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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  • B3an - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    2560x1440 instead of 2560x1600 on a high end LCD? Disgraceful. Should be 16:9 ratio!

    Most people by far will be using this for colour important work, graphic design and so on, not for watching fucking movies. Those extra vertical pixels are important, not to mention better for just about anything else, including viewing web pages.
    Reply
  • TegiriNenashi - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    The price for 2560x1600 is insane, even for ebay imports from Korea. No matter how badly ones love tall monitors it is hard to justify spending $1000 vs $350 for 11% increase in screen space. Now that 4K aka QuadHD is on horizon, it's much better strategy to shell small amount and upgrade to 4K later. It is sad that 16:10 and taller AR doesn't seem to be coming back... Reply
  • ggathagan - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    Uh.. you got it backwards, Skippy.

    2560x1440 *is* 16:9
    2560x1600 is 16:10
    Reply
  • ozmia - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    I like how this review seems to utterly ignore Dell's U2711? It not only has exceptional colour accuracy straight out of the box in the factory configured modes, but very respectable input lag for a 27" screen, and apart from work, I use it for games and it is fantastic.

    I don't think you have been particularly non-biased, Chris, and this review has a strong wiff of the favouritism.

    The U2711 is probably superior to the HP in most ways bar input lag, yet it does not even get a look in. Very poor indeed.
    Reply
  • cheinonen - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    Someone else wrote the U2711 review, and I've never had the opportunity to use one myself. Any comparisons I make between the two would only be based on my reading of reviews of the display and not from actual use, which is why I didn't mention it. Reply
  • nurfe - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    Did you read the review? The two monitors are in two completely different classes. NEC has a 14 bit lookup-table, hardware calibration, electronically corrects uniformity and colour distribution problems etc. The Dell is a normal ISP office monitor. Reply
  • bishop2020 - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    I've read both this review and the earlier U2711 review that Anandtech did and would disagree that they aren't comparable.

    Uncalibrated DE - Dell 2.24, NEC 7.07.
    Calibrated DE - Dell 1.06, NEC 1.1.
    AdobeRGB - Dell 96%, NEC 106%.

    I'm not saying the NEC isn't a better monitor, I actually wholly agree with you on that point, but to say it's in a different class and not worth comparison seems a tad elitist. Many professionals don't work in AdobeRGB (see http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/adobe-rgb.htm) and many don't have access to calibration equipment so a lower shipping DE may be something they're more interested in.

    As someone who uses a professional 27" monitor daily I have no problem lumping the Dell & HP in with the NEC & Eizos of the world if only for additional data points even if I don't expect them to come out on top (though I make no assumptions that they can't be superior). The requirements you or I might put on a monitor don't necessarily apply to everyone and seeing the comparisons helps people make informed decisions. That said, I respect the author's decision not to include any direct comparison due to lack of first-hand experience in reviewing the Dell.
    Reply
  • nurfe - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    But that's entirely my point. Using a professional monitor without setting it up correctly, and wihout taking full advantage of its features doesn't make any sense. Of course you'll get similar result buying something else, like a Dell, since you're ignoring the premium features you just paid for.

    Thus, I very much diasgree that finding the common lowest denominator is ground for a comparison.
    Reply
  • bjnicholls - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - link

    OMG, Ken Rockwell on displays? Next I'll see him referenced as an expert on toaster ovens.

    A professional who isn't provided or can't afford calibration tools isn't a very valuable or valued professional. You need wide gamut if you design for print. But even more, you need a display that has color and luminance uniformity so you can view and work with reasonable precision on large images and designs.

    I just returned a Dell U3011 display because it had an obvious color shift across a third of the display. And looking at uniform background colors, it had really poor luminance consistency. At least compared to my aging NEC 3090 display.

    I was hoping that a Dell would be "good enough" for design and image editing, but I'm back to finding the best buys I can get on NEC displays. The difference is not subtle and if your work requires consistent, accurate color you should at least aspire to a display designed to deliver the performance you need.

    It's interesting that people who spend thousands of dollars on cameras and lenses with excellent image capture capability will cheap out on the one most critical tool they need to view and work with those images. It's like having a professional audio studio but listening to the sound via a cheap sound system.
    Reply
  • xKeGSx - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - link

    Any word on the VA278q that was announced at CES 2012? Reply

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