Asus PB278Q

Asus' PB278Q is quite nice indeed for the price, offering a no-frills premium panel for those who are looking to save pennies.

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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

Asus is the first non-Samsung brand out of the blocks with a PLS screen. The PB278Q is a 27-inch, 2560x1440 screen that attempts to bring down the price by chopping off a few of the frills along the way.

Just like the PA246, the screen can overlay a grid splitting the screen into nine parts, or show you an overlay of the exact 1:1 dimensions of A4, Letter, 4x6, 3x5, 2x2, 8x10 and 5x7. The usefulness of this is questionable, since in any design app you'll be dealing with different zoom levels, and the DPI and media quality of the print will be vastly different to the screen — but Asus maintains that it helps as a preview for image editing before something is printed to its final size.

One thing that might excite a few of you out there is that there's no trace of a Dell-like "sparkling" anti-glare coating. The image is smooth, looks great and yet is a matte screen.

(Credit: Craig Simms/CNET Australia)

Specs at a glance

Size 27 inches
Resolution 2560x1440
Aspect ratio 16:9
Pixel pitch 0.234
Panel technology PLS
Viewing angles
(10:1 contrast)
H: 178°
V: 178°
Response time 5ms G2G
Max vertical refresh 60Hz
Connections DVI, HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, 3.5mm line out, 3.5mm line in
Accessories DVI, VGA, power cables

Stand and ergonomics

Asus has the user well covered, with tilt, pivot, rack and pinion height adjustment, and even a 90° vertical rotate on the panel. The pivot is just a disc built in to the bottom of the stand, something we're used to on cheaper solutions, but it works. A plastic brace at the rear serves for cable management, but the gap is too thin to thread a plug of any type but HDMI or DisplayPort through — you'll have to pull out the brace, then reconnect it once you've organised the cable.

Asus offers the full range of motions. Pull out a screwdriver and it's VESA mountable, too. The plastic loop down the bottom is the somewhat ineffectual cable management.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CNET Australia)


DisplayPort, VGA, DVI, HDMI, 3.5mm line in, 3.5mm line out.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CNET Australia)

Buttons and on-screen display (OSD)

Asus mounts its buttons under the monitor, labelling them on the front of the screen. You'll have to operate by muscle memory, especially in the dark — the layout of the buttons doesn't feel particularly natural.

Asus mounts the buttons under the monitor.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CNET Australia)

The OSD is a simple, menu-driven affair, with categories on the left and options on the right. There are a few more options than the usual pointless presets, and brightness/contrast. Saturation, Hue, Color Temp and Gamma are available for tweaking, and impressively there are Gain and Offset settings here, too. Since there are speakers built in, there's volume control as well. The sound isn't terrible at all, but the sound stage is rather flattened, and you miss a lot on the high end. Headphones or dedicated speakers would be a better solution.

Asus' OSD is straightforward, even if its buttons need work.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CNET Australia)

Performance LCD tests

After calibrating to a target brightness of 140cd/m² with an X-Rite i1Display 2, Eye-One Match 3 and tweaking with HCFR, the PB278Q was run through the LCD tests.

Image tests
Contrast Sharpness Gamma Black level White saturation Gradient
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Uniform banding across the gradient.

The PB278Q managed quite well until we reached the gradients, where a uniform banding was noticeable.

Inversion pixel walk tests
Test 1 Test 2a Test 2b Test 3 Test 4a Test 4b Test 5 Test 6a Test 6b Test 7a Test 7b
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Very slight motion Flicker

The PB278Q had an impressive showing in the pixel walk tests, only having difficulty with two.

Input lag

Measured against a Samsung SyncMaster 975p CRT and using a Canon 40D set to a shutter speed of 1/320, an average of over 60 photographs were taken using StoppUhr. Lag time was recorded at 15ms, or 1 frame behind — which is perfectly fine for most circumstances.

HDMI performance

While a monitor might have an HDMI port, there's no guarantee that it'll display images as expected. We hooked up a PlayStation 3 and checked for 24p capability and judder, as well as running the HQV Blu-ray test to see how well it coped with an interlaced source and noise.

24p capable Understands YUV Mission: Impossible III
scene 11 judder test
Mission: Impossible III
scene 14 judder test
Yes Yes Judder Judder
HQV noise
HQV video
resolution loss
HQV jaggies
HQV film
resolution loss
HQV film
resolution loss —
stadium score
Total score
out of 100
0 0 0 0 0 0

The PB278Q isn't built for interlaced sources, as is evidenced by the HQV scores. It's best off if you hook up your console, or a discrete player where image processing is done in situ.

We came across an interesting problem here with 24p playback — when loading the movie from XMB, the resolution switch took long enough that the monitor thought there was no signal on the HDMI input, and dumped back to DVI, which was where our computer was running. Upon manually switching back, the movie was running.

When 24p was turned off, the switch was quicker and we didn't experience the issue.

Viewing angles

Viewing angles were taken with a Canon 40D in spot-metering mode, with only shutter time adjusted to obtain a good exposure.

PLS delivers on the viewing angles.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CNET Australia)

Light bleed

Our review sample had obvious light bleed at the top-left corner of the screen, which is disappointing for a panel of this calibre.

It's important to note that the effects of light bleed will likely change from monitor to monitor, regardless of make.

Power consumption

We measured power consumption using a Jaycar mains digital power meter. It's important to note here that due to limitations of the meter, measurements are limited to values of 1W and greater, and are reported in 1W increments.

All measurements, screen brightness and contrast were set to 100 per cent, and a test image was displayed.

Juice Box
Maximum power draw 39W
Power-saving mode 7W
Off 7W

Asus' screen is more power hungry than Samsung's, and it still draws power when off and in sleep mode.


Asus covers the PB278Q with a three-year warranty, and offers a swap-out if found defective within the first seven days of purchase. Its pixel policy is a little strange: for the first 12 months, if you have any bright dots or more than five dark dots, you can swap it out. For the remainder of the warranty period, you'll need more than three bright dots or five dark dots to qualify for a swap-out.


Asus' PB278Q is quite nice indeed for the price, offering a no-frills premium panel for those who are looking to save pennies.

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