Review: Samsung SyncMaster T27B750ND does double-duty as a TV

At a Glance
  • Samsung SyncMaster T27B750

    Macworld Rating

The $550 Samsung SyncMaster T27B750ND 27-inch display offers a ton of interesting features: wireless connectivity, an integrated TV tuner, Internet browsing without a computer, and multiple inputs. It’s a good fit for dorm rooms or other small living areas where a space-saving combination of desktop monitor and television comes in handy. But even with its clever tricks, it suffers from lackluster performance as a standard monitor.

An LED-backlit display with a matte, antiglare screen, the T27B750ND sports two HDMI connectors, component-video ports, and VGA input. The built-in wireless functionality lets you browse the Internet without being connected to a computer.

The display has an interesting design. The front of the monitor has a typical-looking glossy black bezel; toward the bottom-right corner, however, the case slopes backward and into a translucent-white, arched base. The back of the display is white. Despite its side-stand construction, the display holds its position solidly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer much physical adjustability, allowing only a few degrees of tilt, forward and back. It does not permit height adjustment, side-to-side rotation, or pivoting into portrait mode.

The T27B750ND functions best as a TV. Its on-screen menus supply a wide range of color and picture adjustments, which are strangely unavailable in computer-display mode. The display offers a limited viewing angle, with noticeable color shifts as you move from left to right, or up and down, from the center of the screen. In our tests, text looked jaggy in computer-display mode, and dark hues appeared blocked up when I viewed photos on screen. I also noticed some uneven transitions in our grayscale-gradient test. I found no stuck or dead pixels on the screen.

Macs do not support WiDi connections, so you’ll need to pair a WiDi-enabled PC with the display. On the T27B750ND, select WiDi as the source using the menus on the display; then, launch WiDi on the PC. When the application appears, click the button to scan for adapters. If your devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, the scan from the PC should find the T27B750ND. Click to connect, and voilà: You’re mirroring your desktop onto the display sans wires.

Wireless display mirroring isn’t the T27B750ND’s only cable-free trick. Connect the display to your Wi-Fi Internet connection, and you can use the display’s SmartHub apps to watch Hulu and Netflix, as well as to update your Facebook status. You can also use the built-in Web browser with the combination of the remote control and on-screen keyboard, or an attached USB keyboard. (You can use a wired USB keyboard, but the Apple keyboards I tried didn’t work, and Samsung confirmed that the display is not compatible with Apple keyboards. A Microsoft wireless keyboard that requires a USB receiver did work, though. The T27B750ND does not have Bluetooth.) The SmartHub apps can be hit or miss: The Facebook interface is clunky, and I found that some apps, such as Netflix, required use of the remote to enter login information (a painful process). Fortunately, Facebook, the Web browser, and Samsung’s SmartHub service allowed me to use an attached keyboard.

Bottom line

I wouldn’t use the Samsung T27B750ND as my everyday computer-desktop monitor, but it works well as a TV/PC display combo in areas with limited space. Its ability to connect wirelessly with certain Intel-equipped Windows PCs and to surf the Web without any PC or Mac connection make it more interesting to use as a living-room PC monitor.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Integrated TV tuner
    • Striking design
    • Built-in Wi-Fi and browser
    • Wireless display when using PCs with specific Intel processors

    Cons

    • Limited viewing angle
    • Jaggy text in computer-display mode
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