The SDM-E76D is a multipurpose monitor that's about to go on sale in the UK. Straight out of the box it looks like the perfect companion to the new black 13.3-inch Apple MacBook. The screen's plain, unassuming design echoes the MacBook's appearance, as does its matt black finish.

The new laptop can extend its desktop to an external monitor, so the SDM-E76D would appear to be a good partner. There is also a similarity between the MacBook's keyboard and the 1980s throwback design of this monitor's base, which Sony says is angled for Post-it Notes.

The resolution is fine at 1,280x1,024 and the screen is matt so it reflects very little light. Unfortunately, the colour balance seems problematic. It's a very bright screen but, unlike the MacBook, the brightness drowns out the colours, and this is something we have seen before from Sony.

Not wanting to resort to expensive calibration tools from the likes of Pantone and Gretagmacbeth, we fiddled around with the on-board monitor controls to try to improve the profile. However, we found some weirdness, notably in the middle of the sliding Phase scale and the preset Screen options; we couldn't control the green colour scale, for example.

We concluded that the SDM-E76D is a consumer model that's perfectly adequate for everyday communications, but graphics workers definitely need to look elsewhere.

As there is no mount for the display except the four-inch standing base, it's a poor choice unless you have a shelf or raised platform to view it from. There's creeping neck-crick to consider; you should always be looking straight ahead at your monitor for long sessions.

Viewing angle is narrow

Also, the viewing angle is narrow, meaning you'll have trouble discerning true colours if you stray beyond a straight-ahead, 90-degree viewing position. In fact, even at this angle the white of a Word document starts to turn blue at the edges.

This model could have upped its score if it were widescreen, as all Apple displays now are, but it's not. On the plus side it's well built, you have DVI-D and HD15 ports, the controls are easy to follow, and adjusting features like vertical placement is a doddle. It also starts up very quickly with no jitter.

But, when you start waxing on about these more minor points, you know that your mind is already made up about the performance of this monitor. Had this display been in our last LCD monitor Group Test it would not have fared well. If you really want a Sony, try the SDM-HS95P. James Ellerbeck