Pros Internal 14 bit internal LUT's. Nothing in this price range comes close for a professional imaging monitor. Internal LUT's allow for changing color profiles (created with the matched Spectraview II software and hardware colorimeter) with a click.
Cons The box it comes in is huge, but I suppose it must be. This is heavy professional monitor and it must be protected during shipment.
Summary I'm amazed someone who works for CNET would FAIL to mention this monitors internal LUT (look up tables) capability and why this is so important to imaging professionals! None of the other monitors compared against it have this capability. HDMI ports on a monitor like this would be the equivalent of a electric recharging port on a gas powered Ford GT.
Anyone buying this for gaming is wasting their money. Anyone buying this for graphic design, imaging processing, video processing, or any color managed applications, or CAD designers who need the ultra-fine detail, will be spending the best money they've ever spent on a monitor.
Your first PA271w should be the "PA271w-SVII" package. This includes the Spectraview II software and hardware colorimeter. Subsequent PA271's used in the same workspace can be just "PA271a" 's and share the colorimeter, the software is licensed for all the NEC monitors you own.
Because these hold their LUT's (Look Up Tables) internally, this means you don't have any special requirements in the way of a video card other than a suitable output and enough power, to run 2 or more monitors. The other monitors compared against the PA271w will require dual GPU or at least ATI's new Eyefinity cards with multiple LUT's to run two or more monitors from the same machine.
Imaging professionals should also order the matching hoods. Or make their own. Period.
"DCI" was glossed over like another color mode. It stands for Direct Communications Interface. This means the monitor communicates (it's LUT information) via the DVI connection (another reason HDMI is unsuitable for this type of monitor), OR new for this series the LUT information can be transmitted via a separate USB connection.
Why is this important? A normal monitor, when being profiled, runs off a video card LUT, usually an 8 bit LUT on all but the most expensive cards. During the profiling, the OSD (on screen display) controls (brightness, contrast, red, green, blue) must be manually adjusted for that profile. Once the profile is made, the monitor controls MUST stay that way. You cannot switch back and forth between different profiles.
A NEC LCD or PA monitor with internal LUT's doesn't need to use the OSD controls during each profile, in fact you should disable the OSD using the Spectraview II software. There is an option for this. You can then create 4-5 or as man profiles as you require using Spectraview II and the included colorimeter. Spectraview allows you to select any of of these profiles by clicking the profile with the mouse. Spectraview then sends a signal to the PA271w via the DCI channel telling it how to configure it's internal LUT. 10-20 seconds later you have an accurate different profile. With the click of a mouse.
Why would you want different profiles? a. Wide gamut in house ink jet art printers. b. Preparing images for the web using the sRGB emulation mode (this mode is unique to NEC, Eizo, and Lacie monitors and is worth it's weight in gold). c. Preparing images or work for CYMK printers (professional printers for brochures and magazines d. Wide gamut out of house printers. e. Normal Costco/Walmart sRGB printing. How many, depends on the professionals needs.
sRGB Emulation mode. These are wide gamut monitors. Left alone, everything on the web will look very over saturated.. especially reds. Wide gamut is about 98% of the Adobe98 colorspace, a much larger color space (bigger box of crayons) than sRGB used on the web. sRGB emulation mode clamps down on the gamut and ensures 100% of the color output stays within sRGB.. The reason most images don't look the same on the web (among other reasons) as they do in Photoshop or Lightroom, is because a stray part of the gamut escapes normal monitors using video card LUT's, even when properly profiled. These stray colors create "color casts" making the image look different than intended. How much different? Depends on the monitor being used, the skill of the person performing the profiling, the video card quality, and which color(s) and how much of the color(s) slip past the profiling software. This is why NEC's (and Eizo and Lacie's) sRGB Emulation mode is vital.. yet like the interal LUT"s it wasn't mentioned at all in the "review.."
There is much more to discuss.. but suffice it to say for the money there isn't anything on the market even close IF you use the monitor for professional imaging.
Pros Professional and realistic specs for sRGB and Adobe RGB gamut coverage. High native resolution. Extensive OSD. Accurate color. Simple unobtrusive bezel.
Cons The major con of this monitor is the terrible anti-glare/matte coating. It's like a texture or pattern and unacceptable for a pro monitor. Although I have yet to find an IPS non-glossy without it.
Summary I want to be clear about this and explicitly state that viewing whites, light grays and other light colors will be seen with something that resembles a sparkly effect. It is disappointing because I spent days researching monitors and was confident with my decision; yet the anti-glare coating is rarely mentioned in reviews and to me, it is a major issue. I am a Web designer of 7 years and require a pure solid white and light colors.
I do love the monitor in every other way, including the aforementioned qualities (gamut, color accuracy, OSD, bezel) but I cannot live with such a strong anti-glare coating, ruining whites and light colors.
Pros Great color, unobtrusive bezel, high native resolution, good monitor for professional use.
Cons Ruined by the anti glare coating. Butchers the ability to view very light colors, not what i was looking for on a professional monitor.
Summary Great monitor besides the anti glare coating. I needed to be able to differentiate all of the lighter colors but this did not help. For this price i wanted a monitor that was perfect. Other aspects were great.
Pros Out-performs the HP Dreamcolor in brightness and is almost its equal in all other areas - for a third of the price. Internal LUTs extremely useful.
Cons It's big, it's heavy, and it uses a lot of joice - but I guess that's inevitable for a monitor of this quality.