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Asus VH236H LCD Monitor Review

by The Review CrewMay 30, 2010

The Asus VH236H is available for around $190 from e-tailers. For that price you not only get HDMI and DVI support, built-in speakers, a headphone jack but also great movie and game performance. We’d prefer to have more ergonomic options and a less frustrating OSD menu, but with its great performance and affordable price, it’s difficult to balk at such a sweet deal. The Samsung SyncMaster P2370 has the same screen size, is more stylish, and has comparable performance, but its $285 price tag makes it a less desirable deal considering its lack of connection options and other missing features.

Design and features
With a glossy black bezel, juxtaposed with its black matte finish on the back, the 23-inch Asus VH236H has a fairly plain design. The panel measures just 1.25 inches in depth; however, when you add in the ventilation system, the full-panel depth is 2.5 inches. That’s considerably thicker when compared with the 23-inch Samsung SyncMaster P2370, which measured just more than an inch deep.

The bezel measures 0.75 inch on its left and right sides and 1.25 inches on its bottom, where a silver Asus logo resides. The bottom of the bezel sits about 2.5 inches from the desktop, but unfortunately, the screen height isn’t adjustable and there isn’t a screen rotation or pivot option for portrait mode. The capability to tilt the screen back 25 degrees is the only included ergonomic feature. The circular footstand measures 4.25 inches in diameter. When knocked from the sides, the display wobbles a considerable amount, though not as much as the slighter P2370.

Connection options include DVI, HDMI, and VGA–all three ports are easily accessible to the right of the display’s neck. Built-in speakers sit on the top of the display’s back side.

The orange power button sits in the bottom-right corner of the bezel and to its left is the five-button OSD array. The array consists of Menu, Audio/Down, Brightness/Up, S/A, and Source. The S/A button toggles through five presets: Standard, Theater, Game, Night View, and Scenery.

Pressing Menu activates the onscreen display (OSD), which includes additional controls for Contrast and Overdrive. By sending out bursts of voltage to the liquid crystals that increase the crystal’s transitions speeds, Overdrive can effectively reduce the amount of noticeable ghosting effects. In our tests, taking Overdrive from 0 to 100, we saw no difference in the amount of ghosting in movies or games, so we can’t confirm that the feature actually does anything useful. Nor did we see a difference in power consumption.

There are also controls for color temperature and the ability to manually set the red, green, and blue values.

Navigating the menu is frustrating at times, as some of the controls are inconstant in function. Once you press the Menu button, you are required to press the S/A button to exit the menu. Likewise, pressing S/A brings up the preset menu that requires that you press Menu to exit. More consistent controls would be less confusing and frustrating. Calibrating in the dark is also a challenge as there is no illumination for the buttons.

The Asus VH236H’s 16:9 aspect ratio supports a “Full HD” native resolution of 1,920×1,080. This continues the trend of more and more monitor vendors moving toward 16:9 from 16:10 because high-definition content–in particular 1080p movies–can fit onto a 1,920×1,080-pixel screen without distorting the image.
Manufacturer’s specs:  
Resolution: 1,920×1,080
Pixel-response rate: 2ms
Contrast ratio: 20,000:1 (Dynamic)
Brightness: 300cd/m2
Connectivity: DVI-D, HDMI, VGA
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI, VGA
Backlight: CCFL
Panel type: TN
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Performance
We tested the Asus VH236H with its DVI connection. The display posted a composite score of 92 on CNET Labs’ DisplayMate-based performance tests, right behind the Samsung SyncMaster P2370′s 93. The Asus tested well in our color tests, but it had particular problems in the color-ramping tests, which illustrate an LCD’s capacity to render gradations of primary colors smoothly and consistently. As such, the Asus could not consistently render the colors smoothly during the test.

The VH236H achieved a brightness score of 283 candelas per square meter (cd/m2)–just a few points shy of Asus’s claimed 300 cd/m2 max. The Samsung SyncMaster P2370 achieved a lower brightness with 239 cd/m2, but was right under Samsung’s 250 cd/m2 max. On our dark-screen test, both monitors exhibited significant backlight bleedthrough on the top and bottom edges of the displays, but the Asus performed slightly better.

Our “Kill Bill Vol. 1″ DVD test yielded minimal ghosting on the Asus, thanks to its dark blacks when in Theater Mode, which makes the ghosting difficult to see. Conversely, the Samsung’s movie mode looked light in comparison with much shallower blacks. Also, the colors on the Asus seemed to pop a lot better than the Samsung.

Unreal Tournament 3 looked great running at 1,920×1,080 pixels. Although the Asus’ color had the most pop, neither the VH236H nor the P2370 were able to display the game as vibrantly and colorfully as the Acer G24. Yet, I think we’re spoiled by that monitor’s game performance.

The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen’s distance down from the top. At this angle, you’re viewing the colors and gamma correction as they were intended. Since most monitors are made to be viewed only at that angle type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies depending on the monitor. Like most monitors, the Asus VH236H uses a TN panel, which gets overly bright or overly dark when viewed from nonoptimal angles. When we viewed the Asus from the sides or below, the screen appeared to darken only a couple inches from optimal. From the sides and below, text is still readable until viewing from about 70 degrees. Of course, when viewed from the optimal angle, we had no problems.

In the power consumption tests, the Asus VH236H drew a significant 39.58 watts in its Default/On mode–compared with the Samsung SyncMaster P2370′s lower, 29.44 watts. Where the Asus really ate up the juice was in its standby mode, which drew 2.7 watts compared with the P2370′s 0.85 watts–more than three times the difference. Based on our formula, the VH236H would cost $13.68 per year to run, compared with the P2370′s $9.37 per year.

In audio tests, sound from the built-in speakers was muffled, but we reached the maximum volume easily without any noticeable distortion. Sound from the headphones was good, but the max volume was not quite as high as we’d like.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.



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