With an in-plane switching (IPS)-based screen, a useful assortment of connections and ergonomic options, and a price at around $300, the VG23AH might sound like a monitor worthy of praise.
However, once you've experienced the monitor's sorry excuse for 3D, you may find yourself singing a less supportive tune.
Design and features
At first glance, the Asus VG23AH bears more than a passing resemblance to the company's VG278H. Aside from a small color highlight difference, both the foot stand and neck at practically identical. Like the VG278H, the VG23AH's circular foot stand measures 9.9 inches in diameter, with a 3.1-inch-wide neck extending out of it and the screen height can be adjusted by 3.7 inches.
That's where most of the physical similarities end. Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the VG23AH more closely follows the design of many older Asus monitors, like the VH236H, with a glossy, sloped, piano-black top and bottom edge and as well as a glossy 0.8 inch-wide bezel.
The monitor sports a 23-inch screen, with a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. The panel's full width is 21.7 inches, with an initial depth of 1.2 inches and a complete panel depth of 2.6 inches, once the connections and ventilation system are taken into account.
The VG23AH includes a 15-degree back-tilt option and the monitor thankfully does swivel, but unfortunately rotating the panel takes greater physical effort than you'd expect and seems like it would benefit from a little WD-40. Like the VG278H, the foot stand does little to keep the entire unit from violently wobbling when knocked from the sides, regardless of its current screen height. Unscrewing the foot stand from the panel, fortunately, reveals a VESA wall-mounting option, allowing you to circumvent any wobbling issues if you desire. No pivot option is included, but Asus places the connections to the right of the neck, offering a fairly clear path to them. Still, connections that face out, not down as these do, is always ideal.
Connections include two HDMI ports, DVI, and VGA. There are also two audio jacks: one that enables the built-in speakers and another for connecting headphones.
The onscreen display array resides in the lower-right corner of the panel and features five buttons placed on the bottom edge: from left are the S/A button, down/3D button, Menu, up/brightness button, and source. The power button is located directly to the right. OSD options include brightness, contrast, six different presets (Scenery, Theater, Game, Night View, sRGB, and Standard), three different color temperature options, as well as the ability to adjust the red, green, and blue values individually.
The actual interface navigation, however, is a bit clunky. First off, the Menu button functions as an Enter button would. Confusing, but you do get used to it after a while. When navigating, the S/A button acts as the "back" or "previous menu" button, which feels weird since it's located at the far left and not directly to the left of the Menu button. Also, when adjusting red, green, and blue values, the arrow buttons no longer act as navigation buttons and are instead used to adjust the values. Menu then becomes the sole navigation button, where pressing it takes you to the next menu selection. Please forgive the irony of my convoluted and possibly confusing explanation of why the VG23AH's interface is convoluted and confusing. I just think it's worth pointing out, as I'd like to see Asus improve upon it in future monitors.
As for overall build quality, the monitor has a typical-for-most-monitors-of-this-size-and-price-range plasticky feel, while not giving an overly cheap impression.
The monitor includes Asus' passive-3D glasses, which fit snugly over my average-size dome. Also, a pair of 3D clip-on lenses are included if you're having trouble getting the glasses over your own spectacles.
|Design and feature highlights|
|Connectivity:||DVI, HDMIx2, VGA|
|Ergonomic options:||15-degree back tilt, 4.5-inch height adjustment, swivel|
|Audio:||Built-in speakers; headphones jack|
|VESA wall-mount support:||Yes|
|Included video cables:||DVI, VGA|
|Number of presets:||6|
|Picture options:||Brightness, contrast|
|Color controls:||RGB and 3 color temperature options|
|Additional features:||Passive 3D|
I tested the Asus VG23AH through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 94 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
DisplayMate: The VG23AH displayed light gray up to level 254; 255 is considered white and every level in between it and 1 is a variation of gray, so 254 is the highest possible level. As for dark gray, the VG23AH easily displayed down to level 4 in its Standard preset, but was able to hit a dark gray level of 2 in when I switched to Dark View preset. This points to the display possibly crushing dark gray in movies, unless using the Dark View preset is used.
The VG23AH excelled in most of the color tests, with only a barely noticeable green tint in the color tracking test. Though faint, none of the six presets completely exorcises the green tint. Even after switching to the Standard preset and lowering the amount of green saturation, I still had a very difficult time completely getting rid of that green impression. Also note that the green impression is still very faint and only really noticeable next to reference monitors; in this case, the Samsung PX2370.
In DisplayMate's Dark Screen test, backlight luminance can be seen in the lower left corner and along the left edge.
Text: Black text on white looked clear, without any obvious color tint problems. Also, fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8-point size.
Movies: I tested the Asus VG23AH using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." Under the Theater preset, the movie displayed rich colors and deep blacks, giving it a particularly authentic-looking cinematic feel. Unfortunately, the Theater preset has a tendency to crush dark gray, resulting in the disappearance of some dark detail in dark scenes, particularly the details of the Na'vi's hair during nighttime scenes. Thankfully, the Night View preset is a fine compromise. It loses a bit of that deep, eye-popping color and convincing cinematic look, but as a trade-off, dark detail can be plainly seen.
Games: When evaluating the look of games on a monitor, the two most important features to consider are vibrancy and color. If the monitor can display games with a bright and vibrant cleanness, this goes a long way toward benefiting its looks. If colors can also pop with fullness and depth, games can usually look great. Streaking is a different concern that honestly isn't very pervasive with most modern monitors, but if you're concerned about it, be sure to check out the last paragraph in this section.