Review: Samsung's M7 smart monitor the ultimate in form over function

It's got a small footprint, but there are annoyances that are just too much to get over.
It's got a small footprint, but there are annoyances that are just too much to get over Photo credit: Newshub

Samsung bills its 32-inch M7 smart monitor as "the monitor for every side of life" and, on the face of things, it offers an impressive set of specifications.

Not only does it have 4K resolution, it has built-in Office 365 and remote PC capabilities, popular streaming apps like Netflix and Prime Video on it and you can plug your favourite gaming console in as well as your computers and laptops.

It was easy to set up and it looked good on my desktop, but technology should always come down to function over form. So can it back up those stats with a performance to match?

I used the M7 smart monitor for a couple of weeks and here are my thoughts.

The good

Having gone through Samsung's set-up processes a few times recently, it didn't take me long to get the M7 monitor running and connected to both my SmartThings account and the internet.

The handy remote control will be familiar to anyone who has a relatively new Samsung television and the on-screen menus and app selection matches that of its larger-screen cousins thanks to the Tizen interface, so it's not hard to find your way around.

The footprint for the monitor is pretty small, all things considered, so it gave me back a fair bit of space on my desk compared to my LG 38-inch curved model I currently use.

I also appreciated the relatively small bezel around the screen. So far, so good.

As a man who has his priorities sorted, the first thing I did was open up the Prime app and crack on with Bosch, desperate to find out what was happening to the eponymous hero.

The picture was pretty good, although the colours were a little subdued compared to my expectations, while the sound was fine considering I was sitting relatively close. Overall, it wasn't bad enough to stop me streaming multiple episodes, but I wasn't so taken with it that I was desperate to use it as my primary screen.

Samsung M7
Photo credit: Newshub

I booted up my gaming PC next and everything worked and looked as expected with the exception of my mouse and keyboard. I generally have their dongle plugged into my monitor to free up USB slots on my computer, but I couldn't get them to work here.

I did eventually get them working with the built-in Office 365 but they were equally useless then - more on that in a bit.

My Apple MacBook Air connected easily via the USB-C port in the back of the monitor and it charged fine. That laptop's external peripherals don't require a dongle, so I avoided any frustrations.

Finally my Xbox Series X was given a run, with Battlefield 5 the game of choice. While the disappointment this time was largely down to just how bad I am at first-person shooter games, the maximum 60Hz refresh rate of the monitor does mean you miss out on the full, beautifully smooth experience of 120fps gaming.

And so it continued for two weeks, a performance that was adequate, but nothing that actually had me considering this as a serious option for the future.

Samsung M7
Photo credit: Newshub

The bad

The first annoyance with the M7 was the lack of ability to alter the height of the screen.

I had to lower my chair to get it at the right eye level and that meant typing was suddenly at a less-than-ideal height. If this was going to be a permanent addition to my office I would have needed to add a shelf to raise it higher off the desk.

You can mount the monitor to the wall, I guess, but I don't really buy that as a realistic option if you want to be able to use any of the USB ports on the back.

I might even have considered a hard-cover book or two to prop it up a bit, but I actually found it a little bit wobbly on its stand and didn't want to take the chance of knocking it over by accident.

By far the worst thing with the monitor, however, was the built-in Office 365 experience. Useless just doesn't sum it up, I'm afraid. It was offensively bad.

Logging in to my Microsoft account was easy enough, but overall it was just slow to navigate. Worse than that, however, was the lag.

Typing as normal ended up with gibberish on the screen. Press some keys, wait a second and it would show - but not necessarily in the order I pressed them in.

For a touch-typer this was infuriating. I stopped using it immediately. If you're one of those people who stares at the keyboard and use your index finger to type everything it may be acceptable but, to all intents and purposes, this advertised functionality is unusable.

The verdict

There's an old saying about being the jack of all trades and the master of none, and this just about sums up this monitor perfectly.

I've been a fan of plenty of Samsung products in the past - just recently I was massively impressed with the company's latest 8K television, but I won't be adding the M7 monitor to my technology wish list any time soon.

It's not because it's a bad product - it's clearly not. But I think the audience for something like this doesn't match with what I'm looking for in my technology.

I want the best of everything for the price I'm prepared to pay - it's why last year I forked out a small fortune for the ultra-wide screen curved monitor for my home office and why I want to play my gaming consoles on the best possible television screen.

Samsung M7
Photo credit: Newshub

The monitor will suit someone who's really short in space and is content to have their television, monitor and streaming options in one tidy package - there is unquestionably a convenience there for those willing to accept the loss of some overall quality.

Unfortunately that's not me. And, at $899 for the package, you're going to want to make sure that it does what you want it to do well before forking out for one.

Newshub was supplied a Samsung M7 smart monitor for this review.