First up, what's the Samsung Series 5 T27A550 HD TV monitor like as a physical object? It looks a lot like one of Samsung's pricier HD TVs, just on a smaller scale. The downside is that the HD TV styling comes with HD TV limitations. The stand is tilt-only. For PC usage, more adjustability, including height and swivel, is desirable.
On a related note, the lack of DVI or DisplayPort connectivity presented problems in testing. Connecting via HDMI can present scanning problems, particularly with certain AMD graphics cards and driver configurations. Despite considerable effort, we couldn't achieve a pixel-for-pixel image from our test PC via an AMD video card.
Strictly speaking, this isn't Samsung's fault. AMD video boards have a habit of incorrectly outputting an overscanned signal over the HDMI interface. However, this issue simply doesn't arise with DVI and DisplayPort. We'd therefore be very wary about buying the Samsung Series 5 T27A550 HD TV monitor primarily for use with a PC.
That aside, image quality is above average for a TN screen. Thanks in part to the LED backlight, colours are vibrant and relatively saturated. OK, a VA screen has more visual punch and IPS panels are much more accurate. But for non-professional usage, the Samsung Series 5 T27A550's colours are certainly adequate.
Black levels are good for a TN monitor, too, even if Samsung's dynamic contrast technology is no substitute for a panel with inherently strong contrast.
As for the Magic Angle Vertical technology, well, the first thing to say is that it's not dynamic. You have to set it up for a particular viewing position and stick with that. If you change your viewing position or the height of the screen itself, you have to recalibrate.
That said, it does offset much of the colour inversion that TN panels suffer when viewing from below horizontal. While we'd still recommend viewing from the correct angle, it's a useful tool if this isn't possible.
Thanks to the TN technology, pixel response is another strong point. Factor in the 27-inch diagonal and a 1920 x 1080 pixel grid that won't overload your GPU and you have a great gaming panel.
As for the My Downloads USB playback feature, it supports JPG images up to 15,360 x 8,640 resolution and non-DRM MP3 files.
But video is arguably the most critical aspect, and here the news is good. The Samsung Series 5 T27A550 supports Full HD video files in a wide range of codecs and containers including (but not limited to) .AVI, .MKV, .ASF and .MP4 on the container side and XVID, H.264, DIVX and MPEG4 in terms of codecs.
As for HD TV duties, well, the built-in standard definition tuner inevitably results in soft image quality. But the display itself is easily vibrant enough for daily TV viewing.