Asus MK241H 24" Widescreen 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 and high-resolution games 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 Asus MK241H would handle video playback. Even at the factory defaults in Standard Mode, the display did a great job at movie playback. Colors were rich, motion was smooth, and the blacks were dark as they should be. Switching over to Theater Mode saturated the colors a bit more and slightly darkened the scene--a handy setting to have when viewing movies in a dark room. We saw little difference with how movie playback looked between Theater Mode and Game Mode. Unless a scene was particularly dark, all the Night View Mode did was reduce the contrast and wash the image out. On the other hand, we felt that Scenery Mode oversaturated the colors too much.
Gaming Test: To see how the MK241H 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 MK241H lived up the expectations of is 2ms response time: it more than kept up with everything the FPS could throw at it. At no point did we witness any ghosting or blurring. We had the same results with the different "Splendid" modes that we saw with HD movie playback: Standard Mode was up to the challenge, Game Mode and Theater Mode added more color saturation, Night View Mode was a great help with dark scenes, and Scenery Mode oversaturated the colors too much.
General Usage: We used the MK241H for a number of weeks as a stand-alone monitor, a second display for a laptop, and even as an additional display for an iMac. We did everything from the above mentioned-game playing and movie watching to surfing the Web, writing e-mails, and image editing in Photoshop. The display more than met the needs of these tasks, and once again we felt that the default settings were good enough for most of needs. Once we were in Photoshop, however, we did wind up tweaking the color temperature settings a bit. Also, when we used the MK241H as a secondary display we also needed to tweak the color settings in order to get the colors of the two displays to match as close as possible.
Webcam Quality: We were pleasantly surprised by the still image-quality generated by the 1.3-megapixel camera. It doesn’t rival what you would get with a digital camera, but it does a good job of capturing reasonably accurate color and detail. The video capture, however, left much to be desired: The frame rates were low, audio was often out of sync with the video, and the video suffered from a lot of noise. We found the audio-quality captured by the microphone to be acceptable, but you have to be very close it to for it to pick up your voice well. It felt a little uncomfortable being that close to the screen of a 24-inch display just to ensure that our voices were being properly recorded.
We did have a lot of fun with the bundled Asus LifeFrame software, however. The software allows you to capture video, still pictures, and audio from the webcam. The software gives you a lot of control over how the images and video are captured, including file format, resolution, image quality, shooting modes, self timers, continuous shots (still image only), brightness, and contrast. Similar to Photo Booth on the Mac, LifeFrame includes image filters (such as Sepia and Kaleidoscope) and cute graphic frames (such as framing your face on a stamp or giving you a Santa Beard) that are available for both still images and video.
Speaker Quality: We were able to get the speakers cranking at surprisingly high volume. But, the audio-quality was a bit tinny and it started to clip once the volume got too high. We wouldn't count on these speakers as our primary source for listening to music or for gaming, but they do just fine for casual use, such as for watching YouTube videos.