NEC PA271W Professional LCD Monitor Review


For all but the most budget conscious buyers, piecing together a home brewed rig often entails forking over a premium for certain components, depending on what you're trying to accomplish. If you're a gamer, you probably bought a high-end graphics card (or at least that's what you should have done). Do you spend more time ripping videos than fragging your friends? Then chances are you allocated a bigger percentage of your budget to your CPU than on other parts. But for professional designers, graphic gurus, and anyone else who relies on pinpoint color accuracy, it's the monitor that matters most. That sub-$200 TN panel you spotted in the clearance bin at Walmart just isn't going to have the moxie to handle color matching chores for that mission critical photo project you're working on.

This is where NEC's MultiSync PA271W LCD monitor comes into play. Armed with a 10-bit P-IPS panel, internal 14-bit programmable 3D lookup tables (LUTs), and a generous 2560x1440 pixel resolution, the PA271W is truly a professional grade tool for those instances where a typical TN panel just won't cut it. The obvious caveat when shopping a mission critical monitor is price, and the PA271W is no exception. NEC lists the MSRP at $1,400, which is actually a couple of Benjamins less than what it was first going for, but still significantly higher than what other monitors in this size range command.

To help soften the blow, NEC equipped the PA271W with features not found on your typical panel, including a few that are absent even on some professional level displays. We already mentioned the integrated 3D LUT, but it also includes extensive Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture controls, as well as what's essentially a built-in KVM switch. NEC dubs this "DisplaySync Pro" (PDF), and what it does is allow you to control two computers (PC, Mac, or both) using a single keyboard and mouse. Combined with the PIP functionality, you have a powerful tool for serious content creation tasks. Far be it for us to justify a company's pricing philosophy, but suddenly that $1,400 price tag starts to look a little more reasonable.

NEC PA271W Pro LCD Monitor
Specifications & Features

Display Size
27" Widescreen
2560 x 1440
Aspect Ratio     
300 cd/m2 
Contrast Ratio 
1000:1 (Typical)
Response Time
7 ms G-T-G (16ms)
Viewing Angle
89º / 89º / 89º / 89º
Display Type
DisplayPort, DVD-D (2)
Power Consumption 
 \117W (On), 1.4W (Power Savings Mode)
150mm height adjustable w/ tilt, swivel, pivot
I/O Ports USB hub (2 up, 3 down)
Dimensions (with stand)
25.2" x 15.6" x 9.3". (WxHxD) 
30 lbs
Included Accessories

Power Cord, DVI-D to DVI-D cable, DisplayPort cable, setup manual, four screws (to mount the monitor to a flexible arm)
4 Years Parts and Labor, including backlight

NEC tells us its PA271W comes color calibrated out of the box and is ready to rock from the get-go, but if you want to take matters into your hands (and spend another $300), the company also sells its SpectraView II kit with software and a color puck.

"The SpectraView II system uses a color sensor to take color measurements of the display screen during calibration. The software analyzes these measurements and sends color adjustment commands directly to the display monitor," NEC explains. "This means that color adjustments are made in the monitor rather than in the video graphics adapter, resulting in full use of the number of colors available on the graphics adapter and a much brighter image with the maximum possible color gamut. With SpectraView II, the video graphics adapter is not used at all to make any gamma or Tone Response Curve corrections to the display, so the full color resolution and fidelity of the system is maintained."

Feeling intimidated yet? We've barely scratched the surface, folks. We haven't even talked about the 97.1 percent coverage of AdobeRGB color space, AmbiBright ambient light sensor, and all the other marketing bullets, and that's just fine. We know what you're really thinking, and that's whether or not all these paper specs are worth a damn in real world applications. Let's find out, shall we?

Tags:  LCD, display, NEC, monitor, P271W

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