Samsung is betting big on curved displays this year. Initially speculated to be a gimmick, curved displays have begun to grow on users. Relegated to TV’s or premium desktop monitors so far, Samsung is trying out their curves on a smaller screen (and budget) with the 27″ SD590C. And while the curve is more pronounced on larger displays, PC gamers who often sit only a few feet from their monitor could be a perfect fit for Samsung’s new offering.
The SD590C is a bit pricier than its similarly sized, flat paneled brethren, but with a recommended MSRP of $399, it’s the cheapest curved screen offering yet. Could this be the answer for budget gamers looking for a more immersive experience, or is the SD590C just a novelty?
Sleek, but flimsy
Out of the box, the SD590C cuts a glossy, minimalist silhouette. The glossy finish is a bit flashy, but the thin, half-inch bezel keeps the look from being too hard on the eyes. Every panel lines up nicely, and installing the desktop stand is as easy as securing a seatbelt.
The glossy finish is a bit flashy, but the thin, half-inch bezel keeps the look from being too hard on the eyes.
Unfortunately, the SD590C suffers limited range of movement. The display can only tilt a couple of degrees forward, and while there’s plenty of room to tip back, some more adjustment would’ve been nice, especially considering the screen’s tendency to draw you close.
The SD590C is also missing the ability to swivel on its stand. Not a huge issue for something meant to immerse a single viewer, but combined with the lack of tilting options, the SD590C doesn’t offer much to help users feel comfortable.
We didn’t find the stand very solid, either. Anytime you move the desk, the monitor wobbles precariously. Even a casual bump can send the display rocking. It’s a shame, because the display itself is solid and surprisingly light at a hair over 12 pounds. Between the T-stand and ergonomic woes, a swiveling wall mount would serve the SD590C much better than Samsung’s included desktop solution. Fortunately that is possible thanks to the included VESA mount.
One port apiece
The SD590C is extremely light in the connectivity department. It has just one HDMI, one DisplayPort, and one VGA connector. Two 3.5mm ports, for audio in/out, are also included on the backside. The display also comes include with an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio cable.
There are no USB and DVI connections, which isn’t a big deal, but even so, users looking to connect multiple devices may want to look elsewhere. Both the Acer K272HUL and older Samsung Series 7 we’ve reviewed offer more connectivity options at a similar price.
A single, clickable joystick is used to navigate the SD590C’s display settings. It took a little getting used to, but ultimately proved to be a big step up from the discreet buttons accompanying most monitors. Navigating the menu was a cinch, and we never had to guess which button we were pressing when adjusting the display settings.
The menu system itself is simple and intuitive. The usual options are here including brightness, contrast, and an RGB channel manager. Sadly, there’s no fine-tuning for gamma or color temperature, which limits users to a few preselected modes each.
Samsung offers two extra features in its tuning quiver. The first, “Magic Bright,” did help combat the reflection problems that the monitor had during the day by seemingly boosting brightness. “Magic Upscale,” which enhances low-resolution video, didn’t make a notable visual difference. We’ve had a similar experience with the feature on other Samsung monitors.
There’s also a Game Mode, which is said to automatically adjust contrast and color according to the scene. While it certainly made the image more vibrant, it also had an oversaturated, grainy look.
The built-in five watt speakers offer enough sound to fill a room, but the audio quality leaves something to be desired. Action scenes and firefights sound muddy and are lacking in bass. Most owners will want headphones or external speakers to supplement Samsung’s curved display.
The 27-inch SD590C has a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The panel, which uses Vertical Alignment technology (similar to IPS), enables excellent horizontal and vertical viewing angles, with both clocking in at 178 degrees before color shift becomes a significant issue. The display is also incredibly bright, generating 367 lux at default.
Gaming on the SD590C is beautiful, and the curve definitely seems like more than a gimmick. Its concave shape is subtle, and can be hardly noticed at a distance, but up close the monitor delivers on its promises of a more immersive, cinematic experience.
Gaming on the SD590C is beautiful and the curve definitely seems like more than a gimmick.
That said, the curve’s punch is dampened when the display is used in a room with ample light, or the viewer is more than a few feet from the display. And while using the SD590C for browsing and writing emails is fine, users who deal with Photoshop or other graphical software will probably be turned off by the subtle geometric distortions that the curved display creates.
Setting up the SD590C was easy, and produced an excellent image out of the box. We noticed no tearing or ghosting during initial gaming sessions, and the color seemed crisp and vibrant. The only real issue was that shadows seemed washed out during dark scenes in films and games.
Pre-calibration, our testing equipment found the SD590C’s gamut to cover 97 percent of sRGB and 74 percent percent of AdobeRGB. The gamma curve came in at 2.1, with an intended target of 2.2.
Color looks great on the display, and there’s no light bleed that we could observe. One nice extra we noticed was that the curved screen really seemed to reduce glare. We noticed almost zero reflections when gaming during daylight hours, and even in direct sunlight the SD590C fared well.
After our initial image tests, we calibrated the SD590C using Datacolor’s Spyder4Elite. The sRGB gamut came back at 96 percent and the AdobeRGB gamut registered at 75 percent. The gamma curve and contrast remained stubborn, only changing to 2.1 and 970:1, respectively.
While the calibration hardware didn’t unlock any surprises, the SD590C still boasts a solid image, as its results are excellent given the $399 price tag. Acer’s more expensive XB280HK calibrated to an average color difference of 1.55 with a perfect gamma curve, but a slightly narrower color gamut.
The warranty covers one year of parts and labor. Not bad, but considering the novel design and wobbly mount it would have been nice to have something a bit more comprehensive.
ConclusionJudging the SD590C is a difficult task. On the one hand, it’s the first curved budget display of its size, and offers a unique viewing experience up close. Gaming with the display was a blast, and definitely stands to become a popular use.
This Samsung produces a solid image for the price, and while its 1080p resolution is underwhelming, this curved display is cheaper than the 4K monitors we’ve reviewed, and offers another upgrade avenue for people looking to leave an old HD panel behind. If you’re a gamer looking at jumping to a three-panel setup, the SD590C is a cheaper alternative with a smaller desktop footprint, and the modest resolution will lessen the demand on your video card.
However, the monitor is hampered by a lack of connections, poor stand, and high price tag compared to other 27-inch, 1080p displays. The curve screen is eye-catching, but whether it’s worth spending more to obtain it is questionable, particularly in light of the display’s mediocre stand and lackluster connectivity.
- Curved screen is truly immersive for desktop gaming
- Excellent interface controls
- Unique design for 27-inch monitor
- Stand is flimsy
- Not many display connections
- Limited ergonomic adjustments