The monitor is a complicated device to appreciate: if there is, we take it for granted and if it isn’t there (or if it isn’t good) we miss it tremendously. A monitor, however, manages to be special if every time we turn it on we realize we are in front of it something that gives us added value. Not only a beautiful panel, bright and high definition, but also a number of features on the sidelines to bring our user experience to a higher level. Sony’s INZONE M9, which we see in this review, proves to be exactly that kind of monitor; designed for gaming, an ideal companion for the PlayStation, but able to satisfy even the most demanding PC users.
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The Sony INZONE M9 review
When we think of a monitor, if we aren’t careful, what comes to mind is just a light panel that displays images and a piece of electronics to connect it to a PC or console. If this were true, then all monitors would be the same. Instead, not all monitors are created equal; and we know it well. In fact, we often forget three things. First of all, the internal technology of the panel (which many don’t realize) makes a huge difference that isn’t measured in pixels or lumens. Second, inside a monitor there is also a extremely complicated software which must take care of mediating between the content generated by a device and the perceptive quality of our eye. This software, with the same hardware, can really change a lot. Last, it must be beautiful even when turned off; because a monitor is always exposed on our desk and it must be aesthetically pleasing.
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The Sony INZONE M9 monitor, which we are seeing in this review, manages to break away from the competition on all three of these fronts. It’s not just a monitor, but a user experience amplifier in a container which, allow us, is also a nice design object.
|Panel||27 pollici, 16:9, 4K (3840 x 2160)|
|Viewing angle||178 degrees|
|Technology||IPS LCD, Full Array Local Dimming, Direct Illumination LED.
Adaptive-Sync (VESA DP), compatibilità NVIDIA G-SYNC, Variable Refresh Rate (HDMI 2.1), HDR10, HLG
|Frequency||DisplayPort: 24 Hz – 144 Hz, HDMI: 24 Hz – 120 Hz|
|Brightness||400 cd/m2 (600 cd/m2 peak)|
|Contrast||Contrast Ratio 1,000:1 (static) and 80,000:1 (dynamic)|
|Chrome||Over 95% color gamut (DCI-P3 coverage) and color support 1.07 billion colors|
Source: Sony Italy site
As can be seen from the technical characteristics, we are facing a hardware that aim for the high end for consumer-level technology. It also focuses on important features for an optimal gaming experience. In particular, i 144Hz available through Display Port, NVIDIA G-SYNC compatibility and adaptive refresh rate.
A panel that has nothing to envy to anyone
What is immediately striking about the panel is its luminosity. We suggest that if you are sensitive to light, you put on a pair of sunglasses when you first turn it on. Obviously, we’re exaggerating, but really not too much. The truth is that if you are going to use it in a dimly lit environment you will always keep an extremely low brightness value. The downside is that even if your position is next to a window where the sun beats down, you won’t have much difficulty to still see a clear image. Both for the brightness and for the anti-glare screen cover.
Another strong point is the response time. Sony declares a time response time of just one millisecond. This allows you to see in a way Also sharpens objects that move very quickly. If you are a fan of rather frenetic racing or FPS games, you know what we are talking about. To verify, we viewed the same video alongside a more conventional 4K monitor and, believe us, the difference was really noticeable. Here, unfortunately, we have to make do with an image.
Source: Sony Italy YouTube channel
However, the feature that we considered most interesting is the adoption of the tecnologia Local Dimming. Local Dimming allows you to have a independent brightness control on single pixel. In many panels, in fact, the brightness of a pixel can influence that of its neighbors, making the image more blurry. The Sony INZONE M9 can however focus light where needed and very precisely. The end result is much better than average contrast and sharpness in both dark and brightly lit scenes.
Source: Sony Italy YouTube channel
Design and ergonomics
Video is aesthetically very nice. It’s one of those pieces of hardware that you’re certainly not ashamed to keep on public display. The colors and line are the same as the PlayStation 5, so it’s hard to be disappointed. The monitor also marries a number of design choices that have great practical utility: let us manage desk space better.
First of all, the support with three legs and not a platform allows us to also take advantage of the space under the monitor. Sony, speaking of this monitor, says it can be useful for mouse and keyboard. We, honestly, are a bit skeptical; because for us it seems to be too close to the panel. However, we found it a lot convenient for peripherals. You can comfortably fit two gamepads, a bluetooth audio speaker, an external hard drive and (if you need it) even the glasses case).
The second design choice, which we found very apt, is the disappearance of cables. We liked this a lot, also considering the general state of our desks. The central leg is hollow and the video connectors are all more or less in the centre. So, even if it’s a little difficult to insert them, the cables can be routed in the cavity of the support to disappear discreetly behind the desk.
Another cable that typically annoys us, because it is large and difficult to bend, is the power cable. Sony’s designers solved this by adopting a external power supply. The cable that plugs into the wall socket is hidden under the desk and what comes out is a much smaller cable and flexible that carries the power to the panel. The external power supply, to be honest, is a bit bulky; but this won’t be a problem because it can always remain hidden.
Last thing, there’s the “detach and attach” problem cables when you have two PCs; maybe a laptop to work and a desktop to play. Therefore, they are always there loose cables with connectors lying on the work surface. In this case, we have the option of use the monitor as a USB hub which gives us the functionality of KVM (Keyboard, Video, and Mouse) with automatic selection. On the back there are three USB ports to which we can attach the mouse, keyboard and wireless headset receiver. Changing the video source devices are hijacked automatically to the PC active at that moment.
Let’s assume that this functionality is very interesting, but also that we found ourselves a bit difficult to understand its actual usefulness for the average user. In our experience, only a fairly small fraction of users work and play on the same desktop. It could still be interesting for gamers who do professional streaming (since usually you play with one PC and broadcast with the other) but, beyond the fact that you usually prefer to have two monitors, we continue to remain in a niche of users.
Overall, the presence of a USB hub in the monitor is objectively useful; in fact, we were happy to have it available during rehearsals.
The hidden part
In this review, however, it seems useful to us to also talk about everything that is not seen, but it contributes to the gaming experience all the same.
What we often forget when talking about a modern monitor is that it interacts with software. INZONE M9, in fact, is capable of coordinate with our PC through theINZONE Hub application. Through the video cable (whatever it is) it is possible check monitor parameters while playing without having to go through the menu with the hardware button on the back. In particular, we liked the fact that it is possible to define a different video profile for every single game that INZONE Hub automatically selects.
Note that, if you also have INZONE headphones, the software coordinates the profiles of both devices to give us one even more organic gaming experience.
KVM, which we have already discussed, also falls into this category. This is a software feature of the monitor that enhances our experience.
However, still dealing with software, that’s not all. Because this monitor gives its best when we connect it to a PlayStation 5.
Coordination with PlayStation 5
When INZOME M9 is connected to a PlaysStation 5 there are some additional features that trigger. But be careful, these are not monitor capabilities reserved only for the Sony home console. But, the PlayStation, recognized an INZONE M9, is able to take full advantage of everything that the monitor can do. Nobody forbids that other hardware, in the future, will be able to do the same thing. For now however, that we know, there is only the Sony console.
First, the PlayStation 5 will be able to take advantage of the automatic HDR mode,…