The Asus PA248Q doesn't quite match last year'sin performance, but that's to be expected. The PA246Q sported a more expensive panel capable of displaying more colors.
The trade-off? The PA248Q is much less expensive (at least $170 less) and, thanks to its more eco-friendly LED backlight, uses less power. Also, unless you're a graphics professional, you likely won't notice the PA248Q's color deficiency. The PA248Q has the same great connections and ergonomic features as its predecessor and even manages to fit in an unprecedented level of USB 3.0 support.
Design and features
Editor's note: The PA248Q is so close in design to the PA246Q that much of the design and features section of that review is used here.
In the top-left corner of the 24-inch Asus PA248Q's chassis, written in white text, is the word "ProArt." If there was any ambiguity about the type of user Asus is targeting with this monitor, this small design touch should abolish it. However, while most "Pro" monitors, like 2011's PA246Q, house an aptly named Professional In-Plane Switching (P-IPS) panel, the PA248Q uses an Enhanced IPS (E-IPS) panel. In my experience, E-IPS panels typically perform worse than their P-IPS brethren in color reproduction, but we'll get to that later. The PA248Q houses an LED backlight as opposed to the PA246Q's Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (CCFL) backlight. The result is a body that is considerably thinner than the PA246Q's, measuring a full 2.4 inches deep, compared with the older monitor's girthy 3.2 inches. Also, at 14 pounds, the PA248Q is 3 pounds lighter than the older model.
The bezel measures 0.75 inch on the left and right sides with the full width of the panel checking in at just under 22 inches. Aligned along the bezel are the rulerlike measurement notches last seen on the PA246Q. This precision motif continues at both the base and top of the display's neck, where two circular dials reside with measuring notches arranged along their perimeters. The dials act as measurement guides and make precise swiveling and pivoting of the panel possible.
Speaking of which, the monitor can swivel 60 degrees left and right, tilt back 20 degrees, and pivot 90 degrees, and its screen height can be adjusted by about 4 inches. The foot stand is fairly flat, and squarish in shape, measuring 11 inches wide by 9.25 inches deep. When knocked from the sides, the display wobbles a lot when at its full height, but hardly at all when adjusted to its lowest.
Along the monitor's left edge, aligned vertically, are four USB 3.0 downstream ports; the multimedia card reader from the PA246Q has been removed. Back connections include DVI, DisplayPort, VGA, HDMI, USB 3.0 upstream, and a headphone jack. There's also a power switch, tucked away on the right side. The connections face downward and would be difficult to access save for the always-useful pivot feature.
The onscreen display (OSD) array consists of six buttons: a small "joystick" nub, two function shortcuts, a preset shortcut, a Menu button, and a Source button. The buttons are separated from each other by a button's length of space and emit a satisfying snap when pressed.
You can navigate the OSD with the joystick, but its usefulness is limited. The stick can be used to scroll up and down menus, but you must use the menu button to back out of menus, which feels counterintuitive. Here's hoping Asus will add more functionality to the joystick in the monitor's next iteration. The OSD features Standard, sRGB, Scenery Mode, and Theater Mode presets, plus two additional customizable User Modes. Also included are brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, gamma, and advanced color settings including six-color hue and saturation adjustment controls and direct RGB color control using gain and offset. Rounding out the more useful options are sharpness, aspect ratio control, picture-in-picture (PIP) settings, and system setup options such as OSD window placement and duration onscreen.
By far the most unusual feature in the PA248Q's already considerable assembly of OSD options is QuickFit. Pressing in the joystick nub places an overlay on the screen of your choice of either grid patterns (of various units of measure) or paper and photo sizes. With the grid patterns you can more precisely and consistently organize content on a page when, say, designing graphics for the Web.
The paper and photo sizes would show exactly what papers and photos will look like once printed. This one seems less useful, as any self-respecting graphic artist would probably already be using Photoshop or some other program to do this. Still, it's a unique option that some will get more use out of than others.
|Design and feature highlights|
|Connectivity||DVI, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort|
|Ergonomic options||20-degree back tilt, 5-degree front tilt, 60-degree swivel, 90-degree pivot|
|VESA wall-mount support||Yes|
|Included video cables||DVI, VGA|
|Screen film||Matte w/AG coating|
|Number of presets||4|
|Picture options||Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Hue, Sharpness|
|Color controls||RGBCMY; 5000k, 5500K, 6500K, 9300K|
|Additional features||Grid overlay, photo-and paper-size overlays, USB 3.0x5|
We tested the Asus PA248Q through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 92 in CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
DisplayMate: The Asus PA248Q displayed light gray up to level 253 (pure white is 255), but level 254 was indistinguishable from white. At the lower end of the grayscale, the monitor succeeded in showing dark gray down to a level of only 4 (black is 0); lower than the PA246Q, which only got as low as 6. This indicates that although very light gray could elude the PA248Q in movies and games, it's still capable of retaining some dark detail.
In Color Tracking I noticed a slight red hue in the grayscale when using the Standard preset. Switching to User Mode 1 allows you to adjust the red downward, however.
When viewing DisplayMate's Dark Screen test, which consists of a plain black screen, I saw fairly obvious backlight bleedthrough along the left edge and in the top left and right corners.