Is it a monitor, or is it a TV?

May 10, 2010 // 10:46 a.m.

Tags: #1080p #27-inch #asus #hdmi #tv

Since moving out to Taiwan I needed a monitor, so I gave the lovely people at Asus a buzz and asked if they could hook me up with something spare. Anything. I'm not fussy, just cheap poor like all journalists (where's my violin?). All it had to do was display an image - I didn't even care if the green and reds looked like they were made within a nuclear reactor.

Is it a monitor, or is it a TV? Asus MT276HE 27
Click to enlarge

However Asus being Asus, dropped off a box the size of Wales with 27in LCD inside. Part of me went giddy with excitement on discovering it, then the rest of me when hnnrrrghhh as I hauled it into the lift and then dragged it out and into my apartment.

Is it a monitor, or is it a TV? Asus MT276HE 27
Click to enlarge

After finding that construction was something more akin with an Ikea purchase - screwdriver with no instructions - I plonked it on the desk and admired.

Yes, it's still just as massive. Behold: The MT276HE!
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Is it a monitor, or is it a TV? Asus MT276HE 27
Click to enlarge

I recently bought myself a Samsung 24in for my own personal use (OK, I'm not a total skinflint), which is a lovely 1,920 x 1,200 screen. The new MT276HE is a 1080p one - 1,920 x 1,080. That said, it still dominates my desk.

Is it a monitor, or is it a TV? Asus MT276HE 27
Click to enlarge

While the panel itself is a little bigger than the Samsung, the MT276HE is considerably bulkier. There's a particularly meaty 3cm bezel on all sides, and unfortunately there's no height adjustment either so it appears to have a very stout midriff. In all honesty, to use it is more like a TV since the included stereo speakers in the base are some of the best monitor speakers I've heard. OK, that's a low bar to hit, but I'm using them as they're not half-bad and there are two HDMI ports it's exceptionally simple to hook them up: both my Radeon HD 5870 and Intel GMA HD throughput the audio perfectly.

Is it a monitor, or is it a TV? Asus MT276HE 27
Click to enlarge

There's no DVI mind, and the only other input is VGA, which the technical toff in me naturally turns his nose up at. If you can't get audio over HDMI then the MT276HE will accept a standard 3.5mm stereo jack and even S/PDIF too! Again - more TV than monitor?

What's annoying is that display inputs jut directly out the back, so it can’t be pushed right up against the wall, and I’d imagine this also possibly interferes with a low profile VESA mount as well.

In terms of colour quality and image speed I've got nothing to compare it to here so you'll have to get an objective "not bad-to-pretty good", however currently I am having issues getting the full resolution working properly on ATI cards over HDMI, but Nvidia cards work perfectly. I've still yet to nail down that issue, and I'll update this when I do.

While 1080p is perfect for a 27in TV, for a 27in monitor, Asus really needs to up the resolution - 1,920 x 1,200 feels the right size on a 24in and so stretched over 27in, it lacks crispness. Unfortunately more pixels means more money and $360 is competitive for a "27in", although it seems us UK folk will have to import from abroad. Boo!
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