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Asus VW223B 22in LCD Monitor - Asus VW223B
You might initially be disappointed to find only find an analogue VGA cable included, and unpleasantly surprised to discover that this is because the Asus has no DVI input. But fear not, this monitor does have a form of digital connection. Regular readers might already know what's coming here, because yes, the VW223B is equipped with DisplayLink (which Asus calls EZLink). We've already reviewed two striking examples of this technology in other monitors, like the superb 4:3 19in Samsung SyncMaster 940UX, and even better 20in widescreen LG Flatron L206WU. Look at Riyad's 940UX if you want the low-down on the technology involved, but basically, it allows you to digitally hook up almost any recent Windows-based computer through USB (you can even connect to Macintosh if you're willing to put up with a beta driver from www.displaylink.com). And while the novelty of this technology has worn off a little, that doesn't make it any less impressive or interesting.
So at 22in the Asus is the biggest example of DisplayLink tech yet (and since 1,680 x 1,050 is the maximum widescreen resolution the technology supports, it's as large as we're likely to see), but is it also the best? Maybe, but the VW223B will have to overcome some significant drawbacks. One is the aforementioned lack of any digital input apart from USB. Leaving aside that DVI is theoretically still superior in terms of quality, it would allow you to hook up two PCs at the same time without needing to resort to analogue. You don't even get a USB cable, though there is a three-port hub integrated on the left-hand side of the screen.
But probably the biggest drawback to the VW223B, considering its ambitions as a secondary or even seventh screen (keeping in mind DisplayLink lets you connect up to six monitors over a single USB port), is its lack of adjustability. Yes, you do get a very generous amount of tilt, and this works very smoothly. But there is no swivel, height adjustment or pivot. It's bad enough for casual consumer monitors to offer so little adjustability, but you really should be able to put any work-oriented display below 30in into portrait mode.
Further ergonomic discomfort is provided by the OSD and buttons. Though they are easily accessible at the monitor's front and their functions clearly legible with icons marked out in white above them, the buttons' layout is not as good: the main glitch here being that up and down are on either side of the menu button, rather than beside each other. Probably the biggest OSD annoyance is that the input-shortcut button does not automatically switch inputs; rather, it takes you to a menu where - after yet another button press - you have to manually select the source you want and confirm. Since the VW223B only has two inputs, this is even more annoying, and completely unnecessary: why on Earth hasn't Asus just made the shortcut change source automatically?