Remember the 'Fantasy Ring' series of monitors from LG? You know, the ones with the base shaped like a doughnut. Yeah? Good, because Asus, of Eee PC fame, has pounced on the concept to create its own circular-standed monitors, the Designo MS series.
We've just got our hands on the 23-inch MS236 and it's not bad at all. Whereas LG's ring hangs out the bottom, Asus' ring is mounted in a perpendicular fashion at its rear. This allows the monitors to be carried like a handbag, worn on the head like a slightly ill-fitting sweatband, or used as a shield in a game of Monitor Punch.
They also work pretty well when asked to show images and junk. The MS236 has a native resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, so 1080p Full HD movies fit its 16:9 aspect ratio like a tailored glove fits a prince. It also comes with D-Sub and HDMI inputs, so you can use it with a PS3 or Xbox 360, and it has a DVI to HDMI adaptor so you can connect your PC or laptop. Asus also fits the MS236 with its "splendid... video intelligence technology", which allows the user to select a range of presets that optimise the monitor's brightness and contrast to suit whatever sorts of media it's showing.
Arguably the best thing about the MS236 is its thinness. At its thickest point, it's only slightly fatter than a typical mobile phone. In contrast, the oddest thing about these monitors is the range of sizes they come in: 20-inch (MS202N/D), 21.5-inch (MS226H), 22-inch (MS227N), 23-inch (MS236H/D) and 23.6-inch (MS246H/D). That's five different monitors within 3.6 inches of each other.
If there's a method to Asus' madness, we haven't yet worked it out, but we can say -- where the MS236 is concerned -- that picture quality is pretty dang decent, so it's safe to assume the rest of the range isn't bad either.
Watch for a full review shortly.