Those who work with high-end photography, graphics or video programs rely on monitors with quality color reproduction above all else. The best graphics displays have a wide color range and can represent colors accurately across various color space standards like AdobeRGB, sRGB and others. Professional-grade displays, however, can cost a fortune.
That said, the 24-inch Asus PA246Q (*Est. $450) offers much of the performance and many of the features of some of the higher-performing displays for a fraction of the cost. Its P-IPS panel comes pre-calibrated from the factory, so colors are well-saturated and accurate right out of the box. Viewing angles are wide and color fidelity is maintained, even when the image is viewed from well off-center. Grayscale performance is quite good, reviewers say, though dark-end performance could be better.
The monitor's native resolution is 1,920 pixels by 1,200 pixels with 16:10 widescreen aspect ratio; movies and games typically look great. Its CCFL backlight is bright, which prevents the monitor from obtaining truly deep blacks, some sources say. That's one of the few trade-offs in getting a graphics/photo-quality monitor at its price. The PA246Q comes with a wealth of features and adjustment options. A feature that stands out is Quick Fit, an onscreen grid overlay function that can be useful for sizing up artwork; the measurement notches just outside the screen compliment this feature. Ergonomic options are plentiful, and connectivity features include the essentials plus an HDMI and DisplayPort inputs.
If price is no object, the HP DreamColor LP2480zx (*Est. $2,250) is the ultimate color performer -- in fact, it's the best performing monitor, period. It's also very expensive, experts say, though the price tag may be justifiable for those doing professional/commercial work. Pluses include a 30-bit IPS panel, which allows for a broader array of colors than most consumer displays.
For most, however, the Asus PA246Q provides ample -- though not class-leading -- performance at a hard-to-beat price. For less than $500, users can get their hands on an IPS display that produces colors rich and vibrant enough to satisfy most graphics professionals. The 30-inch Dell UltraSharp U3011 ($1,085) is also an excellent IPS performer, though it costs about twice as much as the Asus PA246Q.