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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  • doubledeej - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    I'm still not able to figure out why people buy the Apple LCDs... displays from other manufacturers in the same price range have far better specs. If you compare performance to price, the Apple options are at the bottom of the list. They really aren't that good. Sure, they're great compared to a $150 Dell, but next to other options in the 27" size they don't hold up very well.
  • ectoplasmosis - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    They use the same panel as all the other 27" 2560x1440 screens (as far as I'm aware, LG is the only manufacturer making such panels).

    Apart from backlighting and features, the rest of the differentiation is in the panel manufacturing variance.

    I bought mine because it's glossy (huge bonus for me), it looks fantastic and comes with serviceable speakers and a webcam built-in. And the after-sales service means if it goes tits up I can drive 5 minutes down the road and get an instant exchange.

    All those things are worth the premium in my eyes.
  • André - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    It works fine with Mini-DisplayPort to adapters.

    Not sure where you got the "only works with Thunderbolt" from though.
  • tzhu07 - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    I've owned the PA271W for over a year now and it's been very great to me. I work as a web developer/designer and everything looks sharp and accurate. Surprised Anandtech just got around to showcasing the monitor.
  • bishop2020 - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    You guys have reviewed the Dell U2711 in the past and it strikes me as the most comparable monitor to the NEC, curious why it would be omitted from the comparison tables while a bunch of smaller panels were included.
  • InterClaw - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    That, and the Dell U3011 as well is strangely missing now.
  • cheinonen - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    Once I get past 15 results in the data, it becomes too hard to read the results. I've been favoring the more recent results since they are done using the i1Pro and not the i1Display2, and so the results are more accurate and more directly comparable. I will see if I can pull in the 27" and 30" numbers for the past displays to replace those that are in there this week.
  • bishop2020 - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    Thanks, looking forward to seeing the numbers side-by-side. In my opinion anytime I see reviews for 2560 res monitors I see them as an entirely different class of monitor and the price especially seems to segregate it from everything else as well. I could see throwing in 1 or 2 of the higher-rated 1920 screens for reference but anyone whose even considering spending $700-$1200 for a monitor probably knows they want a 2560 res monitor for a reason and isn't considering a 1920 at all so the other numbers just add noise to the data they're really looking for. Thanks again :)
  • Veni - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    The NEC's built in KVM/USB switch functionality is very intriguing to me. Does anyone know of any cheaper monitors which have the ability to switch the USB uplink based on the display input?
  • tygrus - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - link

    ".. for my use .."

    Reviews like this should have multiple headings with sections targeted at a different audience. It's OK to include your 'general home use' self but don't forget that there may be others who do graphical/multimedia work or hobby that appreciate some of the more advanced features. Let the reader choose which target audience they are and focus on a different conclusion. Don't discount just because it's not recommended for gamers.

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