Asus MS236H review

12 Mar 2010

Image quality isn't perfect, but it's the glorious design that will tempt most

Price when reviewed: 
222inc VAT
5

It's not often a monitor can claim to look as desirable from behind as it does from the front, but the Asus MS236H almost looks like two different devices. It's both a sleek, black mirror of glossiness when viewed normally, and a retro piece of art when you feast your eyes on the Apple-white rear with its looping stand. It's gorgeous.

The stand clips on in seconds and, aided by a tiny triangle of plastic to act as a stopper, it can be gently rocked back or forward, stopping steady at the required angle. As stands go it's as minimal as can be, yet it works beautifully and takes up a mere 150mm or so of the depth of your desk. The body itself is extremely thin, with the trade-off being a small external power supply, hardly a major sticking point with looks like this. It comes with a choice of HDMI or VGA inputs - with an HDMI-DVI cable in the box - and there's a 3.5mm headphone output available if you're using HDMI.

Asus MS236H

The front is all-black with just a hint of the white rear framing the outside. The only features are an Asus logo beneath the left of the screen and a circular power button to the right, but a touch-sensitive control panel glows into life when pressed. It's a little unresponsive, which made early tweaks frustrating, but once you've got that process out of the way the vanishing controls help keep the clean look far better than a set of buttons would.

We did need to make some changes out of the box, though. Using the Standard preset, the black level was poor, lending even the moodiest colours a pale, washed out tone. Switching to Theatre mode solved that, with much deeper blacks and far better contrast throughout our tests - we'd leave it in that mode at all times for best results.

It's still a tad pale next to the best TN panels, but colours were generally accurate and gradients were smooth. Viewing angles are good and the 2ms response time made for a pleasant gaming experience. If we have a complaint it's that the backlight is a little patchy in places, which shows up on an all-white screen.

But a monitor like this is bought for its styling, and as long as the image quality is above average you're unlikely to be put off. The MS236H is as desirable as any desktop monitor we've seen, and the £167 price is only a small premium over a standard 23in 1080p monitor. If style matters most, you won't find much better.

Details

Price ex VAT £189
Price inc VAT £222
Overall rating 5
Image quality 4
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 4

Main specifications

Screen size 23.0in
Aspect ratio 16:9
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Screen brightness 250cd/m2
Pixel response time 2ms
Contrast ratio 1,000:1
Dynamic contrast ratio 50,000:1
Pixel pitch 0.265mm
Horizontal viewing angle 170 degrees
Vertical viewing angle 160 degrees
Speaker type None
Speaker power ouput N/A
TV tuner no
TV tuner type N/A

Connections

DVI inputs 0
VGA inputs 1
HDMI inputs 1
DisplayPort inputs 0
Scart inputs 0
HDCP support yes
Upstream USB ports 0
USB ports (downstream) 0
3.5mm audio input jacks 0
Headphone output yes
Other audio connectors None

Accessories supplied

Other cables supplied HDMI-DVI, VGA

Ergonomics

Forward tilt angle 0 degrees
Backward tilt angle 20 degrees
Swivel angle 0 degrees
Height adjustment 0mm
Pivot (portrait) mode? no

Dimensions

Dimensions 566 x 151 x 407mm (WDH)
Weight 3.900kg