitor can receive audio via any of the digital interfaces. The SA950 lacks D-Sub which isn't really necessary for such a top-class product in 2011 as even cheap graphics cards have a DVI or even an HDMI connector. You won't be able to connect a D-Sub source via a D-Sub->DVI-I adapter because the monitor’s connector is DVI-D and simply lacks contacts for the analog signal.
The power adapter is external and of medium size.
No control buttons can be seen when the monitor is turned off. You can only see the icon of the Power button (which is touch-sensitive) and the circle of a motion sensor that can automatically turn the monitor off when there is no user in front of it.
The buttons are revealed as soon as the monitor is turned on. They are all touch-sensitive and their labels are highlighted with white LEDs. They are easy to use and work without errors.
Included with the SA950 is the basic model of Samsung’s shutter glasses. It differs from the more advanced model, which can be bought separately, in being powered by a non-rechargeable rather than rechargeable battery and having a simplified design. Anyway, this simplified version looks good enough and even more elegant than Nvidia’s glasses. They are light and do not strain the eyes. You can wear them together with ordinary corrective eyeglasses.
The 3D glasses communicate with the monitor (not with the computer) wirelessly via Bluetooth. The operating distance is about 10 meters irrespective of the relative position of the glasses and monitor (Nvidia’s glasses start blinking annoyingly when synchronizing via their infrared channel; they even lose connection when you turn away from the transceiver). You don’t have to set the glasses up; they automatically connect to the nearest monitor.
The Power button is on the right of the top edge of the glasses. When pressed, it is highlighted with a dull green LED for a few seconds. You don’t have to turn the glasses off explicitly. They switch into sleep mode automatically when the monitor leaves 3D mode.
The glasses are powered by a single lithium disc battery. I couldn’t check out the battery life because I didn't deplete one battery over one week of testing. The battery slot is cleverly designed and has a hinged cover. You just can’t lose any detail when replacing the battery.