The previous model was based on a TN matrix and had poor vertical viewing angles as the natural consequence, but the PW201 features a VA matrix. You shouldn’t be misled by the small difference between the specified numbers. It’s because different measuring methods are employed: the viewing angles of VA and S-IPS matrixes are measured when the contrast ratio drops to 10:1. For TN matrixes, the contrast ratio has to drop to 5:1, which yields bigger numbers.
Otherwise, the PW201 seems to be an ordinary widescreen 20” monitor in its specifications.
The PW201 stands out among other models with its remarkable exterior, however. It has a very wide glossy black case. Besides a wide screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10, the monitor has speakers on the sides of it. The matrix has a glossy coating and you can regard this as an advantage or drawback depending on your personal taste. The round stand is made from aluminum.
The stand features a dual-hinge design. It lacks a vertical pole and its height is changed by means of two hinges, one at the base and another at the spot where the stand is fastened to the monitor. This design is compact and pretty-looking, but you can’t adjust the height of the screen without changing the distance from your eyes to the monitor simultaneously (the higher you set the screen, the farther away it gets from you, and vice versa).
The stand supports pivot technology and can also be replaced with a VESA-compatible one (you’ll find the fastening screws under the round decorative cap where the stand is attached to the monitor).
Unfortunately, the stand is not firm enough and the monitor is wobbling a little even when you touch it but lightly.
The PW201 is equipped with almost every input you can think of: analog and digital inputs for the PC and a selection of video inputs (component, S-Video, and composite). The power adapter is external.
The left panel of the case offers three ports of the integrated USB hub and a headphones output.
The fourth port of the hub is used for the monitor’s own purpose: it is connected to the built-in web-camera located in the middle top of the front panel. The camera can be turned up and down for better focusing on the user’s face. The image quality is no better than most other web-cameras with tiny plastic lenses provide.
The monitor’s got touch-sensitive buttons whose labels become visible only after you turn the monitor on. If you don’t touch the buttons for a while, the highlighting gets extinguished, but it lights up immediately at your next touch.
The buttons work right but you should touch them softly, with the pad of your finger. That’s not a great problem and is easily made up for by the beautiful appearance.
Quick access is provided to the volume setting, to the preset Splendid modes, and to switching between the inputs.
The menu isn’t very user-friendly. It does not remember the last changed option. The PW201 is not free from the common problem of ASUS monitors: if you have chosen a brightness value other than the default one, it will be reset to the default when you switch into a Splendid mode.
I want to note that the monitor is not capable of forcing a 4:3 image format – the picture is always stretched out to 16:10. This is the common behavior of inexpensive monitors with TN matrixes but I had expected something more from the PW201.
The monitor offers Picture-in-Picture mode but the only thing you can do with the secondary window is to change its size. You can’t change its position which is always in the top right corner. Moreover, you can only enable/disable PiP mode from the menu – there is no special button for this.
And finally, the monitor cannot identify which of its inputs have signal sources connected to them, so you have to browse through each input when you are selecting the desired one with the appropriate button. This is an inconvenience if you have to switch between two sources frequently (e.g. between a PC with a DVI interface and a CTV decoder with S-Video).