Looking for a 27-inch monitor that doesn't tip the $1,000 scale? We can point you in the right direction; however, be aware that the more you pay for a monitor of that size, the more you're likely to get out of it. At least with the ones on our list.
The astute among you will notice that the monitor reviewed here, the Asus VE276Q, isn't on that list. That doesn't mean it's a particularly bad monitor. It just doesn't offer enough in terms of performance and features to warrant a stronger recommendation. The biggest thing the Asus has going for it is its price. At $330, it has the lowest price of the recent 27-inchers we've reviewed, and it includes a useful assortment of connections and built-in speakers. Unfortunately, the speaker sound is muffled; there's a slight green tint to the image compared with the BenQ M2700HD; and it has fewer connection options than the BenQ M2700HD as well, which costs only $20 more. Unless that $20 is a big deal for you, we recommend the BenQ M2700HD over the Asus VE276Q, thanks to its better performance and more numerous features.
Design and features
The 27-inch Asus VE276Q has a piano-black chassis, with a semiglossy finish. The Bezel is convex in shape and measures 0.8 inch on the right and left sides, and there's about 2.4 inches of space between the bottom of the bezel and the desktop, making accessing the connection options a bit of a hassle. The panel depth is smaller than we expected for a 27-incher, measuring 0.9 inch in its initial depth, but it extends back another 1.25 inches when factoring in the connection options. This brings the monitor's full depth to 2.15 inches, which is a shorter depth than the BenQ's 2.6 inches. The display's full width measures 25.25 inches, which is about what we'd expect from a monitor of this size.
The circular footstand measures 8.6 inches in diameter, and the neck of the display attaches to the foot stand and provides a 10-degree back tilt. No other ergonomic options are included. The back of the panel shares the front's glossy black look and includes VESA wall support. On the top back are many small slits, which the sound from the built-in speakers emanates. Located in the center of the slits is an ambient light sensor that will adjust the level of luminance emanating from the backlight, depending on the amount of ambient light in the room. This can be toggled on or off in the onscreen display (OSD). On the right side of the back is one HDMI port, a DVI port, a VGA port, and a DisplayPort.
On the spine of the bottom right side of the bezel is the OSD array, aligned horizontally, with a blue, glowing power button on the far right. The array consists of six buttons: Menu, Up, Down, Source, a preset shortcut button, and a PIP shortcut button. The Up and Down buttons also double as speaker volume and brightness shortcuts, respectively.
The labels for each function are located above the buttons, on the front face of the bezel, and are a suitably bright white in color. Unless calibrating in a dark room, the buttons have enough space between them that you can easily differentiate which one you're currently pressing, even if the labels themselves can't be seen in the dark. Unfortunately, the blue light from the power button's LED doesn't help much; in fact, the power button is tucked a little too far under the bottom of the panel to even been seen most of the time.
The OSD includes the usual options of Brightness, Contrast, and Sharpness. Also, when in Night View Mode, you're given the option of adjusting the saturation and changing the skin tone to natural, yellowish, or reddish. Why this option is only available in Night View is a mystery to us. It would have been useful to use in other presets.
Navigating the OSD proved frustrating during the few days we spent with the monitor. The Up and Down buttons are separated by the Menu button, and the Menu button acts as the "enter" button. So, when blindly navigating, we found that more often than not, instead of pressing down or up, we mistakenly pressed Menu, which was annoying. Also, pressing the OSD buttons caused the screen to wobble noticeably.
Sound options for the built-in speakers offered more than most monitors do, with bass, treble, and right and left balance adjustment included, in addition to volume.
|Connectivity||HDMI, DVI, VGA, DisplayPort|
|Ergonomic options||10-degree back tilt|
|Included video cables?||DVI, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort|
|Number of presets||6|
|Picture options||Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness|
|Color controls||Color temperature control (yellowish, reddish, natural), RGB controls|
|Additional features||Ambient light sensor|
DisplayMate performance: We tested the Asus VE276Q through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 82 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests--a few points lower than the BenQ M2700HD's 87. Even after calibration, the VE276Q crushed dark gray in our Extreme Grayscale Bars test and was only able to display as low as a Level 8 gray, indicating that the monitor would have trouble displaying dark details. The consistent theme with most of our color tests was, "Great, now if only we could get rid of this green tint." We weren't able to. Though the green tint isn't offensive to an egregious level, it's noticeable, especially when next to a monitor that doesn't have the same problem. In our Dark Screen test, the VE276Q produced very visible backlight bleed-through or clouding at the bottom edge of the screen, but less bleeding than the BenQ M2700HD.
Text: In text, we saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were visible down to a 6.8-point size, and were sharper than on the BenQ M2700HD.
Movies: We tested the Asus VE276Q using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The green tint problem carried over to movies, but wasn't something we'd likely notice if the monitor wasn't sitting right next to the BenQ M2700HD, which didn't have the same color problem. The Asus' Theater preset was not as apt as the BenQ in displaying dark detail in dark scenes, either. During one of the nighttime scenes, some of the details of the Na'vi's hair couldn't be seen, but were more noticeable on the BenQ M2700HD. Increasing the contrast only brought the black closer to gray, something you want to avoid when calibrating a monitor.
Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with World of Warcraft (WoW), it remains the best tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games. We looked at WoW in the Asus VE276Q's Game preset and found the display to deliver a bright image with a good level of vibrancy; however, when directly compared with the BenQ M2700HD, we (once again) noticed a slight green tint to the image. Again, we need to stress that this isn't something we'd likely notice if the two monitors weren't sitting right next to each other.