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Sony MFM-HT205

MVA was written down as the matrix type in the official announcement of this monitor, yet I wrote S-IPS into the table above. This is not a mistake. The sample we got for our tests was indeed based on an S-IPS matrix, without any doubt. The violet hue of black, characteristic of S-IPS technology, could be seen quite clearly when you deflected your light of sight sideways from the center of the screen. The monitor uses exactly the same matrix as is employed in the NEC MultiSync 20WGX2, a 20” widescreen S-IPS matrix manufactured by LG.Philips LCD, with a glossy surface and response time compensation.

However, I tested a presale sample Sony gave us, so it is possible that off-the-shelf samples of the monitor will have a different matrix. You should check this out at the shop.

Besides, two contrast ratios, 1600:1 and 700:1, are declared for the monitor. The first number is fantastically high, contradicting all established notions about S-IPS technology. This is actually the so-called dynamic contrast I wrote about above when describing the NEC 20WGX2. When reproducing video, the monitor can perform an automatic on-the-fly adjustment of the backlight brightness depending on the displayed image. The brighter the picture, the higher the brightness is. To arrive at the mentioned value, the levels of white and black are measured at the highest and lowest backlight brightness, respectively. So, if the contrast ratio of the matrix itself is 700:1, and the auto-adjustment system can vary the brightness within a two times broader range, we get a ratio of 1600:1. This technique may be useful for movies and games, but you should realize that it’s nothing else but a crutch that serves to make up for the narrow dynamic range of today’s monitors. It doesn’t work always whereas the real “absolute” contrast ratio of the matrix is much lower (I will measure it below).

Why is the absolute contrast so important for us? Because it is a basic characteristic of an LCD matrix that is indicative of how comfortable it is to work with the monitor in darkness. If the absolute contrast is low, then black (a Desktop background, dark scenes in movies and games, etc) will always seem dark gray under dim external lighting. And the dynamic contrast can’t do anything about that whatever number they write in the monitor’s specs. I have nothing against dynamic contrast. It is a good technology, especially if you can turn it off when you wish, but it can’t replace a good absolute contrast.

The monitor is designed in a single-chunk case that doesn’t have a stand proper. Sony came up with this design some time ago. It looks fine, but is low-functional and suits a TV-set better than a PC monitor. Well, the MFM-HT205 can be viewed as a TV-set since it has a TV-tuner.

The plastic case is painted silver, but the two-centimeter band with the Power button at the bottom is made of aluminum.

The monitor has a folding support at the back. It prevents the monitor from toppling over and allows to adjust the tilt of the screen in a small range. The case is large. It is one of the heaviest monitors we’ve ever tested in our labs. Holes for VESA-compatible mounts are located at the back panel, but I’m afraid this monitor will look awkward on a wall mount.

There are three groups of connectors here. The first group, located at the bottom and rear of the case, includes analog and digital video inputs, two audio inputs (monitors usually have a single common audio input for all PC connectors, but here you can switch the monitor between two computers, changing the audio source simultaneously), and an antenna input of the TV-tuner.

The second group is placed on a side panel and includes an S-Video connector, a composite video input with an accompanying audio input, and a headphones output.

The third group includes a component video input and a SCART connector.

Thus, the MFM-HT205 boasts the biggest number of inputs among all the monitors included into this review. Acer’s models lack a component input (which is going to be more and more demanded as HDTV formats spread out); Samsung’s models don’t have a TV-tuner and a SCART connector.

The monitor’s controls are located on its right side, but are labeled on the front panel, so there are no problems like with BenQ’s models. You also get a remote control with this monitor which duplicates all the buttons. You can use the remote control to change any of the monitor’s settings, not only TV-related ones as is often the case.

The Power button is at the bottom of the case. A LED indicator is beside it.

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