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As a followup question to this one... I'll be buying new monitors early next year, as an upgrade to the three Samsung 245T monitors I currently have. I have been quite pleased with these monitors, but am moving, and don't want to take them with me, so it's a good chance to upgrade.

Based on the information in the above mentioned post, I've settled on an IPS panel monitor, and came across two monitors that, by all specs, appear to be practically identical. But the price tags are anything but identical. So my question is; how do these monitors differ, specifically as it relates to photo editing? And if possible, how can I tell by researching them online?

I'm not asking for product reviews or recommendations; I'm trying to learn to understand monitors, and using these as case studies.

First monitor (directly referenced in the above post): LaCie 324i Price: US$1399

Second monitor: Asus PA246Q Price: US$494

Looking at the spec sheets on the two monitors, I see that they both use a P-IPS panel with 10-bit display (1.073B colors), have the same color saturation, same aspect ratio, display size and resolution. Both offer a 0.270mm dot pitch, and 178° viewing angle, same Luminance, and same response time.

One spec I can't compare directly is contrast ratio, as the Asus spec sheet only shows the "ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio" rather than the true contrast ratio.

The only actual differences I can see from the spec sheets are:

  • The LaCie has audio input and output jacks.
  • The LaCie weighs an extra 1kg
  • The LaCie is slightly larger
  • The LaCie uses 25% more power (50% more in standby)

So... What, if anything, is the meaningful difference between these monitors?

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Well, the LaCie also has analog component video capability, for one thing. And there's the "adjustable backlight stabilization".

That's not to say that the Asus is a lesser device in any way. I have no direct experience with either of these particular models. I just know from experience that there's a reason why LaCie (like Eizo, whose offerings are equally pricey) has been able to command a high price over the years. The colour and contrast are rock-solid and consistent, perhaps to a degree not actually required for photo editing. Periodic "recalibration" is almost an exercise in confirmation of the existing profile -- it can be months before anything actually changes.

For all I know, the Asus monitor may be every bit as reliable and consistent. And it may be better than merely good enough. But when you're doing colour work to Pantone specs, it makes a big enough difference to warrant the extra cost for certainty, and Asus hasn't quite proven themselves yet.

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