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Asus MK241 24in LCD Monitor - Asus MK241
Talking of buttons, the array of controls located on the bottom right edge of the fascia is well laid out and fairly intuitive. There's a power button with an obligatory blue indicator light, the aforementioned Source Select, a Menu button, up and down arrows. The final button switches between the preset picture modes - Theatre, Game, Night View, Scenery and Standard. None of them do a particularly great job, with Standard being the best of a bad bunch. Also, pressing the up arrow activates a shortcut to the Brightness setting, while the down arrow shortcuts to the volume setting.
The volume setting gives away the fact that this monitor has built-in speakers, which you can't really tell from looking at it. Like may of the latest flat screen TVs to hit the market, the MK241 has hidden speakers that don't spoil the aesthetics. However, there's often a fear that making speakers unobtrusive can adversely affect sound quality and that's certainly the case here. You can feed sound to the built-in speakers via a mini-jack line in, or via the HDMI port, but whichever route you choose the result is the same - weak and unpleasant sound with a complete lack of bass. On the plus side, there is a headphone socket underneath the font fascia and a line-out socket at the rear, so you can just pass through the sound and bypass the internal speakers completely.
Adding to the MK241's feature list is an integrated webcam mounted at the top of the screen. The webcam can pan 30 degrees up or down, so you should be able to frame yourself easily, despite the lack of height adjustment of the screen itself. Mounted to the right of the webcam are two array microphones, although being that they're about a centimetre apart, I'm not sure that they can really be classed as an array. That said, there's a third microphone at the rear of the webcam housing, presumably acting as an ambient sound filter. The upshot of all this is that you've got built-in video conferencing hardware, without the need of a clip-on camera or headset.
Despite the fact that I'm not a fan of webcams, the unit integrated into the MK241 works very well, and the LifeFrame software that ships with the screen adds a lot of functionality - some useful and some just fun. For instance, you can record videos using the webcam (if you're into that kind of thing), or just take still images. You can also apply filters, in case you want to mask your appearance - although I can't help but think that if you want to mask your appearance, why use a webcam in the first place?