Sony SDM-HS73P – TFT Monitor Review


Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £409.00

I’ve been a fan of Sony’s X-Black screen technology ever since it was introduced on VAIO notebooks, and I’ve always asked myself why Sony didn’t produced desktop monitors using the same process. Well now I can stop asking myself that question, because sitting in front of me right now is the SDM-HS73P, which is a 17in desktop X-Black TFT screen.

In case you don’t know, X-Black screens produce seriously bright and vibrant displays. If you happen to play a lot of games or watch movies on your monitor, you will notice a huge difference with an X-Black screen. The technology doesn’t belong to Sony, since I’ve looked at a notebook from Rock that uses the same screen coating, but Rock calls it X-Glass.

It’s hard to describe how different an X-Black display looks from a standard TFT. I guess the big difference between an LCD screen and a CRT screen is that an LCD is transmissive while a CRT is emissive – this allows the CRT to be much brighter and produce richer and more vibrant colours than an LCD. The best way that I can describe an X-Black screen is that the image it produces is closer to a CRT than a traditional LCD screen.

The downside of the X-Black coating is that it makes the screen more reflective than a standard TFT, which can cause problems in areas of multi-directional ambient light. That said, I’ve used Sony notebooks with X-Black screens in many environments and have not found the increased reflectivity too much of a problem. For me at least, the brightness and vibrancy of the image far outweigh this issue.

Right, that’s X-Black out of the way, so what’s the rest of this monitor like? Well it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that everyone in the office thought this screen looked great when I pulled it out of the box. There’s no denying that the design is pretty impressive, with a glossy black bezel complementing the glossy black screen. The bezel is framed by a thin silver lip, that forms part of the stand, which is also silver. When this monitor is sitting on your desk switched off, it does look very stylish, but I have to say that the design isn’t quite so appealing when you switch the screen on and use it.

Although the shiny black bezel looks great when the screen is off, when you switch it on it soon becomes very distracting – it’s like having a black mirror surrounding the screen area and your eye can’t help but be pulled towards the edge of the monitor. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if the bezel was slim, but it’s not. In fact this is one of the widest bezels I’ve seen on a TFT screen for some time, and makes the whole unit much larger than it needs to be. For example, I have a 19in Samsung TFT in the office and the Sony is the same physical size as that despite only having a 17in panel.

Also, the stand may look good, but in use it’s quite disappointing. There is no vertical movement whatsoever, and no panning movement either. Strangely, the base looks as though it has a swivel plate mounted in it, but instead it’s just slightly raised on rubber feet, making it difficult, but not impossible, to swivel from side to side. It comes as no surprise that the screen won’t pivot into portrait mode, so if this is important to you, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. In fact the only adjustment that is catered for, is tilting the screen forwards and backwards, and although this helps create a better viewing angle, it’s far from perfect.

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