Asus MS236H

The Asus MS236H is an attractive monitor with a few shortcomings; the buttons are frustrating, and the lack of adjustability may annoy some. It does, however, represent excellent power savings, looks great and delivers acceptable performance.


8.0
CNET Rating

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About The Author

CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Asus' MS236H is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a 23-inch version of its MS246H, the cutely named "Designo". Nothing much has changed, from the slim profile, to the attractive black face on white backing, to the ring-shaped "stand" (if you can call it that) that props up the monitor.

Of course, this also means the same foibles are present, whether it be adjustability or button frustration, but it's still nice to see something different in the monitor space. We can easily imagine this being shown off in display rooms, being a second TV or monitor thanks to its 1920x1080 resolution, or perhaps even a screen dedicated to console gaming on the side. Some of these intentions may be marred by the fact that it doesn't come with built-in speakers — you'll either need to pipe your video source through an audio source other than HDMI, or use the supplied 3.5mm line-out jack as a pass-through.

Some of the slimness comes from the fact that Asus has split out the power supply into a separate brick. While making your desktop that bit more slick, it also adds to cable clutter. Choose your poison, as they say.

Asus MS236H

Slim and sleek, the MS236H makes a statement. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Specs at a glance

Size 23 inches
Resolution 1920x1080
Aspect ratio 16:9
Pixel pitch 0.265
Panel technology TN
Viewing angles
(10:1 contrast)
H: 170°
V: 160°
Response time 2ms G2G
Max vertical refresh 75Hz
Connections HDMI, VGA, 3.5mm line out
Accessories DVI to HDMI, VGA cables; power brick

Stand and ergonomics

The MS236H is held up by a translucent plastic ring, which allows limited tilt adjustments only. Unlike the MS246H, our review sample didn't come with the little plastic wedge designed to keep the ring-stand in place — however, throughout testing it was never required, and therefore its loss not keenly felt.

Asus MS236H stand

The translucent ring works fairly well for tilt adjustments. With the entire base of the monitor touching the desk though, swivel could be a problem.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Connections

Asus MS236H inputs

Power, HDMI, VGA, 3.5mm line out. Clean and simple, just like the rest of the monitor. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Buttons and on-screen display (OSD)

A big concave power button is on the right-hand side. While you might think it's a push button at first glance, everything is done through touch on the MS236H — the buttons are capacitive.

There are five dots to the left of the power button, each one with LEDs for labels. While at first this is cool, you'll soon discover that the labels disappear after a preset time. Usually we'd endorse this — the less distracting lights the better — but in this case there is now no way to determine what button does what, whether in the light or dark. Pressing any of the buttons makes the labels appear again, but also treats it as a button press — meaning a lot of unintentional, vexing OSD wrangling.

Asus MS236H buttons

Yep, good. Now which one does what again? (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Asus' OSD is uncluttered and easy to navigate, and offers scarcely more than the basics for a monitor. For scaling though it allows full screen stretch, 4:3 and overscan. There's no 1:1 option.

Just like every Asus product, Splendid is along for the ride here. This is the name of Asus' visual presets for the monitor, including "Standard", "Theater", "Game", "Night View" and "Scenery" modes. As always, we recommend you leave these off and calibrate yourself.

Asus MS236H OSD

Asus offers a basic OSD, but it works well. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Performance

Lagom.nl LCD tests
After calibrating to a target brightness of 140cd/m² with an X-Rite i1Display 2, Eye-One Match 3 and tweaking with HCFR, the MS236H was run through the Lagom.nl LCD tests.

Image tests
Contrast Sharpness Gamma Black level White saturation Gradient
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass
Inversion pixel walk tests
Test 1 Test 2a Test 2b Test 3 Test 4a Test 4b Test 5 Test 6a Test 6b Test 7a Test 7b
Pass Pass Slight flicker Rolling downward motion Slight flicker Flicker Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass

The MS236H strolls through the basic tests, and flickers on four of the pixel inversion tests. This isn't too bad — most LCD screens fail one to four of these tests.

Input lag
Measured against a Samsung SyncMaster 975p CRT, and using a Canon 40D set to a shutter speed of 1/320, an average of over 60 photographs were taken using Virtual Stopwatch Pro. The average result over DVI came in as 3.72ms, meaning almost no input lag. The largest difference measured between the two screens was 30ms, although the vast majority were simply zeroes.

Colour accuracy
ΔE is the measurement of how far a measured colour deviates from its expected value, allowing us to determine the colour accuracy of a monitor. While a ΔE value of 1 is considered perceivable, as long as it's less than 3, the shift shouldn't be too obvious. HCFR was used to determine ΔE for the monitor, and dynamic contrast ratio was turned off.

Measured levels
Contrast ratio 808:1
Black level (cd/m²) 0.31
White level (cd/m²) 250.47
Gamma 2.05
Greyscale ΔE
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
53.7 7.1 9.1 9.4 10.5 10.2 10.5 10.5 11.1 12.3 14.2
Colour ΔE
Red Green Blue Yellow Cyan Magenta
5.0 2.0 8.5 3.3 13.1 17.7

Asus MS236H CIE chart

The uncalibrated CIE chart. The white triangle is the colour space of the monitor, the dark is the sRGB gamut it's trying to match. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

The greys are out, as is to be expected. As such, the colours follow. Let's see what we can do about putting the MS236H back on the straight and narrow.

Measured levels
Contrast ratio 677:1
Black level (cd/m²) 0.21
White level (cd/m², target 140cd/m²) 142.27
Gamma (target 2.2) 2.18
Greyscale ΔE
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
54.2 14.4 5.6 2.2 1.1 0.8 0.6 0.5 1.3 1.3 0.8
Colour ΔE
Red Green Blue Yellow Cyan Magenta
5.4 3.8 6.8 4.1 5.3 9.3

Asus MS236H CIE chart

The calibrated CIE chart (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Not the best we've seen, but not bad by any stretch compared to its competitors. The MS236H puts in an acceptable showing for its price range.

HDMI performance
While a monitor might have an HDMI port that's no guarantee it'll display images as expected. We hooked up a PlayStation 3 and checked for 24p capability, as well as judder and ran the HQV Blu-ray test to see how well it coped with an interlaced source and noise.

24p capable Understands YUV Mission Impossible III
Scene 11 judder test
Mission Impossible III
Scene 14 judder test
Displayed the image fine, but showed an undismissable "out of range" message. Yes Pass Pass

HQV noise
reduction
score
HQV video
resolution loss
score
HQV jaggies
score
HQV film
resolution loss
score
HQV film
resolution loss - stadium
score
Total score (out of 100)
10 0 0 0 0 10

While 1080i content was a lot better than Asus' VH232H (albeit a little blurry), we wouldn't recommend using the MS236H for interlaced content. However, 1080p content was perfectly fine, flying past the Mission Impossible III judder tests.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles were taken with a Canon 40D in spot metering mode, with only shutter time adjusted to obtain a good exposure.

Asus MS236H viewing angles

Nothing out of the ordinary here, except that it's impossible to face the MS236H at 90° to the table — this won't be a problem for normal viewing. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Backlight uniformity
Backlight uniformity was measured by placing HCFR into free measure mode, displaying a completely white image and recording the brightness along a 5x3 grid on the screen. This should be considered a guide only, as backlight uniformity is likely to change from unit to unit.

Asus MS236H backlight uniformity

While it is lighter on the right than the left, the MS236H is one of the more uniform screens we've seen. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Light bleed
The MS236H exhibited minimal light bleed from the top of the screen, a good showing for a competitively priced monitor.

It's important to note that the effects of light bleed will likely change from monitor to monitor, regardless of make.

Power consumption
We measured power consumption using a Jaycar mains digital power meter. It's important to note here that due to limitations of the meter, measurements are limited to values of 1W and greater, and are reported in 1W increments.

All measurements, screen brightness and contrast were set to 100 per cent, and a test image displayed.

Juice Box
Maximum power draw 29W
Power-saving mode <1W
Off <1W

The MS236H is an excellent power saver for its size — Asus has done very well here.

Warranty

Asus covers the MS236H with a three-year warranty, on-site pick-up. If you have any bright subpixels 30 days after the purchase date, you may return the monitor for another one; however, dark subpixels are excluded from this guarantee. After this period, you'll need three bright subpixels, or five dark subpixels to qualify for a warranty swap-out.

Conclusion

The Asus MS236H is an attractive monitor with a few shortcomings; the buttons are frustrating, and the lack of adjustability may annoy some. Though it does represent excellent power savings, looks great and delivers acceptable performance.

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