Asus LS201 review: Asus LS201

The Good Styling; tougher than most screens.

The Bad Unremarkable image quality.

The Bottom Line Buy the LS201 if it matches your decor, or if you have unruly children, but there are better monitors available for the same money

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6.5 Overall

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Asus tries not to do 'ordinary'. We've seen laptops with external displays, ruggedised ultra-mobile PCs, and now the company that brought you the Lamborghini laptop is bringing you the scratch-proof monitor.

We're not sure how many monitors are in mortal danger of violent scratching, but the LS201's reinforced glass panel is a reassuring addition if nothing else. It's made from sapphire-crystal, a material (allegedly) so resistant to scratches, and so tough, our Asus rep dared us to throw a punch at it.

Is it the perfect tool for stressed executives that are prone to lashing out at inanimate objects. Or is it a pointless marketing gimmick that needs to be exposed?

The LS201 looks the part. You'll almost certainly fall for the glossy black bezel, orange and blue LEDs, and beam with pride at the 'red dot design award' sticker at the bottom left. Once you've ripped that off, you'll marvel at the base section, which is particularly striking. The inner circumference is lined with LEDs that glow blue when the monitor is in use and amber when it's in standby mode.

The fat lower bezel makes the LS201 look squarish -- as if it has a 4:3 aspect ratio. It's actually widescreen though, as indicated by the 1,440x1,050-pixel resolution. It has a 2,000:1 contrast ratio, a brightness level of 300cd/m2, 5ms response time, plus DVI and D-Sub ports, all of which is par for the course on a 20-inch display. Thoughtfully, Asus includes both DVI and D-Sub cables in the box.

The LS201 uses a glossy coating. Asus says it's "scratch-proof", so it's ideal if you have unruly children who are likely to cause accidental damage. It offers substantially better protection against accidental damage than an ordinary monitor, but you should read exactly how tough we thought it was later in this review.

In the all-important question of image quality, the LS201 is average. Its glossy coating and high contrast make it ideal for watching movies on, and it looks good during everyday use. Provided you aren't actively looking to find problems with it, the LS201 is absolutely fine.

The LS201's biggest boon is supposed to be its strength. It's adorned with stickers that say it's scratch-proof, so we challenged it to a catfight -- fingernails and all. It survived our initial onslaught, much to Asus' delight. But then its reps took it one step further and dared us to punch it.

We're always keen to test products to their limits, so we didn't hesitate in giving it the ultimate benchmark -- a series of unrelenting jabs with our fists.

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