Introduction - Design, OSD, and Viewing Angles

Our monitor reviews frequently go into a lot of depth about the results before and after calibration, but for many users this won’t matter, as they aren’t going to purchase the calibration hardware and software necessary to achieve these results. Getting accurate performance out of the box without needing to spend extra money on hardware is important to many people but it's often very hard to deliver. With their Pro Art monitors, ASUS aims to deliver just that: sRGB and AdobeRGB modes that are reasonably accurate (a dE < 5.0 out of the box), with a full set of controls for users to calibrate it on their own.

ASUS doesn’t stop there as they also offer a 10-bit panel, integrated card reader and USB ports, and a user calibration mode with more controls than I have seen on a consumer monitor to this point. Does the ASUS deliver good color out of the box, and have the performance for those that wish to calibrate themselves?

The design of the ASUS PA246Q is all business out of the box. With a goal of high performance and not sleek looks, the PA246Q looks like a generic LCD monitor from a couple of years ago. As long as you're after performance rather than style, this shouldn't be a problem (provided the performance is actually there). The left side of the display features a pair of USB ports and a card reader than handles most formats with the exception of Compact Flash. On the bottom of the display you will find DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA inputs as well as the power supply and downstream USB connection. There are no integrated speakers but there is a headphone jack for audio carried over HDMI or DisplayPort, though it is located somewhat inconveniently at the bottom of the monitor.

The attached stand is pretty sizable but offers a full range of adjustments. Height adjustment is good with a decent range, and the tilt function has a good amount of movement that is always useful when trying to calibrate with a large meter on the screen. With swivel and pivoting as well, the stand is as good as the Dell stands that I prefer, though it certainly takes up a lot of desk space. I certainly don’t feel the need to replace the stand with an aftermarket one, though.

The OSD offers up a lot of options for the end user, but the interface for it is only OK. Under the Splendid section of the menu we find six different picture modes: Standard, sRGB, AdobeRGB, Scenery, Theater, and User. I will ignore Scenery and Theater, as they provide a blown out color palette or intentionally dim image for those that are swayed by such things. sRGB and AdobeRGB are the pre-configured modes that are designed to hit those primary color points and have a dE < 5 straight out of the box. The only control available to users in these modes is brightness to adjust the level of the backlight and everything else is locked. Standard mode is what you find on most monitors, with the standard Brightness, Contrast, Color Temperature and Gamma controls available for adjustments.

The most interesting mode is the User mode, which has the same features as Standard but opens up Hue and Saturation controls, as well as a 6-point CMS with Hue and Saturation controls for each primary and secondary color, and a 2-point grayscale control. This enables you to dial in those color points to be reasonably accurate on the CIE graph, but as there is no individual luminance control for each color, you can only get the color correct in two dimensions and not all three. I will go over these settings more in the calibration section, but they are quite extensive for a computer display.

There are a few more settings to be found in the menu system, but nothing out of the ordinary, and there is no game mode or overdrive for enabling faster response from the display (not that we've really noticed an improvement with such modes on other LCDs). The OSD controls themselves are sufficient but somewhat cumbersome, as we see the common issue of the display having you move up and down to select items, then left and right to adjust those items, with only one set of input keys for both. It would help to have either a second set of arrow keys for adjusting the values, or design the menu so it only moves in one direction to make it more user friendly. It is worlds better than using touch sensitive controls but still not at the level that some other menu systems are at this point.

Using an IPS panel, we expect good viewing angles from the PA246Q and we get them. At the very extreme angles you get some brightness shift but overall the panel looks very good at any angle you might be looking at it from.

Video Inputs DisplayPort, HDMI 1.3, DVI, VGA
Panel Type P-IPS 10-bit
Pixel Pitch 0.270 mm
Colors 1.07 Billion
Brightness 400 nits
Contrast Ratio 50,000:1
Response Time 6ms GTG
Viewable Size 24.1"
Resolution 1920x1200
Viewing Angle 178/178 Horizontal/Vertical
Backlight CCFL
Power Consumption (operation) < 75 Watts
Power Consumption (standby) < 1 Watt
Screen Treatment Anti-Glare
Height-Adjustable Yes
Tilt +20 to -5 degrees
Pivot Yes
Swivel Yes
VESA Wall Mounting Yes, 100mm
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 558.4 x 380.8 x 235 mm
Weight 7.3kg
Additional Features 2x USB 2.0 Ports, Card Reader (SD, MS, MS Pro, MS Duo, xD, MMC, SM)
Limited Warranty 3 years on case and panel, 1 year on parts and accessories
Accessories DVI Cable, VGA Cable, DisplayPort Cable, Power Cable, USB Cable
Price $469 online (as of 7/02/2012)

Now that we’ve taken an overview of the ASUS PA246Q the question is to see how it performs on the bench, and if I can deliver the out of the box accurate colors it promises.

ASUS PA246Q - Brightness and Contrast Ratios
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  • Leyawiin - Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - link

    Just submitted my order - time for a quality monitor for the first time in my life!
  • cheinonen - Thursday, July 5, 2012 - link

    As I mentioned above, they're very different monitors. The PA246Q is a 10-bit panel with a full AdobeRGB color gamut from CCFL backlighting, and the PA248Q is an 8-bit panel with LED backlighting and only the sRGB gamut. It's a more mainstream panel than the PA246Q so for non-print and photo editing users, it might be a better choice, but they aren't practically the same other than size, resolution, and vendor.
  • appliance5000 - Saturday, July 7, 2012 - link

    The reviewed monitor is an 8 bit panel interpolated to simulate a 10 bit panel - a little dubious.
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, July 5, 2012 - link

    Is this actually a 10-bit panel?

    Also, since sRGB mode on some wide gamut monitors works (U2410) and is completely broken on others, whenever you review a wide gamut monitor you should separate its performance in terms of sRGB content and AdobeRGB content. The way you lump them together with a "color quality" chart makes little sense. For those dealing with sRGB content, having a monitor exceed the sRGB space can actually lead to poor quality if the monitor doesn't have an effective sRGB emulation mode.

    I would take a look at how and tftcentral separate sRGB and AdobeRGB modes in their reviews.
  • cheinonen - Friday, July 6, 2012 - link

    I will take a look at that. I've only had a couple come through with AdobeRGB support so far, so I haven't setup a separate test section for it, but I can do that in the future.
  • appliance5000 - Saturday, July 7, 2012 - link

    I hear you on the srgb - I have an nec p221w (which is an excellent spectraview compatible monitor for about $400.00. With hardware cal the delta e is well under 1 for adobe rgb at a brightness of 140 cd/m2. I highly recommend it)

    But, being a wide spectrum (97% adobe rgb) srgb seems tough to calibrate for print. My question is : Isn't s-rgb used mainly to proof for web use, particularly for non color managed environments, in which case a delta e of 3 - 5 is fine? The point being that most people pull a monitor out of the box and turn it on for 5 years - there's no way to know what they're looking at.
  • aranyagag - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    it clears eizo monitor test and other monitor tests which are supposed to weed out 8 bit monitors. Also I have an sRGB camera, which shows proper colours when the monitor is placed in rgb mode-- laparoscope.
  • Dug - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    I had always thought AdobeRGB was just a higher gamut allowing you to see for instance a raw file shot in AdobeRGB at its full potential. The problem is the assumption that this is better.

    I've found that most print shops don't have the correct profiles, don't use the embedded profile, etc.

    I've gone down the expensive road of getting the correct monitor, printer, and color profiling both to print myself.

    In all honesty its a pain in the ass with very little gain.
    If everything isn't done just right then you end up with dull colors.
    If everything is done right, there is a difference, but I wouldn't necessarily call it better. It may be more accurate, because you've been told it is, but it is subtle.
    If you have to email, show on web, print to a printer without correct profile, etc you've wasted all your time if using AdobeRGB.

    I kind of relate it to calibrated televisions. If anyone saw a true calibrated television, they probably wouldn't like it. It's very dull. Everyone likes a little extra contrast and run a little hot.

    Sense the entire world runs on sRGB, I say stick with it. There's less chance for error and it will look good on anyone's monitor and printer.
  • CrimsonFury - Thursday, July 12, 2012 - link

    Still using my 8 year old Lacie 22" CRT until something better comes along. 4:3 2048x1536 @85Hz. Still waiting for an LCD with that sort of pixel density around 24" in size.

    I dislike 27" and above screens, I find them too large for a comfortable viewing position. Also on the high res 27" - 30" panels pixels per inch are still lower than my old 22" CRT
  • AnnonymousCoward - Saturday, July 14, 2012 - link

    Looks like a great attempt at a quality monitor. But when are we gonna get past the 60Hz barrier??? At least 80Hz framerate would be so much better.

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