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Monitors are something of a commodity these days. A good example of this is the BenQ G2222HDL we looked at recently, which for around £120 offered most of what a normal user would need without sacrificing too gravely on quality. Given this fact, it's increasingly hard to justify spending much on a monitor unless: a) it's a really good quality display (e.g. NEC MultiSync EA231WMi); or b) it looks really cool. The Asus MS236H sits firmly in the latter category.
A member of the Designo MS series, the MS236H is sold off the back of its exceedingly slim 16.5mm profile and photo frame-esque design. It's not the first time we've seen such designs - Samsung started the ball rolling with the Samsung SyncMaster D190S LapFit and LG followed suit with the LG Flatron W2230S - but the Asus is probably the most flamboyant attempt yet. It also sports a large 23in, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) panel, making it a more serious 'proper' monitor than either the Samsung or LG.
Its most eye-catching design feature is the stand, a frosted plastic ring that provides a modicum of tilt ability as well (10 to 20 degrees up). This combines with two small rubber feet to keep the MS236H fairly well planted, though it does lack some of the stability a more traditionally mounted display might have.
Still, it does the job just fine and the visual affect is very cool. Its slim frame, glossy black bezel and white casing combine to great effect. As a monitor for the living room and other style conscious environments, it scores very highly. This is helped by the lack of any physical buttons embellishing the front panel, which are replaced by touch buttons (backlit in white).
These look very cool when activated, but unfortunately are dreadful to use. We've seen touch buttons on numerous monitors, TVs and laptops, but those on the MS236H are by far the worst we've ever encountered. Not only are they poorly labelled, which makes learning the navigation system more difficult, but the buttons themselves are far from responsive and more often than not fail to work at all.
It's just as well, then, that there aren't too many settings to fiddle with. Asus offers the usual selection of picture modes, all of which give the monitor an unnatural look that's best avoided. Aside from this you get the basic brightness, contrast and colour temperature controls found on all monitors, which once you're happy with can be left alone entirely.