ASUS LS201

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ASUS LS201
  • ASUS LS201
  • ASUS LS201
  • ASUS LS201

Pros

  • Glass screen; Good photo reproduction; No noticeable blurring

Cons

  • Noticeable image noise in dark colours; Struggled to reproduce dark grey colours in DisplayMate

Bottom Line

If you're after a stylish monitor for your home, the LS201 is ideal. Its glass screen makes it an ideal product if you have kids around, as it means the screen won't be damaged by inadvertent pokes. Our tests indicate that it's a good monitor for viewing photos, watching movies and playing games.

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The biggest selling point of the ASUS LS201 20in LCD monitor is its glass panel. It protects the screen beneath it with a scratch-proof layer that can supposedly only be scratched by diamond.

We tried scratching the monitor by using a Stanley knife (and various other implements, such as screwdrivers), and while it did leave a couple of thin lines on the glass surface, these weren't noticeable while using the monitor. Fingerprints are a problem for the glass panel but ASUS provides a microfibre cloth to get rid of these easily.

The glass layer gives the LS201 an elegant style and, as well as protecting the screen, it acts as a filter of sorts to make the displays colours more vibrant. It's a reflective glass, but even while testing in an office environment, we didn't notice excessive reflections from the fluorescent lights. Even when viewing the monitor from the sides, reflections weren't a problem. From these angles, there was a slight shift in colour, but images and text were still easy to distinguish.

ASUS is pitching this monitor at the home market, and it's a part of the company's leisure series of products. It definitely looks the part design-wise and, for the most part, its performance during our tests showed it to be more than decent for watching DVDs and viewing photos.

It's not an overly bright monitor (we actually had to turn the brightness almost all the way up during our tests) but it's perfectly viewable in a bright environment and is easy on the eyes. Its colours look vibrant, white looks white (not blue or yellow) and its black level is suitably dark. However, we did notice a lot of image noise (a kind of shimmering), especially in dark colours and its ability to reproduce dark shades of grey was a little limited.

With a native resolution of 1400x1050, the monitor provides good real estate for large office application windows and Web browser windows, which can make work and play more enjoyable. It's not a widescreen monitor, so DVDs will have to be letterboxed, but this isn't a bad thing.

We tested the monitor through its DVI connection using a PC with a GeForce 7600GT-based graphics card running Windows Vista Ultimate. We used DisplayMate Video Edition to test the monitor's image quality and colour reproduction.

During the colour scale tests, there was noticeable image noise in the colours at the darker end of the spectrum. Also, from a normal viewing distance (around 50cm away from the monitor) we couldn't differentiate between bright blue and bright purple colour levels as they just seemed to blend in with each other when they weren't supposed to. All the other colours scaled well enough from their darkest to their brightest levels.

In DisplayMate's greyscale tests, image noise was noticeable again, primarily on the dark shades of grey. Apart from the noise, the greyscale tests didn't suffer from any other problems, such as colour bias as all the grey colours scaled consistently from darkest to brightest without taking on blue, green or yellow hues.

Dark grey levels struggled to be reproduced in the dark grey on black tests. Even with the monitor's brightness at maximum levels, dark levels of grey blended into the black background. Conversely, the monitor's ability to display light grey colours on a white background was stellar and we didn't have to adjust the contrast at all in order to view light grey colours on a white background.

As for sharpness, we found the monitor to be very easy on the eyes. Text was clear and crisp and wasn't over-sharpened at all. We used Windows Vista's standard image smoothing setting during our tests, instead of Clear type fonts. Additionally, the screen's response time was quick. Scrolling long text documents and Web pages didn't cause us any headaches, while games and videos didn't show up any noticeable blurring.

We used a set of photos to further gauge the monitor's colours and sharpness. Despite the greyscale problems in DisplayMate, photos with dark shadows and gradients were displayed faithfully. Dark areas of photos didn't vanish into a black background, but instead were well defined. Likewise, bright photos were vivid and well-detailed. Fine details such as feathers and strands of string, as well as flowers, were all crisp. For viewing happy snaps, this monitor great.

Image noise wasn't a problem during our still image tests, but it was noticeable when we viewed high definition content recorded from channel Nine and the ABC. Dark colours, and especially content that was recorded at night, showed significant signs of noise. It wasn't as noticeable when we watched DVDs, however, and shouldn't be too much of a concern.

Physically, the monitor has a stylish design, primarily due to its glass screen. It sits on a circular base, which has built-in wall-mountings on its underside, and DVI and VGA ports on its rear. Lights ring the inside edge of the base and these add a touch of flair to the design.

The onscreen menu buttons, located on the front bezel, are easy to use and allow you to change the brightness, contrast and colour temperature of the monitor. Some monitors on the market exclude these options for DVI connections, but the LS201 allows this basic calibration via both DVI and VGA. A further dedicated button allows these settings to be changed depending on your task (whether you're gaming, using the monitor at night or watching a movie).

If you're after a stylish monitor for your home, the LS201 is ideal. Its glass screen makes it an ideal product if you have kids around, as it means the screen won't be damaged by inadvertent pokes. Our tests indicate that it's a good monitor for viewing photos, watching movies and playing games.

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