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Review: Sony SDM-S205 Monitor

The first thing you’ll notice about the Sony SDM-S205 LCD 20.1 inch monitor is its presence on your desktop. Sleek and jet black, the monitor sports a thick pedestal and a large viewing area suitable for a desktop, trade show or small conference room presentation. It comes with four USB ports and supports both PC and Mac. The large screen pivots and can be viewed in portrait or landscape (or anything in between) and the stand is adjustable. Watching a DVD is like watching a television with clear, bright color. Yet in spite of all these features, Sony made some puzzling design decisions that make it difficult to set up and adjust the monitor, and these flaws take away from this otherwise high-quality monitor.

When you pull the monitor out of the box, you have to attach it to its base. There is a dearth of documentation and illustrations to walk you through this process, so if you have any trouble with this sort of activity, you will find it a challenge. Sony uses a hook system, which is augmented by a screw that looks like a key. After you line up the hooks in the pedestal with its corresponding holes in the base, no easy task with a monitor of this heft, you need to turn the whole unit on its side, and turn the key to firmly attach it to the base. The pedestal height adjustment mechanism consists of a cotter pin, which you pull out, adjust the height up or down, then lock into place by replacing the pin. It seems that Sony could have come up with a more elegant design for both of these activities, especially for a monitor in this price range.

The Sony SDM-S205 20.1 LCD display provides plenty of attractive screen real estate, but is big enough that assembly might be a challenge.

Once in place, you need to access the connectors to connect the power cord and the monitor cable that runs to your PC (or Mac). This would seem to be a simple activity, and it is with most monitors, but Sony decided to bury these connectors behind a removable plastic plate, creating a layer between you and the connectors.

When I finally got the unit setup, I needed to adjust the monitor, but I found the controls small and hard to distinguish, being black on a black background. The onscreen menu system uses symbols much of the time instead of words, undoubtedly a nod to an international audience, but many of the symbols were incomprehensible (at least to me). My setup difficulties still weren’t finished though, because when I connected the monitor to my desktop computer, my Windows desktop filled only about three quarters of the screen. It took some hunting around the menu system to get it to fill the entire screen. Again, good documentation would have helped minimize these issues.

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