For some time, I've been looking to upgrade the Dell U2311H IPS LCD that served as my primary work monitor at the office with something that has more vertical real estate (1080p just doesn't cut it for serious productivity) and better colour reproduction. Enter Asus's PB278Q, a 27" 2560×1440 PLS display with a rather flexible stand. Does it cut the mustard?
After years of being stuck with the dreadful "movie-watching friendly" 1920×1080 displays in the mainstream, we're finally seeing some progress on the resolution and pixel density front, albeit mostly on the mobile tablets (the 2560×1600 Nexus 10 comes to mind) and sub-15" laptop panels (see Samsung's 3200×1800). I'm going to go for broke here and say everybody's favourite bashing boy Apple is the primary driver of display technology on the consumer side, with their "Retina" displays on their phone, tablet and laptop lines showing the way for the others wanting to emulate their popularity and premium sales margins.
One of the more popular enthusiast buys of late are the Korean 27" LCDs (indie labels like CrossOver/QNIX) found on eBay, offering no-frills WQHD performance with IPS/PLS panels for sub-USD$500 including shipping. The catch is that they use "B" grade quality panels (entailing possibility of dead/bright pixels and other artifacts), come with almost no onboard menu controls, flimsy non-adjustable stand and only one dual-link DVI input source.
For the elite image professional, there's always the Dell Ultrasharp series that is the best of all-worlds, although they usually come with the much-criticized aggressive AG coating that tampers with the image quality. Obviously there are even more higher grade commercial offerings from EIZO and HP Dreamcolor, but that's not in the scope of our review today.
With the PB278Q, Asus attempts to address the growing market desire for "beyond 1080p" with near professional-grade image reproduction and a rich feature set. At first glance, we can see that the designers have opted for no-nonsense clean lines and a reasonably thin bezel, reminiscent of a very illustrious competitior (no prizes for guessing who). A set of OSD controls are hidden at the bottom right corner, with a blue/orange indicator next to it for the power/standby status.
Behind, we find more of the same pragmatic industrial design, with an adjustable stand attached to the 100x100mm VESA mount of the monitor. A hole for Kensington security lock is available if you are afraid of co-workers walking away with your superior monitor.
Connectivity options are plenty – with all the major input types included (HDMI, D-SUB, DVI, DisplayPort; all cables included too). There is even built-in 3W stereo speakers (curious placement of the headphone jack at the back), although they're unlikely to displace the Acoustic Energy AEGO M system on my desk anytime soon. Competing offerings usually have a USB hub, which the PB278Q lacks.
The flexible stand allows vertical height adjustments up to 120mm, tilt of between -5 to 20 degrees, swivel and clockwise rotation.