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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  • sviola - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    If it wasn't for LCDs, probably no one would have monitors/tvs bigger than 30" (and a CRT that size was huge and extremely heavy).
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    Rear projection TVs got into the 50/60" class.
  • Mumrik - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    And 32" was the standard size for a widescreen TV in the living room around here...
  • ctbaars - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    I remember the same kind of argument when we went from Vinyl to CD :/ I'm not quite buying it.
  • Mumrik - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    I'm still using a Sony FW900.

    To be honest, it's not in tip-top shape anymore - the picture could be sharper. I had hoped to be able to use it until OLED arrived in the mainstream (as it was supposed to do YEARS ago). At this point I'm starting to consider 24-27" IPS panels.
  • JohnMD1022 - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    My NEC Multisync FE992 still performs flawlessly.

    When it begins to fail, I'll replace it.

    Meanwhile, with each passing day, LCD technology improves and prices drop. :)
  • futrtrubl - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    The numbers seem off for a couple of the displays with their minimum brightness settings drawing MORE power. That's the two NECs, the Apple and a Dell and BenQ.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    You are correct, sir! I've updated the chart so that the colors and min/max values are now correct.
  • cheinonen - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    Sorry about that, they got flipped in a version of the spreadsheet I use for the numbers and I thought they were fixed in the most recent one, but I'll update that again so it doesn't happen next time.
  • asasa45454 - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    Are you going to review them? They have input lag ~10ms, 2560x1440.

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