I’ve just received my 246Q. These are my initial observations:
24″ is a great size for looking at photos! It really is nice to see a photo large. My previous monitor was 17″ 4:3. I can also have two comfortably size applications side by side on the monitor.
The IPS screen does give slight colour shift when viewed off angle. This screen is large enough that I am seeing the sides at an angle. On a white screen such as this one there is a slight warmth in the middle and colder towards the edges, with the warmth directly in front of me as I move my head. It is not noticeable when looking at photos.
If I look back at my old TN screen I can really see the difference in colour quality.
I wasn’t sure whether I needed wide gamut or not. Now I have it I am very happy with it. I can see the effect by asking Bibble to soft-proof in sRGB. It is comparable to what I see if I display the image on my old monitor. I can see the reverse effect if I compare a colour managed web browser with a non-managed browser.
As has been said elsewhere online, nature doesn’t really contain wide gamut colours. The one exception I’ve found so far is conkers. Man made things do! As I switch I notice that the scenery doesn’t change, but brightly coloured clothing, painted objects and the bright LED based stage lighting in my recent production do change quite noticeably. With the exception of the stage lighting the overall effect in an image is subtle. It’s nice when you see it, but If I wasn’t doing a direct comparison would I notice it?
It is handy to be able to soft proof in the print colour space and feel more confident there will be no surprises. This is useful if using a pro lab for printing. Many labs, certainly the high street print shops, accept photos in sRGB and the printers are good at reproducing that. For example Athena do some very good looking canvases, and require sRGB images. I expect for many situations a completely sRGB workflow would be adequate.
These two images were taken as screen shots using Bibble 5. They are effectively in whatever colour space my calibrator is using, so they will render differently on your screen. I did notice colour changes as I pasted the screen shot into Gimp, so wonder if Gimp or something was being clever, or Bibble is clever at driving the display.
I have started to produce backdrop images in Adobe RGB now, and can take advantage of software features such as Bibble’s Perfectly Clear Event profile which before looked very wrong, but on this monitor and in print can look right. The difference is in the greens.
This looks like an image improving technology. The display is very nice with it turned on, but I do hope that in aRGB mode it us turned off. The reason is that I want to see what my photo is like in the image editing software. It will not have “Splendid” applied when it goes to print. I don’t know what Splendid is doing, so it becomes an unknown.
I tried running the “Splendid Demo” in aRGB mode. The fact that it didn’t give me the split screen is very promising here. In Scenery mode an image that has already had Perfectly Clear’s Wedding Profile applied becomes radioactive, so not good.
Brightness and Contrast Ratio
It is bright. That is now my one real criticism of it. Using the Spyder3 I ran it at 180cd/m² during the day with the brightness control at 17. Spyder did manage to calibrate it down to 90cd/m² for night time work with the brightness control at 0. I assume it has managed this in software, so it has sacrificed some contrast ratio. I can typically reduce it to the 120 area through the screen controls. This is quite bright for working in a dark room, so if working on code or mail best to set a dark theme for your editor.
I don’t know what I’m missing or looking for with contrast ratio. Online reports say that the PA246Q is poor to start with, so it should be quite poor with this software compensation. When I soft proof for print I notice that I still lose detail in shadow. I also know that print media is generally bad at shadow. The monitor does display shadow and highlight detail.
The picture below shows an example of practical use, viewing a dark photograph in View NX. The moire pattern is of course not visible to the user, but an effect of taking this photo in too sharp focus with the camera. The black areas of screen register a little in the RAW file, so are brighter than the non-screen area, but it is not visible unless I increase the exposure to show it.Subjectively I cannot tell in the images I’ve looked at that there is a problem in blacks. The only thing I’ve noticed is that with the screen set to complete black in a completely dark room there is a glow in the bottom right, and if viewed off angle there is visible leakage even in a dimly lit room. I need to move my head or step back to look at black in the corners. I’ve not seen a monitor that doesn’t leak in this situation, even the super-duper 1000:1 contrast ratio monitor I have at work.
The monitor performs very well at the monitor tests at http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/. I found it performed better when I disabled my Spyder3 calibration and switched it to Standard Mode, perhaps an advantage of its internal factory calibrated 10 bit LUT versus my old 8 bit graphics card and a relatively cheap calibration device.
Would I buy it again?
Hard to tell. I wanted a wide gamut monitor at a good price. At the time of purchase I was unaware of the existence of NEC’s 22 inch wide gamut monitor or any wide gamut monitor below 24″. The site I found listed it as sRGB. That is a problem buying online. You can’t contrast and compare. It is quite hard to go to a manufacturer’s site and say “Show me the wide gamut monitors”.
The NEC offers a better contrast ratio on paper, and compatibility with NEC’s calibration tools. It is also cheaper than the Asus. Without being able to see and try the NEC I cannot really compare. If my work monitor is an example of what a PVA screen is like, then that is not perfect either. A dark room is a challenging situation for any LCD monitor.
The more I learn about monitors the more I believe I did make a good choice. If money was no object, or I spent longer saving, I’d look at the 24″ wide gamut NEC displays. At this price point I have a good wide gamut 24″ display with good input options. The only real problem I have is the brightness.