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Samsung U32D970Q review

Michael Passingham
5 Mar 2015
An angled view of the Samsung U32D970Q professional monitor
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,460
inc VAT

Supreme colour accuracy from a 32in panel, but the Samsung U32D970Q's imperfections are less forgivable at this price

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Specifications

Screen size: 32in, Resolution: 3,840x2,160, Screen technology: PLS, Refresh rate: 60Hz

Once you get near the top-end of any product line, be it audio products, PCs or displays, the more you pay and the smaller the gains are for each pound you spend. Samsung's U32D970Q is a perfect example: at nearly £1,500 it has some truly outstanding features but also some odd quirks that some users might find frustrating.

IMAGE QUALITY

The 31.5in, Ultra HD (3,840x2,160) PLS (similar to IPS) panel is developed in-house at Samsung and is currently only available in this monitor. Its on-paper specifications include 100% sRGB coverage and 99.5% Adobe RGB coverage and 1000:1 contrast levels. Each monitor is calibrated before it's shipped, and every panel gets its own unique calibration report that comes in the box. The factory calibration is the default colour profile when the monitor is first switched on, so we tested it first to see how well the calibration had been conducted.

True to its claims, sRGB coverage was a perfect 100% while Adobe RGB was just off at 99.7%, which is still better than the claimed 99.5%. We were a little bemused by the low 343:1 contrast afforded by this preset, and also disappointed by the high black levels of 0.7cd/m2 that left some blacks looking a shade lighter than we'd have expected. 

The main advantage of this profile is that it prioritises accurate colours above all else. In our calibration tests, where a lower Delta E figure is better, it scored a superb average Delta E of 1.15, which is the lowest we've ever seen. It means you can trust the colours the monitor displays to the extent that the human eye won't be able to tell the difference between the "perfect" colour and the colour displayed on screen.

The other modes were unable to demonstrate such accuracy, although their purposes are less geared towards colour accuracy and more towards specialist applications. Other profiles include industry standards such as DICOM for medical imaging, EBU for European broadcasting and SMPTE-C for television in the US. There's also a high-brightness setting that boosts the monitor's backlight from 227cd/m2 to beyond 300cd/m2, which is probably too bright for most users sitting less than a couple of feet away from the screen.

We were left slightly frustrated by the monitor's inflexibility: we liked the colour balance and accuracy that the factory calibration was able to provide, but we wanted to be able to adjust it further to boost contrast and brightness, which some of the other profiles were able to do. Sadly, you can't copy a profile to a custom setting, and there's no way of knowing what the specific colour settings of the factory calibration profile are so you can't even make an attempt to copy them. However, usiung Samsung's NCE software allows for a greater deal of flexibility, including the copying of profiles to to various additional presets.

One feature we did like was the dual colour mode that allows you to use two profiles simultaneously; one on the right of the screen and one on the left. This allows you to see how your content looks in whichever presets you choose, so you can look at a picture as it would on the web and as it would in print, for example.

Colour profile

sRGB

Adobe RGB

Colour temp (target 6500K)

Brightness

Contrast

Black levels

Factory default (Calibration1)

100.00%

99.70%

6514K

239cd/m2

343:1

0.7cd/m2

Adobe RGB

100.00%

99.10%

6527K

156cd/m2

676:1

0.23cd/m2

sRGB

98%

68.50%

6562K

157cd/m2

680:1

0.2cd/m2

High-brightness

100%

68.3%

6827K

318.9cd/m2

899:1

0.35cd/m2

Backlight uniformity was superb. The darkest portion of the screen compared to the centre is the top-right corner, which we found to be 10% darker when the monitor was set to maximum brightness. In everyday usage you're unlikely to notice this, and this performance is substantially better than many other professional monitors we've tested, where you can see figures as high as 15%.

Input lag is reasonably low at 34.5ms; this is largely undetectable for anyone but the twitchiest of gamers, and this is certainly not a gaming monitor.

There's also a perfectly executed picture-in-picture (PIP) mode that allows you to display up to four different inputs on screen at once. If you're inputting video from a Windows PC, the monitor will automatically adjust the requested resolution so your windows and applications don't get squashed into an awkward aspect ratio.

Viewing angles are wide - rated at 178 degrees horizontal and vertical - and we only noticed the smallest amount of contrast shift when moving our eyeline up, down and side to side.

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