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Asus PA246Q review: Asus PA246Q

Asus PA246Q

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Eric Franklin
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Eric Franklin

Senior Managing Editor / Mobile

Eric Franklin leads the CNET Reviews editors in San Francisco as managing editor. A 20-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, at the movies, or at the edge of his couch with a game controller in his hands.

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9 min read

ASUS PA246Q - LCD display - TFT - 24.1"
8.0

Asus PA246Q

The Good

The <b>Asus PA246Q</b> has terrific performance with vibrant colors in games and movies. Its robust OSD offers detailed customization options and a unique overlay feature that provides extra graphical precision. Lastly, the monitor has full ergonomic support and a relatively affordable price.

The Bad

The PA246Q's powerful backlight prevents really deep blacks from being attained, and there's a consistent color imperfection that gives most images a slight reddish hue. More connection options would have been useful.

The Bottom Line

The Editors' Choice Award-winning Asus PA246Q is a professional-class monitor with a satisfying number of features at an affordable price.

There are three distinct reasons to be excited about the Asus PA246Q. One, it's the first monitor we've had the opportunity to calibrate using a new tool (some details below); two, it's the first 24-inch-plus monitor with a high-end P-IPS panel we've reviewed that costs less than $500.

Finally, the graphical overlay feature may be the most original monitor option I've encountered in more than three years of writing monitor reviews. Essentially, the feature places one of a number of different grid and photo size options on the screen, allowing for increased precision when tailoring graphics or printing photos.

Anyway, keep reading to see if the above-mentioned features were just a cheap bid for attention or if the PA246Q is worth the relatively small amount of cash Asus is asking for.

Design and features
In the top-left corner of the 24-inch Asus PA246Q'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. Like most "Pro" monitors, the PA246Q houses a Professional In-Plane Switching (P-IPS) panel. This makes for a monitor with more girth than the comparatively small Twisted Nematic (TN)-based displays, which aren't as suited for professional art tasks. The P-IPS panel, with its Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (CCFL) backlight, measures a deep 3.2 inches in depth.

The bezel is 0.75 inch on the left and right sides with the full width of the panel checking in at 22 inches. Aligned along the bezel are numberless, rulerlike measurement notches that we can safely say we've never seen on a monitor before. This precision motif continues at the base of the display's neck where a circular dial resides with measuring notches arranged along its perimeter. No numbers appear on the dial, but there is an arrow above it that acts as a measurement guide and allows for precise swiveling of the panel.


Located above the OSD array, the measurement notches may assist in accuracy and precision when designing.

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 4 inches. The foot stand is fairly flat, is close to square in shape, and measures 11 inches wide by 9.25 inches deep. Even given this wide foot stand, the display wobbles quite a bit when knocked from the sides.

The build quality of the boxy, dark-gray chassis feels quite substantial--a surprising impression, given that the PA246Q weighs 17 pounds, whereas other 24-inch IPS monitors typically weigh 20 pounds or more.

Along the monitor's left side, aligned vertically, are two USB downstream ports and a multimedia card reader. Back connections include DVI, DisplayPort, VGA, HDMI, USB upstream, and a headphone jack. There's also a power switch, hidden away on the right side. While this provides us one each of the fab four of video connections, we could have used a few more duplicates of connection options.

The onscreen display (OSD) array consists of six buttons including Quickfit, a preset shortcut, a down button, an up bottom, a Menu button, and an Enter button. The buttons are separated from each other by a button's width of space and all emit a satisfying pop when pressed.

Navigating the OSD takes a little while to get the hang of, but fortunately, it includes contextual icons to steer you in the right direction. The OSD features Standard, sRGB, Adobe RGB, Scenery mode, and Theater mode presets, plus an additional customizable User Mode. 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 and 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 PA246Q's already considerable assembly of OSD options is Quickfit. Pressing the Quickfit button places an overlay on the screen of your choice of either grid patterns (of various dimensions) 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.


Excellent for designing D&D dungeons, yes, but also useful when consistent asset placement is necessary.

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 out of than others.


Sizing photos has never been as easy; well, maybe in Photoshop.

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
Resolution 1,920x1,200 pixels
Aspect ratio: 16:10
Audio Headphone jack
VESA wall-mount support Yes
Included video cables DVI, VGA
Backlight CCFL
Panel type P-IPS
Screen film Matte w/AG coating
Pixel-response rate 0.270mm
Number of presets 6
Overdrive No
Picture options Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Hue
Color controls RGB and Warm, Cool, Medium
Gamma control No
Additional features Grid, photo- and paper-size overlays

Performance
We tested the Asus PA246Q through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 96 in CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.

DisplayMate: The Asus PA246Q displayed light gray up to level 253, 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 6, indicating that shadow detail would elude the PA246Q.

In Color Tracking we noticed a red hue in the grayscale that persisted in every other preset to varying degrees; the SRGB preset showed the least amount of off color.

Screen uniformity and backlight bleeding levels were not as impressively low as on the HP DreamColor LP2480zx. When viewing our Dark Screen test, which consists of a plain black screen, we saw a small amount of light bleed through in the lower-left and upper-left corners of the screen. On the whole, especially when compared with the pitch-black screen of the HP LP2480zx, the screen gave the impression of a bright light held behind a moderately thick black curtain. It's not egregious, but the look of subtly veiled light is apparent.

Text: In text, we saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8-point size.

Movies: We tested the Asus PA246Q using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The Theater preset displayed the movie with a blue hue and crushed many dark grays to the point where some dark detail was impossible to see. This preset does seem to increase the level of contrast between the dark and light parts of the screen, but the severe loss of dark detail was unacceptable.

For a more balanced image where dark gray isn't crushed so severely and colors--while not as vibrant--are more accurate, check out our recommended settings below.

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, clean vibrancy, this goes a long way. If colors also pop with fullness and depth, games will usually look great. We looked at StarCraft II on the Asus PA246Q and saw color and vibrancy nearly on par with the LP2480zx. Also, character detail was smooth and sharp with no egregious aliasing such as we've seen happen on some monitors where the high sharpness introduces too much noise into the image. See below for our recommended settings.

To test refresh rate, we used DisplayMate's motion graphics tests and watched a bunch of graphics fly around the screen, looking for evidence of streaking. Although the PA246Q displayed less streaking than the LP2480zx, the Asus monitor did show noticeably more streaking than we saw on the Samsung PX2370--admittedly, a monitor with a faster refresh rate.

Photos: Faces in photos looked alive with none of the green hue problems that have plagued recent monitors we've reviewed. However, the PA246Q's color couldn't match the richness of the HP LP2480zx, which delivered color with a fullness we've rarely seen on a display. Keep in mind, though, that the LP2480zx costs more than five times as much as the PA246Q, a fact that makes the Asus PA246Q's performance even more impressive.

Recommended settings: We used SpectraCal's CalPC to calibrate the Asus PA246Q for bright-room viewing. The following monitor settings were the result.

Attribute Setting
Preset User Mode
Brightness 14
Contrast 85
Color temperature 6500K
Gain R-50
G-50
B-53
Offset R-76
G-44
B-31

If performance with these settings is still unsatisfactory, try the sRGB mode, as it was the most accurate of the presets.

Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually from 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.

The Asus PA246Q uses a P-IPS panel, so it has a wide viewing angle from all sides. The antiglare coating works fairly well here, keeping out most reflections; however, on a black screen viewed from an angle, some blurry impressions of the environment are visible.

Power consumption: The Asus PA246Q's power consumption earned a rating of Poor, with a Default/On power draw of 71.6 watts, compared with the HP DreamColor LP2480zx's 62.63 watts in the same test. It's not at all surprising that two CCFL-based monitors with IPS panels would require that kind of power.

In our Sleep/Standby test, the PA246Q drew 1.04 watts and the LP2480zx pulled a higher 1.97 watts. We expected the monitors to cost nearly the same per year to run, and based on our formula, the PA246Q would cost $22.08 per year, whereas the LP2480zx would cost $20.05 per year.

Juice box
Asus PA246Q Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 71.6
On (max luminance) 83.1
On (min luminance) 42.1
Sleep 1.04
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 61.5
Annual power consumption cost $22.08
Score Poor

Brightness in cd/m2
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

DisplayMate performance tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
Asus backs the PA246Q with a three-year casing-and-panel warranty that covers the backlight. This includes its Zero Bright Dot guarantee, which ensures full monitor replacement if any stuck pixels are found. The company also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number, e-mail, and Web chat. At the time of this review, no drivers or manuals were available on the company's Web site for the PA246Q; that's surprising, given that the monitor was released weeks ago. That's not a deal breaker, of course--the monitor does come with these files--but an online repository for such support is always welcome. Hopefully Asus will post the files soon.

Conclusions
At $500, the Asus PA246Q is an incredible deal. Its P-IPS screen affords accurate colors and a wide viewing angle. The OSD is robust, and the overlay feature, although somewhat limited in its usefulness, is an interesting feature that some users will appreciate. Also, the fabulous four of ergonomic features are present.

The backlight does prevent truly deep blacks, and a persistent red-hue color imperfection defied our attempts to eradicate it. Also, more connection options would have been nice. But the Asus PA246Q has a fantastic price, performance that rivals more-expensive monitors, and enough features to satisfy professional monitor users and enthusiasts, winning it an Editors' Choice Award.

ASUS PA246Q - LCD display - TFT - 24.1"
8.0

Asus PA246Q

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 9Performance 8Support 8