Thursday, April 03, 2014

New monitor - ASUS PB238Q

I bought a new monitor, only my third in the last 15 years. This is a big deal - it's the one part of your computer that you're staring at literally the entire time you're in front of it. One big rule I've always had with my computers is don't skimp on the I/O devices. Keyboards, mice, monitors - I try to buy good ones and I buy 'em to last.

That said, I do have a budget. I chose an ASUS PB238Q. This actually isn't a brand new model, but that can be a good thing - it means the manufacturer's had time to work out the bugs. It also means that product's good enough to have been in production for a while.

Same goes for the Model M...

Whenever I shop for anything, I start out mostly "cold" but with a set budget and a set of bare minimum specs and features that I want. Then I filter and scan those products over and over and see if anything starts to jump out at me. Something always does. Then I say "that's the one!" and pull the trigger. I've never been steered wrong that way.

I knew I wanted at least 1080p, 23", a matte screen, an IPS panel, and DVI input. That was the minimum, and I wanted it for $200 or less. The more I looked, the more I knew the PB238Q was "the one". Check this:
  • IPS panel (AH-IPS, from what I've read)
  • 1080p matte screen
  • Did I mention it's matte? Matte matte matte! The whole monitor is matte, including bezels and stand.
  • 6ms response time (not as fast as a "gaming" monitor, but faster than many IPS panels - a good compromise for image quality)
  • Pretty much every port you could ever need - VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort
  • It comes with all of those cables! Well, except HDMI for some reason.
  • Swiveling, height adjustable, tilting stand that also rotates 90 degrees
  • USB hub if you care
  • Speakers if you must, but they are extremely well hidden if you don't
  • Chunky-ass construction - it looks like a tank, and it is!

I read before buying that some of these monitors have had cross-hatching issues, while others suffer from light bleed. Again, this is why it can sometimes be a good thing to buy an older design that's still in production - my monitor has neither of these issues. Mine was built in December 2013, so it's not an older panel that's been sitting on a shelf - it's a new build, and maybe they've just improved the quality control. The nice thing is that it seems like this thing was way ahead of its time when it was introduced in 2012, so it's still a good monitor today - but I only paid $206 for it (actually $168 after applying some credit card points).

Now, that said, it's not perfect - all LCD panels suffer from screen uniformity issues to one degree or another, and it's just a question of how noticeable it is. I'm particularly sensitive to this (it's a big reason why I have a plasma TV), and I do notice some lighter and darker areas of this screen with an even white or light grey background color, such as on many web sites. It's not visible in photos, videos or games and it's not bad even on white - in fact I couldn't capture it on camera - but I've seen more uniform LCD's than this one. Hey, at $200, there's still going to be a compromise or two - and this monitor seems to excel otherwise.

Not many ~$200 monitors can do this!

ASUS is capable of building solid stuff, and they're also capable of building junk. It depends on the line, and their mood that day. This is part of the "PB" series, which stands for "Professional Business" (the "PA" series is "Professional Artist" and is a notch higher - they take the time to pre-calibrate those displays). I've had the best luck buying "business" hardware even for gaming. "Business" and/or "Professional" is really just code in the computer industry for things that are built a little more rugged than your AOL-using grandma would need and less blingy than your pre-teen daughter would like. This monitor definitely has an old-school feel - and that's fine by me. It's made of very thick plastic, and the bezel has a matte texture - not the thin glossy crap that's trendy right now.

No, you can't see any uniformity problems above - that's just light from my window reflecting more off one side than the other. In fact, the right side is very slightly brighter than the left under even lighting.

You can actually see the better color accuracy of the PB238Q vs. my laptop in that photo, though. White on the PB238Q is white. Most people these days are used to the bluish tint that TN displays put out, but this thing displays white as white.

I will say that it's interesting how 1080p resolution almost looks low-res on a monitor this size these days, and if I replace this in a few years, that'll probably be why. My laptop's 1920x1080 also, and I'm used to the pixel density that res gives you on a 15" screen. I remember my 23" 1920x1200 Apple Cinema Display HD at work seeming unbelievably huge and sharp when I first got it about 8 years ago, but times do change. For desktop usage, you can definitely see the jaggies in text at 1080p on a 23" screen. Soon we'll all be moving to 4K... and then we'll need to be running 4 SLI graphics cards to keep up with that resolution.

The viewing angles and swivel stand in action! Honestly, my plasma TV's kind of spoiled me on viewing angles, but this thing's pretty good. Definitely better than my laptop, which is well-known for having a nice screen. (It's still probably TN, though.)

I'm not going to do a full review because honestly, it's not like I'd be the first and anyway, I don't have the equipment yet. My gaming graphics card is probably going to end up a birthday present, so for now I'll just be doing TV, movies and desktop stuff on this monitor. It's still a huge improvement over the $60 Hanns-G 16" TN monitor I was using before :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP