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Flat-panel Displays

NEC MultiSync PA271W review

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NEC’s MultiSync PA271W is a 27-inch widescreen LCD display aimed at colour professionals. With its 2560-by-1440 pixel resolution, 300 cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio, multiple inputs and a plethora of tools for attaining (and maintaining) accurate colour, it appears that NEC has hit the target.

For many, the displays Apple offers in its iMacs and the 27-inch LED Cinema Display are absolutely fine, better than fine, really. They deliver bright, bold colours and fit right in with the Mac aesthetic. But for other users who require a little more control over the on-screen colour, who want a little more flexibility in terms of ergonomic adjustments, who are sensitive to the glare from glossy screens or use a Mac without a Mini DisplayPort connection, an Apple display just won’t fill the bill.

If you’re among these users who demand more, then the PA271W may be just what you need. In terms of ergonomic features, the PA217W offers height adjustment, swivels from left to right, tilts back and forth, and even rotates into portrait mode.

As far as connectors, the PA271W offers two DVI-D ports, as well as a standard DisplayPort connector. You can use these connectors to attach two computers. The PA271W offers picture-in-picture, as well as picture-by-picture that splits the screen in half between the two connected computers. With two USB 2.0 upstream ports and three downstream ports, the PA271W’s DisplaySync Pro tools allow it work like a KVM switch, sharing the screen, mouse and keyboard between two computers.

If you need accurate and consistent colour, the PA271W has lots of tools to ensure just that. With ColorComp, the display can track and adjust its backlight output for consistent brightness over time. The PA271W sports a 14-bit 3D colour look up table. NEC has worked to allow its CCFL backlights to get to a ready state in much shorter amount of time than was previously necessary, less than one minute instead of the 30 minutes that used to be recommended for warm up time.

Even the brightness controls are more professionally oriented, with instead of 20 clicks between a darkest and lightest, the on-screen display shows you the nit value of your brightness setting. An ambient light sensor can adjust the brightness based on the environment. For more precise calibration, NEC offers a version of the display with a branded i1 Display calibrator that works directly with the PA271W’s hardware.

The display has presets for colour that include Adobe RGB, sRGB and full bright. For each colour setting you can adjust colour temperature, as well as six colour controls for red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow. If you select the Advanced settings tab in the on-screen controls, be prepared to be overwhelmed with customisation options.

We connected the PA2701W to a Mac Pro and set the display to 6500K and 100 cd/m2. We found no pixel defects. Grays appeared neutral and gradients were smooth. Screen uniformity tests showed no problems, though because of its size, if you’re too close, it can appear darker at the edges due to the viewing angle. Moving back or to the left or right you see the corners were not darker. Not to say that the viewing angle on the PA2701W isn’t good, there was actually very little loss of contrast or shifts in colour when looking at the display from even extreme angles, which is key if you tend to collaborate around your display.


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