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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  • doubledeej - Wednesday, May 02, 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. Reply
  • ectoplasmosis - Wednesday, May 02, 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.
    Reply
  • André - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    It works fine with Mini-DisplayPort to adapters.

    Not sure where you got the "only works with Thunderbolt" from though.
    Reply
  • tzhu07 - Tuesday, May 01, 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. Reply
  • bishop2020 - Tuesday, May 01, 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. Reply
  • InterClaw - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    That, and the Dell U3011 as well is strangely missing now. Reply
  • cheinonen - Wednesday, May 02, 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. Reply
  • bishop2020 - Wednesday, May 02, 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 :) Reply
  • Veni - Tuesday, May 01, 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? Reply
  • tygrus - Tuesday, May 01, 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.
    Reply

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