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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  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    I have three bones to pick:

    1. The sRGB color space is important, more important than AdobeRGB for most users, and yet Anandtech's monitor reviews always fail to provide information about sRGB coverage and use AdobeRGB as the baseline for comparison.

    2. The chart heading calling monitor gamut "color quality" is misleading, especially when dealing with wide-gamut monitors that have non-functioning sRGB modes -- leading to overly saturated color when viewing sRGB content. For many users, such a monitor would be considered to have inferior color "quality". Also, for sRGB content, a standard gamut monitor with good uniformity and good black level would have good "color quality" when used with sRGB content—potentially better than a wide-gamut monitor with poor black level. Change it to "color range", "gamut", or something else that doesn't give the impression that the colors the monitor is capable of representing are somehow better simply because there are more of them.

    3. There is still no mention of PWM flicker in the article, or whether or not this model uses PWM or constant control.
  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    The other problem with "color quality" as a heading is that it doesn't reflect banding, noise, and other issues related to FRC dithering, the lack of a hardware LUT, broken hardware firmware (as was documented in the Dell U2410 by -- user mode wasn't working properly), and such.
  • bjnicholls - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - link

    sRGB is a small subset of ARGB. Any wide gamut display used with proper color managed workflow can accurately display the thin, weak color gruel that is sRGB.

    sRGB is the "least common denominator" color space and the only thing important about it is knowing how to deliver images optimized for sRGB with as few negative effects as possible.
  • beebbeeb - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - link

    A review of any "professional" grade monitor would not be complete without benching it against the gold standard : Eizo. On reviewing Anandtech archive the last review of an Eizo was in 2006, a shootout involving Eizo L997, which duly came out as the champ. On the strength of that review, I bought one for nearly US$2,000 in 2006, used for viewing CAD drawings. Look forward to a "hottubbing" of the NEC, Eizo and other professional monitors.
  • appliance5000 - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - link

    I think NEC is as much a gold standard as Eizo - has that ever been a question.
  • UrQuan3 - Thursday, May 3, 2012 - link

    You know, the funny thing is I *HATE* dimming backlights. It's like a car that adjusts the volume based on how fast you're going. I'm sure it makes benchmarks give better numbers, but it's really unplesant to use.

    The backlight on my laptop changes based on how much white there is on the screen. The effect is that everytime I open a menu, all the colors on the screen change. It's implemented in the Sandybridge drivers and cannot be turned off. The only way to prevent it is to run the screen at full brightness. That seems to disable the dimming.
  • seapeople - Saturday, May 5, 2012 - link

    FWIW, I hate it when cars DON'T have auto volume based on the speed you're going. What sounds appropriate at 70 on the highway is absolutely blasting when you come to a stop. Don't understand what you'd have against it.
  • bobbozzo - Monday, May 7, 2012 - link

    Yeah, the 'dynamic contrast' on my Samsung 2343BWX is unbearable for PC work. Fortunately it is easy to turn off.
  • mtfreitasf - Thursday, May 3, 2012 - link

    I have been following your monitor reviews for a while but have never heard about Eizo which has a name in the pro market. Is there an explanation for this omission? Yours.

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