With the control panel illuminated, you can easily open the P234's onscreen display (OSD) and scroll through the menu choices. Along with the usual brightness and contrast controls, Sony includes a backlight adjustment option so that you can set the display's luminance to a comfortable level. You can also set the control panel's Eco button to Auto and let Sony's light-sensing ErgoBright technology automatically adjust the brightness level in accordance with ambient light changes.
Unlike the Philips Brilliance 230W5VS, the Sony SDM-P234 lacks speakers, S-Video, or any other fancy features, such as picture-in-picture or a USB hub. At the back of the P234, you'll find only two HD-15 analog ports, one DVI-D port, and one audio input port. With the extra ports, you can connect the P234 to multiple computers if you like, but you'll have to buy a second HD-15 cable, as the P234 ships with just one analog, one DVI-D, and one audio cable.
The Sony SDM-P234 performed well in CNET Labs' DisplayMate tests. Text is clear and legible, and overall, the P234's flaws are minimal, although like all LCDs, it has trouble cleanly displaying the extreme ends of grayscales without inducing unwanted color tints. The Sony P234's backlighting is a little uneven, with light leaks along the top of the display. We found DVD viewing on the P234 disappointing because flesh tones and other large monochrome areas of color are plagued by pixel noise, and fine details are hard to see. To some degree, these flaws are common to all LCDs, even those that share the P234's 16ms pixel response rate. However, some other displays, including the 230W5VS and the Planar PX212M, handle DVD playback with fewer image errors.
The Sony SDM-P234 has a three-year limited warranty that covers parts labor and the backlight. Software updates, drivers, and a searchable knowledge base are available on Sony's Web site.