Review: Asus VG278H

Our score: 5/5
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Published: November 9, 2011 11:00 PM
By Alexandre Botella
Translated by: Sam McGeever
The Asus VG278H is the first member of a new generation of 120 Hz computer monitors, and it's been chosen by Nvidia as the testing ground for the second version of its 3DVision kit.  The 27'' monitor features a 2 ms TN display with a built-in infrared transmitter for syncing with 3D glasses.  It's also the first to feature 'lightboost' technology, now one of the essential requirements of the Nvidia 3DVision programme.

Display 3D Content from Multiple Sources

The VG278H might not offer the ultimate in user-friendliness, but you shouldn't have too much to complain about either.  It has a HDMI 1.4 input as well as VGA and DVI ports.  It sits on a height-adjustable stand with a rotating base.  For audio, there's a headphone jack and a pair of 2 x 3 W speakers.  They won't replace your hi-fi, but if you've got a Blu-ray player or a games console, there's no reason why you can't just plug in a single HDMI cable and enjoy audio and video from a single device.


You might have noticed a small bulge at the top of the screen.  Despite the similarity, it isn't a webcam: it's the infrared transmitter that syncs the 3D glasses.  Whether it's built-in to the monitor, as it is here, or a standalone device, it's an essential part of active 3D technology.  It starts up when you need to get your 3D glasses out.


Having the transmitter inside the screen doesn't just save space.  It also means that you can use the VG278H directly with an external device like a console or Blu-ray player with a HDMI 1.4 output.  There's no need to have a computer in between the two.

Responsiveness in 2D and 3D: a great 2 ms TN display—once it's configured properly

The VG278H is very responsive once you've set it up properly.  On the unit that we were testing, setting the 'TraceFree' option to 40 gave the best results.  Any lower, and the responsiveness drops; any higher, and reverse ghosting starts to become visible.


Responsiveness
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This graph shows the ghosting time, measured in ms, that the monitor takes to entirely remove the previous frame. The shorter the time, the more fluid moving images will appear

Any diehards that still haven't given up on their old faithful CRT might finally be tempted by Asus' new display.  The ghosting time is incredibly low—5.5 ms on average—and the refresh rate in 2D make it one of the best monitors for video games, if not the very best.

In 3D, it works wonders with Nvidia's second generation 3D glasses.  You can enjoy games and films alike without the slightest hint of crosstalk.  The results are almost as impressive as when using a passive 3D screen like the LG D2342, but here you can get fir more people round the 27'' monitor.

The input lag is barely measurable and won't have any impact on multiplayer games.

The VG278H is a very good choice for demanding gamers.  

Colours need tweaking

The VG278H doesn't produce the best results with its factory settings.  By default, the brightness is 330 cd/m², which can be pretty blinding in a well-lit room.  At the same time, colours are dominated by blue.  As a result, the default deltaE, which describes the discrepancy between the ideal colours and those actually shown onscreen, is 3.5.  That's a reasonable performance, but nothing exceptional.

delta E before and after settings

To do any better, you'll need to adjust the settings, starting by reducing the contrast from 80 to 60, which will improve the quality of lighter areas which otherwise look totally overexposed.  Next, to get rid of the blue tinge, you'll need to switch the colours over to 'user-defined' and turn blue down from 100 to 85.  These changes bring the deltaE to 2.5, which means we can at last describe the colour reproduction as accurate.

The contrast is slightly less impressive, and the VG278H doesn't ever manage the 1000:1 that Asus promises in the tech spec, never going beyond 750:1 once the colours are set up accurately.
5/5 Asus VG278H DigitalVersus 2011-11-10 00:00:00

Pros

  • Excellent responsiveness
  • No crosstalk in 3D
  • Accurate colours after calibration: deltaE: 2.5
  • Great usability
  • Built-in infrared transmitter and HDMI 1.4 input

Cons

  • TN panel, so poor vertical viewing angles
  • Below average contrast ratio: 750:1

Conclusion

The Asus VG278H is our number one pick for anybody who wants to try 3D. Low ghosting times make 2D games look great and 3D titles benefit from the absence of crosstalk. As long as you have enough pairs of 3D glasses to go around, it's also great for enjoying a Blu-ray 3D film with friends.

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