When I wrote about the NEC PA Series earlier this year the response was overwhelming. I got lots of questions and lots of emails from those who bought the PA241W-BK or PA271W-BK who said they loved them. Of course for some of you asked me “what about the big 30” display”, to which I had little to say. I explained that I had heard that they weren’t as good as the 24 or 27 inch displays, but that I hadn’t actually used one myself.
My Desktop Configuration with a GTI Lightbox, PA301W and PA241W in Portrait Mode
I’m pleased to say that I’ve had the luxury of using the PA301W since March and NEC had to remind me to pony up the money to buy it or send it back. It’s with regret that I’m choosing to send it back, but not because it isn’t a blast having such a huge monitor.
I’m sending it back because for $1149.95 (at the time of this writing) I can get the PA271W-BK which I feel performs better than paying $2169 (6/23/11 @ B&H) for the PA-301W-BK. Those extra 3 inches aren’t worth $1000 to me, and the time it takes to get the 27” up to operating temperature is about 50% less. For a photographer that means that you can calibrate your display at operating temperature and work at a later time 50% faster because you aren’t waiting for the display colors to normalize.
Don’t feel insecure by going three inches shorter with the PA271W because you don’t lose any width as the graphic above demonstrates. Instead you just lose a little height which can easily be compensated for by using my favorite configuration – a PA241W in portrait orientation to the right of the PA271W. Here’s how it breaks down:
|Display||Resolution||Max Excel Cell|
As you can see, you only are getting an extra row that’s 160px tall (or 7 more cells in Excel), but for those pixel peepers out there that is an extra 409,600 pixels.
Aside from the aforementioned warm-up time, and a nasty color shift at startup, this display performed very well. I was able to successfully view 10-bit per channel color on it (Windows only) and calibrate it with both a ColorMunki and i1XTreme using NEC’s SpectraView II software (required). It worked fine with my MacBook Pro and Windows 7 64-bit systems using DisplayPort connections.
Overall I enjoyed this display and it was nice to have the extra space. Once the display got to operating temperature it performed well and was wonderful for proofing large landscape prints. As I mentioned earlier though, for the price I’d much rather spend the money and get a PA271W-BK and a PA241W-BK which results in a lot more space and two outstanding monitors that are a brilliant together in a color managed photography workflow.
I will say that this display BLOWS AWAY the Apple 30” Cinema HD Display which is only capable of up to 16.7 million colors versus this display which can do 1.6 BILLION colors (via DisplayPort on PC only at this time). It also doesn’t have the annoying reflection problems of the Cinema HD. It also has significantly better contrast, response time, viewing angle and more so if you have a Cinema HD and want to upgrade – this is MUCH better than anything Apple has to offer – even the new Apple 27” LED Cinema display!
No matter which display you get, I highly recommend getting a ColorMunki to calibrate both your display and printer. They make a great team! I also would get the hood for the landscape display (doesn’t work on portrait orientation)
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NEC loaned this display to me for a few months so I could experience it in every day life and review it. I did return this display and NEC had no influence on this article in any other way.
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