Putting the black levels to one side, you still wouldn’t want to watch movies on this screen. The skin tones are simply horrible with actors looking distinctly ill in most scenes, while the quoted 2ms response time does little to keep that old LCD bugbear of motion smearing in check. Add to this the fact that all these problems are exacerbated when you’re watching standard definition content and it’s clear that this screen doesn’t live up to its movie watching promise. Bizarrely the MK241 actually has specific skin tone settings, but the setting is switched off in the OSD when connected via DVI or HDMI – the two connections that you’re most likely to need that setting for.
Games fared slightly better on the MK241, with Burnout Paradise on the PlayStation 3 looking bright, vivid and sumptuous. That’s not to say you’ll be blown away when you fire up your favourite game, because that old black level problem still remains. Play something that’s far darker and gloomier than Burnout, like Gears of War, and you’re left with everything looking brown and dirty, rather than black and sinister. You’ll also be limited to single player gaming, since the poor viewing angles make it difficult for more than one player to get a good view.
Asus claims that the MK241 has a wide colour gamut equating to 92 per cent of the NTSC colour space. Unfortunately that hasn’t resulted in a colour palette that’s in any way pleasing. The contrast ratio is quoted at 3000:1, which incorporates dynamic backlighting, but considering the disappointing black level response, this simple isn’t working, while the aforementioned light bleed just adds to the problem. Brightness of 450cd/m2 is what you’d expect from a 24in display, while I’m assuming that Asus’ quoted 16.7 million colours comes from improved dithering techniques, since this is a 6-bit panel.
Because this is a very early sample of the MK241, there are no retailers stocking it yet, but Asus has quoted me an SRP of £310 including VAT. That’s a pretty good price considering it’s an SRP, and once retailers do pick this screen up, you can expect the street price to drop below £300 quite quickly. That said, the Samsung 245B that I looked at back in August 2007 can already be had online for around £285, and although it lacks some of the features that the MK241 has, it provides better image quality and far more adjustability.
The problem with the MK241 is that Asus seemed to be torn about where to position it. It’s a monitor that has an impressive list of connection options, audio pass through from HDMI and line-in, with line-out and a headphone socket, plus a built-in webcam. But all this functionality is coupled with a woeful lack of screen adjustability and very dubious image quality. On paper this screen looks like good value, but I’d be happy to lose one of the inputs and the webcam in favour of a better image and some height adjustment.
Score in detail
Image Quality 5