Asus PB278Q review: Great performance at a good price

Josh Miller/CNET
Movies: I tested the Asus PB278Q using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The Theater preset provided a decent picture. The colors were vibrant, but the color temperature was a bit too cool and dark detail was practically nonexistent. The Standard mode fared a bit better for dark detail, but wasn't as vibrant.

Games: When evaluating the look of games on a monitor, the two most important features to consider are vibrancy and color. If the monitor can display games with a bright and vibrant cleanness, this goes a long way toward benefiting its looks. If colors can also pop with fullness and depth, games can usually look great. Streaking is a different concern that, honestly, isn't very pervasive with most modern monitors, but if you're concerned about it, be sure to check out the last paragraph in this section.

Josh Miller/CNET
Different still is input lag, which is, put simply, is the time it takes from when you input an action through your keyboard, mouse, or game pad to when you see that action represented onscreen. Every monitor has a degree of input lag, but only a very small percentage of people would even notice it. Given that, it's not something I find valuable enough to test for. PSA, over.

Games looked best when using the Scenery mode. The saturated colors made games like Crysis 2 and Syndicate pop from the screen with vibrancy.

Josh Miller/CNET
To test refresh rate, I used DisplayMate's motion graphics tests and stared at a number of colored blocks as they moved around the screen at various speeds. The pb278Q displayed large afterimages of the blocks as they shifted across the screen, but I didn't notice this level of ghosting when actually playing games.

Photos: When looking at faces and light-colored hair in the Standard preset, the PB278Q presented faces with accurate color, especially when using the sRGB preset.

Josh Miller/CNET
Recommended settings: Each preset is tailored quite well for its task. For general use, however, I preferred the SRGB preset where colors remain accurate and suitably saturated.

Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing colors as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors aren't designed to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when not viewed from optimal angles.

Josh Miller/CNET
Antiglare (AG) screen coating plays a part as well. Some viewers prefer that the coating not be applied at all, while others favor only a limited amount. Still, others are completely indifferent; however, AG coating doesn't adversely affect quality, and its merits, or lack thereof, are strictly a matter of preference.

The PB278Q uses an PLS panel, which provides it with a wider-than-TN viewing range while also matching most high-end IPS displays.

The AG coating works fairly well here, keeping out most reflections while retaining a high-contrast, vibrant look; however, on a black screen viewed from an off angle, some blurry impressions of the environment are visible. That's likely not an issue unless you plan to constantly bathe it in natural light.

Josh Miller/CNET
Power consumption: Armed with an LED backlight, the Asus PB278Q achieved fair power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 41.5 watts, compared with the Dell UltraSharp U2713HM's 38.4 watts in the same test.

In our Sleep/Standby test, the PB278Q costs 0.43 watt and the U2711 pulled a lower 0.35 watt. Based on our formula, the PB278Q would incur less than half the cost of the U2713HM, with a per-year pull of $12.68, compared with the U2713HM's $11.70 per year.

Brightness
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Contrast
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP ZR2740w
1,119:1 
Asus PB278
1,040:1 
Dell U2713
883:1 
Samsung S27B970
878:1 

Performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Conclusion
The PB278Q is an excellent monitor with useful ergonomic options and features. While it performs admirably, its picture quality doesn't quite measure up to the Dell U2713HM's; however, with a $100 cheaper price tag, it may not have to.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Display Type LED-backlit LCD monitor / TFT active matrix
  • Interface DVI
    DisplayPort
    HDMI
    VGA (HD-15)
  • Diagonal Size 27 in
  • Pixel Pitch 0.233 mm
  • Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
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