ASUS LS201 20" LCD Monitor
Test patterns like those offered by Everest can be extremely useful for gauging a monitor's ability and also for calibration purposes. This is especially useful to people who need their monitor to be perfectly calibrated for work with publishing and photography. However, most people don't purchase a monitor exclusively for "work" so we'll look at some real-world tests with high definition video content next, to give you and idea of how well the monitor stands up to "play".
HD Movie Playback: We watched a number of DVDs and HD video clips to see how the monitor would handle video playback. The ASUS LS201 performed quite well and movie playback was enjoyable. Since the LS201 has a standard aspect ratio, there is a very pronounced letter-box effect with widescreen media. There were large black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. For some people, this could be distracting. It also gives the illusion that the screen is smaller.
Other than the effects of the LS201's aspect ratio, video playback was quite enjoyable. The ASUS Splendid Video presets came in handy and we found the "theater mode" to be well-named. It seemed to boost the color depth and slightly lower the brightness, which we found pleasant for most movies. The "scenery mode" was also quite good looking for certain videos and it seemed to really bring out the earthy colors.
Overall, viewing videos on the ASUS LS201 was pleasant. However, the standard aspect ratio of of the LS201 was annoying at times. While you can certainly watch and enjoy videos on the LS201, if viewing movies is especially important for you, then you may want to consider a widescreen model instead.
Gaming Test: To see how the ASUS LS201 handled some fast-paced gaming, we played a few rounds of Call of Duty 4. This game is especially taxing on monitors for three reasons. First, the game involves fast-paced action that often has objects moving very quickly across the screen which tests the monitor's response time. Second, the game has many dark maps where details can easily be lost among the shadows, which could easily cost you your virtual life. Lastly, the dark environments are broken up by bright flashes of gunfire and explosions, which cause high-contrast situations that easily reveal ghosting and blurring.
The ASUS LS201 isn't billed as a gaming monitor but it sports a 5ms response time so we expected it to perform well with games. The LS201 didn't let us down and handled the action of Call of Duty 4 without issue. Response was good and we didn't notice any ghosting, blurring or other visual oddities caused by a slow monitor.
There is a "gaming mode" Spendid video preset that increases brightness and contrast for a more vivid picture. We found this setting to be useful but not necessary. On some levels, the preset worked like a charm and really helped the image quality. On other levels, we found the preset overdid it a little and brought out the colors a bit too much. You will probably want to adjust the settings of the gaming preset yourself to best suit the games you play, or go without it altogether.
General Usage: We used the ASUS LS201 extensively for several weeks. During this time, we performed a wide variety of tasks with it, from browsing the web and spreadsheeting to image manipulation and writing this article. The LS201 handled all of these tasks perfectly. While the LS201 has presets for movies and gaming, there was no "office" or "web" preset. We found this a little odd since that is often the most useful preset of all, since staring at high-contrast spreadsheets and web pages can quickly lead to eye fatigue. Dialing down the contrast and brightness a bit made the LS201 quite serviceable for office use. There is also nothing stopping you from using any one of the presets as your office preset, although you won't be able to rename them.
Overall, the LS201 performed well in our subjective tests but we would like to point out one flaw that appears throughout all testing. Since the LS201's screen is covered by a large sheet of smooth glass-like material, you may expect it to run into glare issues and you would be right. The LS201's screen has undergone some anti-glare treatment and ASUS claims that there is less glare than a standard LCD, but we beg to differ. We found throughout testing that the LS201 was more reflective than any other monitor we had used in recent memory. The amount of glare present on the LS201 reminded us of a CRT. Depending on the position of the monitor, this could become a large problem and a deal-breaker for some people.