Review: Asus PA246Q

Our score: 5/5
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May 28, 2012 11:00 AM
 
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Published: March 24, 2011 11:00 PM
By Alexandre Botella
Asus' new PA246Q is a 24'' monitor with an IPS display, and is the flagship product in its ProArt range.  Although this collection is aimed at professional graphic designers, it isn't beyond the reach of ordinary users.  So would the PA246Q make a great addition to your desktop?  The only way to find out is to test it.

Hardware: everything we've always wanted!

Well-designed monitors with a good range of features are increasingly rare these days, so setting up the PA246Q was a real treat.  It has a height-adjustable stand mounted on a rotating base and the whole thing can swivel round to portrait mode.  The IPS display panel means it has wide viewing angles, at the cost of higher energy consumption than you would find using TN technology.


Rarer still than a screen that pivots to portrait mode is one with plenty of useful accessories, but the PA246Q has two USB ports and a memory card reader.  For video inputs, it has VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connections.  It doesn't have any speakers, but there is a line out to send the audio signal that arrives by the HDMI or DisplayPort cable to some external speakers or a pair of headphones.  All of these features earn the PA246Q a well-deserved five stars in this section.


There's one more feature that doesn't contribute to our usability score, but which we're sure will be welcome news to some users: the resolution.  Ever since 16:9 became the standard aspect ratio for monitors, 24'' displays with a 1920 x 1200 resolution have become increasingly rare, if not entirely extinct.  But the extra 120 lines which make up the difference between the two resolutions mean you can add 10% more information, which is very useful when you're browsing the web, looking at photos or editing documents.

Before we finish this section, let's take a brief look at the design.  If you asked us if the PA246Q keeps up with current trends, then we'd have to say 'no'.  But isn't ugly either.  It's true that matte black plastic and angular lines don't make for a particularly up-to-date look, but the whole thing exudes a certain timeless charm.  And when we looked closer, our first impressions were confirmed: the finish is absolutely impeccable.

Responsiveness:  fast enough for games

Measured responsiveness
Light background Black background Average
This graph shows the 'ghosting time' of the monitor.
The lower these figures, the more responsive the monitor is.

The PA246Q might not score as highly for responsiveness as for usability, but it's still fast enough to keep up with avid gamers, whatever they're playing.  Although some monitors have a lower ghosting time, it's certainly low enough here to display fast-moving objects smoothly.  That's important if you want to get the most out of FPS games, and, more generally, anything where you've got things moving around the screen.

There is some input lag, but it isn't enough to be problematic.  We measured an average value of 26 ms, which is well below the threshold of human perception.

Colours: a great sRGB mode

The ProArt range of monitors is wide-gamut, meaning it can display a larger range of colours than traditional screens (see inset).  To get back to the more common sRGB colour space, you need to select it in the menu.  We were pleasantly surprised to see that it performed very well.  Although it's not unusual for a wide gamut monitor to offer another colour space, the results are rarely as good as this.


With the PA246Q, we measured a deltaE score, which represents the discrepancy between the perfect colours and those actually shown on the screen, of just 2.1.  That score is so good because, like Dell, Asus calibrates some of its monitors before shipping them.  No PA246Q leaves the factory if it has deltaE above 5.0.  Remember that the maximum level for accurate colours is 3.0.

Ultimately, the most disappointing thing about this monitor is its contrast ratio.  We measured a ratio of 650:1, which is well below the best values of 2000:1.  It's even below the average value we've measured on other monitors of 850:1.  We're hardly surprised, though: IPS monitors—a few notable exceptions aside—have never had a good reputation in this area.
5/5 Asus PA246Q DigitalVersus 2011-03-25 00:00:00

Pros

  • Wide viewing angles
  • Colours calibrated at the factory
  • 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution
  • Great finish
  • Design: stand, connectivity, accessories

Cons

  • Energy consumption
  • Below average contrast ratio

Conclusion

Despite a rather disappointing contrast ratio (which is a common problem for IPS displays), the Asus PA246Q is an excellent monitor. It combines a great design, accurate colour reproduction, wide viewing angles and a fast enough display for gaming. Better still, it sells at a very accessible price for a monitor aimed at professional users.

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