At a Glance
Expensive 20-inch display has built-in Webcam, good performance and plenty of entertainment inputs.
Asus's PW201 is well suited for use at work and play. It provides the usual business amenities and adds several entertainment features--even a built-in Webcam. Moreover, it excels at both text and graphics, showing no real weakness on any of PC World's image quality tests.
Selling for $539 (as of 5/18/06), the PW201 sits squarely in the middle of prices for 20-inch wide-screen LCDs. It also sits neatly on its round, brushed-metal stand. This stand offers more than the usual level of versatility: All four physical adjustments, from height and tilt to the more exotic swivel and pivot, work very smoothly. A glossy black bezel adds dash, and the decent-sounding speakers and vertically swiveling Webcam recommend it as a playtime monitor.
Our jurors found the PW201 a solid performer on both text and graphics. Crisp text, natural colors, and sharp detail earned it strong scores on all tests. Unlike most monitors, it revealed no Achilles' heel, but excelled on each of our 11 text and graphics tests. In my subjective evaluation, I was able to improve image quality further for individual screens by switching the screen modes to "scenery," "theater," and so forth.
With composite, S-Video, and component inputs as well as the expected DVI, the Asus PW201 offers many ways to connect to entertainment devices. Of the current competition, only the Sony MFM-HT205 and the NEC MultiSync 20WMGX2 match the PW201's array. When showing scenes from DVDs of Seabiscuit and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the PW201 showed good color, but the picture appeared slightly soft. While it would be sufficient for casual viewing, the PW201 won't become your primary TV.
The only thing that dims the PW201's luster as an entertainment monitor is its skimpy support policy of 12 hours on weekdays and 9.5 hours on weekends. If something goes wrong while you're watching a DVD in the evening, you may not be able to get help with it until the next day.
All in all, the Asus PW201 is a fine choice for work, play, or both.