In my never-ending-quest to find desktop utopia, I decided it was time to move on from my Dell UP2414Q, and select something bigger. All the reviews (and the wirecutter seems to be typical) suggest that the Dell P2715Q is the class of the field. However, given the exchange rate this was beyond my budget, even after literally emptying out my change jar. So, casting my net further I found the memorably named Samsung U28E850R.
The U28E850R is available for around £400-£450 depending on how hard you are prepared to look. I’ve had multiple generations of Samsung panels before, so didn’t consisder it a big risk.
The headline (i.e. important to me) specs of the U28E850R are:
- 28″/ 620.93 mm (H) x 341.28 mm (V)
- Vesa mountable (something missing from the previous U28590D series)
- 3840 x 2160 @ 60hz via HDMI 2.0 AND Display port
- 1ms Repsonse time (GTG)
- TN Panel with 170H/160V view angles
- Colour Gamut NTSC 72%
The other thing that was important (but I’ll be blowed if I can find it reference anywhere in any manual/review) is that the coveted 4k@60hz can be achieved natively on the DisplayPort 1.2 settings; MST (Multi-stream transport) is not required. This means if you have a “better” graphics card, a pair could be driven at 4k. This is in stark contrast to my UP2414Q, which can only achieve 4k @ 60Hz in MST mode, which sadly is not stable (documented elsewhere).
TL;DR. if you have a Broadwell chipped laptop or better, providing your OS drivers are up to date, it should just plug and play 4K@60hz
First impressions are good. The monitor looks smart, and understated without appearing OTT. Whilst it doesn’t have the heft of my old Dell Ultrasharp, it’s not flimsy and the buttons click well with an straightforward on-screen display (OSD). The response time is immediately pleasing; even out of “Game” mode. I was surprised on how easy it was to perceive 7ms latency difference between the old and new screens
I expected the 28″ panel to take up a lot more desk space, but in reality the diagonal is only about 16% larger. It doesn’t dwarf the Dell 24″ that I’ll keep next to it. The biggest advantage of the 28″ is the usable real-estate. Even though the same number of pixels are involved, the extra inches mean that I can reduce the window scaling from 150% to 125% without making life difficult. This also helps with the 1080P screen I keep attached; stuff is less ludicrously magnified when Windows 10 screws up the scaling (which it still does, regularly).
The Integrated USB 3.0 hub is also a nice touch, and the ports are much more accessible than on my other screens. Fast charging for phones is a nice feature, however even with this disabled, unbelievably the U28E850R won’t reliably act as a USB 2.0 hub. This means that my DAC, Jabra Speakerphone, B&W Speakers, and various other doo-dads won’t work (although they do charge). This is a ridiculous oversight, given that so many devices legitimately only operate in USB 2.0 mode. However, it is one I can at least work around.
However, the showstopper for me with the U28E850R is the viewing angles; a symptom I suspect of the “TN” panel, compared to the “IPS” used on the premium P2715Q and UP2414Q.
My primary monitor is approx 20″ dead ahead of me, centred on my eye-line. The screen is so large, that depending on where I look different parts of the screen are washed out. For example. Looking at the desktop dead centre, colours look bright and vibrant. However, if I look/down/turn my head at the brightly coloured start bar, the icons wash out. I move my head down (or move the screen up) the bottom returns to “normal”, whilst the further edges of the screen lose contrast. The effect is reminiscent of looking at an older/cheaper laptop screen from an angle; eventually colours reverse out.
The above angle is hardly what I’d call “extreme” but the colours have reversed at the top left quarter.
The above images (taken with the lense level with bottom of the screen and the centre, respectively) show the difference even at very shallow angles. Apologies for the state of the images. Someone with more time/skill than me could have easily done a better job, and shown it more starkly, but you get the idea.
Showing just a “red” image, the graduation is quite clear.
It seems that this is a known problem, although none of the reviews I can find talk about it. Samsung provide a “Magic Angle” option to compensate for the various ways in which the screen can be positioned (lean back, standing, side view, etc.) None of them (including setting to “off”) adequately compensate for the viewing angles; at least not in my case.
So, for ~£400 the U28E850R is a good monitor, but not a great one. Given the HDMI 2.0 and low latency, it would make awesome gaming screen, but for every day office/publishing work, it’s just not good enough, at least not for me.