NEC MultiSync PA271W review

Pros

  • Solid greyscale and colour performance
  • Loads of features and settings
  • 2,560 x 1,440 resolution

Cons

  • No HDMI port
  • Bulky cabinet
  • Expensive

Designed for graphics professionals, photographers, and anyone who requires accurate colour and greyscale performance, the NEC PA271W is a high-end desktop monitor that uses the latest panel and processing technologies to deliver the goods. Featuring a 14-bit LUT (lookup table), wide gamut P-IPS (professional in-plane switching) technology, a high res (2,560 x 1,440) panel, and a wealth of settings, this 27in monitor doesn't come cheap, and it's not nearly as svelte as the latest crop of LED backlit monitors. However, if performance is a priority, the PA271W should be on your short list of professional grade monitors.

Design and features

The PA271W uses CCFL (cold cathode florescent lamp) backlighting rather than the more popular LED backlighting, which accounts for it bulky frame. The matte black cabinet is 85mm thick and weighs 9.6kg pounds without its stand. The stand weighs 4kg and offers every adjustment you'll ever need, including height, swivel, tilt, and pivot. As with the NEC MultiSync PA301W, this model supports auto-rotation, which changes the image orientation when the panel is pivoted. It also has VESA compliant mounting holes if you want to hang it on a wall.

The screen is framed by thin black bezels. The bottom and right side bezels have buttons that are used to navigate the extensive settings menus. Pressing any button activates an on-screen labelling system that makes it easy to tweak settings without having to remember what each button does. If you pivot the panel for portrait mode viewing the on-screen labels will rotate as well.

Around the back are two dual-link DVI ports, a DisplayPort input, two upstream USB ports, and two downstream USB ports. An HDMI port would be welcome here. The two upstream USB ports allow you to use the monitor's DisplaySync Pro feature (a virtual KVM switch) to control two different computers with a single keyboard and mouse. A single downstream USB port is mounted on the right side of the cabinet.

As with the NEC PA301W and NEC MultiSync PA241W models, the PA271W offers a boatload of image adjustments. In addition to brightness, contrast, Eco mode, and colour temperature controls there are nine picture presets (sRGB, Adobe RGB, eciRGB, DCI, REC-Bt709, High Bright, Full, DICOM, Programmable). Each preset has its own adjustment menu that allows you to change things like white balance, colour gamut, gamma, black level, and uniformity. There's also a 6-axis adjust option that lets you adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness levels of each individual colour.

Other advanced settings include ambient light compensation, Metamerism (which helps match white point when using the monitor side by side with a standard gamut display), and Colour Vision EMU (this simulates human vision deficiencies and is used to evaluate how people with vision deficiencies perceive colours).

The Tile Matrix feature lets you display one image across multiple monitors (up to 25) but you'll need a distribution amplifier (not included) to send the video signal to each monitor. There are several PIP (picture in picture) modes available with various size and position settings. You can even have the PIP image automatically rotate when the panel is pivoted. As with many MultiSync models, the PA271W has a built-in meter that tracks the monitor's carbon footprint and energy usage.

Performance

The PA271W aced the DisplayMate 64-Step Greyscale test, displaying every shade of grey cleanly from dark to light with no noticeable clipping or compression. Colour accuracy was also quite good but not perfect; as shown on the CIE chart below, reds, greens, and blues were all very close to their ideal CIE coordinates but not spot-on (the closer each dot is to its corresponding box, the more accurate the colour). That said, colours appeared evenly saturated and uniform on the Colour Scales and Full Screen Colour tests, and there was no evidence of tinting in the greyscale.

The IPS panel delivered outstanding viewing angle performance. Colour quality was unaffected when viewed from a side or bottom angle and the picture remained bright. Small text on the Scaled Fonts test (5.3 points) was crisp and easy to read.

The panel's 7-millisecond (black-to-white) pixel response did an adequate job of handling fast motion video. However, this monitor isn't the best choice for gamers as it lacks speakers and HDMI inputs. Still, video looked smooth, and image clarity was outstanding.

The PA271W used 82 Watts of power in regular mode, 77 Watts in ECO mode 1, and 50 Watts in ECO mode 2. The latter was a bit too dark for typical office lighting but ECO 1 looked fine. These numbers can't compete with monitors that use LED backlighting, such as the HP Pavilion 27xi (22 Watts) and the Dell UltraSharp U2713HM (32 Watts).

Verdict

With a price tag of a grand, the NEC MultiSync PA271W is expensive, but as is usually the case, premium quality commands a premium outlay. Its 27-in P-IPS panel offers impressive performance and a generous feature set, and its extensive settings menu allows you to fine tune the panel to meet your specific imaging needs.

These credentials make the PA271W a great choice for a professional big screen monitor for those with deep enough pockets. Granted, the Dell UltraSharp 2713HM is almost half the price, and it comes with more input choices, but you won't get the outstanding greyscale performance that the PA271W offers, nor will you get such a plethora of picture settings, an internal KVM switch, and a screen that automatically rotates the image when you pivot the panel.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

NEC MultiSync PA271W

Native Resolution

2560 x 1440

PC Interfaces

Dual-mode (DVI-I), DisplayPort

Video Inputs

DVI

Diagonal Screen Size

23in

Widescreen

Yes

Aspect Ratio

16:9