ASUS VG236H Review – ASUS’ 120Hz, 3D Display

by Reads (17,764)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 8
    • Usability
    • 6
    • Design
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 10
    • Features
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 7.83
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Smooth 120Hz performance
    • Component, HDMI & DVI inputs
    • Includes shutter glasses
  • Cons

    • A bit pricey
    • Poor vertical viewing angles

Quick Take

For gamers looking to break into 3D gaming, it's hard to look further than the VG236H.


Today, ASUS unveiled the VG236H, a new 23-inch display that runs at 120Hz. With such a high refresh rate, the new monitor is plainly targeted at gamers and media enthusiasts looking for 3D content; it even includes a pair of NVIDIA’s active shutter glasses and transmitter in its $499 price tag. Can 3D content really look good on a 2D display? Read on and find out.

Specifications:

  • Panel size: 23 inches
  • Resolution: 1920×1080
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz
  • Panel type: TN+
  • Color range: 16.7 million
  • Brightness: 400 cd/m2
  • Horizontal viewing angle: 170 degrees
  • Vertical viewing angle: 160 degrees
  • Stand adjustments: Tilt, swivel, height
  • Response time: 2ms (grey-to-grey)
  • Contrast ratio: 100,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Inputs: HDMI, DVI-D, Component (YPbPr)
  • Dimensions: 21.65 x 16.54 x 9.84 inches (WxHxD)
  • Weight: 15.43 lbs
  • Warranty: three years limited parts and labor

The ASUS VG236H 3D display will be available starting next week for $499 with the NVIDIA 3D Vision kit. For those who already have the transmitter and shutter glasses, ASUS will offer the monitor without the kit sometime around mid-August for $399.

What’s in the box:

  • ASUS VG236H display
  • NVIDIA 3D Vision kit: Shutter glasses, transmitter, USB cable, storage bag, cleaning cloth, manuals
  • Display manual, NVIDIA 3D manual, driver CD, warranty card
  • Dual-link DVI cable (this is important)
  • Power cable

Build and design
ASUS really seems to have come a long way in terms of the build quality of their computer displays. It wasn’t so long ago that the company was equated solely with displays that looked and felt cheaper than competing alternatives. The VG236H, however, feels solid – there’s no creaking or wobble to worry about.

That’s good news, because with the included NVIDIA 3D shutter glasses, the display will cost $499. Considering how much monitor $499 gets you these days, there’s really not much room for error. The whole thing feels a little chunky, but not in a bad way. There’s a heft to the display that makes it feel like a quality piece of electronics.

The front and base of the VG236H is covered in glossy black plastic. Matte finishes cover most of the rear. Honestly, it would be nice to see the entire display covered in matte plastic, since it does a superior job of hiding dust and fingerprints, but this is a small concern.

The included base is big and round, with a giant “3D” logo emblazoned for the world to see. It’s height-adjustable, and while it doesn’t get too low to the desk, it can be raised unusually-high. It could be useful if users need to stand and work. The display can also tilt and swivel out of the box – like the height adjustment, however, tilting back is limited, while tilting forward is accentuated. It seems obvious that ASUS designed the display so that gamers could lean back in a chair and play while looking up. There’s a small clip to help with cord management in the back, and the whole thing is VESA compatible so it can be switched out with a third-party stand, if necessary.

The screen is glossy, but covered in some kind of anti-glare coating. On close inspection, it looks like the plastic screen cover is etched with thousands of wriggling lines. They’re unnoticeable when the monitor is turned on; unless someone is right up on the screen itself, they’re invisible. It’s hard to say how much they actually help with reflections and glare – while the VG236H can’t compete with matte screens on that front, it does seem to cope better with stray light than some glossy screens, like those found on Alienware’s M11x notebook.

In terms of physical design, there’s really only one downside to ASUS’ new 3D monitor: the menu buttons. While the menu itself is basic but functional, the buttons are hard to use. Located at the lower-right hand side of the display, the buttons are set into the bottom edge. Placing them perpendicular to the user would make them easier to push.

Additionally, the labels above the buttons are very hard to make out: instead of using white, ASUS chose a grey that offers less contrast with the surrounding black. That means that even in favorable lighting conditions, the labels can be difficult to see; in dimmer conditions – like those in which most people tend to play games or even just browse the web – the labels are essentially impossible to make out.

Normally, that wouldn’t be much of an issue. It sticks out with the VG236H, however, because of the way NVIDIA’s 3D setup works. Thanks to the active shutter glasses, taking advantage of the 3D effect means the effective light coming from the display will be significantly reduced – in some situations, by half. It makes sense that users will want to crank up the brightness. Taking off the glasses after gaming, however, can make the monitor seem searingly bright – and with the labels so hard to read, gamers will be fumbling around and trying to figure out what to press. Given the price, a small, lit area doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Menu setup
Like most modern displays, the ASUS VG236H offers a substantial user panel, accessed through the buttons. The menu is broken into five basic sections: Splendid, Image, Color, Input Select and System Setup. Brightness and Contrast have their own discrete buttons, but can also be accessed under Image, along with the Trace Free mode – this controls that ultra-fast grey-to-grey refresh rate that ASUS likes to tout.

The Splendid menu is what ASUS calls its list of video modes – Scenery, Standard, Theater, Game and Night View – which users can select depending on their primary usage scenario. On paper, this sounds very cool. In reality, it’s a pain to switch between them, and when all was said and done, Standard mode looked the best. The others generally change too much in the way of contrast or color reproduction.


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