Samsung has released a new 31.5” UHD monitor with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 which is aimed at designers and other professionals who need both ultra-high resolution and good color accuracy and calibration options. The 3840 x 2160 resolution is very close from 4K (4096 x 2160), but Samsung has been particularly diligent not to call it 4K, even if retailers or users might. The difference is small, but I wanted to mention it, just in case you hear people arguing about whether it is 4K or not. It’s not – but it is close enough.
The monitor is very well built. The façade looks clean and has thin bezels with sharp angles, with an aluminum-looking frame. The bezels are thin enough that I would consider them to be multi-monitor friendly if you were to line up several of these side by side.
In the back, there is a large silver panel. This looks like metal, but it’s actually plastic. It can be removed to access the VESA mount, which is great if you plan on mounting it on an LCD Arm. Many UHD monitors don’t come with this option to cut the price down, but once you’ve tasted an office setup with LCD Arms, it’s really hard to come back, believe me.
The stand is neatly designed and offers both vertical and directional tweaks. If you wonder, the monitor can also be rotated into portrait mode, which is great for things like publishing, programming and even web browsing. News sites like Ubergizmo look wonderful in portrait mode, I recommend to try it, ha-ha. The base of the stand makes the ensemble very stable and looks discrete enough to not attract attention. The top is flat, so you can put stuff on top of it if you need the extra space. These are little things, but a few more square inches of flat surface aren’t a bad thing at all.
We’ve looked at a number of photos, and out of the box, they appeared to have very natural colors. It’s hard to know exactly without doing extensive tests with known values, but overall, this monitor sits among the best UHD displays that we have seen on the market. At the high-end, color accuracy tends to be very good.
Technically, this monitor is capable of rendering 99.5% of the Adobe RGB gamut, and can accept 10-bit per channel data input if you have a graphics card capable of doing that. This means that it should be able to reproduce 1 Billion colors without color banding, when compared to a regular 8-bit per channel monitor (16.7M colors).
I was impressed by the brightness distribution of this monitor: it looked extremely consistent with no visible weak or strong spot. This is relatively rare since even $3000 UHD monitors can have uneven brightness which is visible with the naked eye. This is usually confirmed by using a light meter across the surface of the display, but I can often see these.
The brightness distribution is even more challenging when you think that this is a monitor that is edge-lit, which means that the light comes from the bezels, and is then distributed across the surface of the monitor. The easier way would be to place a grid of LED light behind the panel, but that has huge cost and size implications.
Obviously, looking at photos (which are typically 4K+) and watching 4K videos yielded a noticeably sharper result on the screen when compared to 1080p. People often wonder if the difference is visible when compared to 1080p displays, and yes, it definitely is. Try it for yourself if you have the opportunity to do so.
The UD970 has a view angle of 178 degrees, which is often the norm for these IPS-like LCD screens. This means that colleagues or clients looking at your monitor should perceive colors and brightness in nearly the same way as you do when sat right in front of it. This also means that if you have a second monitor like this in a multi-monitor setup, the color accuracy will be much more consistent as you look at it from an angle.
Finally, the full resolution of this monitor allows it to display up to four 1080p streams simultaneously. There’s also an option to have two side by side images coming from different signals.
It is possible to imagine that a 4-way split could be useful for things like high-end video surveillance. This seems very fancy, but if the video sources are 1080, that would be extremely sharp on the screen. The two-way split can have different color calibration, which may be nice to emulate how PC and Mac users perceive a specific design (the game is not the same between the two), or one section can be calibrated to emulate a printer output.
The Samsung UD970 UHD monitor should find its way to retail channels for about $2000, which is pretty aggressive for this category of Displays. It will compete with monitors like the Dell UP3214Q that we have reviewed recently. Both are extremely nice UHD monitors and at this moment, I haven’t had time to run the UD970 through its paces, but after playing with it, I would say that the image quality remains competitive, but the option of having it in portrait mode could sway some users.
It is very nice to see an influx of large UHD monitors, along with increased competition and price drops. If you have never used one of these, the work comfort is unbelievable. If you plan on using a multi-monitor setup, I recommend reading the UP3214Q review linked above since there are a few caveats that you should know ahead of time.