The VK191D monitor from ASUS is interesting for its integrated web-camera in the first place.
Its specifications are standard enough. It has a widescreen matrix without response time compensation and offers a dynamic contrast ratio of 2000:1.
Like many other monitors from ASUS, this one has a modest but attractive exterior. Its black glossy case has a slim screen bezel and a shiny strip below the screen. The control buttons are placed in the right part of that strip. The black plastic stand looks neat, too.
The stand allows you to adjust the tilt of the screen. There is a cable holder at its back. You can replace the stand with a VESA-compatible mount if necessary.
The monitor has an analog input, a power connector and a USB port. As you may guess, the latter is necessary for the integrated web-camera.
The web-camera is located in the protrusion in the top center of the front panel. It is fixed in place, so you can change its vision field only by changing the position of the whole screen. This shouldn’t be a big problem as the user is supposed to sit in front of the monitor. However, people can be tall or short and can take different sitting postures, so it would be better if the camera could turn up and down.
Included with the monitor is ASUS LifeFrame2, a simple program for controlling the camera and the nearby microphone. For example, you can use this program to record a video clip or make a photograph and apply some basic processing to it.
The camera’s image quality is surprisingly high. Of course, it is no match for a standalone digital camera, yet most integrated cameras produce a worse picture in terms of noise, sharpness and vignetting (the darkening of the periphery of an image). Here, we’ve got a camera that can match the best models. The maximum resolution of a frame is low at 640x480, but do you really need more from a web-camera? By the way, video is also recorded at 640x480 with a frame rate of 30fps.
But let’s get back to the monitor now. After all, the web-camera is just a nice addition to it.
Placed in the bottom right of the front panel, the control buttons are designed in ASUS’s traditional style. The Power button is the rightmost in the row. It is the same size and shape as the others but has a dim blue LED. The monitor provides quick access to the auto-adjustment feature, to the Brightness and Contrast settings, and to choosing a Splendid mode.
Like most other ASUS monitors, this one has the typical blue menu with its typical drawbacks. This menu opens up on the Splendid screen although the Splendid technology can be accessed with a quick button. The menu does not remember the option you selected last, and some menu screens have so many items that you don’t see them all at once on the screen. Oddly enough, such options as Skin Tone, ASCR (dynamic contrast mode) and Sharpness are only available when you select a Splendid mode other than Standard. Otherwise, you can’t change those options.
The monitor has 90% brightness and 80% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by lowering both to 53%. Color gradients are reproduced with slight banding. When in a Splendid mode, you can also see the characteristic graininess indicating inaccurate dithering (emulation of 24-bit color on a 18-bit LCD matrix). Darks are displayed properly at any level of Contrast but lights become indistinguishable from white at a Contrast of 80% and higher. The monitor’s brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 437Hz.
The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 6.2% with a maximum deflection of 15.4%. The results are worse for black brightness: 4.5% and 16.7%, respectively. The numbers are good. The sides of the screen are somewhat darker than the rest of it in both cases.