When Samsung made the M5 Smart Monitor available here in New Zealand and sent me the specifications I was really interested in having a look.
How would you position a monitor that can be used in so many different ways? I think the Samsung M5 Smart Monitor is an ideal device for people who want to work from home and have an entertainment unit but don't have space for both - perhaps people living in a shared flat situation or people who really don't want or need a full computer on their lives.
Here is how it works. The Samsung M5 Smart Monitor I have here is a 32" 16:9 flat monitor with 1920 by 1080 pixels resolution. It has a 60 Hz refresh rate with an 8 ms GTG response time and even supports HDR10 too. You have settings to reduce blue light and auto-brightness as well.
You can connect your computer to this monitor using a standard HDMI cable and still have a second HDMI port for other devices (including CEC support).
But that is the basic monitor functionality. This is one smart device. You can connect it to a WiFi network (both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) and from that point, it can be used as a wireless display for a Windows 10 device. This same functionality can also be used to connect some smartphones - in my case I tested it with a Huawei P30 Pro using its Wireless Projection function - this mirror the smartphone screen on the monitor but there's an option to change the Wireless Projection in Desktop Mode - basically, the whole monitor is a desktop (including a start button and taskbar) with each Android app opening on its own window. Connect a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to your smartphone and you have a computer in your hands.
Important to note not all Android devices support this functionality. The Samsung M5 Smart Monitor actually supports Samsung's DeX, which is very similar in concept of extending your smartphone to a desktop experience but I couldn't test this as it only works with Samsung smartphones.
Once the Samsung M5 Smart Monitor is connected to your WiFi there are very few limits really.
First the monitor runs the Samsung Tizen OS (the same used on the Samsung Smart TV series), and brings the same experience to this monitor. It comes with a remote control that allows you to switch - for example between the HDMI input and Home, which lists your favourite apps. Apps include Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Spotify, Apple TV, YouTube, Freeview On Demand, TVNZ, SkySport Now, Neon, Spark Sport and Plex, to list just a few of the more common ones in New Zealand. The remote even has dedicated buttons to open Netflix, Prime Video and the web browser directly.
You can also access the app store where you can find a long list of apps in different categories.
It comes with two built-in speakers that actually sound really good so you can stream all this digital content without the need for external speakers. It sounds - and look pretty good actually. But if you want to keep it to yourself, the Samsung M5 Smart Monitor has built-in Bluetooth so you can pair your headphones or earbuds and have the sound go through that instead.
There are two Picture Modes available: Dynamic and Standard, so don't expect fancy "Moviemaker Mode" as you see on dedicated smart TV sets. Despite that, the Standard mode is good for standard office work while Dynamic works quite well with streaming content, including HDR content.
There are two USB-A ports in the back so you can plug keyboard and mouse devices (or storage) into the monitor. I tried with a Logitech Unifying wireless adapter and that worked fine. You will still need the remote to control the monitor but you can use the keyboard and mouse for the remote work options that I will talk about now.
Using the remote you can switch between apps listed at the Home bar or switch to one of the HDMI inputs. You can also use it to get to the Remote Access menu, which gives you a few options: Remote PC, Screen Sharing, Samsung DeX and Office 365.
The Remote PC option is a full client for Remote Desktop (RDP) and VNC. I have been using the Samsung M5 Smart Monitor to work in the lounge, remotely accessing my desktop in the home office. We have a new puppy and I need to stay in the lounge to keep an eye on her. This means I can work from the dining table with just the monitor and cordless mouse and keyboard attached to it. It works great - the network is fast enough to support a good experience with the desktop streaming directly to the monitor.
The Office 365 experience is a bit different. It's actually browser-based but it appears as a fullscreen application, so you don't see the browser and can't control it. You can log in with either a personal Microsoft account (Outlook.com, Hotmail.com and so on) or you can use your organisation's Office 365 account. It supports 2FA for both account types and once you log in then you will see the familiar cloud-based, Office 365 web apps - this includes Outlook, Word, Excel, OneNote and I even managed to use PowerBI. You can access anything available to your account through Office 365 - except Microsoft Teams, which didn't work in this environment.
You will need your remote around even with the keyboard and mouse - the Back button on the remote is the only way to go back on those fullscreen Office 365 apps.
The Samsung M5 Smart Monitor also supports the Samsung Bixby Voice Assistant, which can be accessed through the remote's built-in mic. Yan use it to control the monitor using your voice e.g. "Open Netflix" or ask "What's the weather in Wellington?" - which will tell you what's the weather while at the same time showing a graph on the screen. You can ask "Tell me a joke" or even "What petrol stations are there around Johnsoville", which will open the browser directly into a Google search results page.
One thing this setup won't do for you when working from home is print any material as there is no printer support.
The Samsung M5 Smart Monitor comes in a flat box, with a stand that you need to assemble using a Philips driver (not included). It's pretty simple to put it together and you will be up and running in less than five minutes. The stand is fixed so you can't swivel the monitor but you tilt up and down to position it on a better work/entertainment position. Together the monitor and base need an area of 716 x 517 x 194 mm and weigh 6.2 Kg - the monitor itself is 716 424 x 42 mm and weigh 5 Kg. It can be wall-mounted if you want to.
Overall, the Samsung M5 Smart Monitor was a good surprise. I didn't expect it to be so versatile and fun.