Samsung M5 Smart Monitor REVIEW
PAT PILCHER puts Samsung’s new M5 smart monitor to the test and finds that its impressive feature set makes it perfect for work-from-homers.
The headline features that make the M5 so unique are its many smart functions. To start with, it offers wireless screen mirroring. This isn’t terribly unique. Other brands also do this. But unlike other monitors, the M5 has several other cool tricks up its sleeve, the first being that it can remotely access your PC. This makes a tonne of sense for editing work documents from home. We’re not talking about janky access using Bluetooth, but an internet connection using Microsoft’s Remote Terminal Services. This means your PC back at the office can do all the heavy lifting and it just streams video/keyboard and mouse activity back to the M5.
In short, the M5 appears to be just what the Witchdoctor ordered for anyone working from home.
While there’s a lot to like about remotely accessing your work PC using just a screen at home, the M5 has another nifty trick. Microsoft 365 users can sign into their Microsoft 365 account to run Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from the M5 – no PC/Mac/tablet/phone needed. Hook up a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse (I used Logitech’s unifying receiver as there’s just one USB port on the M5) and you’re good to go. So, did it work? In a nutshell, yes! That said, your mileage will vary depending on the bandwidth available via your broadband connection. Those with slower broadband will notice that entering text and editing documents can be laggy to the point of being unusable. I didn’t experience this, but it is something that others have reported with the M5.
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If you live in Apple-land, the good news is that the M5 is also AirPlay2 friendly so fruity phone and tablet users can cast content using no cables. Owners of newish Samsung phones/tablets can run Dex wirelessly, using the phone as a trackpad. Using Samsung’s SmartThings app, you can pair a Samsung device to the screen and wirelessly cast it to the M5 (I don’t have a newish Samsung phone, so I wasn’t able to put this to the test).
As much as I was wowed by the Swiss army knife-like capabilities of the M5, I couldn’t help but initially wonder who it was aimed at. For anyone stuck with limited space needing a minimal setup (such as students flatting or remote work from home types), the M5 makes a tonne of sense as both a workstation monitor and smart bedroom TV.
Smartypants stuff aside, the M5 has all the usual monitor features you’d expect. For a standard display, or for second-screen functionality, simply connect the included HDMI cable to the M5 and your PC/Mac, and you’re good to go. If you’re considering using the M5 for media playback, its second HDMI port supports ARC. This allows you to connect a soundbar/ARC compatible speaker. Doing this is great for watching TV and movies as, like with most other monitors, the M5’s built-in speakers are average to middling for movies.
The M5 has a shedload of capabilities, but the one exception to this is console gaming. Its 1080p resolution makes it fine for PC productivity and simple gaming, but its 60Hz refresh rate and 14ms pixel response times aren’t ideal for gamers.
In use, I often found myself using the M5 as a second TV. ARC support meant it worked a treat with a soundbar. Unlike most monitors, it also has a remote control with a handy Netflix/Amazon Prime button. As the M5 is powered by Samsung’s Tizen OS, you get access to the same sizeable pile of smart TV apps as other Samsung smart TVs. For sneaky viewing instead of working, the M5 worked a treat. Its 32-inch size may make it a tad tiny for use in a lounge, but it’s a monitor, so you’re closer to the screen. Its remote also deserves special mention. It means you don’t have to fart about with fiddly controls hidden on the underside or behind the monitor. This is something I could easily get used to. Being a Samsung clicker means it is the same as the excellent remote you normally get with a Samsung TV.
While there’s a lot to like with the M5 features-wise, its ergonomics are not great. The M5’s stand offers little tilt/swivel/height adjustment capabilities, which is disappointing. That said, the M5 can be mounted to a monitor arm if you need to adjust its ergonomics.
The M5 might be a jack of all trades, but it packs an impressive set of capabilities that are bound to appeal to hybrid work-from-home types. Still, its appeal to gamers or those with specific ergonomic requirements will be limited. It might not be a master of all trades, but it does come close, and its $599 sticker price sees it offering an impressive amount of bang per buck value.