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Samsung CT55 curved monitor review

Curved displays that won't break the bank.

samsung_curved_CT55_monitor
Last updated: 27 July 2020

CHOICE verdict

The mid-range 32-inch and 27-inch CT55 monitors are Samsung's most-curved screens to date. Both are bright, colourful and good mid-range options for productivity software, but they aren't for everyone. The 32-inch is a bit too big for its 1080px resolution. It's fine for day-to-day productivity and browsing, but forget about watching TV and movies thanks to some strange video issues. The 27-inch model's higher pixels per inch (PPI) sharpens things up for productivity apps, browsing and video, but it's still a no-go for gaming. Both models have built-in speakers with surprisingly good sound.

Price: $399–449
Contact: samsung.com.au

For a desktop monitor, there's something to be said for a bit of bend. You get a larger screen without having to move your eyes as much, and the deeper curves of the CT55 32-inch and 27-inch take it even further. Once you get used to a non-flat display, it's a relaxing, immersive experience. Even the larger 32-inch model can be comfortably viewed as your eyes don't have to travel quite as far to get from one corner to another.

But this sharper curve is good for one monitor, not so much for two or more. Side-by-side, the 32-inch and 27-inch CT55s wrap around so far you'll be turning your head further than with flat screens, or screens with a subtler curve. And arranging them in a line introduces an awkward hump where the curves meet.

Tech specs

  • Screen size: 27-inch or 32-inch
  • Ratio: 16:9
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080px full HD)
  • Contrast ratio: 3000:1
  • Brightness: 250cd/m2
  • Response time: 4ms
  • Interface: 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x DisplayPort, 1x D-sub, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Curvature: 1000R
  • Speakers: 2x, 5W stereo

Picture quality

Both the 32-inch and 27-inch models deliver 1080px resolution (1920 x 1080 or full HD), giving them just 69 or 82 pixels per inch, respectively. That's pretty low by today's standards, with many 27-inch and up models boasting 1440px (2560 x 1440) or higher. But given the price point, this lower resolution is expected.

Both screens are bright and the colours are good for mid-range screens, but you'll need to tinker with the display settings yourself for best results. If you want extreme colour accuracy for something like visual design, you'll still need to look at the much higher end of the market.

The 32-inch had some minor light bleeding at the sides of the screen, but the screen is so big it's easy to forget it's there. The 27-inch didn't seem to share this problem. This example of the 32-inch suffering from issues that the 27-inch doesn't will be a continuing theme.

Productivity

Surprisingly, 1080px on a 32-inch screen is workable for tasks such as browsing and office suites. The pixels are definitely visible, but the brightness and contrast partially make up for the lower resolution. The 27-inch is better thanks to the higher pixel density, but you can still make pixels out with the naked eye.

Despite the full-HD resolution being usable on the 32-inch, one of the appeals of a big screen is running three or four windows simultaneously. That's not an option with 1080px resolution. Text quickly becomes too small to easily read and images are pixelated. Two windows side-by-side works fine, but the text needs to be roughly the same font size as on a smaller display. In short, the 32-inch CT55 is great for viewing things bigger, not for viewing more at the same time.

Video

While both screens work well for general office applications, look elsewhere if you want to watch movies and TV.

The slow, well-lit action of a YouTube video is fine for 1080px playback on either screen. However, the 32-inch model can't handle scenes with dark lighting at all. Almost any movement introduces glaring flashes of colour distortion and pixelation, making anything but bright, sunny camera shots unpleasant.

The 27-inch doesn't have this problem. In general, it's fine for watching videos, but still won't be replacing your TV anytime soon. Black colours have a milky tone, darker scenes are hazy and the edges of shapes and people can be over-sharpened.

Gaming

While we're told these monitors are targeted at productivity and office work, the CT55's display menus include a gaming mode that Samsung says provides "optimal colour, contrast and shades". Unfortunately, this wasn't our experience.

In game mode, enabled colours are overdone, as are brightness and contrast. The end result is a blast of oversaturation with a distinct harshness around the edges of objects and text. Disabling game mode delivered a much better experience, but there was still significant screen tearing and edges remained jagged.

Interestingly, the colour problems we found the 32-inch had with dark video scenes didn't come up while gaming.

Build quality

For mid-range displays, the build quality feels solid. The case for each is plastic, but is sturdy.

The all-metal stands are a nice touch – we'd expect plastic for this price. The stands tilt back and forth, but aren't height adjustable and can't rotate the screen 90 degrees – not that you'd necessarily want a curved monitor arranged in portrait mode.

Unfortunately, there's no VESA mount compatibility, so you're going to have trouble swapping the stand for a height-adjustable one. This isn't so much a problem for the 32-inch, which is probably high enough for most people thanks to the monitor's size. But the 27-inch will need propping up for taller people.

Sound

The built-in five-watt stereo speakers were better than expected. They're loud and clear enough to make out dialogue from the other side of a room, which is rarely the case for monitor speakers. But built-in speakers are never a perfect replacement for the real thing.

The sound completely lacks bass and high notes are tinny. Music lovers will of course be disappointed, as they would by any monitor's sound. But for casual media consumption, the speakers should suffice, which can free up your desk space of yet another set of peripheral devices.

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