23-inch displays are relatively easy to come by, with almost every brand that you know of peddling it as a bare essential when it comes to computing. To stand out, manufacturers are now focusing less on the technology, and more on aesthetics. The ASUS MX239 is one such case study, and boy is it gorgeous.
The ASUS MX239 is a 23-inch display that serves up 1920 x 1080 pixels worth of eye candy. So far, so normal. It uses an IPS panel, which grants you a wide viewing angle without causing discolouration. That again, comes with the territory of using an IPS panel. What sets it apart from other IPS monitors, however, is how it looks. There is no thick plastic protrusion surrounding the panel, with the bezel and panel coming together nigh-seamlessly. There is no glossy plastic finish, only a matte finish. Personally, I’ve taken quite a liking to the design just by virtue of those two features. The base is a chrome circle with a neck, which conveniently lets you store some trinkets (not sure if it was intended to be used that way, though).
To make the display as slim as possible, ASUS have opted for an external brick for power. The brick is smaller that most offerings out there, making it easier to hide. The large panel right under the display hides the setup buttons, and they are the only major fault I can find with the monitor. They’re not the tactile buttons you expect, rather an array of really sensitive touch points. They activate with a light touch on their respective nubs, which can get annoying at times. However, it does offer quite the amount of customisation. You get your various display modes and configurations, as well as a one-touch multi-mode switch, which goes through the presets quickly without having you muck about. I like this feature a lot, and hope that it catches on with the competition. The main tradeoff of having having such a slim display is VESA mount support, which the MX239 lacks. If you’re planning to use monitor arms or mounts, this might not be the display for you.
The MX239 comes with built-in speakers by Bang & Olufsen ICEPower, and also features ASUS’ own SonicMaster technology. It’s nice to have speakers for a change, especially if you’re looking for a clean desk – those cables just seem to go everywhere…
Looking at the back, the monitor has a pair of HDMI ports, a VGA port and two audio jacks (one for headphones, another for audio input). Setting up is pretty simple, just connect the cables to the matching ports, fire it up and you’re basically set.
After watching several video pieces on it, I can safely say that the MX239 did not sacrifice performance for aesthetics. Colours were more realistic than blindingly bright, which is just nice for yours truly. The matte finish helped with dark scenes, reducing unwanted gloss and reflections. The speakers were above average, pumping out satisfying audio throughout. It’s a given that they won’t sound as great as a 5.1 or 7.1 setup, but you save yourself a lot of cable management by using the built-in speakers.
With great aesthetics and above average performance, the ASUS MX239 is a recommended purchase if you’re looking for a display to complement your clutter-free setup without skimping on performance.