NEC PA271W - Design and Specifications

As long as I’ve been following, using, or writing about computers, NEC has been a leader in displays. From the early MultiSync monitors to their current line of LCDs, they have been focused more on pushing performance than on dropping price, which has kept many of us from owning one of their displays. Of course, there is a large swath of users that always want to have the best, and are willing to pay for it.

Back with a CRT, this was pretty easy to do. We didn’t have to worry about lag, we could run multiple resolutions on a display natively, and if a display supported higher resolutions, faster refresh rates, and better sharpness, it was likely going to work for most power users. Now the field is a little different, as you have to worry about the native resolution of your panel, the response time, viewing angles, color quality, and more. All of this has led to a marketplace with different solutions for different needs than before where a "one-size-fits-all" approach doesn't really exist anymore.

Virtually every 27” 2560x1440 IPS display out there currently uses a panel from LG as its starting point. From there your choices can be from CCFL or LED backlights, sRGB or AdobeRGB color gamuts, and the electronics you wish to engineer behind the panel. It is in the panel electronics and settings that NEC adds their own engineering to set their displays apart from the rest.

When you take it out of the box, you’ll notice that the PA271W is very large and almost overbuilt. Where many lower end, consumer focused panels are engaged in a race to how thin they can be, the NEC is a sizable display that is fairly heavy and takes up a large amount of space. One reason for the large size is the presence of a custom designed cooling system for the CCFL backlight. As the monitor warms up and the lamp comes up to its full operating temperature, it can cause color shifts across the panel. NEC is aware of this and has made the display as large as necessary to deal with this issue.

To further deal with color shifts across the panel, NEC has a display uniformity option that lets you sacrifice maximum brightness for a smaller shift across the panel. Each panel is individually measured and calibrated at the factory for this feature, so that if you are looking at a solid white screen it should remain white across the whole screen, free of any shifts to red, green, or blue. There is also a pair of upstream USB connectors instead of the usual one, which allows the NEC to function as a KVM switch as you move between inputs.

The OSD in the NEC is full of all the information you could want to know, from the current colorspace and brightness to how much power you have used since you installed the display. The menu system works well, with labels for all the controls that appear on the screen when you pop it up. It does a good job of not changing how different buttons interact with the menu on different screens, which is what makes some OSD systems a pain to navigate, but it does spread the buttons out a bit which makes it harder to navigate than those from Dell. Overall the OSD is well done.

Of course with an IPS panel you expect good viewing angles, and the NEC doesn’t disappoint here. If you get to extreme viewing angles you can start to see a bit of a shift, but it’s impossible to do any work with an angle like that so I wouldn’t consider it an issue at all.

Video Inputs 1x DisplayPort, 2x DVI-DL
Panel Type IPS (8-bit native, 10-bit with A-FRC)
Pixel Pitch 0.23mm
Colors 1.07 Billion
Brightness 300 nits
Contrast Ratio 1000:1
Response Time 7ms
Viewable Size 27"
Resolution 2560x1440
Viewing Angle 178/178 Horizontal/Vertical Degrees
Backlight CCFL
Power Consumption (operation) 117W
Power Consumption (standby) 1.4W
Screen Treatment Anti-Glare
Height-Adjustable Yes
Tilt Yes
Pivot Yes
Swivel Yes
VESA Wall Mounting Yes, 100x100mm or 100x200mm
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 25.2 x 15.6-21.5 x 9.3 in.
Weight 30 lbs
Additional Features 2 USB Up, 2 USB Down, 14-bit LUT
Limited Warranty 4 years
Accessories DisplayPort cable, USB Cable, DVI Cable, Power Cord. Optional SpectraView calibration package.
Price $1098 + shipping online (as of May 1, 2012)

NEC PA271W - MultiProfiler and SpectraView
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  • SlyNine - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    CRTs had their own problems. Geometry not lining up, convergence. CRTs were far from perfect.

    Whats sad is manufactures completely abandoned the market. I would probably have been using CRTs up until this 120hz LCD if I actually had an option.
  • Dantte - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    funny you say this. I'm still using a NEC FP2141 CRT as my main gaming monitor, but this is changing as of this week. I just ordered an Asus 27" 120Hz VG278H, I hope it doesnt disappoint.
  • Sabresiberian - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    Ugh I couldn't stand that monitor. 1920x1080 on a 27" screen? No way, those pixels are the size of a truck.

    That, of course, would probably be a different story at television viewing distance. At monitor distance? Not for me.

    It's hard though; 2560x1440 and 60 Hz, or 1920x1080 at 120Hz? Frankly, I don't like either option very much. I'm used to 60Hz though, so I decided on 2560x1440 and bought a Dell U2711 (a few months before the HP was available). Let me tell you, as someone whose other monitor is a Sony GDM FW900 CRT, I'm very pleased with the U2711.

    In my mind, the picture quality of the best CRTs still is overall better than the best LCDs, and I, like you, can only wonder at where they would be if development had continued. Still, I think the LCD has a better future, so I'm not complaining too much. I just wish they'd get on with building better quality ones (especially better refresh rates).

    The main advantages, of course, are price and size. The Sony FW900 was $2500 back in the early 2000's, and 21-22" was about the limit, and it's hard for me to imagine we could have a high quality 27" or 30" CRT at a price I could afford (not to mention the weight of such a beast!). In a way, it was fortuitous that the CRT industry pretty much died, because I probably would never have been able to buy an FW900 otherwise. (I was able to get mine for about $700, refurbished and with a one year warranty, about 3 years ago.)

    Size is a big factor, for me, and the reason I won't buy another CRT, even the fabulous FW900. There are of course other factors. I'm leaning towards a 30" for my next purchase - but frankly, again, I'm not happy with my options. Current 30" monitors have an acceptable pixel pitch, for me, but just barely, and it's really going to stand out since I have the better one in the 27" 2560x1440 format.

  • Dracusis - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    I have a Dell WFP2707 which is 27" 1920x1200, the pixel pitch is perfect for me, any smaller and I'd be leaning in too far to read things and wouldn't be able to "see" everything at once. IMO it's a better match than 2560x1440 and it's a lot easier to drive at native res for games - and with all the cheap shader based AA options now you really don't notice the pixels at all. Dot pitch is no bigger than the old 19" 1280x1024 displays. Generally IO'm about 2.5 ft away form my display when using it..

    Also, as a designer, pixels are my stock in trade so I kinda like being able to see them If I lean in close.
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link
  • IllegalTacos - Monday, May 14, 2012 - link

    I have that monitor and I really like it. The pixels are large, as Sabresiberian said, but personally I am not bothered by it. I went from 60hz to 120hz so I was grinning at the fluid motion of dragging windows around. Since you're probably going to be playing 3D games, I'll just mention it's awesome. If you aren't on the Nvidia 3D forum, here's the link <
    I'd suggest Crysis 2, Battlefield 3, and Trine 2 for great 3D. The 3D vision forum does have plenty of suggestions though. I hope you enjoy it!

    Also, I didn't get that weird oval effect a lot of people reported. Apparently ASUS fixed that with the new batches, but it's still best to keep an eye out for it.
    <> Link to the relevant thread.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    Once mass market consumers and professionals abandoned CRTs there weren't enough users left to maintain production lines.
  • Sabresiberian - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    I think it was the other way around; the industry jumped on the LCD bandwagon and didn't even try to compete with the CRT. The general public was largely lead by the nose to make the change.

  • cacca - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    LCD are the biggest Con/Swindle of the latest 15 years.

    So far we are not yet at the same level of the past CRT, you can imagine how crappy were LCDs at that time.

    Basically they blackmailed reviews and created the myth of coolness for the LCD.

    They were indeed thinner and lighter, really god send in this area, but utterly crap and pricey.

    If they had put the same effort for the crt and short neck technologies... well we would had better crt, heavier but with no doubt superior to the LCD we have now.
  • JonScaife - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    I had some nice CRTs considering my budget (Samsung 700IFT and Iiyama VM Pro 454 spring to mind) but I prefer my HP ZR24w now to any CRT I had then - for 1 simple reason - eye strain. I put it down to the flickering on CRTs, even at 100Hz on a 17" screen it would get me after a few hours. For the vast vast majority a "consumer" (i.e. cheap) 17 or 19" flat panel now is a huge leap from the 14 and 15" "consumer" CRTs they've replaced. Geometry was always an issue with CRTs too - and only gets tougher to do the bigger the screen gets. Just try looking at a PC display on a CRT TV, even an HD CRT TV (yes, they made them, I have one!) - the geometry is awful. Good geometry large size CRTs have always been like rocking-horse dung - and were priced accordingly.

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