At a Glance
Beautiful TV/monitor lacks most physical adjustments, but provides TV functions and a good remote.
With its handsome, easel-like, brushed-aluminum bezel and stand, the Sony MFM-HT205 looks like a luxury-model entertainment monitor. In addition to the expected DVI, this 20-inch wide-screen LCD has component, composite, and S-Video connections--even a TV tuner and a TV remote. The cost of $855 (as of 5/18/06) confirms the luxury-model status, but its performance doesn't keep pace with the price.
As a straight-up desktop monitor, the glossy-screened MFM-HT205 performs competently, but not marvelously. It received good scores on PC World's text tests, handling the small print of our Microsoft Excel spreadsheet particularly well. On our graphics tests, colors looked well-balanced--particularly on our photo test of a fruit tart--but slightly cold. This faint blue cast made skin tones appear clammy in our group portrait photo screen, hurting the MFM-HT205's score.
The MFM-HT205 offers some advanced screen adjustments, such as four different gamma settings. It also includes treble, bass, and balance controls for the integrated speakers, which sounded bright and full for a desktop monitor.
This monitor's best entertainment extra is its TV remote. A handsome black unit with a silver faceplate, the curved remote fits nicely into larger hands. Though its contoured cut-away handholds didn't match up perfectly with my skinny fingers, the remote's not-too-chunky size and curved bottom made it sit comfortably.
To test the TV quality, I viewed various types of content over a DVI connection. Color looked pleasing on our HD and standard-def TV tests, but the picture appeared somewhat pale. Even in movie mode, the MFM-HT206 showed a soft, pale picture on our DVDs of Seabiscuit and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. I saw some motion artifacting as well.
The Sony MFM-HT05's design stands out, but its screen doesn't make as positive an impression. Less expensive models from Acer and Asus offer better still-image quality. Another less pricey monitor, NEC's MultiSync 20WMGX2, tops that with better still- and moving-image quality--and it offers a TV tuner and most of the same video inputs.