NEC MultiSync PA301W review
It’s a huge – and hugely expensive – professional TFT, but the image quality and colour accuracy when calibrated are stunning
Review Date: 25 Jul 2011
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £1,377 (£1,652 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
NEC’s MultiSync PA301W is a giant of a monitor. With a huge 2,560 x 1,600 resolution, the 30in screen provides an immense canvas for professional applications, and it has the measurements to match. The 10-bit P-IPS panel is lit by a wide-gamut CCFL backlight that allows it to effortlessly cover the sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces, and our testing bore out NEC’s claims that it covers more than 107% of the Adobe RGB gamut.
It weighs a mammoth 18.8kg and you’ll need two hands to smoothly position the NEC’s adjustable stand, which rises up and down by 150mm, tilts back and forth, swivels and rotates into portrait mode. Just doing that rotating requires care: unless it’s extended to full height and carefully tilted, you risk grazing the desk with the monitor’s corners.
With pairs of both dual-link DVI and DisplayPort inputs, it’s easy to connect multiple machines, and the Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture features make it easy to monitor the incoming signals. There’s also a three-port USB hub, with one port on the right flank and another two at the rear, as well as an automatic brightness sensor.
Straight out of the box, the NEC impresses. Brightness is consistent across the panel, and blocks of colour and greyscale gradients were deftly handled. Our X-Rite colorimeter revealed some issues, however. The NEC’s white point measured 5,903k, some way off the 6,500k target, and colour accuracy was a little wayward, too. We recorded average Delta E measurements of 4.2 in Adobe RGB mode and 1.9 in sRGB mode, but the maximum Delta E deviations of 11 and 8.2 were a little high for our liking. This is a TFT that clearly requires calibration to perform at its best.
You won’t be able to calibrate the NEC’s internal 14-bit LUT (lookup table) – you’ll have to shell out for the £2,228 SpectraView 301 if hardware calibration is on your shopping list. Neatly, though, it’s possible to connect an X-Rite i1Display 2 colorimeter to the side-facing USB port and directly tweak the monitor’s white point and tristimulus values.
That done, we found the white point measurements to be much closer to the ideal, and our original reading improved to a result of 6,392k, even if colour accuracy didn’t improve. It took a full software calibration to reveal the pedigree of the panel within: with a calibrated average Delta E of 0.4 and a maximum of 1.1, it’s clearly capable of great things.
Given the appropriate calibration tools, NEC’s MultiSync PA301W will deliver a truly stunning picture. But as good as it is, it has competition at this price: while the self-calibrating Eizo ColorEdge CG275W has a smaller 27in screen, its ability to maintain consistent colour accuracy with minimal hassle may prove a bigger draw to many than the NEC’s monstrous size.
Author: Sasha Muller
Looks great and I'd love one.
Your figures are wrong, though, in the Specs section. Horizontal resolution is 2560 and not 1560.
By Bureaunet on 25 Jul 2011
Typo now fixed, thanks for pointing it out.
By davidb_pro on 25 Jul 2011
Can you tell me how you did the full software calibration please? I'm thinking of getting one and have an i1 Display 2 - will I need anything else?
Many thanks for a great article.
By jon99 on 28 Feb 2012
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