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Sony GDM-400PS

Sony's Multiscan GDM-400PS monitor


by Jim Bray

I’ve just spent a couple of weeks in front of a monitor that put such a silly grin on my face my wife wondered what I’d been up to.

It was Sony’s latest 19 inch monitor, the Multiscan GDM-400PS, and this heavyweight (in more ways than one!) is delightful. It’s big, has a wonderfully crisp image, and offers typical Sony picture quality - which in my experience means it’s second to none.

It has a couple of drawbacks, though, two of which result directly from its size. It’s a heavy beast (tipping the scales at about 25 kg) and it’s pricey ($1400 Cdn- about the price of an entire Pentium system these days!).

There’s also the matter of those annoying little "hairlines" that run horizontally across the screen, a Sony-ism that’s quite disconcerting. The 19 inch monitor has two of these "dampening wires," which are supposed to minimize vibration and cut down on "flickering."

I wish they weren’t there - but I’d rather live with them than not have a Sony. And to be fair, they're smaller than the ones I noticed on a 20 inch Sony about a year ago…

Sony’s Trinitron tubes are unique: their surfaces are shaped as if cut from a cylinder (the screen’s surface has a slight curve horizontally, but is flat vertically) instead of a sphere (curving on both axes) like other tubes. I don’t know if or how this affects the performance, but if nothing else it seems to make viewing less susceptible to reflections and variations in room lighting. And, like the competition, Sony's monitors are getting flatter with each model year.

The GDM-400PS has a .25 - .27mm aperture grille pitch and 19 inches of maximum viewing image - which is plenty! Its maximum resolution is 1600 x 1200 and its size means you probably won’t have any trouble putting it at eye level. The thing was at my eye level just sitting on my desktop (not that I’m Kareem Abdul Jabbar!), though I would have liked to have it a couple of inches higher for maximum comfort - but I was afraid it would crush my monitor stand!

So why on earth would anyone want a monitor this big, heavy, and expensive? Besides the obvious "because it’s there," there are sound business - and pleasure - reasons for this perceived excess. For example, it’s wonderful being able to display two pages of a tabloid-sized QuarkXpress document - and having enough room left over on the screen to park the multitude of floating toolbars that on a lesser monitor cover up your work area. And you can have two windows open that are actually large enough to work in comfortably, which was great when I had to do some file reconstruction that involved copying and pasting from one spreadsheet program into another.

Then there are games! The full screen graphics of today’s computer games are breathtaking on this monitor, especially with flying or driving simulations. And, of course, first person games like Jedi Knight and Quake really knocked my socks off!

If you have the money, and a strong enough back to get it home, this Sony’s a winner.


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May 14, 2006