Slimming is tough. Ask anyone whose finished a Weightwatchers plan and they'll tell about months of self-discipline and physical discomfort.
Sometimes, though, there's a shortcut. In the case of Asus' super-skinny MS246 monitor, the trick that brings the depth down to an astonishingly svelte 16.5mm is as expedient as liposuction. They removed the power supply.
Like all the best ideas, it's simple, and it works. Instead of stuffing a bulky transformer and cooling behind the screen, there's an external unit the size and weight of an Eee PSU, which drives the LED backlit panel.
The stripped-down design also includes a neat trick with the stand. A circle of plastic bolts onto the back to prop up the panel and allow the top to tilt for comfort. It's not height-adjustable, but it is unobtrusive as well.
For all it's dainty depth, the frame around the screen itself is just a little too wide to be considered elegant. The swathe of plastic at the bottom is necessary to keep the 24in screen at eye level, but it's not especially attractive and detracts from the overall delicacy.
It is, however, fast, with a mere 2ms response time that makes it great for games or 1080p video. Because it's HDMI-only rather than an optional DVI connector, though, you may run into problems trying to get the desktop working at its native 1920x1080 resolution.
Colour-wise the dynamic contrast ratio reaches a massive 50,000:1, but pictures do have the telltale flatness of a TN (Twisted Nematic) type panel. It's not pale and washed-out like many of its ilk, but it does lack the richness and accuracy of an IPS screen like the Dell U2410, for example. For high-end photo editing, you'll want something with a little more depth in more ways than one.
Then again, the U2410 is twice the price. The best thing about the MS246 is that there's very little premium for the tiny footprint. Trading that off against an above average, but not perfect, image quality seems like a fair deal to us.