NEC MultiSync EA294WMi review

Pros

  • Good greyscale performance
  • Wide viewing angles
  • Robust feature set

Cons

  • Greens are slightly skewed
  • Expensive price tag
  • Slower USB 2.0 ports

Ultra-wide monitors are gaining popularity with users who regularly work with more than one monitor on their desktop, and for good reason. A 29in ultra-wide display can replace two 19in displays while using less desktop real estate and eliminating cable clutter.

One such display, the NEC MultiSync EA294WMi, gives you solid IPS greyscale and off-angle viewing performance, a multitude of ports, and a highly adjustable ergonomic stand. Its colour quality is generally good, save for slightly heavy greens, and it doesn't use much power. However, it is one of the most expensive 29in ultra-wide monitors out there.

Design and features

Like most other MultiSync monitors the EA294WMi has a no-nonsense, business-like appearance. The 29in, 2560 x 1080 resolution IPS panel sits inside a matte black cabinet and is framed by thin (10mm) matte black bezels. The screen is 26.5in wide and 11.3in tall and has a 21:9 aspect ratio. A small NEC logo is positioned on the left corner of the upper bezel and the right corner is embossed with the model number. Two sensors (motion and light) are embedded in the centre of the lower bezel, and off to the right are eight touch sensitive buttons – five on the bottom bezel and three on the right bezel.

The 6.6kg cabinet is supported by a round base and a heavy-duty telescoping mounting arm. The arm gives you 5.1in of height adjustment and 30-degrees of tilt while the Lazy Susan-equipped base offers 360 degrees of swivel manoeuvrability. There are eight VESA mounting holes on the cabinet for use with a VESA-compliant mounting kit.

The EA294WMi is very well equipped. There are six video inputs at the rear of the cabinet, including two DVI ports (single and dual link), two VGA ports, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI port. The HDMI port doubles as a Mobile High-definition Link (MHL) port for connecting to tablets and smartphones.

You can't daisy chain multiple monitors via a DisplayPort signal like you can with the Acer B296CL, but you can use the ControlSync ports (in and out) to share monitor settings with up to five ControlSync-enabled sub-monitors.

NEC usually offers lots of settings options with its MultiSync monitors and that trend continues with the EA296WMi. The Eco Tools menu contains brightness, contrast, black level, and six Dynamic Visual Mode (aka picture mode) settings including Standard, Text, Movie, Gaming, Photo, and Dynamic. Here you can adjust settings for the Human Sensing option that detects movement (or lack of) to enable or disable power saving mode, and choose one of three Auto Brightness settings that adjusts screen brightness depending on ambient light, white content, or both.

The Colour Control System offers seven presets with various colour intensities and includes sRGB, Native, and DICOM SIM (medical imaging) presets. There's also a programmable option that you can use to change greyscale brightness and several PBP (picture by picture) settings that let you choose input sources and sizes for both windows.

As always, NEC provides a three year parts, labour and backlight warranty. The EA294WMi comes with a user guide and DVI (dual link), VGA, audio, USB, and ControlSync cables.

Performance

The EA294WMi handled the DisplayMate 64-Step Greyscale test with ease; the swatches graduated evenly from dark to light and there was no clipping anywhere in the scale. Additionally, highlight detail in my test photos was sharp, and shadow detail was clean and well defined.

The IPS panel displayed bold colours against a nice dark background. Colour accuracy was good but not as good as what we saw with the Acer B296CL. The CIE colour chart below shows the ideal coordinates for red, green, and blue colours (represented by each box) and the actual measured colour coordinates (represented by the coloured dots).

Blue is inside the box, indicating a high degree of accuracy, and red is only slightly off but still within an acceptable range. Green is completely outside of its box, but not so far as to cause tinting or an oversaturated picture. Still, if colour accuracy is important you may want to have this monitor calibrated to tone down the green level.

Off-angle viewing performance was outstanding with no hint of colour shifting or dimming from any angle. The smallest fonts on the DisplayMate Scaled Fonts test (5.3 points) were clean and legible. Although the EA294WMi is not geared towards gaming enthusiasts, its 6ms (black-white) pixel response delivered smooth video and relatively blur-free gaming action.

The EA294WMi is all about energy efficiency. It used only 44 Watts of power during testing with Eco mode disabled and 36 Watts with Eco mode set to Eco 1 (the Energy Star setting). Better yet, power consumption dropped to 27 Watts with Eco 2 mode enabled. Granted, the picture was noticeably dimmer than with Eco 1 mode, but it was still bright enough for most office lighting environments. For comparison’s sake, the Acer B296CL used 45 Watts of power in standard mode and 32 Watts in Eco mode.

Verdict

There's a lot to like about the NEC EA294WMi. It is equipped with six video ports and a USB hub, and its ultra-wide IPS panel provides strong greyscale reproduction and robust colours that look sharp from any angle.

Green colour intensity is a bit heavy, but unless you require spot-on colour accuracy this minor flaw will likely go unnoticed. While the USB hub is appreciated it would be nice if it was a USB 3.0 hub instead.

If the EA294WMi's £520 price tag is too steep, the Acer B296CL ultra-wide monitor offers better colour accuracy and is loaded with features, including a USB 3.0 hub. At the moment, you can get the Acer monitor for almost £100 cheaper online.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

NEC MultiSync EA294WMi

Native Resolution

2560 x 1080

PC Interfaces

VGA, Dual-mode (DVI-I), HDMI

Video Inputs

DVI, HDMI

Diagonal Screen Size

29in

Widescreen

Yes

Aspect Ratio

21:9