The improved Samsung Smart Monitor M5 is a spacing-saving, all-in-one solution for smaller homes.
I did a couple of bizarre things right after receiving my review set for the 2023 version of the Samsung Smart Monitor M5. This was despite me religiously reading the official marketing literature beforehand.
For two hours, I rushed through whatever work I had on hand; work that requires me to use my desktop PC. Once done, I disconnected my monitor, cleaned up my (super messy) work desk, and happily plugged in the M5.
Various things then felt “off,” beginning with how a Tizen-like screen came on instead of the Windows login screen. Still, a few clicks quickly got me back to my usual digital desktop.
It was only then that I realised: Dude, what are you doing? The M5 is not your usual PC monitor, although it can function like one.
Seems that after reading all the marketing literature, the only word that stuck in my mind was “monitor.”
A Compact Jack of All Trades
My misunderstanding is embarrassing but it did help set the direction for this review.
In our age of connectivity, an abundance of digital streaming entertainment, and work-from-home arrangements, the M5 offers a convenient, space-saving all-in-one solution. You can use it as a traditional PC monitor. Switch off your CPU and it becomes a smart TV, with all the wonders of streaming entertainment available at a click.
You can even use it to control smart home devices. Not to mention, it is space-saving.
But useful as it seems, the M5’s jack-of-all-trades nature invites certain questions too. If you’re primarily going to use it for work, why not just get a traditional desktop monitor—you can still watch streaming entertainment with those. If you’re mainly using it for entertainment, why not buy a smart TV instead? Samsung itself has one of the most impressive ranges of smart TVs.
I think the answers to these questions depend on what sort of living and home-working arrangement you’re in. But to properly discuss, we need to first take a look at the basic specs and key features, and overall user experience of the Samsung M5.
Samsung 27” Smart Monitor M5 Basic Specs
- Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Brightness (Typical): 250cd/㎡
- Contrast Ratio Static: 3,000:1(Typ.)
- Response Time: 4ms(GTG)
- Refresh Rate: Max 60Hz
- Tizen OS
- Two USB-A connectors & two HDMI ports
- Native, i.e., pre-installed streaming entertainment apps
- Adaptive brightness
- Access and control your PC remotely
- Mobile connectivity
- Direct access to Microsoft 365
- Control hub for Internet of Things (IoT) smart home devices
- Customisable home screen
(The M5 also comes in 32”, and is available in black or white. The 32” version has the same FHD resolution as its smaller counterpart)
As is obvious, the M5 features pretty standard specifications, standard and decent. Gamers might mind the refresh rate while audiophiles would lament the lack of a 3.5 audio jack. But for an “all-in-one” display solution, there’s really little to complain about the numbers.
The Samsung M5 comes with a metallic arm and base. Before I continue, let me say that the squarish base is among the heaviest I’ve encountered for a monitor of this size.
It’s great for stability. (Or for placing miniatures atop of!) But if you are going to move the monitor about a lot, I suspect you wouldn’t appreciate the weight.
Assembly itself is straightforward and dummy-proof . The entire task involves the tightening of three cross-recessed screws. One to connect the arm to the base, and two to connect the assembled stand to the rear of the M5. It’s as easy as it gets.
Do note too that the stand allows very minimal tilt; practically none if you ask me.
Interface and Entertainment Controls
Should you have no connected devices, the M5 displays a prompt upon powering on. From here, you can jump to the Home screen.
Tizen users, i.e., smart TV owners, will then find the controls and navigation greatly familiar. But even if you’re new to Tizen, it isn’t hard to figure out what’s what or what’s at where. The only thing that’s necessary to highlight at this point is that you should establish a wireless internet connection before all else as everything relies on this. (I.E., you should have your WiFi password ready beforehand)
Moving on, the Samsung M5 comes with several pre-installed streaming apps—from Netflix to Amazon Prime to Disney+. On the included remote control, quick access buttons for these three streaming giants are also available, as well as a fourth button for internet browser activation.
If you wish to use the M5 as a PC monitor, you simply need to head over to CONNECTED DEVICES and select the relevant port.
In a nutshell, absolute first-timers might need some exploration before they get the hang of everything. But I suspect most PC/smart TV savvy folks would intuitively know where the most important functions are.
Workspace Access and Connectivity With Compatible Devices
Like the abovementioned native streaming apps, easy (digital) workspace access and the ability to control home smart devices are among the main attractions of the Samsung M5.
To use these functions require slightly more “setup.” Many functions also require a Samsung account.
For example, the easiest way to display your PC workspace on the M5 is by using Samsung’s Easy Connection to Screen app. You need to install this app on your PC, log in with your Samsung account, log in simultaneously on the M5, and choose the correct connection via the Workspace panel on the M5.
Connecting with other compatible devices depends on the nature of the connection. If you have a Samsung DeX-enabled Galaxy phone, you can effortlessly “cast” the screen onto the M5. (With my S22, it was just two clicks) If you have smart devices in your home, the M5’s inbuilt SmartThings function allows you to control these devices, with the M5 acting as a control hub.
I’ll put it this way. These functions require some experimenting and learning if you’re totally new to such things. However, the processes aren’t anything that complex. They just require some patience.
Someone familiar with smart devices would probably have everything set up within a half hour. The M5 also has guides throughout its interface to help you along.
Microsoft 365 Enabled
This is yet another key feature. For some users, perhaps the most attractive and important too.
Microsoft 365 is enabled on the M5; it’s accessible from the Workspace panel. With a subscription and a connected keyboard, you could thus use the M5 as a very basic PC.
Basic PC, as in if you only work with Word files, Excel spreadsheets, etc.
Naturally, the availability of Microsoft 365 means you can also access all your MS shared documents using just the Smart Monitor M5. No PC or smartphone is necessary.
Image and Sound Quality
I’ve listed the numbers above. I think you can see from them that the Samsung M5 has decent but standard specs as far as image quality is concerned.
I ran a couple of YouTube clips, sat through half a Netflix movie, and played one hour of Mario Kart 8 (Switch) using the M5. In short, I think the image quality doesn’t disappoint, although there isn’t that immediate “oh wow” factor . (The M8, which has 4K resolution, probably packs a more discernible punch)
Sound, as to be expected from a monitor speaker, is not something to write home about. But since it’s just a few clicks to connect to Bluetooth earphones or speakers, I feel it doesn’t matter what Samsung provided here.
The gist of it, the M5 is more than respectable as an entertainment hub. Just don’t expect it to be exemplary.
Smart Monitor M5 Review Summary: A Smart Solution Suitable for Certain Groups of Users
Overall, I find the setup procedures and controls for the Samsung Smart Monitor M5 easy and intuitive. Everything feels straightforward and is always clearly indicated. For gadget wizs, I bet they wouldn’t even need to read the instructions.
Whatever it aims to perform, it does so adequately too.
My review summary would thus be that the M5 is an “all-in-one” solution that works hard to provide a variety of conveniences while making it clear it doesn’t aspire to excel in any particular area. Returning to the considerations I highlighted in my introduction, this means that if you’re a devoted gamer, you’re probably better off with a gaming monitor. If you’re primarily using the monitor for streaming entertainment, I would recommend one of Samsung’s smart tvs.
On the other hand, if you want a monitor that can be used for work and entertainment and home device control, the M5 is ideal.
Some folks, IMO, will particularly find the M5 useful too. Offhand, I think these groups are:
- People who live in smaller homes/bedrooms, where there’s just no space for a full desktop system AND a full-size TV. Hey, with the M5, you can do your streaming binges without switching on your PC/Mac. There are some electrical savings.
- If you’re working from home with a laptop, the M5 provides a larger screen that could double as a smart tv.
- Naturally, if your home is full of smart, “connectible” devices, the M5 can act as a futuristic control hub. I haven’t mentioned this. The M5 has a My Contents feature that allows you to display the weather, date and time, personal pictures, etc. You can also programme the smart monitor to activate when someone is nearby and to switch off when said person leaves the zone.
- Outside of homes, smaller offices could benefit from the M5. You know, when you have space for a small meeting table but just no budget/space for a projector system or a devoted desktop setup? You can do your presentations with the Smart Monitor M5 and you wouldn’t even need to have an accompanying CPU/laptop. The 27”/32” screens beat the display of any laptop too.
The above scenarios take into consideration the price tags of the M5. At SGD 400++/-, it might feel like a lot to pay for an FHD monitor. However, what’s important to remember is that the M5 is meant to be more than a monitor.
In other words, the price makes sense if you’re able to benefit from both the entertainment and work functions of this smart monitor, as well as integrate it into your smart home/office setup.
The 27” Samsung Smart Monitor M5 is currently retailing at SGD 428/-. The 32” version is at SGD 488/-. Prices before GST.