For your ultimate viewing pleasure, Sony’s 19″ multi-functional LCD monitor offers it all in one box… ideal for work, rest and play.
Remember music centres from the 70’s? Amply demonstrating just how rubbish ‘multi-function’ kit can be, they shoehorned a record deck, cassette player and tuner into an oversized box and had all the audio prowess of a wet bath towel. Thankfully, Sony’s latest multi-function screen is nothing like this whatsoever.
One step ahead of the LCD game, the MFM-HT95 uses Sony’s X-Black technology. Yes, we know it sounds more like the sort of thing you’d see taking to the skies around Area 51, but it’s actually a revolutionary, high-brightness LCD system. Unlike conventional LCD panels, which only transmit two per cent of the light from their rear lamps to the viewer’s retinas, X-Black screens pack a whole lot more punch. But this core technology is only the start of a very impressive feature list.
The screen addresses a major constraint for humankind in that people can generally only be in one place at one time. So, if you want to check your email during the adverts of your favourite TV programme, you have to get off the sofa, go next door to where the PC is and hope you make it back in time before the programme restarts. The MFM-HT95, however, can cater to all your viewing needs without you needing to move a muscle, apart from the ones in your index finger.
But is it PC? Well, as a PC monitor, the 19in screen offers a pin-sharp 1,280 x 1,024 pixel display. Without a lot of the anti-reflective grilles and other gubbins of regular LCDs, it’s actually a lot more pin-sharp than you’d expect. The X-Black system also makes for more vivid colours, better contrast and extra detail, especially in dark areas of a screen image. Switch
to sRGB mode and the screen is simply fabulous for digital photo editing, as well as all your workaday PC chores.
At the flick of a switch on the generously-featured wireless remote control, the screen becomes a fully functional TV set. True, it’s not widescreen and the equivalent screen size is only about that of a conventional 21in TV, but the picture quality is gorgeous. As you’d expect from a device whose alter ego is that of a PC monitor, its high resolution display is also ready, willing and able to accept all popular HDTV formats. And there’s no need to fire up a PC with a TV tuner/graphics card before you can watch television programmes, because the Sony has its own built-in tuner, complete with Teletext.The monitor is also perfect for all of us who prefer keeping an eye on the TV when we should be working. The PiP (Picture-in-Picture) display means that you can
bore yourself rigid with the humdrum of word processing and spreadsheets, while at the same time reviving your spirits with much needed entertainment value from a TV show.
The possibilities don’t end with humble TV and PC connectivity either as the Sony also features composite, S-Video and component video inputs, any of which you can select from the remote control. This expands the range so that you can feed the monitor directly with camcorders, digital cameras, games consoles, DVD players, or anything else with a video or Scart output. Whichever you choose, we found that the fast 12ms response time was more than able to keep up with pacey gaming or movie action.
Equally at home in the living room as it is in the home office, the screen is immaculately finished and has curvaceous styling. High maximum brightness and contrast specifications (450cd/m2 and 1,000:1) make for comfortable viewing from across the living room, as well as when you’re up close and personal using it as a PC.
Sound quality is one area of almost universal disappointment when it comes to flat panel displays. The Sony is certainly no match for a dedicated sound system, but its SRS WOW-enhanced sound system is a lot beefier than the pathetic speakers fitted to most LCDs, and is reasonably listenable.
Looking full in the one-size-fits-all face of multi-functionalism, we’d have to say that the outright picture quality of the MFM-HT95 is not quite as supremely perfect as on Sony’s new standalone 19in X-Black SDM-HS94P computer monitor. However, it’s an amazingly close second and is mightier than conventional LCDs.
As a multi-function screen, this little all-rounder is by far and away the best we have seen yet.
Sony MFM-HT95 | $1599 |
For: True versatility without the drop in quality of most multi-function devices.
Against: We’d have preferred widescreen format and sound quality isn’t spectacular.
Verdict: Unlike almost any other multi-function device we can think of this one really excels in everything it does.