ASUS PA246Q 24" ProArt Monitor: No Adjustments Needed?by Chris Heinonen on July 2, 2012 1:30 PM EST
The ASUS PA246Q comes designed to compete at the higher end of LCDs, with a 16:10 aspect ratio, AdobeRGB color gamut, 10-bit panel (using ARFC to extend a native 8-bit panel), and a fully adjustable stand. It also promises better performance out of the box than other displays, so you don’t need to own calibration equipment to get a more accurate image, and has a full CMS that you don’t see on PC monitors very often.
In a few places it delivers but in others it falls short. The out of the box performance might have met their dE target, but there are so many different ways to determine the average dE and no method is given here, so I can’t determine for sure if ASUS is achieving their goal. What I can determine is how it rates using our standard measurements; unfortunately, it came in at the same level as other displays when looking at real world, Gretag Macbeth colors on the color checker chart. Once calibrated the performance is good for colors, but the grayscale is off by quite a bit delivers overall inaccurate color reproduction compared to other high-end displays.
From a strictly personal view, the screen itself looks very nice and clean, and the anti-glare coating shouldn’t distract anyone I don’t think. Much as high-end projectors are said to give a “film-like” image, the PA246Q image looks very nice and natural in daily use. Even with my personal preferences towards the image it produces, the higher black levels and lower contrast ratios also leave a bit to be desired and leads me to wonder when we can finally get a backlit, RGB LED array display to address this.
The one area that really isn’t there yet is the CMS system. While very promising for the future with displays, I would like to see a full 3D system and not 2D, so that you can get all the primary and secondary points dialed in correctly. The main issue is that the math for determining the intermediate points doesn’t seem to be correct, which leads to an image with banding in gradients and image posterization. This is another reason that typical measurements of display performance often fall short as if you only measure the six target points the CMS would look fantastic, but the other billion points look much worse in real life.
Overall the ASUS PA246Q does a lot of things well and is even acceptable for gaming, but it doesn’t do anything amazingly well. I would say it is a great general-purpose display, but the price tag puts it well beyond that category for most people as it clearly aims for a higher level of use. One main competitor would be the Dell U2410, but I haven’t reviewed that so I can’t say how it would stack up in comparison. If the ASUS came in closer to $350-400 it would be easy to recommend, but at nearly $500 with calibrated results that leave a bit to be desired in the grayscale I find that harder to do.
Since I haven’t used the main competitors, the ASUS PA246Q could easily be the best choice in its price range if you need IPS, AdobeRGB, a 16:10 ratio, an ergonomic stand, and decent calibrated results. It just isn’t exceptional enough at what it does for me to be able to unconditionally recommend it for everyone.