ASUS PB278Q 27” PLS Monitor Review

Author: AkG
Date: November 18, 2012
Product Name: PB278Q
Part Number: PB278Q
Warranty: 3 Years
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A Closer Look at the Asus PB278Q

Much like ASUS’ VG278HW, the PB278Q uses a surprisingly thin yet utilitarian design. Its svelte dimensions are no doubt due to the use of an LED backlit PLS-based monitor. This combination makes for a very sleek package and many are sure to mistake it for a TN monitor. However, the PB278Q does have a more aggressive appearance when compared against the Samsung SyncMaster S27A850 or ASUS’ own ProArt series. Even when compared against the Dell U2713HM, the PB278Q’s unique appearance will either greatly appeal to your inner PC gaming enthusiast or it could be a major turn off.

Helping this monitor stand out is the unique two tone approach ASUS has taken to the bezel. While glossy black with matte black is not as bold a combination as some monitors it does make for a jarring juxtaposition with the overall design of an otherwise drab exterior.

Unfortunately, while the PB278Q certainly marches to the beat of its own drum, the its accompanying stand is rather drab and utilitarian in appearance. Everything from the uninteresting and boring square base, to the square arm looks out of place on this rather expensive monitor. This is an arm and base combination which would feel more at home on a value line of monitors and not an expensive PLS unit.

It may not look all that impressive, but the stand’s abilities are never the less decent for this price range. At first the base appears to be a touch undersized but it actually provides a very stable foundation. Unlike some 27” monitors we have looked at, a good stiff wind will not blow it over and you’ll need to make a concerted effort to tip it over. The arm is also very capable and offers the PB278Q 120mm of height adjustment, 25° of tilt (+5° to – 20°), moderate swivel positioning and even portrait mode abilities.

We usually don’t make a big deal over what anti-glare coating a screen comes equipped with, but there are a few times we feel it is worth mentioning. In the recent case of Dell’s U2713 it was because the AG coating was so impressive at dispersing distracting reflections. Sadly, in the ASUS PB278Q’s case we’re mentioning it because it stands out in stark contrast against previous matte-screen P-series products.

To be reasonable, this is considered a semi-gloss finish and comparing it to a completely matte display isn’t fair and the performance of each will largely boil down to personal preference and the environment in which the monitor is used. Both are designed with different consumers and situations in mind. However, there is semi-gloss like the Samsung SyncMaster S27A850 and then there is reflection and glare galore semi-gloss used on the ASUS PB278Q. Fair comparison or not, this level of reflection and glare is going to have a negative impact on real world performance and eye-strain, particularly if you don’t have your computer set up within a deep, dark cave in the mountains of Tora Bora.

While there seems to be a trend towards using capacitive touch ‘buttons’ on certain classes of monitors, ASUS has once again gone for tried and true physical buttons. These buttons are nicely spaced and are large enough to easily be activated. Unlike the ProArt, they are also located in a more sensible location and you need not worry about accidentally turning off the monitor while flailing around trying to navigate the intuitive menu system. The only minor issue we have is their slightly cheap feeling which certainly isn’t up to expectations for a $750 monitor.

The PB278Q’s list of input options is impressive and every bit as good as the ProArt line of monitors. It includes one dual-link DVI, one HDMI, one VGA and one DisplayPort as well as a stereo in and out ports. With every one of the main HD bases covered, we doubt all but a minority of consumers will miss the absent USB ports or alternative analog options. However, it does put the PB278H at a distinct disadvantage compared to the Dell U2713H which has every bit as good options and then some.

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