May 10, 2021

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Skillful Technology Connoisseurs

The best value screen for technophobes

Now, in saying that the M7 Smart Monitor would be perfect for a whole bunch of people, I’m not saying it is actually perfect. It has a couple of big flaws that limit its appeal in unnecessary and disappointing ways, breaking my nerdy little heart.

For one, the Office 365 and Remote Desktop apps are the big disappointments. For reasons that defy our understanding, they each run in some ridiculously low resolution, far short of the crystal-clear 4K resolution the monitor is capable of, making them borderline unusable.

Add to that the monitor’s high latency and overall sluggishness running Office 365 – to the point where what’s on the screen is not just a few letters but several words behind what you’ve just typed – and I’m going to say it’s worse than borderline unusable for this app. It’s actually unusable.

If you were hoping to use the M7 for productivity just by attaching a keyboard and mouse to it, then you’re in the class of people which Samsung has inexplicably ignored with this product.

Samsung Smart Monitor M7

Yes, you can run Office 365 apps like PowerPoint directly on the screen, but would you want to? 

(I myself was super excited about the remote desktop function in the M7, because I happen to use a remote desktop into one of my software development machines all the time. Alas, I’ll have to wait for the next model, which I’m hoping will have a decent processor and graphics chip.)

All is not lost for minimalist (that is, no laptop) workers, however. Because the M7 also supports DeX, you can plug in a recent-model Samsung phone along with a mouse and keyboard, and use the processor in the phone, rather than the one in the M7, to run Android apps on the big screen in a pretty decent, laptop-like fashion.

Plugging a new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra into the back of the M7 Smart Monitor gave us a productivity set-up that would do in a pinch if, say, you had this screen in your holiday house and needed to get a bit of work done.

Again, we were a little disappointed that the resolution of DeX running off the Galaxy S21 Ultra was nowhere near what the screen is capable of, but at least it was sharp enough for us to use as a PC replacement for a few hours without going bonkers, the way we did when we tried to use the remote desktop and Office 365 features.

The best option by far, though, is to plug in a laptop, a mouse and a keyboard, and luxuriate in that 4K, 32-inch screen like a proper technophile.

The M7 isn’t a great screen to use with a gaming laptop (it has an 8 millisecond response time, which is slow by gaming standards, and operates at only 60 hertz) but for productivity apps it’s wonderfully sharp, has good contrast (which wasn’t always the case with Samsung monitors) and is, of course, wonderfully large.

It’s very much like Samsung’s excellent Space monitor to sit in front of all day, only it does a ton more stuff and is a lot cheaper.

And after you’ve spent all day sitting right in front of the M7 working, the next thing to do is sit back, get out the remote, and spend all night watching TV on it.

Now, it’s not the greatest TV on the market. If you’re a technophile looking for a second screen, the M7 probably won’t even be better than the TV you already own.

It doesn’t have a free-to-air tuner (though that seems to matter less and less with every passing month), it doesn’t have a lot of controls for fine-tuning things like noise reduction and motion blur, and at times it seems the processor is only barely coping with fast-moving objects in UHD content streamed in apps such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

But the M7 does support a lot of streaming apps, and they do look perfectly OK considering the price.

Which is probably the other blind spot we have here in the Digital Life Labs. We don’t often consider the price of things.

I assure you, finding a gadget that is so suited to so many people not just in terms of its utility but also in terms of its price is something that won’t happen again.

SAMSUNG M7 SMART MONITOR
Likes
Very versatile. Extremely good value for money. Great productivity monitor.
Dislikes Internal productivity apps are horribly low-res.
Price $699 for the 32-inch, UHD model.