Monitors tend to be the red-headed stepchild amongst the hardware suite. We spend hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds to have the fastest, smoothest, most gorgeous media and gaming experience available. Then buy the cheapest 1080P monitor it's possible to get to display it all.
This is compounded by the vast increase in the availability of digital media creation. We all own a digital camera of some type, even if it's just the one on your phone, and with social media now a part of daily life it most of us share family gatherings, our 'look at how rich I am' purchases, selfies or even just pictures of our coffee. As well as this the explosion in affordable, or even free, creation tools such as GIMP and the monster popularity of websites such as Worth1000 or DeviantArt has meant that ever more of us are using our systems as a means of creation rather than just playing.
Quite why we feel that the thing we look at, the result of all our expensive tinkering and graphics card choices, the only output we have, should be the one area that we can cut corners on is unfathomable. Whether it's just gaming, or content creation, you want the best possible image fidelity and colour reproduction. Having accurate colour reproduction is vital in design because you want to be certain that everyone who sees your work, and/or the print copy, perfectly matches your vision.
You could purchase a hugely expensive calibration kit and attempt to manually calibrate your monitor, but unless you've brought a decent model to begin with then it would only be an exercise in frustration. ASUS have neatly solved this problem with the PA249Q, a monitor that not only has an IPS panel but comes with a genuine factory calibration and proof of such.
The PA249Q has everything you could desire in a monitor when it comes to features. The 1920x1200 resolution allows you extra screen space when working on HD images. The pixel pitch is small which enhances the crispness of the resolution. Whilst we know that brightness and contrast are always inflated because big numbers attract people who don't know how little stock to put in them, the incredible colour accuracy shows that the PA249Q retains definition rather than just blowing out highlights and losing all shadow detail.
|Display||Panel Size: Wide Screen 24.1"(61.13cm) 16:10|
Panel Type : AH-IPS
True Resolution : 1920x1200
Pixel Pitch : 0.270mm
Brightness(Max) : 350 cd/ãŽ¡
ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio (ASCR) : 80000000:1
Viewing Angle (CRâ‰§10) : 178°(H)/178°(V)
Response Time : 6ms (Gray to Gray)
Display Colors : 1073.7M (10bit)
|Video Features||Trace Free Technology|
SPLENDID Video Intelligence Technology
SPLENDID Video Preset Modes : 7 Modes (Adobe RGB Mode/sRGB Mode/Scenery Mode/Theater Mode/Standard Mode/User Mode)
Color Temperature Selection : 4 Modes
Color Accuracy : â–³Eâ‰¦ 3
Gamma adjustment : Yes (Support Gamma 2.2/1.8 )
Color Adjustment : 6-axis adjustment(R,G,B,C,M,Y)
QuickFit (modes) : Yes ( Modes)
|Hotkeys||SPLENDID Video Preset Mode Selection|
Dual Customizable OSD Shortcuts
|IO Ports||Signal Input : HDMI , D-Sub, DisplayPort, DVI-D|
Audio Output : 1.4
Earphone jack : 3.5mm Mini-Jack
USB Port(s) : 1 x upstream, 4 x downstream
|Signal Frequency||Analog Signal Frequency : 30~83 KHz(H)/ 50~76 Hz(V)|
Digital Signal Frequency : 30~83 KHz(H)/ 50~76 Hz(V)
|Power Consumption||Power Consumption(Typical):<72W|
Power Saving Mode:<1W
Power Off Mode:0W (hard switch )
Voltage:100–240V, 50/60 Hz
|Mechanical Design||Chassis Colors : Black|
Tilt : -5°~+20°
Swivel : Yes
Pivot : Yes
Height Adjustment : Yes
VESA Wall Mounting : 100x100mm
|Dimensions||With Stand :557.2x416.3x235mm|
Without Stand :557.2x362.8x62mm (For VESA Wall Mount)
|Weight||Net Weight (Esti.):6.6kg|
Gross Weight (Esti.):10.4kg
USB 3.0 cable
Quick start guide
Color pre-calibration report
Monitors rarely provide the most interesting photos. After all, we're interested in the display quality rather than the aesthetics. However, with an immense quality stand that demonstrates how woeful most included stands are, and sensibly placed inputs, outputs and controls, the PA249Q clearly has a lot of thought put into it.
Highlighting the emphasis upon the professional user, the stand and monitor bezel both have built-in compass/ruler markings to ensure the most accurate workspace. No longer will you have to rely upon either manual alignment, or even the ruler option in Photoshop. Further showing how much thought has been put into the design they are both easy to see if you want to, yet not intrusive if you're just planning on watching a film or fragging some people.
How many times have you brought a monitor and found that the stand barely tilts, much less is adjustable for height and definitely doesn't rotate between portrait and landscape mode. Given that a high quality stand is around the £50 mark it provides excellent value on an already keenly priced display. USB ports are something that you can never have enough of, especially if you're in a professional environment where you're sharing work or wanting to plug your Intuos in without someone stealing it.
The PA249Q accepts all the input types, from VGA, DVI, HDMI to DisplayPort. The other end provides the power input and the hard on/off switch.
With so many manufacturers attempting to hide the OSD controls it's nice that ASUS have placed them within easy reach. Furthering the clever design they are handy whether you're in portrait or landscape. The button at the top is a four-way selector which has a very cool secondary function which we'll look at next.
The On Screen Display is well laid out and very easy to navigate. One of the best features is that as well as the flashy movie modes and suchlike that appear on every monitor, there is also a preset for the colour-calibrated version. So no matter how much you tweak and fiddle, or how much somebody else does, you're never more than a couple of clicks away from the factory defaults.
The secret trick up the sleeve of the PA249Q are some preinstalled overlays. There are loads of them, all offering different screen overlays to ensure that you're accurate at all times. Even if you don't understand how to set up your image editing program of choice, you're guaranteed to be able to get your family a nice 8x10 thanks to the ASUS overlay, and it will be well cropped following the rule of thirds thanks to another overlay.
One of the most difficult bits about a monitor review is that a) they're almost impossible to photograph in a manner that replicates the quality, and b) even if it was possible your monitor wouldn't show it as well as good as it looks. It's similar to when they advertise television. If you're watching on a 13" portable then even the best Sony 4K screen will look rubbish. With that being said, what do we think?
Designing a display that suits a professional requires a very different set of qualities to your average "the biggest screen for the least cash" gaming effort. Professionals need tiny variances in colour tolerances, although none at all is the best. Equally wide viewing angles help maintain the perfect replication when you're demonstrating your work to clients, or the boss. Having extremely deep blacks and white whites is pointless if you're blowing all the highlight and shadow detail off the end of the histogram to do it. The watchwords are very much consistency and clarity. Gamers on the other hand, and by that we also include people who just generally use their computer without particularly requiring a linear gamma and wide colour gamut, require a screen that doesn't tear when the going gets speedy. Usually screens also have extreme contrast and brightness to compensate for the fact that we all game in a well-lit environment, just like the manual warns us to do. Don't we?
The PA249Q proves that these two audiences are by no means mutually exclusive. Certainly if you're a gamer then you'll be stunned at the image quality the PA249Q is capable of producing. Colours pop, there is definition within shadows that had previously gone unnoticed and, the bit that I know you're all waiting for, the screen doesn't tear any worse than any other monitor we've used. Given how much of our week is spent staring at gaming benchmarks, and then we go home and stare at games for fun, then you certainly wont have anything to complain about.
However the PA249Q is most definitely a high-quality display capable of extreme colour fidelity for the designers and artists amongst you. The image that you see on your screen invariably tallies with how someone else sees it, and how the finished article will appear when printed. Everything about the design makes the creative process that much simpler. It's already calibrated at the factory. Now we know that every monitor claims to be calibrated, but there is a world of difference between "it displays an image" calibration to "it has a near-perfect replication of the defined CIE colour space", and the ASUS definitely falls in the latter category.
This desire to be appealing to the creative amongst you is equally highlighted in the many little features on the PA249Q. The stand is particularly worthy of note, being smooth in operation to ensure you get the exact angle and height you require, whilst also being sturdy. Indeed the PA249Q comes with the stand pre-attached so getting up and running is as simple as taking it out of the box. So many stands, even on expensive monitors, feel like they're made of a Dairy Milk insert and about as adjustable. The on-screen display is clear and has everything within easy reach. The installed rule-of-thirds, inches, centimetres and various standard A4/8x10 etc overlays are extremely useful. As are the multiple inputs and 4 USB ports tucked away on the side.
Given that this is an extremely well-designed, well thought-out monitor with a brilliant stand and stunning image quality whether you're removing the red-eye from your Gran or fragging Psychos in Borderlands. Considering that a very short time ago a professional quality monitor was the thick end of a grand, then to find the ASUS PA249Q available for a snip at around £440, then we have to give it a Gold. You owe it to yourself to find one in the flesh and see the difference a quality display can make. ASUS can have it back when they pry it from our cold dead fingers.
Thanks to ASUS for supplying the PA249Q for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.