Like Acer’s AL1916Ws, this model employs a new-type widescreen matrix with a native resolution of 1440x900. But the AL1916Ws is a low-end model with an unassuming appearance whereas the PW191 looks spectacular even when turned off.
The monitor’s front panel is made of black glossy plastic. The matrix has a glossy coating, too. The photograph above shows how it reflects the daylight lamps hanging on the ceiling of our laboratory. This coating does look splendid on a shop shelf, but I’m inclined to put its usefulness in doubt. For example, you can’t work with this monitor if you’ve got a light source behind your back – it will be distinctly reflected in the monitor’s screen. The two speakers on the sides of the matrix make this widescreen monitor even wider.
The monitor’s base resembles the stand of Samsung’s SyncMaster 193P. It consists of an aluminum disc and a leg with two hinges, one where the stand meets the monitor and another where it is attached to the base. As a result, you can position the monitor’s screen in any manner imaginable, even in parallel to the desk.
The ASUS PW191 is quite a pretty thing, but I think the aluminum base looks somewhat bulky. I like Samsung’s color solution more: the base of the 193P is also painted black, except for a shiny polished edge, and this looks more elegant and concordant with the black color of the monitor’s case.
If you remove the decorative cover, you can see the fastening of the stand. You can replace it with any VESA-compatible mount. Unlike with Samsung’s monitors, the monitor’s connectors are in the case rather than in the base.
The monitor has analog and digital inputs, audio input and headphones output (the latter is unfortunately at the back, too). The power adapter is external.
Well, the most original element of this monitor is its controls. The monitor even seems to lack them when turned off – you can see only one label painted on the Power button. But as soon as you press it, the button itself begins to shine in blue, and labels for four more buttons come to life in amber light on the left of it.
The highlighting of the buttons is turned on and off automatically. It goes out if you don’t touch them, but lights up again at your press. It’s only the Power indicator that is shining all the time.
The buttons are touch-sensitive, of course. That’s why they are not visible when the monitor is turned off. They are ready to react to your presses, but not to foreign objects (if a strayed cable is drawn over them, for example). There is one thing you should get used to, though. You have to press on the buttons softly, with a short delay of your finger the moment you touch the monitor’s panel. The monitor will process the presses well then while short, quick touches may be disregarded as accidental.
Quick access is provided to the sound volume and brightness settings, and to switching between the monitor’s factory presets (the so-called Splendid feature). There are five presets available: Scenery Mode (100% brightness, 90% contrast, 43% saturation), Standard Mode (user-defined settings; by default it has 100% brightness, 70% contrast, 37% saturation), Theater Mode (90% brightness, 80% contrast, 37% saturation), Game Mode (90% brightness, 80% contrast, 48% saturation), and Night View Mode (90% brightness, 90% contrast, 37% saturation). So, not only image brightness, but color reproduction as well is varied in the presets. By the way, Night View Mode suits fine for use during the day, too. It increases the level of black, so dark scenes in games become lighter, making it easier to spot a lurking enemy even under bright external lighting.