At PC Format, we remember the days when two-stone, hearing-aid beige TFT monitors stood resplendent atop our desks, brazenly spewing out heat and gamma-like prototypes from Aperture Science's monitor division.
We might have played through the golden age of PC gaming on these screens, but the glory days of screens themselves might well be right now. For under three hundred of your (possibly) ill-gotten gains you can buy a 24-inch PC display with the kind of native resolutions and contrast ratios that would have had people burning them at the stake for witchcraft just a decade ago.
Some of them are even 3D, so you can watch films and play games while earning yourself a splitting headache. Just as importantly, said witchcraft has been packed into a slender package smaller than this reviewer's GCSE graphic design folder.
The problem with glory days though is that when standards are so high, it's easy to miss out on the very best. Asus' ML249H monitor isn't particularly aiming to be the very best, but it certainly wants to beat the rest.
It isn't a 3D screen, so refresh rates max out at 75Hz and when you watch Avatar there'll be none of that distracting 'It's like I'm there!' nonsense and you'll see it for the bloated, generic game intro FMV it is.
As a 2D screen then, with a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and a contrast ratio of 3,000:1, it goes toe-to-toe with other manufacturer's screens at the £200 price point. It also boasts an impressive 178-degree viewing angle both horizontally and vertically thanks to the VA panel, although this is offset by a slightly longer response time.
The screen itself produces as good a display and as accurate colour representation as we've come to expect from mainstream monitors outside of the designers' realm. The HDMI-in is a bonus too, for those who want to connect computers and consoles and whatnot simultaneously.
It's also very compact, due to the swivel stand design. It won an award for this, apparently.
Not best in class
That stand doesn't allow a lot of adjustment, though – the inability to actually raise the panel vertically grates. It feels a bit flimsy for a £200 monitor too.
Going back to those inputs, the HDMI in is all well and good, but the only other input is plain old, analogue VGA. Luckily it does come bundled with a lengthy DVI to HDMI cable to link the good ol' PC up to the digital input.
More relevantly though, there are other monitors out there that do everything that little bit better. Samsung's P2450H, for example. It's £30 more expensive, but that represents little extra outlay when you consider it has none of the Asus screen's gripes and comes with higher contrast ratio and response time to boot.
There's nothing wrong with the ML249H on a base level. If you buy it, you're unlikely to be disappointed by the image quality and the biggest real-world niggle is the limited number of inputs. It's just that the Asus isn't the cream of the crop at this price point.
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