Asus MW221U review

Price when reviewed

While many manufacturers churn out the same familiar designs, others such as Asus consistently produce interesting and stylish TFTs. The MW221U is undoubtedly sleek, and unlike the majority of monitors it features a pair of integrated speakers that are actually worth listening to. This alone gives it a certain appeal for those who don’t want a separate set of speakers cluttering up their desk.

Asus MW221U review

The quality of the speakers is surprising given their total output of just 2W, but we tried both quiet scenes and raucous action sequences, and found they coped well with high frequencies and dealt reasonably with bass. Even at two-thirds volume, they’re loud enough to fill a small room. The MW221U is also the only monitor here to offer a headphone port.

Elsewhere, you’ll find an HDCP-compliant DVI port and a VGA interface next to it. All the necessary cables are supplied, and a large rear cover clips on to hide the connections from view and to keep the cables tidy. The shiny stand is sturdy, although it only tilts, and the screen’s side bezel is reasonably thin at 19mm. The intuitive OSD makes adjusting the image simple, and it’s nice to see Asus making an effort to ensure the control buttons fit the elegant design: you’ll hardly notice them once you’ve finished adjusting settings.

So far so good, but when faced with our benchmarks it’s clear the Asus is firmly in the middle of the pack in both real-world and technical quality. With a brightness of 300cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 700:1, specifications match most of the competition, but we were disappointed in both the dull white level and the uneven black. Slight light leakage was evident at the top and bottom edges of the screen too.

Colour transitions were smooth, though, leading to decent enough performance in our DVD and image tests. With a quick 2ms response time, fast movement wasn’t smeared at all. However, we couldn’t get rid of a slight bluish tinge without affecting the other colours, and the whole image is a little washed out when compared to the vivid tones of the Apple or Eizo.

At £237, it isn’t the cheapest 22in TFT, but the speakers, styling and HDCP compliance do a good job of compensating. Image quality is average rather than great, but the MW221U may fit the bill as an entertainment TFT for listening to music, watching movies and playing games.

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