With its white LED backlight the Samsung S27B971D is only capable of the sRGB gamut and nothing larger. So for all of this testing I used CalMAN 5.1.2 with an i1Pro spectrometer and a C6 colorimeter that is profiled off the i1Pro. Our targets are 200 cd/m^2 of light output, a gamma of 2.2, and the sRGB color gamut. The pre-calibration measurements are done using the sRGB mode as I can adjust the brightness to 200 cd/m^2 and it is more accurate than the Standard, High Brightness, or Cinema modes.

 

Pre-Calibration

Post-Calibration,
200 cd/m^2
Post-Calibration,
80 cd/m^2
White Level (cd/m^2) 199.19 198.86 80.07
Black Level (cd/m^2) 0.4146 0.4266 0.1761
Contrast Ratio 480:1 466:1 455:1
Gamma (Average) 2.2195 2.1989 2.4188
Color Temperature 6257K 6533K 6460K
Grayscale dE2000 3.2326 0.4453 0.491
Color Checker dE2000 1.8896 0.6109 0.4321
Saturations dE2000 1.8564 0.4521 0.3985

From the report that comes with the S27B971D in box I expected better results. Out of the box, the grayscale has a definite lack of blue, and the error levels are much higher than you want. The gamma is more of an S-curve than a slope, and the contrast ratio is only 480:1. Color accuracy is good but cyan shades are particularly bad compared to others. Skin tones are very nice and we usually notice those errors first.

Give the Samsung a calibration with CalMAN and now you have a monitor. The only negative is the contrast ratio of 466:1 as the black level has risen from when the backlight is set to maximum. This is very strange behavior, but it is what I measured and I double-checked the data. Look beyond that and you see perfect numbers. Every single dE2000 value is below 2.0 so you won’t see a flaw in the display. Images look incredibly accurate and the accurate gamma helps make the contrast look reasonable.

Going to our other target, 80 cd/m^2 of light output with the sRGB gamma curve, and the behavior is the same. The S27B971D has an okay contrast ratio and is amazing everywhere else. Our maximum dE2000 values are even lower with some of the bars being practically invisible. Post-calibration the Samsung S27B971D produces amazing results that are as good as any display I’ve seen. The contrast isn’t fantastic but you can use the preset Cinema mode if you are going to watch a movie or play a game where contrast is perhaps more important.

Brightness and Contrast Uniformity Data
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  • Bateluer - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Meh, the DisplayPort and HDMI are nice, but I paid less than that for two 27in WQHD displays a year ago. Samsung, get this to a 4K resolution and you'll have buyers in 2014. Reply
  • TridenT - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Typo in your second graphic: 1iPro Reply
  • Lolimaster - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    And fix the awefull contrast, 500:1? What a joke.

    Minimum 1000-1100:1
    Reply
  • cheinonen - Sunday, November 3, 2013 - link

    The lower contrast will hurt performance for games and movies, yes. Typically on a display like this that is the trade-off to have a more uniform overall screen with a more controlled backlight. For many environments (graphic design, photography) the uniformity and color accuracy are both more essential than the contrast ratio. Reply
  • lkuzmanov - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    Does anyone know why displays aren't being factory calibrated? Surely it must be technically possible. Reply
  • cheinonen - Sunday, November 3, 2013 - link

    It is. Look at the recent NEC PA242W for an example. However that is a 24", 1920x1200 display that sells for over $1,100, so you are paying for that calibration. Reply
  • DaveGirard - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    This looks like a great display for CG people where colour profiles are still AWOL with apps like ZBrush, Mudbox, etc. They assume you're using sRGB. But you still want a high-quality display. That said, it is a bit pricey compared to the dual Dell U2713HM monitors that I'm running quite happily. Reply
  • abhijeeth - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    This is indeed slotted in a narrow niche: would have been so much better if it had support for AdobeRGB.

    The NEC PA271W can be purchased new at B&H Photo for $859 (no Spectraview + Calibrator bundle). But it is so good out of the box that you don't need an external calibrator. Downside is that is is CCFL and some units have an audible high pitched whine when high contrast images are displayed.

    The NEC PA272W is just launched and will be available in the US on Nov 18th for $1299. LED Backlight, wide gamut coverage takes care of Adobe RGB requirements. Good warranty and dead pixel policy.

    There is also the ASUS PA279Q for around $850 (wide Gamut). Pre Cal numbers aren't outstanding out of the box (dE < 2 claimed) but cleans up after post calibration. Has overshoot ghosting though.

    Then there is the ViewSonic VP2772 for $990 (wide Gamut support).

    In the 30inchers, the Dell U3014 is frequently on sale for $940ish. Can get a refurb directly from Dell for $640. Have to get Rev A03 though ;-)

    There is the new HP Z30i (wide Gamut) for $1299.

    All the new ones use LG's new semi glossy (satin/pearl finish) coating and not the grainy coatings of old 1st gen panels (the PA271W falls into this category unfortunately)

    Having considered all this, the Samsung is indeed overpriced for what it offers. Stiff competition all around.
    Reply
  • Alan G - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    This monitor is dead in the water for anyone doing photography who needs an expanded color gamut. There's a reason why NEC monitors are the goto here. I don't care about how easy it is to use the OSD; I'm using software calibration. Reply
  • abhijeeth - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    Alan,
    Agreed. By software calibration - are you using software to write to your video card LUT or the 14bit 3axis LUT inside the monitor. The interface bit depth is different (8 or 10bit per color depending on interface used) to the internal bit depth for storing the color info.
    Using the monitor internal LUT has significant advantages for Color Management. ( you may be already aware of this, so, sorry if this is redundant). Just thought it might be worth mentioning.
    Reply

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