ASUS PB278Q Introduction and Specifications

Every 27” panel that I have reviewed this year has had two things in common: the panel was IPS based, and it was made by LG. The vast majority of IPS panels are made by LG, and so most high-end monitors use the same panels but have major differences in their electronics and design. In the past two years Samsung has entered the market with an alternative to IPS called PLS, or Plane-Line Switching.

While similar to IPS, PLS is designed to have a advantages over traditional IPS. First, it has a higher level of transmittance, so more light gets through each individual cell. This allows you to use either a lower powered backlight, or to have a brighter display, both of which lower the power output required for a certain screen brightness. Second, as each cell allows more light though, you can pack them tighter allowing for displays with a higher pixel-per-inch count while keeping light output higher. PLS also claims to have better viewing angles for color and contrast in comparison to IPS.

So far Samsung has been the main vendor to use PLS in products, but ASUS has also come out with the new PB278Q panel, which has a 27”, 2560x1440 PLS panel with LED backlighting. The I/O options you would expect to find are present with DSub, DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI inputs. One annoyance here is there is a lip just below the inputs, so if you have a really thick cable, it can be hard to connect it to the PB278Q in the space provided. The HDMI input is also HDMI 1.4 compatible and with a recent NVIDIA or ATI card you can do the full 2560x1440 resolution with an HDMI cable. There is a 3.5mm audio input for the integrated stereo speakers, and a 3.5mm audio output to use with headphones or speakers.

The design of the ASUS PB278Q is finished off by a nicely adjustable stand that allows for height, pivot, tilt, and swivel adjustments. A small channel on the back of the stand allows for routing cables out of the way as well. Controls for the OSD are located on the lower right of the display and are labeled with white text on black plastic. There are markings around the display for use with ASUS' QuickFit software, which we will look at later. Overall the PB278Q has a very utilitarian look, much like monitors from Dell, and I certainly prefer utility to some of the flashy, ergonomic disasters that other companies have released recently.

The OSD for the ASUS PB278Q is decent but still a bit behind other manufacturers that have been improving in this regard. The main flaw is continuing to use one set of arrows, which move up and down, while having adjustments that go from left to right. Main menu and sub-menu selections are done using Up and Down, but individual adjustments move in a different direction and just add confusion. The labels for the OSD are on the monitor bezel and don’t have labels that pop-up on screen while in use, so adjusting the display in a dark room is difficult unless you have memorized the position of each button.

The OSD menu does contain a good amount of adjustments for end users. There are multiple preset modes, with the sRGB one being the closest to the targets we use for calibration and the one that I selected for initial measurements. The User mode allows for a two point white balance where most displays still only offer a single point, but omits the CMS system that is found in their ProArt monitors. The PB278Q offers more adjustments than most monitors do in the OSD, and overall it was pretty easy to use, but it could still be improved upon.

Looking at viewing angles on the PB278Q, they are very good, much like an IPS monitor. You see some contrast shifts at the extremes, but you aren’t seeing the color shifts that you do with a TN panel. Even set up in portrait mode and working very close to the PB278Q I didn’t notice this shift during real world use, and I can’t imagine that most users would ever notice them unless they are looking at another user's monitor.

Video Inputs HDMI 1.4, DispayPort 1.2, DualLink DVI, Dsub
Panel Type PLS
Pixel Pitch 0.233 mm
Colors 16.7 Million
Brightness 300 nits
Contrast Ratio 80,000,000:1
Response Time 5ms GTG
Viewable Size 27"
Resolution 2560x1440
Viewing Angle 178/178 Horizontal/Vertical
Backlight LED
Power Consumption (operation) < 60W
Power Consumption (standby) < 0.5W
Screen Treatment Anti-Glare
Height-Adjustable Yes
Tilt Yes, +20~-5 degrees
Pivot Yes
Swivel Yes
VESA Wall Mounting Yes, 100mm
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 23.3" x 21.7" x 8.5"
Weight 19.4 lbs.
Additional Features 3.5mm audio input and output, Kensington lock port, 3W stereo speakers
Limited Warranty 3 years, part and labor
Accessories DVI cable, VGA cable, Audio cable, DisplayPort cable, HDMI cable, Power cable
Price $699 (10/17/2012)

On paper the PB278Q and its PLS panel seem to offer everything that we need in a 27” display, but can it perform as well as IPS in our testing environment? Let's see how the PB278Q fares.

ASUS PB278Q Brightness and Contrast
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  • cheinonen - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    I don't have the 21:9 Dell, but I have the LG EA93 being written up now.
  • jjj - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    That's great,looking forward to the review.I guess it's the same penel,Dell might use it better but the LG could be cheaper.
  • bcseime - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    The values for U2412M in the processing lag comparison graph does not match the value in the total response time graph.
  • Avalon - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Ahh, I see you beat me to it.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Had the same name twice; fixed now with the slower U2713HM correctly labeled. Thanks!
  • dishayu - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    You should probably try an include a couple of 120Hz LCDs like the Benq XL2410T, atleast in the input lag charts. I'd like to see how far behind IPS panels are, and of course, how close to CRT can a 120Hz LCD get.
  • h107474 - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Actually they should use the Hazro HZ27WC for input lag comparison of 27" displays. It is also based on the LG panel but it's the ultra cut down cheap version with no scalars, only DVI input and no OSD at all! This means ultra low lag and is why I bought it. Check out the TFT Central review and input lag measurements below:
  • HisDivineOrder - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    I agree. Input lag is quite commonly a problem with monitors with built-in scalers. But then, that was true years ago, too. Not sure why it's still surprising reviewers today...

    The shocker is they haven't figured out a way to fix or improve this problem.
  • cheinonen - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    The question was really if using the 1:1 mode with non-native content instead of Full mode, so there was no scaling, would get around the lag hit of the scaler, but it does not do that. I'd like it if monitor vendors could make a lower lag mode, as some TV makers do with their game console modes, but I haven't seen one that has that effect yet.

    120 Hz LCDs are on the list to do soon and get some better numbers on them.
  • Olaf van der Spek - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    1:1 requires more buffering than normal scaling

    But nobody has been able to explain yet why normal scaling takes so much time.

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