How much functionality do you want from your PC monitor? Just the pixels? Or all the features? Arguably, the new Samsung M8 Smart Monitor gives you the lot.
It’s built around a full 4K 32-inch panel. To that it adds niceties like USB Type-C connectivity with power delivery and a magnetic clip-on webcam. The really unusual bit is full Smart TV functionality complete with networking. What more could you ask for from any 4K monitor for your PC or Mac?
Perhaps more premium panel tech? As a Samsung monitor, it’s no surprise to find that this is a VA panel rather than the more widely favored (for PC monitors) IPS type. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
VA typically has superior contrast, if not always the best viewing angles and response. However, what you might be hoping for but definitely don’t get is true HDR capability or any local dimming. There is HDR10 signal processing. But that’s it.
Screen size: 32-inch
Panel type: VA
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Brightness: 400 nits
Response time: 4ms
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Color coverage: 99% sRGB
HDR support: HDR10
Connectivity: USB-C x2, MicroHDMI
Samsung M8 Smart Monitor review: Price and availability
- $699 (£699, AU$1,199)
- Decent value
As for the sordid matter of money, at $699 (£699, AU$1,199) the Samsung M8 actually looks like conspicuous value provided you want all the extra features.
If the SmartTV gubbins and webcam aren’t of interest, there are cheaper 32-inch 4K monitors out there.
Samsung M8 Smart Monitor review: Design
- Funky, colorful style
- Packed with features
- SmartTV functionality is patchy
With a brightness rating of 400 nits and 3,000:1 contrast, if the Samsung M8 ought to be pretty punchy it’s also an unusually slick looking display available in either white or pink, blue and green-tinted pastel shades.
If that sounds a little Apple iMac alike, that’s almost certainly Samsung’s intention. Anyway, with slim bezels on three sides of the panel and a novel herringbone style texture on the rear of the chassis it’s not your usual drab black PC monitor fare.
Nor, however, is it even close to the material quality of Apple’s lush Studio Display. Granted, that’s a much more expensive monitor. But not only does the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor feel pretty cheap, the height and tilt-adjustable stand is very wobbly.
Still, this monitor is undeniably heaving with features. The USB-C port enables single-cable connectivity to your PC or Mac with 65W charging. Single-cable docking makes life so much easier and your desk so much tidier. There’s also HDMI for legacy devices that lack USB-C, just note that the port on the rear of the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor is micro-HDMI. A supporting cable is provided, but you won’t be able to use a standard HDMI cable.
The webcam is another really nice feature. It clips on magnetically to the top of the display and also includes a cap, again magnetic, with which to provide full physical security. It has tilt adjustment, which ought to make it easy to line it up without moving the display. Unfortunately, it only tilts up, when what you’ll really want is to lower it a little. In theory, that could be fixed with the digital frame centering and face tracking feature. But that only works with Google’s Duo video calling app, for now.
Next up, the really showbiz bit is full SmartTV functionality complete with a remote control with all the usual apps and shortcuts for Amazon Prime, Netflix and Disney+. The SmartTV functionality also includes a web browser and wireless connectivity that supports screen mirroring, including Apple AirPlay.
It even has productivity apps like Microsoft 365 and supports a keyboard and mouse. In a pinch you could do basic computing on the Samsung M8 without, well, a computer.
However, the SmartTV platform does not run at the screen’s native 4K. So the image quality for the interface is a little soft and blurry. However, the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor does at least support the full 4K when streaming video via the SmartTV apps. Rounding out the multimedia features are integrated speakers, which offer reasonable volume, but naff all dynamic range. That’s hardly a surprise given how slim this display is. You’d want some external speakers if you planned to do any remotely serious media consumption, that’s for sure.
Samsung M8 Smart Monitor review: Performance
- Punchy and plenty of contrast
- Limited viewing angles
- Not the fastest panel ever
All of which leaves the minor matter of image quality to consider. The VA panel has pros and cons. It’s immediately obvious that the viewing angles are not as wide as the best IPS monitors. Making matters worse, the backlight isn’t hugely consistent, with some obvious dimming in the corners of the display.
Despite a ‘Game Mode’ with two levels of pixel overdrive, the speed and response of the panel is also merely adequate. Factor in the 60Hz refresh rate, and the M8 is not an obvious choice for demanding gamers. All that said, the VA panel does deliver plenty of punch thanks to a powerful backlight, by SDR rather than HDR standards, and plenty of contrast. As monitors without local dimming go, this is about as close to an HDR experience as you’re going to get.
Of course, as a 32-inch 4K monitor, the pixel density is decent at 140DPI and there’s oodles of desktop real estate to work with. Fonts look nice and crisp and video content looks great.
As for color accuracy, Samsung claims 99 percent coverage of sRGB and the monitor delivers around 90 percent of the DCI-P3 digital cinema gamut. So, it’s not hugely high fidelity, but will cope with some light content creation. Again, an IPS display is a better choice if accurate colors are a critical factor.
Should I buy the /Samsung M8 Smart Monitor?
Buy it if…
First reviewed June 2022