ASUS PB278Q Review: An IPS Competitor Emergesby Chris Heinonen on November 19, 2012 11:00 PM EST
ASUS PB278Q Conclusions
I was very happy to see that Samsung was going to start making their own flat panels with a new technology so that someone could put some pressure on LG to innovate more or reduce prices on their panels, which only helps consumers. The new PLS panels should in theory excel at these higher resolutions compared to IPS because they allow more light through, which allows for smaller pixel sizes without losing light output, or needing a more complex backlighting system to provide the same light output.
Due to only having a single PLS panel so far to test, it is hard to make a determination on whether the performance is due to the panel or the electronics, as we’ve seen the same IPS panel perform very differently on various monitors due to the backlighting and electronics involved. The contrast ratio on the ASUS PB278Q isn’t up to the level of the Dell U2713HM that last passed through here, but it is still good and better than most of the IPS panels that have come through. The sRGB quality is also not quite to the level of the Dell, but it's better than everything else and at a level that most users will probably find acceptable.
Calibrated at 200 nits, the performance is slightly behind other displays while it's ahead at 100 nits, but both are so close to other displays that they are basically a wash. The main area for concern is the panel uniformity on the right side of the panel, where we had a good amount of light fall-off. Most large displays suffer from this, unless you pay the big bucks for an NEC or Eizo, but this particular LCD is worse than most. PLS also seems to have the same input lag issue that most 27” displays suffer from, though it has helped me narrow this down to probably being due to the multiple input board and not scaling.
The 27” display that this comes closest to in use is the Dell U2713HM. Both have the same set of inputs, a mild level of anti-glare coating that isn’t bothersome, LED backlighting, very adjustable stands, and reasonably well calibrated sRGB modes, though the Dell is a bit better there. The Dell also does slightly better with contrast ratios and has a USB hub, but it also sells for $100 more than the ASUS display. The OSD on the Dell is slightly better as well, but in no way is the ASUS the interface disaster that many displays are. Both also have very nice, 3-year warranties that provide good replacement policies.
Coming down to price, for most users the extra $100 probably won’t be worth it. The Dell sRGB profile is more accurate than the ASUS, but since most users probably don’t calibrate at all, the ASUS will still be better than what they are running today. The USB hub is nice as is the slightly better OSD, but those aren’t enough to convince me to pay the extra money. The main differences are in contrast ratio and the dimmer right edge, but in practice I didn’t find those to be an issue for normal use, though they are a bit unfortunate in a display that costs almost $700.
The ASUS PB278Q is a very nice 27” display, and is a good debut for PLS but not an outstanding one. Perhaps if used in one of the ASUS ProArt models with higher end calibration and backlighting we could see if PLS can offer superior, not just equal, performance to IPS panels. Hopefully this marks the start of a race for features and performance in higher end LCD panels that will benefit consumers. As it is, the PB278Q is one of the two 27” displays I can easily recommend now and it costs $100 less than the Dell, making it a great choice for those that want a high performance monitor.