It takes a while to get used to the Sony MFM-HT75W as a computer display, but its charms as a mini movie screen are immediately evident. Designed as a combination TV set and computer monitor, the 17-inch wide-screen display has a built-in TV tuner, and a clear and bright screen. The MFM-HT75W performs best as a monitor, but it also makes for a decent television. As a combination unit, it's one of the best we've seen.
The MFM-HT75W's dimensions go beyond those of the typical wide-screen display, running 381 by 222mm, with a resolution of 1,280x760 pixels. It's almost twice as long as it is tall. The wide silver-coloured bezel measures 32mm along the top and 38mm along the sides; the 102mm on the bottom accommodate a built-in subwoofer and speakers. The MFM-HT75W's spring-loaded, easel-style support arm gives it stability but limits its adjustability -- you can't raise or lower the monitor or pivot the screen. You can't tilt the monitor forward either, but you can tilt it as much as 20 degrees backward.
The image-adjustment buttons are tucked behind the right side of the bezel, and small grey icons along the bezel indicate their functions, giving the monitor a clean, untarnished look. The eight buttons control the onscreen menu, the TV channels, the volume, the input selection, the picture-in-picture mode (PIP) and Sony's ErgoBright High, Middle, Low and Auto presets. The MFM-HT75W's controls are easy to use, but it's easier (and more fun) to use the included remote control, which mimics the functionality of the on-monitor buttons but has easy-to-read labels.
The MFM-HT75W's built-in TV tuner card sets it apart from other LCDs. However, before you watch TV on the display, you'll have to plug in the antenna cable, change the LCD to TV mode, then run Auto Program to set the channels. The TV viewing area measures 222 by 292mm. When watching TV in PIP mode, you can choose from three viewing box sizes, the largest being 90 by 120mm, and place the PIP window in any corner of the screen. The MFM-HT75W supports high definition through the DVI input, which is fully HDCP compatible. So whatever you choose to upgrade to over the next few years, be it Sky HD, Blu-ray or HD DVD, you can be safe in the knowledge that this Sony TV will support it.
Hidden behind a removable piece of thin plastic on the MFM-HT75W's back are an AC power port, an analogue signal input, two audio input ports, a VGA input and the aforementioned DVI-D port -- all standard for double-duty displays. Other connections included on the MFM-HT75W are S-video, right and left audio, composite and component video ports. Sony provides a good variety of cables, including analogue, digital, PC audio and coaxial; the company also includes two AA batteries for the remote.
The MFM-HT75W has two built-in 3-watt speakers and a 5-watt subwoofer -- a feature not available on other monitors we've seen. Equipped with SRS Labs' WOW Audio Effect technology, the MFM-HT75W's sound is full and rich for a built-in system.
We tested the MFM-HT75W as both an LCD television and a monitor. It fared well overall but scored higher as a monitor. As a monitor, the MFM-HT75W performed well on our DisplayMate tests. Set at its 1,280x768 native resolution, text looked sharp and was easy to read, and the greyscale was well defined and smooth. Some unwanted colours did crop up in the greyscale, however -- most notably red -- which gave midtone greys a purplish tone. Overall, the MFM-HT75W's colour performance was solid, with only slight compression on the ends of the colour scales. Colours remained true through various levels of shading.
As a TV, our biggest complaint about the MFM-HT75W's performance was its shiny antireflective screen coating. Supposed to reduce glare and ambient light reflection, we found that it actually attracted glare from light sources in the room. We also noticed inconsistent greyscale rendition, tinting brighter areas of the screen blue and reducing their green levels. The MFM-HT75W's Auto Picture mode, which adjusts the display according to the room's ambient light conditions, improved the greyscale quality without significant loss of detail. In our video tests, the Sony MFM-HT75W handled HDTV well, displaying details sharply with very little noise.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Edited by Lara Luepke
Additional editing by Nick Hide