As a 27-inch monitor that can be bought for under £350 in the UK and under $300 in the US, there was only one likely panel technology for the Samsung Series 5 T27A550. Yup, it's our old friend twisted nematic, or TN for short.
TN is the cheapest of the commonly-used LCD panel techs. That's not its only advantage, though - it's the fastest responding, too. That gives it a significant advantage over IPS and VA panels when it comes to fast-moving images. Think games and action movies. Sure enough, Samsung quotes response times of just 5ms.
Of course, the panel itself isn't the only major component contributing to image quality. The backlight plays a big role, too. Increasingly, flatscreen TVs and LCD monitors are moving to LED backlight technology. So it is for the Samsung Series 5 T27A550.
The main advantages of LED tech include broader colour reproduction, cleaner whites, lower power consumption and better longevity. In fact, there are few if any metrics by which old school CCFL backlight technology can be said to be better.
Samsung has also addressed the shortcomings of TN with some image-enhancing technologies. Dynamic contrast compensates for the poor black levels and contrast produced by TN panels. Meanwhile, Samsung's Magic Angle Vertical enables users to correct the screen for viewing off the horizontal. In theory, this enables the panel to be situated above eye level while maintaining colour fidelity.
Elsewhere, the Samsung Series 5 T27A550 HD TV monitor scores with a decent but not quite perfect array of inputs. You get VGA for analogue PC connections (which will only be relevant for very old PCs) and a pair of HDMI ports for a range of devices including PCs, set-top boxes and games consoles. There's also component analogue video support for legacy AV devices.
What you don't get, however, is DVI or DisplayPort, the preferred digital interfaces for PCs. Given this screen's claim to combine a monitor and an HD TV in a single box, that's an oversight. As we'll see, the HDMI interface can be problematic with some PC graphics cards.
Another intriguing feature, My Downloads, involves support for direct viewing and playback of files from a USB storage device. Still images, music and video are all supported - more on specific format support in a moment.
Finally, the Samsung Series 5 T27A550 has an integrated digital TV tuner. Unfortunately, it's restricted to DVB-T/C rather than DVB-T2, which means no native Freeview HD support. Of course, with HDMI connectivity, you can hook up an external Freeview HD box.