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ASUS VG278H 27” 3D Gaming Monitor Review

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AkG

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While the whole 3D movie “revolution” seems to be waning (again) there is one area where 3D has the potential to provide a better, more immersive experience: PC gaming. Initially many will turn their noses up at the proposition of stereo 3D on a relatively small computer monitor but there is no way to accurately describe the tangible benefits it can bring to the table. Will it help you frag enemies faster or facilitate co op play? Absolutely not but adding another dimension to onscreen images can revitalize old games and breathe new life into stale genres. While we have been reticent towards delving too deeply into this niche – preferring to focus more on “professional” monitors than “gaming” monitors - the all new ASUS VG278H caused a stir when it was first announced alongside NVIDIA’s 3D Vision 2 kit so we just had to take a closer look.

As the “27” and “G” in the name suggests, the VG278H is a 27” monitor that is part of ASUS’ Gaming lineup. This was the unofficial partner product for the 3D Vision 2 launch and seems to have been designed from the ground up to be a turnkey solution for anyone looking for anyone looking for a large stereoscopic monitor. Not only is there a massive amount of screen real estate but an integrated emitter allows for multiple pairs of 3D Vision glasses to be wireless hooked up without additional components. Advanced features like Lightboost are also included and should help eliminate many of the previous generation’s glaring faults.

When taken at face value, ASUS has priced this monitor very competitively. For about $650 you get an LED backlit TN-based 27” screen that includes a pair of 3D Vision 2 glasses and is capable of handling demanding 3D applications. It should also excel in 2D workloads by virtue of a native 120Hz refresh rate. To give you some perspective of where this stands, many 27” 3D monitors sell for similar prices sans glasses or emitter.

Unfortunately, to meet this extremely aggressive MSRP ASUS did have to make significant concessions on the panel side of the equation. For all intents and purposes “stereoscopic 3D” – especially second generation 3D – goes hand in hand with TN panel technology even though some companies have unsuccessfully tried to introduce ultra expensive IPS-based designs. While a TN panel may be par for the course for gaming monitors, a resolution of just 1920 x 1080 is certainly a bit disconcerting since typical 27” panels use 2560 x 1440 and even for a 24” monitor “1080P” is a touch on the low end.

A rather large dot pitch ratio may indeed prove to be a significant Achilles’ heel but the VG278H’s unique capabilities may just be able to overcome this and allow it to win a place in the hearts of PC gaming enthusiasts.

 
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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications








 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the VG278H

A Closer Look at the VG278H



In many ways the VG278H has utilitarian looks when viewed from afar and it will never pass as a piece of artwork like some of the competition. Nonetheless as the name suggests ASUS has their sights pointed directly at the gaming market’s enthusiasts and the designers have done everything in their power to make the design as appealing to this consumer as possible. With its glossy black finishes and curving lines the VG278H looks great without making any overly bold industrial design but at nearly 20 pounds, don’t expect to easily cart it off to every LAN party.

One other nice touch are the relatively thin bezels which allow for a clean transition zone if the panel overlap is set up correctly in a 3D Vision Surround configuration.


As we have stated many times in the past, in an industry that is almost manically fixated on equating TN panels with “thin” it is always refreshing to come across a design which bucks the trend. The Asus VG278H does just that since the overall dimensions of this monitor are downright bulky by modern LED-totting monitor standards. Do gamers really care about something as trivial as panel thickness? We don’t think so.



The front bezel may lack the red “racing stripe” or Lucite front facia of some other ASUS models but it does does house two things which we came to love. The first is the buttons located in the bottom right corner of the bezel. Most manufactures are obsessed with great looking but buggy, clumsy and annoying “touch sensitive” buttons but ASUS bucked this trend by including a true interface. This means that even in a darkened environment a gaming enthusiast will be able to tell by touch alone which button they are about to press.


The crowning (no pun intended) achievement of this monitor is located on the top bezel’s center line. ASUS has incorporated a small IR emitter bar which can be adjusted up and down to beam the clearest timing signal possible to the included NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 glasses. It also allows for multiple pairs of both new and old generation glasses to be used in tandem.


They say that a building is only as strong as its foundation and the same holds true for monitors. You can have a monitor literally crafted by Frank Gehry but if it is paired to a wimpy stand the end result isn’t going to be pretty. Once again ASUS didn’t miss a step and has included a downright gorgeous stand that is as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing.


The included stand may not have any ability to rotate the screen from landscape to portrait mode, but other than this minor oversight it is impressively adaptable. The swivel goes for a full 300° (150° left and right) while tilt varies from +15° to -5° and the upright pole allows for about 100mm of height adjustment. This combination makes getting the perfect viewing angle –and thus the best 3D image - downright easy.



While there are no USB ports on the VG278H, AASUS has included a comprehensive list of input options. As expected there are 3.5mm stereo in and out jacks for getting sound out of the included pair of 3 watt speakers or to your headphones. A Dual-link DVI-D connector is also included alongside a HDMI 1.4 input and even analog D-Sub port. While we doubt many will ever use the analog port, as a consumer it is nice to have as many options as possible. It is also worth noting that ASUS has included a Dual-Link DVI-D cable so this monitor really can be considered an “all in one” 3D solution. Just add a PC with a NVIDIA graphics card and you are good to go.
 
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SKYMTL

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3D LightBoost Technology & NVIDIA's 3D Vision 2 Glasses

3D LightBoost Technology


Note that this section was produced with excerpts from our 3D Vision 2 review.

With backlit, high output, high efficiency LED panels quickly replacing their CCFL brethren, it was only a matter of time until they made a jump into the stereoscopic 3D gaming world. HDTV manufacturers have already taken advantage of the LED’s natural ability to eliminate crosstalk (also called ghosting) by transitioning to this technology for most of their current and next generation 3D televisions. NVIDIA’s monitor partners have also begun moving towards LED panels in order to realize these same benefits but they have incorporated a number of new features which further play to the strength of LED backlights and improve 3D Vision performance.

In a 3D Vision 2 environment this new generation of monitors plays a leading role since the core technologies housed within the glasses hasn’t changed.


One of the main complaints many users had about NVIDIA’s 3D Vision was the loss of brightness when wearing their polarized shutter glasses. In order to counteract this, all 3D Vision 2 certified monitors will include something called 3D Lightboost technology. NVIDIA’s own explanation of this is far clearer than anything we could possibly achieve:

3D LightBoost works by adjusting the LED backlight in the monitor to pulse twice as brightly in unison with the LCD lenses in the 3D Vision glasses, making the resulting images 2 times brighter than previous 3D products. In contrast, older 3D monitors and laptops without 3D LightBoost have constant backlights where half the light is wasted.

On the old monitors with CCFL lamps that are on all the time, both lenses were forced into a dark phase while the image shifted from left to right. Now that the LED backlights switch off quickly in-between frames, refreshing at 120 times per second with a 2ms response time, the open timings of the glasses can be stretched. This lets in more ambient light so gamers can see the keyboard better. 3D LightBoost technology is a giant leap in the visual quality of 3D gaming on a PC.


In plain English, this will allow LightBoost-certified monitors to appear up to 200% brighter than older models like the Samsung 2233RZ and Acer GD235HZ when a 3D application is run. On the flip side of this coin, when running in 2D mode, the monitor will remain at its user-set backlight ratio so you won’t have to worry about a retina searing Windows desktop or word document.

Since Lightboost allows the glasses' LCD lenses to stay open longer, users are able to realize a secondary benefit as well: increased environmental light. Finally, wearing 3D Vision glasses won’t entail fumbling around in the dark for your keyboard and mouse.


3D LightBoost is actually one of three features which are built into the VG278H. Naturally, sports a 120Hz refresh rate for a more fluid 2D gaming experience but advanced reduction of 3D ghosting has also been built in. NVIDIA’s so called “ghost busting” takes advantage of the fast pulse width modulation of LED panels to increase the internal refresh rate of their glasses to virtually eliminate 3D ghosting.


The New 3D Vision 2 Glasses



Unlike many other 3D capable monitors, ASUS has included a pair of 3D Vision 2 glasses with their VG278H so you won't have to worry about buying them alone. Upon first glance, the new 3D Vision glasses may look the same as the old model but there are a number of changes built into their design. NVIDIA has retained the iconic profile and black and green colour scheme while the underlying technology itself hasn’t changed one iota; these are still active shutter glasses which receive their signal from an infrared emitter. Their range has remained the same at around 40 feet provided a clear line of sight between the emitter and glasses is retained.

Instead of plastic these are fabricated out of a durable composite nylon which makes them very, very durable while minimizing on weight. The matte finish also prevents any unwanted scratches and ensures that finger prints become almost invisible. Unfortunately, the material NVIDIA used causes a few small squeaks when the glasses are manipulated but our pair just needed to be broken in a bit more.

Note that in the picture above, it appears the lenses are different colours but that is just an effect of the polarization at certain angles.


Starting off at the front of the glasses, NVIDIA has included a small return at the top and bottom which acts as a baffle to prevent light from entering around the frames. The previous design used a completely flat frame and in daylight viewing conditions, light tended to seep in and diminish the contrast and brightness of on-screen images. Hopefully, this small but significant addition will all but eliminate that issue.

Above you can also see a glossy finish around the outer lens which looks good but as we will discuss in the Initial Impressions section, it does cause some significant issues as well.

Instead of a mini USB connector of yesteryear, the 3D Vision 2 glasses use a micro USB connector that can accept power from most cell phone chargers. This should allow for a complete recharge from any power outlet provided you have a micro USB charger. Battery life has remained constant at 60 hours of continual use and roughly three months of standby time.



The changes continue onto the sides which have been slimmed down and shaped in a way that will have minimal impact upon headphones. Also, instead of the frames resting only on your ears this new design lightly clasps the back of your head for additional security. Coupled with the glasses’ feather-like weight, this addition allows 3D Vision 2 to steamroll the older generation unit when it comes to long term comfort.


Much like the older glasses, interchangeable nose bridge “adaptors” are included to ensure perfect fitment.



When placed next to the outgoing glasses, 3D Vision 2’s differences really become apparent. The new version looks much larger due to the installation of light baffles but also because NVIDIA increased the lens size by a good 20% for wider viewing angles. In addition, the infrared receiver has been moved from the right hand side to a central location between the lenses.

Along with the increase in lens size, the polarization has been slightly changed as well. These new glasses are supposed to let a bit more light through the active shutters which should increase in-game contrast and brightness.
 
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AkG

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Menu Layout & Observations

Menu Layout & Observations



As expected, the On Screen Display is not that much different that that of other of ASUS monitors we have seen in the past. For anyone who has ever used a high end ASUS monitor, the OSD will make the VG278H feel like visiting an old friend since it is as intuitive and easy to use as they come. Everything is laid out in a simple and straightforward manner with all but a few advanced features within a single button press away.



This is first and foremost a 3D gaming monitor and it does indeed have some special “extra” features not commonly found on your typical panel but by the same token some more advanced features reserved for ASUS “professional” line of IPS monitors are missing. On the whole, you may not get six color axis control but the fine grain modifications you do get over gaming related tasks more than makes up for this minor loss.



There are some very interesting features here, one of which is control over how bright the monitor will become when it is in 3D mode – aka LightBoost. As we mentioned previously, LightBoost plays a huge roll in how you will view and get accustomed to a stereoscopic 3D environment.

ASUS also grants control over the IR emitter itself. There are three modes to chose from: Normal, CE Compatible and Lan Party. The Lan Party setting cuts down on what ASUS calls "mutual interference" which may occur when multiple 3D Vision monitors are being used within close proximity of one another. This will reduce the power and range of the IR beam and thus should reduce the chance of messing with a fellow Lan party goer’s glasses.

The CE Compatible mode meanwhile accomplishes the same goals as the Lan Party setting but instead of cutting down on mutual interference with similar products, it should eliminate any issues with other IR-based devices in your house. Essentially, this mode offers better range and power than the Lan Party setting without causing possible long range communication problems with things like HDTV remotes.

Finally, if you are in a home setting with no worries about this monitor interfering with consumer electronics you will need to do nothing as the default “normal” mode will give you more range and a better user experience than . If you do find this monitor interfering with devices we would recommend trying CE Compatible mode first and only using LAN Party mode if you absolutely have to as the beam it emits is awfully narrow and quite weak.


Sadly, while you may get a lot of fine grain control over the 3D abilities of this monitor, there isn't much control over the more mundane. For example there is absolutely no control over gamma. This makes competitors' options – such as Samsung – seem down right opulent by comparison. Thankfully you do have complete and independent control over Red, Green, and Blue as well as sharpness, contrast, saturation and even skin tone.



To help minimize the sub optimal advanced abilities in non game related areas, ASUS includes six preset modes to chose from including Theatre, Game, sRGB, Scenery, Night and the typical Standard mode. This should give most consumers more than enough options but it doesn't completely make up for the near lack of fine grain controls you would expect in a monitor in this price range. To be fair, each mode does give you more than adequate levels of control for specific situations. More to the point, there should be at least one mode which will fit one’s needs adequately.
 
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AkG

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Image Quality (Uniformity / Gamma)

Image Quality (Uniformity / Gamma)


Calibrated Settings

Please remember that the settings below have been calibrated for our specific environment and your viewing conditions may differ from ours.

Mode: Standard
Brightness: 0

All other settings left at standard defaults.

Notes:
- All tests done at default settings at 120 cd/m2.
- Unless otherwise noted, the tests were carried out via HDMI (when possible) or DVI.


Since the ASUS VG278H spreads its resolution of 1920 x 1080 over such a large surface, we didn’t have exceedingly high expectations for its overall performance. The reason for this is quite simple: due to the close proximity of the viewer in relation to the screen, the larger pixels could result in a blurry, less than crisp viewing experience. However, after using this monitor for several weeks our preference for higher definition 27” panels still stands but ASUS managed to impress us in other areas. The main reason for this is the inclusion of an intuitive OSD that allows for above average colour reproduction with minor effort.

Part of the secret to this success is the rather high standards NVIDIA has laid down for their 3D Vision 2 certification. In order to compensate for the glasses’ polarization, ASUS needed to create an extremely bright monitor capable of producing a whopping 467 cd/m2 when LightBoost is enabled. Unfortunately, even with the panel set to zero output, the lowest we were able to achieve was a little over 136 cd/m2 which is perfect for most viewers but it may still be too much for some.


Panel Uniformity


In a perfect world a screen’s brightness output would be equal throughout the entire panel. This is not a perfect world, but the lower the variation the less chances you will notice overly bright or dark sections on the screen. For the consumer LCD marketplace a variance of 10% is our gold standard but anything below 15% can be considered excellent as we doubt anyone will notice a -7.5 to +7.5 variation. A variation above 15% but below 24% can be considered adequate, but anything above this does not meet our basic minimum standards.


While there is a rather large variance from one section of the panel to another a delta of around 18% between the brightest and darkest portions is actually quite good. Larger monitors usually have more variance due to the amount of real estate but luckily this is spread over a wider area instead of being condensed onto a smaller screen.

More importantly, while the VG278H did have a moderate amount of variance in its output, you will not notice it or even know about it unless you run this test. In real world settings we never noticed any dark or bright spots and this includes stereo 3D environmental testing as well.


Gamma Performance


Gamma correction is one of the hardest terms to explain. However, for our purposes the gamma correction of any electronics device is how bright or dark an image will be displayed on a screen.

All PC devices now use 2.20 gamma as the default. Any variance from this will result in an image being either underexposed which will create black crush and underexposed shadow detail or washed out with too little black level detail (aka being over-exposed).

While 2.20 is the gold standard, a minor deviation of 0.10 will in all likelihood never be noticed by anyone other than professional photographers. Higher levels of deflection however will be noticed by just about everyone.




With a default gamma of 2.15, the Asus VG278H can be considered more than adequate for most consumers’ needs. We truly doubt that most viewer – especially those in the intended gaming niche – will notice such a small variance.

This is actually one of the few TN based, non professional monitors which has a default gamma level we would consider more than “good enough” for home users.
 
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AkG

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Colour Saturation Levels / Default RGB Levels

Colour Saturation Levels


While there are numerous colors the human eye can’t “see”, the human color space confined to three primary colors and combinations thereof. To make things easier for manufactures (and not waste resources displaying colors we can’t see) a color space was mathematically described and while various models do exist, the CIE RGB color space is the de facto standard.

In the below image, the dark triangle which isn’t highlighted is the sRGB color space while the overall CIE color space is displayed as the background colors. Meanwhile, the white triangle with highlighted color represents the results of what a given monitor can display. No monitor can display the entire CIE color spectrum but a good monitor should be able to display the sRGB spectrum of possible colors as this is usually used as the standard for image encoding.

A monitor which uses the “wide color gamut” moniker can display more than the sRGB spectrum and is considered primarily for professional use. If a monitor cannot cover off the entire sRGB triangle, the resulting image will appear “off” to an observer. The end result is a picture displayed on the panel which won’t be as rich, vibrant or as correct as it should be.



It is unfortunate that this TN panel does not have a better color gamut than this, but by the same token it all likelihood will never be used by a professional or semi-professional in a business environment. With that being said, it is unfortunate as this does lower the all round / general appeal of this monitor. Luckily, as we will show later in the review, the colors were adequate for the VG278H’s main design areas: games and movies. As long as you don’t expect vivid colors you will more than happy with what this panel can provide.


Default RGB Levels


An LCD or LCD LED backlit panel relies on accurately blending Red, Green and Blue pixel clusters to create an overall image so closer to each of these colours is to a “perfect” 100 output, the better and more accurate the default colors will be.

In this case, we have a low tolerance for anything less than perfection since any color shift can be noticeable even to untrained eyes and will require a color correction be applied at the software level to overcome a monitor’s stock output. We do however consider a minor variation of only a few points per color to be acceptable.



While the overall color gamut was a tad less than optimal the default colors were bloody impressive. To be honest, a 101/99/100 default is such a minor variation from perfection as to be all but unnoticeable. For this reason we are not even including a manual tweaking section as there is nothing to tweak. If all Asus VG278H’s are like this particular sample, then you really can consider this a “plug and play” monitor which will need no tweaking before use. There are very few monitors which can boast of such a feat and even the Samsung SyncMaster 27A850 could not.
 
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AkG

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Viewing Angles / Contrast Ratio / Power Consumption

Viewing Angles


Unlike CRT displays, the manner in which LCD panels create an image can result in one large weakness: the image can lose contrast when viewed off angle. While we do not recommend watching an LCD at anything besides perfectly straight on, the reality is this cannot always be done.

To help give you a glimpse of what a panel will look like when seen from either above the horizontal or vertical plane we have taken pictures at fairly extreme angles.



TN-based panels have never been known for their extensive viewing angles so we fully expected ASUS’s gaming monitor to follow suit. What we got instead was a surprise since this particular monitor featured very little of the off-angle colour shift and contrast loss that’s normally associated with TN technology.

You certainly won’t be able to view the VG278H from edge on but for anyone that dodges bullets in FPS games and “leans” into the corners when racing against competitors, there should be none of the perceptible image quality reduction that plagues comparably priced monitors. This carried over into the stereo 3D viewing area as well since the “sweet spot” for great color reproduction was relatively wide.


Maximum Contrast Ratio


Unlike CRT displays, the manner in which LCD panels create an image can result in one large weakness: the image can lose contrast when viewed off angle. While we do not recommend watching an LCD at anything besides perfectly straight on ,the reality is this cannot always be done.

To help give you a glimpse of what a panel will look like when seen from either above the horizontal or vertical plane we have taken pictures at fairly extreme angles.




If viewing angles is the largest weakness of TN designs, their maximum real world contrast ratio can only be considered an Achilles’ Heel. This is why it came as no surprise that the ASUS VG278H does have lowered contrast abilities when compared to professional-grade solutions. Luckily, for a TN panel it exhibits numbers that are on the high side and actually much better than we have come to expect from comparable solutions.


Power Consumption


To obtain the maximum number we set the monitors brightness to 100% and the contrast to 100%. The Calibrated results are taken at 120 cd/m2 with the contrast set to the default level.



Considering the VG278H’s size, we were reasonably impressed by how frugal it is, particularly once calibration has been finished. Even when the default brightness cranks out its “eye searing” levels, this large 27” monitor sips less power than what some –admittedly IPS based - 24” models do. Just remember that when used in 3D mode, LightBoost will mean a few extra watts are used for the backlight.
 
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AkG

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Gaming Performance / Movie Performance

Gaming Performance




The entire raison d’être of the ASUS VG278H is gaming and that’s exactly where it rightfully shines. Due to the highly accurate out of box colors, the setup is as plug and play as they come but if you are going to be playing any 2D games, we still recommend adjusting the brightness to more sensible levels to a more sensible level and enjoy. This is however first and foremost a 3D gaming monitor and as such we have broken up our gaming experiences into separate sections for 2D and 3D .


3D Gaming on the Asus VG278H



For many consumers who have used the first generation of stereoscopic 3D setups, headaches, and a lack of brightness were two very understandable complaints. Through countless forum posts, word of these issues spread like wildfire and potential clients decided to let the technology reach a point of increased maturity rather than taking the plunge too quickly.

Luckily for the future of PC stereoscopic viewing, NVIDIA and their monitor partners (ASUS in particular) have made the use of better timing, backlight overdrive (aka LightBoost) and a few other new features to make the 3D experience much more user friendly. The difference between the first and second generation monitors really is like night and day. First and foremost it means that games played in 3D on the VG278H appear just as bright as they would in 2D mode while also allowing the active shutters on the glasses to remain open longer, thus retaining more ambient light as well.

The end result of all of this technological innovation is simply stunning, with a rich and immersive experience that is simply unmatched by any 2D monitor. Even the sub-optimal dot pitch of this monitor ends up being quickly cast aside as you become wholly dedicated to the increased depth of every game you play.

We did however notice the occasionally hiccup in the form of image ghosting where the incorrect image (e.g. left eye image) would “bleed” over and on to the other image (i.e. the right image) and vice versa. It happened mainly towards the top half and edges of the screen and was very subtle color and image edge bleeding rather than “look at me” levels of crosstalk. To be perfectly candid, all 3D monitors suffer from this to some extent and unless you were looking for crosstalk / ghosting it would probably go unnoticed during in game sequences.

The only really major issue we ran into with 3D gaming and the Asus VG278H is not the fault of the monitor. NVIDIA’s 3D Vision 2 glasses may be much improved over the first generation but they are still abundantly noticeable when worn. This is especially true if you wear prescription glasses. They can still be easily worn over your prescription frames, but the lenses will be slightly further away from your eyes than they were obviously designed to be. This coupled with a comparatively small (but still larger than the first generation) lens size means peripheral vision will be impaired in many cases. Luckily, you’ll quickly adapt to the lowered peripheral vision.

To be fair, even with these issues we still felt the overall stereoscopic experience was well worth the price of entry. It may have not been perfect, but we can see ourselves going back and revisiting older games we own as the in game immersion this ASUS / NVIDIA partnership provides is both unique and stunning to behold.


2D Gaming on the Asus VG278H



2D gaming with the ASUS VG278H is the equivalent of using a Formula 1 race car to go pick up a quart of milk at the corner store. This thing has been designed from the ground up for speed. Provided your GPU setup can handle it, the ability to use a 120Hz refresh rate coupled with a 2ms response rate is able to create a buttery smooth gaming experience in which there will be absolutely no ghosting or any other negatives associated with LCDs.

Unfortunately, while in 3D gaming mode the “gee whiz” factor can obfuscate the 1920 x 1080 resolution, the same cannot be said of 2D gaming. Even with Anti-Aliasing enabled and every other trick a GPU can throw at an image to make it more realistic, the fact still remains that this large 27” monitor has a rather low number of pixels for its size. Images just will not be as crisp and clear as they would be on a 24” or smaller monitor. If you do sit slightly further away than you normally would this issue is quickly alleviated though.



2D / 3D Movie Performance



As with our gaming experience, the default “out of the box” color profile does not require any tweaking for movies. Sadly – and much like gaming - watching 2D movies is an experience best undertaken from distances further than those normally associated with PC monitors. At anything under 36” away, the images will appear blurry and under defined.


Luckily, 3D Blu-Rays are becoming more prevalent and this truly is the only way to watch a movie on the ASUS VG278H. With the help of NVIDIA’s wizardry, even movies which are downright tedious to watch are more tolerable and even can be considered mildly enjoyable. Unfortunately, even when watching the most engrossing movie in 3D the crosstalk issue will become more noticeable than with gaming. To be blunt, in gaming you are concentrating on the game and taking an active role in the story development whereas with movies you are a passive viewer who has more than enough time to notice crosstalk, color bleeding and everything else that goes along with 3D.

Naturally, the better the 3D conversion was done the less you will notice any issues. Sadly, the amount of movies available which fully utilize three dimensions to enhance a story are rather limited. More importantly - and unlike 3D gaming - the “OMG they are in 3D” spell wears off quickly. The sad fact of the matter is, most stereoscopic movies haven’t changed much from the last 3D craze in the 1970’s: rather than enhancing the story, 3D gets in the way of telling it.

The sorry state of new 3D movies isn’t any fault of ASUS but the end result is the same and we certainly would not recommend purchasing the VG278H if movies are you main priority. The large pixel pitch and rather anemic title selection makes it a rather poor value for your investment.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


Like it or not, 3D is here to stay until Hollywood says otherwise and in the HDTV realm a least, that means years of image quality sacrifices are ahead of us. On the PC monitor front, the quality of stereoscopic 3D panels seems to be gradually improving as NVIDIA gradually asserts their control over the specifications attached to their monitor partners’ products. For the time being -or at least until AMD gets over their failed “open platform” bender- 3D Vision 2 is the way to go for anyone considering in-game stereoscopic 3D and the ASUS VG278H is one of the best monitors available if you want support for NVIDIA’s technology.

When it comes to stereo 3D gaming, the VG278H is a resounding success since it incorporates a number of features that immeasurably help anyone transitioning away from 2D. Instead of requiring hours of setup time, the intuitive OSD and excellent default colour profile allow for a successful plug and play experience with a minimum of end user input. Even if you find the out of box experience to be lacking, ASUS provides enough easily accessible options that relatively fine grain control can be applied to nearly every possible aspect of this monitor. Even during 2D gaming it was able to wow us with a true non-interpolated 120Hz refresh rate which is still something of a rarity these days. We did however find ourselves wishing for the on-the-fly depth adjustments granted by the dynamic wheel on NVIDIA’s 3D Vision breakout box but the integrated IR emitter on the VG278H was still able to adequately meet (and in some cases surpass) our needs.

The inclusion of NVIDIA-specific features like LightBoost and anti ghosting technology shouldn’t be overlooked either. Take LightBoost for example; its overdrive profile dynamically increases the LED backlight which virtually eliminates the much complained about brightness dropoff when using active polarized glasses. Not only do these features enhance immersion but they also add improvements in precisely the areas we found lacking with previous generation 3D monitors.

Unfortunately, there are some areas where ASUS’ newest gaming monitor falls short. It may incorporate a gaggle of features meant to take stereo 3D to the next level but minor amounts of crosstalk still creep into the image every now and then. We’re also not a fan of the 1080P resolution stretched across such a large surface but that’s the price you have to pay for a (somewhat) bargain price. That low resolution acts as a double sided sword though since you’d have to pay a fortune for graphics card setup that can play stereoscopic games at anything above 1080P.

One of the main questions you have to ask yourself before plunging into the 3D monitor pool is whether the investment is worth it or not. By selling their VG278H for a price of about $650, ASUS is forcing their potential consumers to either go 3D and accept a TN panel or pay the big bucks for a higher resolution IPS or PLS display. The ultimate direction of a purchase will be up to you but by including a pair of 3D Vision 2 glasses and an integrated IR emitter alongside an excellent all-round gaming monitor with a 3 year warranty, ASUS has brought a surprising amount of value to what used to be a highly overpriced market niche.

 
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