The Sony SDM-HS53 attempts to come off as slick and stylish, but it just ends up looking smudged. Its wide bezel--an inch and a half on the sides, an inch on the top and bottom--is made of shiny, black, reflective plastic that seems to serve no purpose other than to show off fingerprints. The parabola-shaped neck of the SDM-HS53, which is attached by a hinge to the fairly stable circular base, elevates the display 2.5 inches off the desktop (or 4 inches, if you include the wide bezel). But you can't raise, lower, pivot, or swivel the display; in fact, the only adjustments you can make are to tilt it slightly forward and backward or attach the unit to a VESA wall mount. A bowed, flimsy piece of the same smudge-attracting plastic on the back of the display effectively keeps the analog signal input and power plug out of sight.
The five buttons for adjusting the easy-to-navigate onscreen menu are the SDM-HS53's sole elements that actually succeed in looking cool. Resembling a row of tiny silver BB pellets, they are nicely tucked away under the bottom edge of the bezel.
What the SDM-HS53 lacks in looks, it makes up for in performance. A 15-inch LCD that delivers such good image quality for less than $400 is a pretty solid deal.
The SDM-HS53 comes with decent documentation, including a quick-setup guide and a CD with a complete user guide, driver software, and a rudimentary adjustment program that helps you sharpen and center the image within the frame. The SDM-HS53 is backed by a three-year warranty on parts, labor, and the backlight; toll-free tech support is available for the full three years.
Priced below much of the competition, the SDM-HS53 is a good deal for home and office users who don't mind the high-maintenance skin. Users who want superior adjustability or a more pleasing design should check out the Philips 150P4 and the HP L1502, respectively.
CNET Labs DisplayMate tests (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Brightness in nits (Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Note: Measured with the Sencore CP500.|