The Skinny on Sony's Less-Is-More LCD

SAN FRANCISCO (03/06/2000) - All LCD monitors are slim, but the Sony Corp.

SDM-N50 takes skinny to a new level: It's a scant 0.75 inches thick--half the depth of most competitors. However, this petite 15-inch LCD comes with a full-size $1499 price tag.

Sony slimmed down the coal-black panel by putting most of its circuitry into a 7-inch-square block that Connects to the back of the panel via a 7.5-foot cable. You can use the box as a base for the screen or tuck it away beneath your desk. The arm Connecting the panel to its circular pedestal is as flexible as a yoga instructor, so you can easily tilt the panel and adjust its height.

The panel and pedestal weigh about 6 pounds, light enough to move the unit around a desktop or table during small-group presentations. Crescent-shaped speakers built into the pedestal pump out above-average sound.

One unusual touch is a built-in sensor that detects ambient light levels and automatically adjusts the screen's brightness--Convenient if you work in changing natural light (near a window, perhaps), but irrelevant in offices where light levels remain Constant. Another sensor is intended to automatically turn off the LCD's backlight if you haven't been in front of the panel for over 20 seConds. This feature should help extend the life of the unit, but it did not always work in my tests (a spokesperson from Sony says the company is still tweaking the feature).

At its native 1024 by 768 resolution, my preProduction unit rendered image quality comparable to that of other 15-inch panels (although colors didn't seem as bright on the Sony as on some competing models). But you can easily find good 15-inch LCDs going for $1000 to $1100, so check this one out only if you're willing to pay the hefty price of high style.

--Mick Lockey

Slim form, big ticket: Sony's $1499 SDM-N50 is 0.75 inches thick.

Sony SDM-N50

Pro: Ultrathin, stylish LCD monitor delivers good image quality.

Con: Very expensive, even by LCD standards.

Value: Stylish choice for executive suites or well-heeled home offices.

Street price: $1499

Sony Electronics

888/476-6972

www.sony.com/displays

Product info no. 637.

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