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OSD Setup And Calibrating Samsung's S27B971D

Samsung S27B971D 27-Inch QHD Monitor, Reviewed

The S27B971D's OSD is identical to the S27B970D. It is almost minimalist in nature, yet still powerful. You get everything you need and nothing you don’t. In fact, the only menu item missing is a wide-gamut option.

Touching the menu icon in the lower-left of the control panel brings up the first screen.

Dynamic Contrast is only enabled in the High Bright picture mode. If you turn it on, you won’t have access to the brightness or contrast sliders. As such, we recommend leaving it off.

Naturally, Brightness modulates the backlight, not the actual black level. This can be set to taste since the overall contrast ratio stays the same no matter what the output level. Contrast clips information at values above 70. Response Time is Samsung’s term for TraceFree. Setting it to Faster reduces motion blur, though in some cases also causes ghosting. HDMI Black Level should be set to Normal for all PC signals, or Low for video signals (such as those coming from a Blu-ray player).

The second sub-menu is called Color and contains a standard set of calibration controls.

To enable the RGB sliders, you need to be in the Standard or Cinema Color Mode. You can choose a preset color temp based on Kelvins, or set the option to Custom and adjust yourself. We’re happy to see the sliders start in the middle of their range. This makes dialing in the white point much easier. And 100-step resolution means a very precise calibration is possible. The gamma presets range from 1.6 to 2.7, and they measure accurately. The correct choice is 2.2.

Next up are the aspect and menu position controls.

For PC signals, there are two aspect ratio choices: Wide and Auto. Wide stretches a lower-than-native resolution signal to fill the screen, while Auto maps the source image in a 1:1 ratio. So, for example, a 1920x1080 signal would be shown windowed in the center of the screen without any scaling.

This menu also contains controls for positioning the OSD. You can place it anywhere, which is particularly convenient for viewing test patterns.

These are the remaining ergonomic features in the Setup & Reset menu:

Turning on Eco Saving reduces the monitor’s power consumption, along with its light output. Menu Transparency is an on/off option. Language offers 14 choices. PC/AV mode is designed to make the S27B971D more compatible with sources other than computers by changing the aspect ratio and color mode options. Ultimately, the best bet is to stay in PC mode and make sure the signal from your video sources (optical disc player, DVR) is in PC mode also. If you are forced to connect a video-mode only device, change the HDMI Black Level option to Low to have the correct dynamic range.

The final screen reports the horizontal and vertical refresh rates, in addition to the input resolution.

Samsung S27B971D Calibration

There are two ways to calibrate this monitor, either through the OSD or with Natural Color Expert, which is provided at no charge by Samsung. For our testing, we used the OSD. But I also ran through the procedure in NCE using an X-Rite i1Pro spectrophotometer.

I settled on Standard mode as the best starting point for my OSD-based calibration. The other modes lock out different controls and limit adjustment (sRGB mode, for instance, locks out everything, including brightness and contrast). And unfortunately, none of them are terribly accurate out of the box. In fact, this monitor takes a slight step backwards from its predecessor in that regard.

The most glaring flaw we found is that the HDMI Black Level is set to Low by default, which, as it turns out, is incorrect for PC-level signals. If you don’t change it to Normal, blacks get crushed and the overall gamma curve ends up quite far off of the 2.2 standard. Once you change this setting, flat grayscale tracking is only a few clicks away. There are no adjustments for the color gamut, but it tracks sRGB fairly well. A more notable omission is an option for Adobe RGB 1998. Any display aimed at professionals, especially at this price point, should include presets for both gamuts.

Samsung S27B971D Calibration Settings
Color Mode
Color Temp
Red 51 / Green 50 / Blue 54
HDMI Black Level

If you attempt to calibrate with HDMI Black Level set to Low, you will have all sorts of difficulties setting brightness and contrast correctly. Once you change it to Normal, the sliders work as they should. Contrast clips information above a setting of 70. The Sharpness slider softens the picture when set below 60. Any higher and you'll experience edge enhancement.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    blackmagnum , February 19, 2014 4:19 AM
    Gamers... move along. Nothing to see here.
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    damianrobertjones , February 19, 2014 1:12 AM
    @cats_Paw: Did you read the article? It's FOR art professionals etc
  • 5 Hide
    c123456 , February 19, 2014 4:12 AM
    @damianrobertjones: Do you know what comparable products cost? Apparently not. Look up a Dell U2713HM.
  • 13 Hide
    blackmagnum , February 19, 2014 4:19 AM
    Gamers... move along. Nothing to see here.
  • 0 Hide
    Ceee9 , February 19, 2014 5:43 AM
    u2713h can be get around 500$usd...
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , February 19, 2014 5:52 AM
    Contrast (even post-calibration) blows for that price. But you get a cool partially metal stand (?).
  • 2 Hide
    BoC_Gryphon , February 19, 2014 8:32 AM
    To my knowledge, Toms has never done a review of the Korean 27" QHD monitors that can be had for ~$300-400. Please do.
  • 1 Hide
    Bolts Romano , February 19, 2014 9:44 AM
    is it better than Apple Cinema Display in terms of color gamut and contrast?I wish i can find this monitor here in Canada so i can compare myselfSamsung Canada is very weird, it has its own flag stores here but it does not carry all the products
  • 0 Hide
    Bondfc11 , February 19, 2014 10:33 AM
    You know this a pay to play for a review right? Of course Tom's doesn't do the korean models - or heck the Overlord Tempest lineup. What people don't get with QHD, and this includes Tom's staff, is LG has strict Tier 1 requirements for companies buying their panels that include minimum price points.
  • 1 Hide
    ceberle , February 19, 2014 10:42 AM,3465.html

    We covered the Auria EQ276W last April.

  • 1 Hide
    Gurg , February 19, 2014 10:45 AM
    To my knowledge, Toms has never done a review of the Korean 27" QHD monitors that can be had for ~$300-400. Please do.,3465.htmlMy Auria was great for 4 months and then while gaming had a wavy pattern and quickly went black and died. Haven't tried to warranty yet.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , February 19, 2014 11:55 AM
    To my knowledge, Toms has never done a review of the Korean 27" QHD monitors that can be had for ~$300-400. Please do.,3465.htmlMy Auria was great for 4 months and then while gaming had a wavy pattern and quickly went black and died. Haven't tried to warranty yet.

    Poor contrast was also observed with the Auria in the reviews. Sure... The Korean IPS monitors can accurately display colors, but you don't get all of the in-between shades (contrast)?
  • 0 Hide
    W123 , February 19, 2014 12:52 PM
    Having a Samsung S27b970D, i can say either your testing methodology is wrong, equipment faulty, or Samsung sent you a ringer. There's no way the black level you measured was correct. Average contrast ratio on the 970d is 800:1. Your numbers are WAY off. Also, considering the 970d's glass panel that makes the blacks look grey instead of black, i'd say this model is better. Im dumping this one and getting a Dell or Asus though.
  • 2 Hide
    10tacle , February 19, 2014 5:54 PM
    I don't care what segment this monitor is geared towards: gamer, professional graphics, or photography and video creation. This is just too much money these days for a 27" QHD. Even as admitted in this review, most people hold on to their monitors for many years. Anyone who spends a grand (or more on a 30" QHD) will regret it within two years when 4K monitors dip below the two grand price point.

    Love ya Samsung, have many of your HDTVs and monitors here, but this thing should be $799 tops. Even high end QHD monitors are not brand new technology anymore. Time to adjust the prices to reflect it.
  • 1 Hide
    ikyung , February 20, 2014 12:49 PM
    BenQ makes all Samsung Monitors, better off going straight to the source and buy a BenQ, and save a ton of money.
    What? Source? Why would BenQ make Samsung monitors? BenQ doesn't even make PLS panels, or any panels for that matter.
  • 0 Hide
    SuckRaven , February 20, 2014 10:05 PM
    How would this compare to something like an EIZO ColorEdge CG276 (also 2560 x 1440 IPS), or say something like the NEC MultiSync PA302W? (30" 2560x1600)'s should do a comparison between them.
  • 1 Hide
    falchard , February 22, 2014 12:24 PM
    Watchout Samsung, Apple sells monitors to artists that are rectangular in shape and come in some degree of gray. People may confuse it for an Apple product.
  • 0 Hide
    Crzy1 , February 22, 2014 5:17 PM
    I have the S27B970D and it's a great monitor. I'll have to admit that I purchased it for looks alone, but it has one of the most impressive panels I've laid eyes on. I would not, however, think to compare it to a true 10-bit professional display. While it may be able to hold it's own with similarly priced monitors, I doubt that it will come close to a $2.5k+ monitor that is meant for nothing but professional video or image editing.
  • 0 Hide
    computerguy72 , February 24, 2014 12:22 AM
    Wow on balance that Planar PXL seems to really hold up. If nothing else compares to it's price/performance over the next few months I think that will be my next monitor. For future I bet IGZO panels might be the thing to beat in years to come. Time will tell.
  • 0 Hide
    natoco , February 25, 2014 4:18 AM
    Even though its only a 60hz screen, if it had Nvidia G-Sync I would have taken a lot more notice since it would have been a very nice screen to look at as well as smooth enough for gaming. If only these things had the sales volume of tablets, maybe then we would get something that's not oh so 2009.
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