Smart monitors – which are monitors that can also act as standalone smart TVs – are a great choice for anyone with limited space, whether it’s a living room home office or a cramped dorm room. While the latest crop of smart monitors remains more expensive than a standalone monitor or television, the cost difference is shrinking — and it may finally be time to put a smart monitor on your desk (or in your living room).
Both LG and Samsung are rolling out new smart monitors this year, with relatively similar features: the Samsung Smart Monitor M80D and the LG MyView Smart Monitor. These two screens are so similar, in fact, that it’s a little hard to tell them apart. Both are sleek, 32” 4K monitors with smart TV interfaces that will be familiar to anyone who already owns TVs from these brands. They’re multitasking masters that can switch seamlessly from desktop monitor to smart TV, with a webcam for videoconferencing and built-in hubs that allow you to easily swap between multiple devices. As far as screen quality goes, both are perfectly good monitors, and the sharp 4K resolution will make for particularly crisp images on a screen of this size. However, each has a rather average 60Hz refresh rate — which is fine for most users users, but will disappoint gamers.
But each of these screens has some useful features that you won’t find on the standard smart TV, with standalone support for cloud apps such as Microsoft Office 365, giving you an easy productivity option even without a computer plugged in. The Samsung model also includes Samsung Gaming Hub for cloud gaming – though as we’ve said, the low refresh rate won’t make games particularly impressive. Samsung’s monitor also has better integration with Samsung products, with the ability to easily switch content from the display to a Galaxy book, tablet, or phone with a feature that sounds similar to Apple’s Handoff.
LG stands out as a desktop hub, with more ports and higher-power charging than Samsung. The LG model includes three USB-C ports with a 90-watt power output, which is enough to charge the beefiest laptops. Samsung’s model has a single USB-C port with 65-watt power output, which is typically enough for smaller laptops in the 13” range. If you have a lot of power-hungry devices, that may make a significant difference to you. Either way, having a single screen on your desk that you can plug all (or most) of your devices into could eliminate desktop clutter.
Price is also a big differentiator between these two screens. LG’s Smart Monitor will be available in different configurations for $599 or $499, with the lower-end models skipping the webcam and the high-power USB-C port. Samsung has yet to announce a price for the Smart Monitor M80D, but the previous generation 32” Samsung Smart Monitor was $699 – a substantial increase over LG’s announced prices. If the new M80D models stick to that pricing, it will be difficult to justify for all but the most hardcore Samsung fans, who may appreciate the extra integration with other Samsung gadgets.
Look for more information on pricing and availability later this year.