NEC PA271W - MultiProfiler and SpectraView

Included in the box was NECs MultiProfiler software, and they also provided their SpectraView II calibration software for this review. With MultiProfiler you can set up five preset modes on the PA271W, allowing you to quickly switch between settings based on content, lighting conditions, or even computer. As an example, I could assign positions 1 and 2 to use the sRGB gamut, with brightness settings of 200 nits and 100 nits. Then for photo editing I could do the same with positions 3 and 4, only with the AdobeRGB gamut instead. Finally I can use position 5 for my profile that I calibrated with the SpectraView software and using the full native gamut of the display.

While for most users you might consider this level to be overkill, it isn’t for the professionals targeted by NEC. If you are a video editor, you can quickly switch between Rec 709 (HDTV), SMPTE-C, and DCI color gamuts to work on mastering in each of the different colorspaces. If you want to create a custom profile that mimics your print material more closely you can do that as well, allowing you to quickly change between editing for screen and print. I know this won’t matter to 95% of readers, but for those that need to quickly switch the feature proves very valuable.

As I mentioned before there are multiple USB upstream ports in the PA271W, and in MultiProfiler you can configure these to work as a KVM switch depending on input. I connected my keyboard and mouse to the USB ports on the NEC, then I connected one USB upstream port to my PC and one to my MacBook Air, and I connected each PC to a different video input. Using the software I could set the upstream USB ports to be tied to different display inputs, so as I changed the display between the two computers, the devices changed as well. This worked well during testing when I wanted to use different meters in both Windows and OSX for calibration, as they could be hooked up to the display and then automatically switch computers as I switched inputs.

MultiProfiler also includes support for things I hadn’t seen before, such as adjusting the color output to mimic different types of color-blindness, so designers can make sure their content will work for everyone. Finally, you can also configure a PIP setup as well.

SpectraView II is NECs updated calibration software designed for their displays. Available with or without a meter (they sell an OEM version of the i1Display Pro, which is a large improvement over the previous i1Display2), the monitor and software interface directly with your meter and then calibrate the 14-bit internal LUTs while also generating the ICC profile for your OS.

Within the software you can specify your targets and save them to come back and redo the calibration later. With this I was able to set up our targets: 100 nits, D65 for white, 2.2 for gamma, and then try it for sRGB, AdobeRGB, and Native colorspaces. The software uses DDC to communicate with the monitor and will even give you a warning if it’s been on for less than 30 minutes before calibration, as it is still warming up and colors could shift until it is fully warm.

Creating profiles was quick and easy, with support for both my i1Display Pro and i1Pro, which I wound up using for these. Once you perform a calibration you are given the results with contrast ratio, dE for the grayscale, how close you are to the RGB targets, and the gamma curve. Due to its ability to adjust the LUTs in the monitor directly, I’d imagine most people considering the NEC would also be buying a copy of SpectraView II to calibrate it, as I would.

NEC PA271W - Design and Specifications NEC PA271W - Brightness and Contrast
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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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