Samsung announced its ViewFinity S9 monitor earlier this week. With a 5K (5120 x 2880) resolution and stylish aluminum enclosure, it seems like Samsung is trying to square off with Apple’s Studio Display — likely for a lower price — and LG’s high-resolution monitors. I had a chance to check out the ViewFinity S9 up close at Samsung’s First Look event here at CES 2023, and my first impressions were quite positive.
It definitely looks the part of a prosumer desk monitor. The design is premium, and having a matte finish by default is nice (even though you might lose a touch of saturation and sharpness). And you get plenty of I/O around back: I count one Thunderbolt 4 port, three USB-C ports, and DisplayPort. The ViewFinity S9 can charge laptops at up to 96 watts.
Samsung says the 27-inch display covers 99 percent of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut. As best I could tell by eyeing the screen, there’s no local dimming here. That’s not terribly surprising since it’s not present on the Studio Display or LG’s 5K monitors either, and this could potentially be using the same LG Display panel. We have not been able to confirm if it is or if it’s using something from Samsung Display, however.
The detachable 4K SlimFit webcam wasn’t part of the demo, so I can’t vouch for its clarity or how it compares to Apple’s, which, well, you know. Apple’s monitor has impressive built-in speakers for those that need them; I wasn’t able to get a good impression of the ones on the S9 in my time with it, unfortunately.
Samsung’s representative gave me a simulated demo of the calibration process, which uses an app on your phone to optimize the ViewFinity S9’s colors. The real calibration tool will take around 15 minutes, from what I was told. When it’s done, you’ll see a report on color accuracy and other details.
The big missing piece of this puzzle is price. Samsung hasn’t said how much the ViewFinity S9 will cost. Apple’s Studio Display starts at $1,599. LG’s aging UltraFine 5K is generally discounted down to around $1,150 nowadays. Will Samsung go even lower or land somewhere in the middle? The ViewFinity S9 is a very nice monitor, but it’s not without weak points; an HDR600 rating isn’t going to blow anyone away, and without local dimming, your blacks will only get so dark. It’s not much different from the Studio Display in that respect, however, which also tops out at 600 nits of brightness and lacks local dimming.
But do keep in mind that the ViewFinity will come loaded with the same software that runs on Samsung’s TVs and Smart Monitor, so you’ll get direct access to streaming apps plus productivity software like Google Meet. Some will view that as a bonus; others might have preferred that the ViewFinity was just a standard, dumb monitor.
Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge