Plane to Line Switching (PLS) is a relatively new panel technology developed by Samsung as an alternative to LG's popular IPS panel. Both technologies claim to offer very good colour quality and wide viewing angles, and both are more expensive to manufacture than the TN (Twisted Nematic) panels that are used on most low-end monitors.
The Asus PB278Q is a 27in PLS monitor, and it does indeed deliver very good colour quality and wide viewing angles. It also offers a plethora of features, including multiple video ports, a multi-adjustable stand, and WQHD (2,560 x 1,440) resolution. All this comes at a price, though, with the monitor retailing at around £475.
Design and features
Unlike the gorgeous Samsung Series 9 S27B970D, another (even more expensive) 27in PLS monitor, the PB278Q is fairly plain looking. The 27in panel resides in a 70mm thick matte black cabinet with relatively thin (19mm) bezels and a thin, barely noticeable strip of glossy black trim around the edge. Tucked away beneath the lower bezel are six function buttons and a power switch, all of which are clearly marked with white labelling. The 3 Watt speakers could be louder but they are clean sounding and don't distort when the volume is cranked all the way up.
The monitor is supported by a stand consisting of a square black base and a sliding hinge that provides 120mm worth of height adjustability (see the image below where the display is fully raised) and 25 degrees of tilt. The hinge lets you rotate the panel 90 degrees for portrait mode viewing, and a Lazy Susan assembly on the base gives you 120 degrees of swivel. However, you'll have to use your graphics control panel to change image orientation as the PB278Q does not support auto-rotation.
This Asus monitor offers a nice selection of video connections, including VGA, DVI (dual link), HDMI, and DisplayPort inputs. There's also an audio input and an earphone jack. All ports are located on the rear of the cabinet, and a cable for each is included in the box (excluding the earphones). The monitor also ships with a support CD, a quick start guide, and a three year parts, labour, and backlight warranty.
The OSD menu system is straightforward and very easy to navigate once you get used to the Asus naming convention. For example, picture modes are called Splendid settings and include Standard, sRGB, Scenery, Theatre, and User Mode. The Colour menu offers Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, Hue, Colour Temperature, and Gamma settings. Advanced colour settings are available in User Mode only and included RGB Gain and Offset adjustments. The Image setting menu provides Sharpness, Aspect Ratio, and ASCR (Asus Smart Contrast Ratio) controls, and the Sound menu offers volume, mute and audio source options.
The PB278Q's matte coated PLS panel does a fantastic job of displaying rich, vibrant colours without reflection or glare. Swatches from the DisplayMate Colour Scales test were well saturated and bright, and the panel produced deep, dark blacks. Colours remained true from any angle with no loss of luminance.
Greyscale performance was quite good also; every shade of grey on the 64-step Greyscale test was visible and distinct, although the lightest shade was slightly compressed. That said, highlight and shadow detail on my test photos were strong and well defined. Small text readability was superb as well; fonts set at 5.3 points (the smallest on my test) were well formed and easy to read.
The PB278Q has a 5-millisecond (grey-to-grey) pixel response which helps deliver smooth gaming action and blur-free fast motion video. I didn't notice any lag or ghosting while playing Split Second, a fast-paced PS3 racing game, and image quality on the BBC production of Planet Earth on Blu-ray disc was nothing short of spectacular.
The PB278Q averaged 40 Watts of power while operating in Standard mode. That's 8 Watts less than the Samsung Series 9, but 8 Watts more than the IPS-based Dell U2713HM.
While not as stylish as the Samsung Series 9, the Asus PB278Q offers the same strong colour and viewing angle performance for around £250 less, and it has a highly adjustable stand and an audio input, both of which are missing from the Series 9. The Series 9 has a USB hub, however, which the PB278Q lacks.
So there’s no doubting this Asus offering is a tempting buy, although for only slightly more (£50 or so), the IPS-based Dell UltraSharp U2713HM offers similar performance and a more robust feature set. In all honesty, though, whichever of these three big screen displays you go for, you’re not going to be disappointed.
Manufacturer and Product
2560 x 1440
Analog VGA, Digital (DVI-D), HDMI, DisplayPort
Diagonal Screen Size