When Asus’ PR company dumped the PA238Q in our office a week or so back, one of the first questions that popped in my mind was, why?
The monitor did not look anything out of the ordinary, and neither did the feature list on the simple purple box of its. We usually don’t get monitors unless they are special in some way or are from a higher-end spectrum of the product line-up.
But as the popular saying goes, looks can be deceiving and it was exactly what was true for the PA238Q. From the moment of its unpacking to the moment it was first lit up, the PA238Q exuded a certain kind of sophistication and command that immediately got our attention. With a price tag of AED 2200, and a monitor coming from the designer-aimed line-up of Asus’ ProArt series, we checked our expectations and put the monitor through its paces.
I believe the correct word to describe the looks of PA238Q is “industrial”, however I am just going to call it serious and studiously nerdy. It features none of the jazz, gloss and style that many of its competitors have in abandon. But what it lacks in flair, it more than makes up for in bravura and all round sturdiness.
For that, it’s not even one of the slimmer models, and it doesn’t have to be, but Asus has shown considerable restraint in containing the size and form so as not to be the elephant in the room, and yet provide the acrobatics that the monitor can provide.
And this baby can twist, alright, and it’s one of its most impressive abilities. The monitor offers full height and swivel adjustments that helps to place it just how one would want it. The height slider is tall enough to work comfortably will standing, if you have the means; and the entire screen can be rotated on at least 180 degree axis without having to shift the whole unit and have everything on the desk top loose its peaceful existence. The monitor can also lean backward and forward to a great extent, giving ample comfort to place the screen however you have seated yourself around it.
The PA238Q is also a Swiss knife in terms of ports and supports everything from HDMI, DVI-D, VGA, DisplayPort, headphone jack, and even USB ports (2 rear, 2 on the side). We wish Asus had swapped the VGA for an extra HDMI slot as more and more manufacturers are moving in to support the format. It’s a safe play from Asus, it is after all geared mainly towards designers and web professionals, but a little fun on the side never hurts (and by that we mean hooking up a PS3 or an Xbox 360, of course).
The monitor also takes its office duties seriously, and has a nifty little feature called “Quick Fit” that displays various grids such as A4, letter, centimeter, inches, etc., overlaid on top of the image. We are not sure how many would be comfortable using it, but we can see it being quite useful once one gets the hang of it.
Another thing that the PA238Q does right is the OSD controls. For one, they are in the front, clearly marked and non-touch, making them easy to decipher and use than those that has them stash away in the back, and relies purely on memory to get one across. It only helps that the menus are efficiently stacked and are responsive for quick changes.
Screen and color reproduction
The PA238Q uses a 10bit H-IPS panel which packs a good 1.07 billion colors and 50,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. The monitors from the series are also individually calibrated to provide accurate colors without the user needing to go out of his way to correct it.
Graphic designers will have a go at the settings anyway, but the average consumer will require very little tweaking to set it up. The display looked gorgeous off the bat, and I only had to settle the brightness in a bit for comfortable viewing.
In our FlatPanelDK tests, we noticed very
slight banding on certain gradients, although we are yet to test a PC monitor that doesn’t. Smoother gradients ensures accurate colors and the PA238Q didn’t have much problem rendering anything we threw at it.
Bleeding was kept to a minimum as well. We ran it through a lot of HD video, and although the blacks weren’t truly deep, it did well to not appear washed out.
Sharp and clear for the most part, unless you take the background color to the extremes of gaudiness. We did notice some shadow and smudge effect then, but in terms of regular use, where the backgrounds will be of decent color (we hope), the text clarity held up pretty well.
The PA238Q features a response time of 6ms gray to gray, which is competent enough for most types of media. Unfortunately, we did find some trailing that affected games on certain backgrounds, but never in movies, or while working on Photoshop.
IPS panels generally provide a solid 178 degrees of viewing angle, although we found the PA238Q falling short. Only very slightly, though. The display does get darker as you move around it, so it’s not really ideal for you or a friend to huddle around. It’s competent enough for basic stuff, but not for watching movies or playing games.
The Asus PA238Q is an incredible, all-round package – something I have not seen in a long
time. It manages to do almost everything right, down to its ergonomics options, input ports, and to color reproduction and no. of options to tinker around with. It’s slightly hefty on the wallet, so it is not for everyone, and maybe not for the average Joe. If you have uses for all of its nifty features, then the PA238Q is one of the best available.