Samsung on Tuesday revealed an update to its Smart Monitor M8, a stand-alone computer display (the previous generation of which features in our round up of the Best Mac monitors). For customers looking for a high-resolution display but unable to afford Apple’s 5K Studio Display, the Smart Monitor M8 is an attractive option (on paper) if you’re willing to make some compromises.
For $700 (32 inches) or $650 (27 inches, which is a new offering), the M8 will be available in June. It has the following specs:
- 4K resolution at 60Hz (not variable)
- 400 nits brightness
- 3,000 to 1 contrast ratio
- HDR 10+
- 99% sRGB color gamut
- HDMI 2.0; two USB-A ports; one USB-C port (65 watts)
- Two 5-watt speakers
Apple’s Studio Display is better for content creation since it supports the P3 color gamut, has higher brightness, and True Tone. The Studio Display also has a more robust sound system, a built-in webcam, and a nano-texture glass option. But as an affordable general-purpose display, the M8 checks the boxes, and then some–it has Samsung’s SmartTV features that make the display do double duty as a stand-alone entertainment center. SmartTV includes video streaming apps such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube, and it also has built-in support for Bixby and Amazon Alexa.
The M8 supports AirPlay so you can stream from an iPhone, iPad or Mac. If you’re using the M8 as a Mac display, AirPlay support may not be that big of a deal, but it’s a handy feature to have.
An iMac doppelgänger
Let’s finally address the elephant in the room: The M8 looks like an iMac. It doesn’t have a chin like an iMac, but the stand (which has adjustable height, swivel, and tilt, and can pivot) looks like the iMac’s. The M8 is even available in four colors that would fit right in with the iMac’s color palette. I actually wish Apple designed the iMac to be more like the M8.
With a body thickness of 11.38 millimeters, the M8 is slightly thinner than the iMac’s 11.5 mm, but I’d be fine with making the iMac thicker if it helps eliminate the chin, as well as house the iMac’s six high-fidelity speakers with force-canceling woofers.
Samsung made a design decision that most users will disagree with: an external webcam that magnetically mounts on top of the display. This is a compromise made to keep a thin upper bezel. Apple handles this on its MacBooks by incorporating a notch, but on the iMac and Studio Display, the top bezel is bigger. Why not notch the iMac?
Apple’s 24-inch iMac is only two years old, so it’s not going to be redesigned anytime soon. But rumors have floated around that Apple is developing a replacement for the 27-inch iMac or the iMac Pro; a larger iMac that’s a step up spec-wise from the current iMac. It’d be pretty cool if Apple didn’t just take the current iMac and make it bigger but offered a design variation that’s similar to Samsung’s M8. That would be an iMac to get really excited about.