The CRT is dead – long live the LCD. Well, not quite. Despite the fuss about LCD monitors over the last couple of years, they still haven’t replaced Cathode Ray Tube displays, even though the latter can trace their design ancestry right back to John Logie Baird’s first television set. LCD monitors are thinner, use less power and can produce a more optically accurate image, but they are still not quite cheap enough to become viable for general business or home use.
As if to reinforce that fact, Sony’s entry into this market costs just shy of £1,200 excluding VAT. That’s a lot of cash for a 15-inch display. The size measurement is a little confusing, however, because this is a true 15-inch display with a 15-inch diagonal viewable screen size. CRT monitors typically have viewable screen sizes 1.4-inches smaller than their quoted size, so this LCD panel is in fact only slightly smaller than a 17-inch CRT monitor.
In its top resolution of 1024 x 768, refreshed at a maximum rate of 85Hz, the picture quality of this TCO’95-compliant monitor is very good, with sharp edges and good colour reproduction. It’s not quite so good in lower resolutions, however, since LCD panels are less able to cope with different resolution than their CRT counterparts. At 800 x 600 there is noticeable blocking of the text and other thin lines, so the display should really only be used in its native resolution.
LCD panels are back-lit, and those back-lights don’t last forever. Usually when they wear out you have to discard the display, but Sony’s fluorescent back-light is replaceable, which will help protect the buyer’s investment. The display has the usual controls for brightness, contrast, colour temperature, pitch, phase, zoom and centre, accessed via an on-screen menu using buttons down the right-hand side of the panel. There’s also an auto-adjust button that does a pretty good job of matching the display to the signal from the graphics card. To make setup easier, Sony includes a Windows 95 monitor information disk, along with an adapter and utility disk for Macintosh systems.
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