The New Sony CPD E540
The Big Screen Monitor You Can Afford

The new Sony CPD-E540 model display provides users with the premium advantage of a large, high quality, full featured computer monitor at a surprisingly affordable price.

If any one component is the keystone of an effective digital darkroom it is your computer's monitor. Everything that is accomplished in the adjustment of brightness, contrast, and color, and the work of cleaning defects or retouching a portrait, is done on the basis of what you perceive on screen. Therefore it is imperative that the screen representation reveals all of the subtleties and nuances of value as well as the fineness of detail and tone with great fidelity of your subject. Any deviance that is apparent can then be adjusted or corrected precisely. To assure that what you see on screen will be what you will obtain in output, particularly a print, the monitor must be accurately measurable, characterized, and a profile written that truly relates to the computer the values you are actually seeing.

This is all much easier to see clearly in a large screen area, but in the past the largest standard monitor size of 21" was double the cost or more than the next smaller 19" size. With their new CPD-E540 series model, Sony has reduced that price differential enormously, without lowering either the quality of the image displayed or by offering fewer essential features.

Affordable Pro Display
The new Sony CPD-E540 flat screen FD Trinitron display provides full digital multiscan capability up to a resolution of 1920x1440 pixels, and has an aperture grille pitch of 0.24mm, a tilt and swivel base, HiDensity electron gun technology for sharp focus and active signal correction adjustment of image size, and centering at the touch of a button. This new Sony CPD-E540 brings display performance only professionals could afford in the past to every enthusiast consumer-level computer user.

Even at the conservative resolution of 1280x1024 pixels the 21" Sony CPD-E540 has sufficient real estate to display three active applications with sharp, easily readable text fonts.
© 2001, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved

The unit is styled in a sleek, no-frills compact package, which takes little more desk space than the next smaller 19" G420 model I have been using for some time. This new low cost premium-sized Sony monitor supports use with both Windows PCs and Apple Macintosh computers.

Using The Sony 21" Display
As soon as I learned the new Sony CPD-E540 would be available I asked not for a loan but to purchase one of the first available, sight unseen. One of my older 19" Sony monitors was getting long in the tooth and soon would be beyond calibrating for accurate screen/print matching, and I was confident that if it's a Sony it would be good. When it arrived my expectations were met and then some. I immediately connected it to the new Mac G4 I purchased recently and turned it on to let it warm up for at least an hour. Then I got out my ColorVision Spyder monitor sensor and set about calibrating. As soon as the new profile was made I restarted the G4 with the profile now actively adjusting the monitor color, and promptly started Photoshop and opened a copy of the IT-8 color test target and made a print. The colors, contrast, and brightness of the print were exactly what I would expect based on the image in this new Sony CPD-E540 display.

At the same time I was taking a first look at the new Photoshop 7.0 in beta by retouching a half dozen 35mm studio portrait close-ups. The larger size of the display real estate--with the 50MB, 12x16 image zoomed to 100 percent magnification--allowed a much more relaxed and comfortable visual relationship. I did not have to hunch forward to see the detail I wanted to retouch. Even blown up this big the detail was sharp and easy to see at a comfortable distance from the screen.

Another very different job came up. I had to fill a request to redo an article I wrote on color management, putting it together in Adobe Acrobat 5.0 using Adobe PageMaker 7.0. To do this I needed to also have a text application and Photoshop open to copy and paste body text, captions, and screen shots sequentially and arrange them in PageMaker. The ample size of the 21" CPD-E540 display screen allowed all three applications to be arranged on the screen and open at the same time. The type was still easy to read from a comfortable distance from the screen. I was able to put the article together and precisely arrange the layout quite easily. This made the work much simpler than it would have been on a smaller display. The smaller screen would have required that I hide and bring up each of the three applications separately to have them large enough to see as clearly.

Evaluation & Recommendation
With a street price well under $600 I was a bit queasy that this new Sony CPD-E540 would not live up to the image quality and features I have come to rely on with Sony monitors in the past. The last time I bought a monitor a couple of years ago, a 21" was way out of my affordability range, so the last few monitors I have purchased have been 19" models. My concern was that such an affordable price would also involve some compromise in quality and features. This was not something I experienced with the new CPD-E540, except for one minor gripe. The single toggle button on the front of the monitor to work the on-screen adjustment dialog is very small, about the size appropriate for a very petite girl and not a ham fisted, sausage fingered guy like me. But then, how often do you need to adjust the monitor? Not very, so a really minor inconvenience at most. Of all the many different brand monitors I have used Sony has been the best for doing precise image adjustment and detailed portrait retouching. And, although this is not my general perspective on things, applied to a computer display, bigger is better. Now that there is a model in this size of the best brand at an affordable price, how can you choose anything else? For more information call (800) 352-7669, or visit Sony's web site at

Model: CPD-E540
CRT: Super Fine Pitch 21" FD Trinitron
Viewable Image Size: 19.8"
Aperture Grille Pitch: 0.24mm
Maximum Resolution: 1920x1440
Recommended Resolutions: 1600x1200 at 85Hz and 1280x1024 at 85Hz
Color Temperature Presets: 5000, 6500, 9300 (default) Kelvin, 5000K-11,000K adjustable, sRGB Mode, Variable RGB Gain and Bias control
Front Panel Controls: On/Off, Enter/Exit screen display, Navigate toggle
On-Screen Controls: Contrast/brightness, size/center, geometry, convergence, screen, color presets/color adjust, option, language, reset
Display Dimensions: 19.6x19.7x19.0"
Display Weight: 67.1 lbs
Estimated Street Price: $559