It's hard to imagine an LCD monitor that provides more than just visual functions in an aesthetically pleasing package that boasts a jaw-dropping screen size, quick gray-to-gray response time, a built-in camera, speakers, and a whole range of connectors. ASUS, known for its quality products and as a major OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) player, brings to the market the PW201, an LCD display that aims to provide a good visual experience.
The Power Within
The ASUS PW201 has a black piano finish and its bezel houses a 20-inch widescreen LCD panel that features a native resolution of 1,680 by 1,050 pixels, giving users acres of desktop space to work with. Despite the rising popularity of glare type panels, the screen of the PW201 is that of the traditional matt, anti-glare version, which at the slight expense of color vibrancy helps minimize straining of the eyes considerably. A quick 8ms response time (gray-to-gray) ensures 'ghosting' from gaming and movies will always be kept at bay while ASUS' SPLENDID Video Intelligence Technology offers a variety of preset viewing modes (eg. Game, Night View, Scenery, etc) that users can simply choose to instantly configure the video attributes of the PW201 to the video content they are viewing for maximum visual enjoyment.
Moving beyond the panel, the PW201 has two 3W stereo speakers and a digital webcam built into the flanks of the screen and the top bezel respectively. Running along the bottom bezel is a row of six touch buttons that users can use to manually fine-tune the PW201 to personal preferences. On the side of the LCD screen are three handy USB 2.0 ports and a headphone jack that fits conventional earphone/headphone via a 3.5mm stereo mini-plug. The rear is a busy landscape of connection ports comprehensively listing S-Video, D-Sub, L/R Audio, Component input (YpbPr), and DVI ports. There's also a detachable stand for the VESA wall mount and a Kensington slot for obvious security reasons.
A very nifty feature of the ASUS PW201 is its incredible "dexterity" – the stand that is. First off, the stand allows you to turn the monitor to the left or right up to 120º and it can be further adjusted in tilt from -5º to 25º for users to arrive at the most comfortable viewing angle according to their eye level when seated. The best feature of the ASUS PW201 however, is its ability to rotate counterclockwise by a full 90º such that the screen is in a portrait orientation. Through the Pivot PRO program, the PW201 can be quickly configured to result in maximum vertical readability that's best suited for reading lengthy web pages and portrait-styled Excel spreadsheets, PDF, and Word documents. Needless to say, professionals such as graphic artists will find this combination of hardware and software orientation advantageous to their work, since they can freely adjust viewing orientation (from landscape to portrait) on the fly.
Even the built-in camera can be swiveled from -30º to 30º and is capable of digital still impressions at resolutions up to 1280 by 960 pixels. Pictures can then be enhanced either automatically or manually via the bundled Lifeframe software with the flexibility of adding photo effects. Of even greater convenience is that the camera can be called upon to record videos in addition to video conferencing, and with a live Internet connection, photos and videos can be instantly put up on the web or shared via email, messaging applications, and etc.
Though users may have slight tactility issues with the PW201's touch buttons, it is not severe to the extent of tainting the otherwise impressive PW201. The ability to change orientation from landscape to portrait with a single click of a button, highly audible built-in stereo speakers, a 1.3-megapixel camera and compatibility with most video sources (except for HDMI devices), the ASUS PW201 is sure to create a lasting impression.