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Asus has been on a bit of a roll lately, producing some truly impressive and innovative products. The Asus Eee PC for instance was a prime example of the company carving a new niche in the market and opening up a whole new price point for mobile computing. Meanwhile, the Asus branded notebooks have also seen well deserved success over the past year or so, and that situation looks set to continue with some new models just around the corner set to throw up some serious competition for the likes of Sony and Samsung. Unfortunately the product I'm looking at today is going to do little to enhance Asus' strong reputation.
When Asus showed off the MK241 24in monitor at CES last month, the specs looked very promising indeed. It looked like it was going to be quite a feature rich display, at a potentially bargain price, which is a pretty compelling combination. Asus promised an SRP of $539 in the US, which equated to a very compelling price in the UK working on the current exchange rate - although things rarely work out that way when products actually hit the shores of Blighty. So why hasn't this screen lived up to its early promise?
Aesthetically there's little wrong with the MK241, finished in matt black, with a brushed aluminium strip running below the panel. The round base is finished in brushed aluminium too and adds to the sleek and modern style, but looking at the design a bit more closely reveals some major disappointments. First up, there's no height adjustment - this may be just about acceptable in the 22in market, but on a 24in monitor it's virtually unforgivable. The lack of height adjustment also rules out pivoting duties, so if you like to be able to switch into portrait mode, you're going to have to look elsewhere. Even more bizarre is that there is no swivel pad under the base, so you can't even pan the screen from side to side - something that you'd need to do if you wanted to show a colleague what was on your screen due to the less than impressive viewing angles. The only adjustment at your disposal is forwards and backwards tilting.
In this screen's defence, the features do, in part make up for the woeful lack of adjustability. You can connect up to three sources to the MK241 via the DVI, HDMI and D-SUB connections - unfortunately there's no component input, so Nintendo Wii owners won't be using this screen for their Super Mario Galaxy fix. Like any good monitor with multiple inputs, there's a dedicated source select button that toggles through each input.