The all-black, matte-textured SDM-S75AB is the 17-inch entry-level model in Sony's new line of no-frills business monitors. Considering its analog-only input and lack of adjustability, its $316 price tag seems a bit high, especially when you can pick up the better-performing, more adjustable Envision EN7220 for about $250. Still, the Sony's 1,280x1,024 screen performed well in CNET's image-quality tests, and its particularly good rendering of text makes it well suited to basic office tasks. However, if you can stand its bland appearance, the Envision is a better choice.
Sony deserves praise for the SDM-S75AB's design. Though you can't adjust the height, the screen's bottom edge is fixed 5.75 inches above the surface of the desk, which is a good height for most people. The screen is exceptionally stable on its circular 9-inch base. You can tilt it back 30 degrees and forward 5 degrees, and the SDM-S75AB is supposed to swivel from side to side, though the lazy-Susan device under our test system's base didn't turn smoothly.
The monitor comes with an analog signal cable and a pass-through audio cable to ferry tunes from your computer to the monitor's headphone jack. The monitor's design allows you to screw the signal cable into its port without breaking your fingernails; you can also thread cables through a large hole in the neck to keep them out of the way.
Small black buttons embedded in the right bezel navigate the onscreen menu (OSM); they blend in well, maintaining the SDM-S75AB's sleek look, but their tiny labels are hard to read. The fairly intuitive OSM lets you adjust the typical image settings. Unlike most monitors we've seen, the SDM-S75AB uses separate menus to control the brightness and backlight settings, thereby allowing you to fine-tune the light and dark areas of the screen. An Ergo button toggles between four brightness settings: Low, Middle, High, and User.
The SDM-S75AB's image quality isn't the best, but it's satisfactory for basic office use. On CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests, it displayed clear, crisp text. However, we weren't as impressed with the color: the monitor compressed shades at the bright end of their ranges, and solid colors showed traces of other tints. Despite its reasonably zippy 12ms pixel-response rate, the SDM-S75AB exhibited ghosting in our DVD-playback and gaming tests. All told, the SDM-S75AB's image quality disqualifies it for advanced graphic design and entertainment, but it won't interfere with the monitor's performance on office applications.
Sony provides an industry-standard three-year warranty backed by toll-free 24/7 tech support. The Sony support Web site also offers driver downloads and knowledge base articles.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)