ASUS VH242HL-P Review: Image Quality, Power and Conclusion

September 27, 2009 by J.R. Nelson Reads (7,388)

Image Quality
The most noticeable thing about the VH242HL-P is that it features a matte display center stage, instead of yet another glossy panel. Everyone has their own preference; while colors usually appear more vivid on glossy displays, they are a pain to use in environments where it’s difficult to control the light. In our office, at least, the matte display is preferable to its glossy cousin.

Asus VH242HL-P

As ASUS used a TN panel in this device, low viewing angles are expected, and the rated 170/160 degree listing would seem to confirm that. Fortunately, however, the viewing angles were very much a pleasant surprise. When looking head on, it’s hard to notice any color shift at all, and horizontal viewing angles looked very good. Shifting is evident, but it doesn’t become a problem until you get to fairly extreme degrees. Vertical viewing angles aren’t as good, but looking down from above still produces a very usable picture. Looking up from below, however, shows little but a morass of inverted colors and shifted images.

Asus VH242HL-P

Asus VH242HL-P

As it ships, the display is set to its “standard” display view, and feels a little bit washed out. Fortunately, there are a number of different display modes users can switch back and forth between which vastly improve one aspect of the picture or another. You want saturated colors? Switch to scenery. Need absolute minimum lag? Switch to game mode. Watching a movie? ASUS has you covered with theater mode. There’s even a night mode which makes using the display easier when there’s little to no ambient lighting. Switching between the modes is slightly unintuitive, since it’s not super easy to know what each of the buttons do until you try them out. After a few minutes, however, it becomes readily apparent how everything works.

Asus VH242HL-P Asus VH242HL-P

Asus VH242HL-P Asus VH242HL-P Asus VH242HL-P

The on-screen display (OSD) is fairly robust, giving users options to change a number of different display factors. Brightness, contrast and sharpness are all there, as is screen position, RGB color ratios, languages, skin tones and saturation. The OSD also lets users change volume and inputs from within the menus. That’s a clunky way of doing things, however, and ASUS was smart enough to put a couple of shortcut functions on the buttons.

Asus VH242HL-P Asus VH242HL-P Asus VH242HL-P Asus VH242HL-P

While you can always dive into the full OSD menu, you can also just push specific buttons to change the brightness and volume, as well as switch the input between VGA, HDMI and DVI. Despite this, changing the volume is something of a pain, so if you plan on using the built-in speakers, set it to a comfortable level and use the computer to manage the audio levels. A rheostat would be nice, but maybe I’m just getting old.

Power and Efficiency
The monitor did score an EPEAT Gold certification, a fact ASUS likes to tout, so you might expect it to be pretty power efficient. Happily, it’s not too bad. Its still uses cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) to light the display, which means it isn’t going to be as efficient as a comparable monitor that uses LEDs instead. Still, when the lighting was turned all the way down to its minimum, the VH242HL-P used around 15 watts, which is nothing to sneer at. Turning it up to fifty percent pushed the power use up to 27 watts or so, which is close to what it should use in everyday usage. Unless the display is being used in a very bright setting, we don’t recommend turning the backlight on full since it ruins an LCD’s black levels as well as shortens the lifespan of the lighting itself, though not the actual display. At 100 percent brightness, the monitor used around 45 watts of electricity. Still not bad, though uncomfortable on the eyes to use for too long since it’s pretty bright.

Asus VH242HL-P
Backlight at minimum

Asus VH242HL-P
Backlight at fifty percent

Asus VH242HL-P
Backlight at maximum

Conclusion
Monitors nowadays are more affordable than ever before, and at less than two hundred and fifty dollars, the ASUS VH242HL-P is a prime example of that trend. It’s 23.6 inches corner to corner, and gives users full HD resolution (1920×1080) along with built-in speakers and three different video inputs, so it’s a pretty good value for your money. The matte display offers good horizontal viewing angles, especially for a TN panel, adding the display’s versatility, since it could easily double as an HDTV without too much pain. The stand is decent and sturdy, and moving the monitor up and down is easy.

When it comes to the monitor’s downsides, there really aren’t too many. The glossy plastic can charitably be called a fingerprint magnet, and the round base takes up a decent amount of space. Vertical viewing angles are unsurprisingly not so hot, but most users won’t ever encounter problems from it. Tilt and swivel functionality are there, but panel rotation would be a nice bonus. At the end of the day, ASUS’ monitor offers good functionality and decent build quality for a fair price, and it’s hard to ask for more than that. If you’re looking for a new monitor, or even second or third display, the VH242HL-P should at least be on your list.

Pros

  • Matte display
  • Good horizontal viewing angles
  • Built-in speakers

Cons

  • Fingerprints!
  • Large base
  • No panel rotation


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