Huge Screen Supertest (Part 5) - ASUS PA238Q & ASUS VG278H

5/10/2012 9:09:31 AM


Fed up with cheap and not-always-cheerful monitors based on TN pa net technology? Then get a load of the new Asus PA238Q. At around $234, it’s pricier than your average 23-inch TN screen. But joy of joys, it’s got an IPS panel.

Description: ASUS PA238Q

IPS, of course, stands for ‘In-Plane Switching’ and it just so happens to be the finest panel technology known to man or beast. That’s why Apple, for instance, uses IPS exclusively in its iPhones and iPads. It’s simply the best when it comes to colour accuracy and viewing angles.

As it happens, colour accuracy is a big part of the remit for the Asus PA238Q.. It’s pitched as a low-cost screen for the graphics professional. However, Asus is also claiming 6ms response times, which is very impressive for an IPS screen and makes for a tantalising all-round package. Could this affordable, colour-accurate screen also be kilLer in-game and at the movies? There’s only one way to find out.

Description: The Asus PA238Q’s stand is sturdy and fully adjustable in all directions

The Asus PA238Q’s stand is sturdy and fully adjustable in all directions

No Nonsense quality

On paper, the Asus looks premier league. Alongwith the IPS panel, yougetanLED backlightanda huge colour gamut that captures 100 per cent of sRGB. You also get a good supply of inputs, including HMDI, DVI, VGA and DisplayPort. There’s even picture-in-picture support.

The Asus PA238Q is a fine physical specimen: the stand is fully adjustable and hewn from the right sort of plastics. It’s sturdy stuff. We also love the minimalist styling vibe. The overall effect is that of a no nonsense quality IBM laptop from the ThinkPad heyday.

It ain’t easy picking holes in this classy screen, but one or two imperfections are visible. Our review sample had the whiff of backlight bleed on the right hand edge and, like all IPS screens, there’s a little backlight glow at some angles when viewing very dark tones. But that’s all we could spot.

The real clincher is image quality. Asus claims that every PA23SQIs carefully colour calibrated at the factory, and the result is indeed impressive. Rarely, if ever, have we seen a screen with such deft black, white and colour scales out of the box. The viewing angles are impeccable too. As for pixel response, it’s very good news indeed. This is one of the snappiest IPS panels we’ve ever seen.

The panel. The backlight. The chassis. The colours. The input option. The price. Frankly, what’s not to like? All of our previous experience with cut-price VA and IPS panels had Led us to expect some kind of downside, some visual nasties or obvious specification faux pas. But not here.

Vital Statistics

Price $377.6


Size 23-inch

Panel type IPS

Native resolution 1,920 x 1,080

Pixel response 6ms

Viewing angle 178/1780 H/V

Inputs DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA





Description: ASUS VG278H


You know how it goes by now - a 3D monitor is a capable gaming screen that lacks colour quality of PS panels and is slightly overpriced... Well this one’s different. The reason? LightBoost. This is Nvidia’s big idea for improving 3D image quality. LightBoost is an extra layer that compensates for any dimness in the image, making it twice as bright as previous 3D screens.

The shocker is that the LightBoost isn’t a fancy gimmick and actually does make a big difference. That’s not this screen’s only endearing feature — there’s the height-adjustable bezel, a bundled pair of Nvidia 3D Vision 2 glasses and a 27-inch panel too.

We’re impressed with the effort Asus has gone to with the VG278H’s bezel. It’s rare to get a height-adjustable panel outside of IPS screens. In our opinion, the panel surround looks a Little cheap and flimsy for over $800.

The screen itself is an LED-backlit TN, and as a result it’s image quality is a mixed bag. The screen suffered from gradient banding from white to black in our tests, displaying striped shades instead of smooth transitions. The viewing angle is also poor, and there’s some significant colour distortion at wider angLes.

Description: A screen for 3D Lovers but don’t expect a pro quality colour palette

A screen for 3D Lovers but don’t expect a pro quality colour palette

Vital Statistics

Price $848


Size 27-inch

Paneltype TN

Native resolution 1,920x1,080

Pixel response 2ms

Viewing angle 170/1600 H/V




Then there’s Nvidia’s LightBoost. In 2D mode it doesn’t count for much, but this screen (paired with Nvidia’s new Vision 2 specs) produced the first truly clear, deep, colourful and frankly jaw-dropping 3D experience we’ve seen so far. And this is mostly due to that increased brightness. We found that close-up objects don’t appear to be painted on your eyeballs and the middle ground doesn’t look like something out of a pop-up book, which is genuinely refreshing. For the first time we can write that we actually enjoyed the 3D experience.

As a gaming monitor, the VG278H is top-notch. If you’re going to be the only one watching it, the viewing angle isn’t an issue. It will become a problem if two or more people use it, though.

We’re genuinely impressed by the Vision 2 glasses supplied and team up with LightBoost to deliver better depth and image clarity than we’ve seen before in a 3D monitor, but the trade-off for nippy 120Hz screens is often image quality, and this screen is no exception. Don’t expect a professional quality colour palette or brilliant viewing angles—this screen is all about the 3D. Factoring in the premium for the new LightBoost tech and LED backlighting, the $192 glasses thrown in and the 27 inches of panel, the VG278H isn’t a rip-off. For 3D lovers this is a must-have, and for sceptics it could be a game-changer.

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