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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  • cheinonen - Tuesday, May 01, 2012 - link

    And that's why in the conclusion I have a section that reads "If you are a design professional who needs accurate color more than anything else, and things like display uniformity and a wider gamut are of high importance, then you are the target for the NEC. You already know you might need this, which features you can’t live without, and are willing to pay the extra price."

    I'm not discounting it because of my use or because I'm not a hard core gamer, I'm drawing the conclusion that if you aren't in that target audience that I already covered in the conclusion, there are other monitors that likely offer a better price/performance ratio for you, or in the case of gaming that offer better performance overall. I tried to cover in depth all of the extra features that design industry professionals would use, as that is the target for the monitor, but also cover it for a general audience as well.
    Reply
  • analogworm - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    Chris,

    In this review you state Nec as being top of the line for graphics proffessionals. Ofcourse your review fully supports this statement, and i have no doubt the nec does a wonderful job. However i miss comparisons to the EIZO monitors, as ive been thought EIZO is top of the line for graphical use, albeit a wee bit more expensive. Could you review one of eizo's monitors for comparison? Id very much appreciate it.

    kind regards,
    Analogworm
    Reply
  • Origin32 - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    How I wish some manufacturer would come along with a 120Hz 2560x1440 monitor already. It's not that not having 3D is such a dealbreaker, but it is awesome and the 120Hz is actually useful in 2D FPSs too. It noticeably improved my performance when I got my Acer GD245HQ 18 months ago.
    So going back to 60Hz really wouldn't be much of an upgrade, even if I got more pixels.

    Oh, and I know 120 is going to be expensive. But I'm more than willing to sell my mother for one.
    Reply
  • AeroWB - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    I have an PA241W, which closely resembles the PA271W. My main problem with it is the mediocre black-levels. The black-levels are fine if its standing in an well lit office though. At home the room often isn't so well lit and then it is fairly obvious that the blacks are worse then of the older IPS NEC screens like the 2090UXi which I use as a second monitor. This difference is because the newer models do not use the A-TW polarizer film. According to NEC the polarizer film was dropped as it increased the color-shift that occurs when looking at the display from the side.
    What I love about he unit is the great color gamut which can make pictures more alive, and when working with sRGB I only have to press one button on the monitor to switch between color-modes.
    The portrait mode is great option which I do use regularly.
    Next to that I do use it to game and while I do not play the fastest FPS games, anything non-FPS is not a problem and I even play Battlefield 3 without any problems, maybe the 24" model has a slightly lower input lag then the 27" though the 24" does also have an input lag that is higher then most other displays, so the difference can't be big.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    The first paragraphs, which show up in the front page, may be a nice general introduction, but say absolutely nothing about the product - not good for the front page. Reply
  • svojoe - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    I'm curious why they used CFL's? I personally feel that the decent LED back light put out a more even and brighter color than the CFL's. At half the power consumption. 110Watts is more draw than my whole computer!

    I would have otherwise been very interested in this!
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    The best CFLs still have wider gamut and lower deltaE than the best LED backlights. Although other people buy them, the 2560 monitor market in general and NEC (among others) in particular are targetting profesional graphics/image/video editing customers for whom color quality is a much larger priority than saving $20/year on their power bill. Reply
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    Overall, it seems like the Apple 27" is better - and cheaper even factoring in the $30 DVI adapter, while coming close to it in color quality. Reply
  • cheinonen - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    With any of the 27" panels tested so far you could say they are "close" to the NEC, but for some people they need that extra bit of quality and uniformity for their work, irregardless of cost. It costs a lot more to get it since it takes a lot more work and engineering, but for some people it's a necessity. Reply
  • nurfe - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    Except that Apple won't support 14 bit lookup-tables, hardware calibration, and it won't electronically correct uniformity and colour variation problems. If nothing I mentioned matters to you, go for something cheap. If you care about it, you'll get a NEC, EIZO or Quato. Reply

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