NEC PA271W Professional LCD Monitor Review


The PA271W is the largest of NEC's new MultiSync PA Series, the successor to the MultiSync 90 lineup. For those who don't need quite as much real estate, there's also the 24-inch PA241W panel boasting a similar feature-set, albeit a lower top-end resolution (1920x1200, 16:10). When using the 10-bit DisplayPort, NEC says the PA271W can display 1.07 billion colors out of a palette of 4.3 trillion.

At 30 pounds, the PA271W is anything but light, however the stand comes well constructed and makes easy work out of adjusting the panel vertically (up to 15cm). Just slide the lock button to the left and the display slides up and down with minimal effort. There's also a handle on the top to help with transportation, or to build up some bulk if you don't own a set of weights.

You can remove the stand altogether if you prefer to mount the monitor elsewhere, such as a flexible arm. All you have to do is lay the panel flat (on a non-abrasive surface), press and hold the Quick Release Lever, and pop the stand off of the display. NEC includes four screws specifically for this purpose.

As you would expect from a professional caliber display, the PA271W rotates to support both landscape and portrait viewing. It's not an entirely smooth transition, as you need to temporarily tilt the monitor when switching to portrait mode to avoid having the corner smash into your desk. Once you have it in position, however, there's enough clearance to tilt it back at a 90 degree angle.

If this is your first rodeo with a pivoting monitor, bear in mind that most displays don't automatically adjust the on-screen picture from landscape to portrait and vice versa. You'll find these controls in your Display Settings, which you can access by right-clicking an empty space on your Desktop, selecting Properties, and navigating your way to the appropriate menu. And whether you're rocking an Nvidia or ATI video card, you'll find options to setup a hotkey combination for this process.

In addition to its ability to pivot, the PA271W also supports tilt and swivel functions. You can adjust the tilt up to 30 degrees, which is more than enough to show your boss what you've been working on as he looms over your shoulder. The monitor swivels about the same distance, though we wish it went even further than it does.

For those of you who plan to run a multi-monitor setup, the PA271W's bezel measures about 11/16th of an inch. That's slimmer than HP's ZR30w we recently reviewed, though both displays share a bulky backside. At nearly 3.5 inches at its thickest point, the PA271W's panel packs some junk in the trunk (note that we're referring to just the panel alone, which doesn't include the stand). The upshot is that NEC was able to cram a boatload of features into its panel, the KVM switch being particularly noteworthy.

The PA271W has held up well up to this point, but it's not all peaches and cream. For all that NEC includes with its flagship MultiSync PA panel, they neglected to include an HDMI port, a borderline egregious omission for a $1,400 display. What you do get is a USB hub (right side of the panel, or pictured to the left above), two USB downstream ports, two USB upstream ports, DC-out, a DisplayPort, two DVI-D ports, and of course the three-prong power cord connector. It should be noted that the two upstream USB ports can be assigned to different video inputs, including different platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux).

NEC didn't include any integrated speakers, which usually end up sounding tinny on most monitors anyway.

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