Although it's difficult to find a significant fault with Asus' 23-inch LED-based MS238H--thanks to its low $190 price--the monitor does give you amble opportunity to do so. As a result of its design, the display is constantly tilted 10 degrees back, making it sometimes difficult to see the screen correctly. Because of its constant tilt, the monitor topples with the slightest disturbance, and its adds a slight green push to its images. However, its overall performance is good and its footstand has a novel design that adds to the monitor's aesthetic appeal. If paying no more than $200 for a new monitor is a priority for you, we recommend that you buy the MS238H because of its overall satisfying performance. If you can afford another $100, we recommend that you buy either the Samsung XL2370 or the PX2370 because of their superior performance.
Design and features
At first glance, the Asus MS238H strikes us as a typically stylish monitor with a thin, black, glossy chassis and a minimalist OSD array. However, the display stands out thanks to a unique, wheel-like, circular band that is the monitor's stand. The 5-inch diameter band props up the monitor from the bottom of its back, leaving no space between the bottom of the panel and the desktop. Although the panel tilts an additional 10 degrees, because of the wheel stand, the panel remains tilted 10 degree at all times and is never at a perfect 90 degree angle. The stand keeps the monitor stabilized when knocked from the sides; however, when it encounters a force from the front--like a light breeze--it topples over. OK, a light breeze probably isn't strong enough, but a light knock with your fist definitely is. The bezel is 1.2 inches wide on the sides and the panel is a short 0.6 inch deep at its most shallow and about 1.5 inches at its deepest depth. The monitor does not have height, pivot, or swivel adjustment options.
The monitor includes VGA and HDMI connections. Thankfully, Asus includes an HDMI to DVI cable. The monitor's connections are located on the back, lower-right corner and are clearly labeled and easily accessible. To the right of the VGA input is a headphone jack labeled "For HDMI."
Like the Samsung P2450h, the MS238H forgoes buttons, in favor of "touch areas." Asus denotes each area with a small white circle and each has a different function. The actual button labels, which glow white, appear above the dots once the area is touched. We were able to calibrate the monitor in a dark room easily since the buttons don't require pinpoint accuracy to function and the illumination of the button labels are enough of a guide.
The onscreen display button array consists of a Menu button, an Up and Down button, a Source button, and a preset cycle button. The monitor's Up and Down buttons also doubles as the Brightness and Contrast shortcuts. Navigating the OSD is simple, although it took us a few minutes to get accustom to using Menu as the "Enter" button. The MS238H's preset modes include Standard, Theater, Game, Night View, and Scenery. Each preset changes the color temperature and brightness of the display with the intent of them being appropriate to the task at hand. Its additional color preset options include Cool, Normal, Warm, SRGB, and User Mode; the latter letting you change the RGB values individually. Finally, the "Skin Tone" option includes a Reddish, Bluish, and Normal setting.
Connectivity: HDMI, VGA
Ergonomic options: Up to 20 degree back tilt
Resolution: 1,920x1,080 pixels
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Audio: Headphone jack
VESA support: No
Included video cables? HDMI to DVI, VGA
Panel Type: TN
Screen film: Matte
Pixel-response rate: 2ms (Gray to Gray)
Number of presets: 5
Picture options: Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, and Saturation
Color controls: Cool, Normal, Warm, sRGB, Reddish, Bluish
Gamma control: No
We tested the Asus MS238H through its HDMI connection connected to a Windows Vista PC via the included HDMI to DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 87 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests; a few points below the Samsung PX2370's 97. In our screen Uniformity Test, we noticed dark patches on the screen, indicating that light from the backlight was far from uniform. Not surprisingly, in our Dark Screen test, the display's backlight bleeding can be seen on the top and bottom edges of the screen. In our Black Level test, the MS238H crushed very dark grays to the point that a level six gray--which is six levels above true black--was the darkest color the monitor could display other than true black; indicating a high black level. With Color Tracking, we noticed a slight greenish hue; however, the hue was only obvious when the monitor was next to the Samsung PX2370.
Text: Viewing text on the display we didn't find any color problems with black text on a white background and fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8 point size.
Movies: We tested the Asus MS238H using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar;" however, using its Cinema mode preset, we found that dark detail was lost in dark scenes. With its Standard preset, its dark detail improved, but it was still not as good as the PX2370 was. The MS238H's color quality is good, if slightly green.
Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with World of Warcraft, it remains the best tool for us to use when judging color quality and vibrancy in games. With the Asus MS238H, we found colors in the Game preset to be oversaturated and distracting. We settled on using its Standard preset with the Color Temp set to Warm. These settings significantly diminished the saturation, but also the vibrancy, especially when compared with the PX2370.
Photos: When viewing photos, the display has a slightly greenish hue, but otherwise we weren't disappointed in photo display quality. Adjusting the monitor's green levels downward improves things slightly, as does changing the Skin Tone function to "Reddish;" however, it was never as accurate as the Samsung PX2370 is.
Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front of the display, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colors as they were intended by the manufacturer. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, its picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from nonoptimal angles. The Asus MS238H uses a TN panel, and when it's viewed from the sides, we perceived the screen to darken about 6 inches off from center; a typical viewing angle limit for a TN-based monitor. Since the monitor is constantly tilted 10 degrees back, when viewed from below, the display had a much shallower viewing angle that darkens about 2 inches below the optimal eye line. At its default settings, the PX2370 had a typical viewing angle threshold; however, it has a few extra features that improve viewing from specific angles. The Asus MS238H doesn't include these features.
Recommended settings and use
During general use, watching movies, and playing games, we found the Standard preset to be the MS238H's optimal picture setting with the color temp set to Warm or sRGB and the contrast adjusted to 74. When editing photos, you should set the monitor's Skin Tone option to Reddish. This reduces the slight green tint, making faces in photos look more natural as a result.
As with most TN-based monitors, the Asus MS238H shouldn't be used if accurate color reproduction is required; however, the monitor is good for watching movies, playing games, and for general use. If you do have stringent color needs, we suggest you narrow your search to IPS or PVA-based panels only. The Dell UltraSharp U2711 is a good place to start.
|Asus MS238H||Average watts per hour|
|On (default luminance)||26.59|
|On (max luminance)||26.59|
|On (min luminance)||14.4|
|Calibrated (200 cd/m2)||22.4|
|Annual power consumption cost||$8.55|
The Asus MS238H has a good power consumption level in our tests, with a Default/On power draw of 26.59 watts, compared with the PX2370's 25.01 watts consumption in the same test. The monitor's consumption delta was much higher in our Sleep/Standby test with 0.27 watts for the PX2370 and the Asus MS238H drawing more than three times as much with 0.89 watts. With both monitor's center point calibrated to 200 candelas per square meter, the PX2370 drew 19.9 watts while the MS238H drew 22.4 watts. Based on our formula, the Asus MS238H would cost $8.55 per year to power, compared with the PX2370's $7.65 per year cost.
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.
Service and support
Asus backs the MS238H with a two-year casing and panel warranty that covers the backlight, if purchased directly from it; however, some resellers will offer a three-year plan, with the same coverage. Asus also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number, e-mail, and Web chat. The MS238H's documentation and support software are easily accessible on Asus' Web site.