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Sony MFM-HT205 review: Sony MFM-HT205

The Sony MFM-HT205 is a double threat, serving as both a TV and a computer monitor. This 20-inch wide-screen LCD features an impressive array of video connections, and it wowed us with its image quality. It will suit the work and entertainment needs of all but the most discerning graphics professionals.

Lara Luepke
4 min read
Designed as a TV and a computer monitor, the Sony MFM-HT205 fills both roles with ease. This 20-inch wide-screen display features an integrated TV tuner and boasts all the video connections you could ask for, including composite, component, and S-Video connections. Add to that image quality matching that of high-end displays, such as the LaCie 120, and the $899 Sony MFM-HT205 is an impeccable display that delivers great value.

The MFM-HT205's design is striking. A wide, silver-colored bezel measures more than an inch around the top and sides; the 4 inches on the bottom accommodate a built-in subwoofer and speakers. The MFM-HT205's easel-style design is stable but offers very limited adjustability. It provides 20 degrees of backward tilt, but you can't raise or lower the monitor or pivot the screen.


Sony MFM-HT205

The Good

Attractive design; integrated TV tuner; integrated speakers and subwoofer; impressive image quality; nice selection of video ports; well-designed remote control.

The Bad

Limited adjustability; no HDMI port.

The Bottom Line

The Sony MFM-HT205 is a double threat, serving as both a TV and a computer monitor. This 20-inch wide-screen LCD features an impressive array of video connections, and it wowed us with its image quality. It will suit the work and entertainment needs of all but the most discerning graphics professionals.

To preserve the monitor's sleek look, the image-adjustment buttons are tucked behind the right side of the bezel, and small gray icons along the bezel indicate their functions. The eight buttons control the onscreen menu, the TV channels, the volume, the picture-in-picture modes (PIP), the input selection (Video 1, Video 2, DVI-D, PC1, and 3TV), and Sony's ErgoBright settings, which include Movie, PC, Auto, and Game modes. The MFM-HT205's controls are easy to use, but it's much easier to navigate the onscreen menu with the included remote control.

The Sony MFM-HT205's built-in, standard-definition TV tuner sets it apart from other LCDs. To watch TV, simply hook up a cable connection or an antenna to the coaxial port. Of course, you still can't watch HDTV or digital cable sources--these require a set-top box, such as a cable or a satellite receiver, which would connect to the monitor's digital inputs. From standard-def sources, you can choose to view in 4:3, with bars on either side of the screen, or zoom to fill the screen, though the picture will look slightly stretched. When you view TV from a digital source, it fills the entire screen (16:9 aspect ratio). When watching TV in PIP mode, you can choose from three different viewing box sizes and move the PIP window to the corner of your choice.

A full complement of ports, starting with DVI-D, D-Sub (analog), and the coaxial port, hides behind a removable piece of plastic on the back of the display. Grouped in another section on the back of the monitor are component, composite, and S-video ports; you'll find a second set of composite and S-Video ports and a headphone jack along the left side of the monitor. We've never seen a monitor with such an impressive assortment of inputs. The only port we could fathom adding is an HDMI port. These ports are prevalent on TVs but haven't appeared on monitors yet. All these connectivity options means a lot of cords, and we're glad Sony makes an attempt at cable management by including a hole in the monitor's stand. We appreciate the effort but prefer a more complete cable management system as seen on the ViewSonic VP930b.

The MFM-HT205 has two built-in 3-watt speakers and a 5-watt subwoofer--a feature not available on typical monitor built-ins. We were impressed that both TV, video, and MP3 files all sounded full and rich; the speakers were more than loud enough to fill even a large room.

We tested the MFM-HT205 as a monitor at its 1,400x1,050 native resolution. The monitor delivered exceptional performance on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests. The monitor excelled on our sharpness tests, displaying dark, legible text. Its grayscale looked better than average, showing a perfect fade and only slight hints of green and purple. Colors were nearly perfect, with only slightly orange and blue tints in the reds, and screen uniformity was exceptional, with only slight dark patches along the right side of the screen. Overall, the picture appeared bright and vivid. A shiny screen coating, Xbrite, which is advertised to optimize brightness, color, and clarity, adds some glare, especially under direct fluorescent light.

Sony rates the MFM-HT205 with a fairly fast 6-millisecond response rate, and we found the display's moving-image performance rather good. DVD playback from a PC showed sharp images, with wonderful color, though noise levels were higher than average, and we noticed some ghosting. Gaming performance was better, with outstanding color and detail and no visible streaking or ghosting.

We also tested the MFM-HT205 as a television and were equally impressed by its results. Viewing HDTV with a DVI connection was sharp: colors appeared accurate and bright, with minimal amounts of digital noise. Testing with a component connection showed nearly identical performance, though colors were slightly more vivid.

Sony offers a standard three-year warranty on parts and labor. Phone support is available via a toll-free number for the life of the product. The included CD-ROM has a detailed user manual with links to a searchable knowledge base and FAQs on Sony's Web site. You can also e-mail questions or chat with a Sony service representative online.

CNET Labs' DisplayMate tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Sony SDM-205F5B

Brightness scores
LaCie 120
Sony SDM-2056F5
Note: Values in cd/m2 (Measured with a Minolta CA-210 LCD color analyzer)

Contrast ratio
LaCie 120
Sony SDM-205F5
Note: Values are a ratio (Measured with a Minolta CA-210 color analyzer)


Sony MFM-HT205

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 10Performance 9Support 8Setup 8