OWC Drive Dock for backup drives or extra storage.
USB-C about $119
USB 3.1 about $75
Thunderbolt 2 + USB about $180
NEC PA271Q Wide Gamut Color Display
My workhorse display has been the NEC PA302W since 2011 (started with its predecessor, the PA301W).
NEC’s latest wide gamut color managed display is the about $1420 NEC PA271Q, offering a resolution of 2560 X 1440 in a 27-inch form factor.As a new release in late 2018, it offers a variety of additional professional features over the NEC PA272W, replacing it in the lineup.
Stable, accurate color at any time. The 27” MultiSync PA271Q-BK is the new benchmark desktop display for color accurate applications including photography, advertising and video production. Utilizing a high performance IPS LCD panel and backed by a 4 year warranty with Advanced Exchange, the MultiSync PA271Q-BK will reliably deliver high quality, accurate images simply and beautifully. NEC's exclusive SpectraView Engine™ ensures that the colors that you see are always correct and stable, even between calibrations.
- 98.5% coverage of AdobeRGB color space and 81.1% coverage of Rec 2020 [diglloyd: greatly exceeds Adobe RGB into the red and blue area].
- 1500:1 contrast ratio, 2560 x 1440 native resolution, 350 cdm² brightness
- 14-bit 3D internal programmable lookup tables (LUTs) for calibration
- Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture modes increase productivity by displaying two sources simultaneously.
- MultiProfiler software provides complete control over the five picture modes, including the loading of any ICC profile directly into the monitor for optimal color space matching
- DisplaySync Pro controls three computers with only one keyboard and mouse.
- Wide connectivity includes both regular and Mini DisplayPort with 10-bit support, 10-bit HDMI, and USB Type-C with 30W of power delivery.
- Human Sensor saves power when not in use.
- DisplayPort cable compatibility notice.
- Built-in low blue light filter technology and flicker-free certified.
- Greatly ease administration and management of larger display device installations with NaViSet Administrator 2.
- The Color Sensor and SpectraView II Software Kit from NEC is an advanced colorimeter designed for use with the NEC SpectraView II system. The colorimeter is based on the X-rite i1 Display Pro, delivering superlative color calibration tools. Both the colorimeter and software are included. [diglloyd: BK-SV model only]
- Panel Technology: IPS
- Aspect ratio 16:0 with 0.23mm pixel pitch @ 109 ppi, resolution 2560 X 1440, 27" viewable size with active screen area of 596.74 x 335.66mm
- Backlight Type: Wide Gamut W-LED
- Contrast Ratio (typical): 1500:1
- Brightness (typical): 350cd/m2
- Viewing angle (typical): 178° Vert., 178° Hor. (89U/89D/89L/89R) @ CR>10
- Response time: 8ms
- Displayable Colors: 1.07 billion out of 4.3 trillion
- Color gamut: Adobe RGB Coverage/Size:98.5% / 114.0%, NTSC Coverage/Size:96.1% / 108.9%, sRGB Coverage/Size:100.0% / 153.8%
- Lookup Table: 14-bit (3D)
- SpectraView Engine color management, MultiProfiler software—USB hub (3 up / 3 down) with DisplaySync Pro
- 14-Bit 3D LUT—Digital Uniformity Correction
- Viewing angle: horizontal: 178° (89/89) vertical: 178° (89/89)
- Dot pitch 0.23 x 0.23 mm
- Operating temperature: 41 to 95°F / 5 to 35°C
- Operating altitude: 16,404' / 5000 m
- Wide Color Gamut with Adobe RGB, sRGB, Rec 709, Rec 2020
- Human Sensor and ECO mode and carbon footprint meter
- Thin frame, tilt swivel. pivot with height-adjustable stand with locking base and Quick release stand
- Carrying handle—Rapid Response—Ambix4—XtraView+—Touch OSD user controls
- Cable management—VESA mount
- HDCP DDC/CI—Black Level adjustment
- AmbiBright and TileMatrix
Connectivity and physical characteristics
There is a size and resolution difference between a 30" and 27" display:
- The NEC PA302W is a 30" display offering 2560 X 1600 resolution (aspect ratio 16:10). This greatly expands the vertical working space and is one reason the NEC PA302W is my workhorse display.
- The NEC PA271Q is 2 inches less wide, and offers a resolution of 2560 X 1440 with an aspect ratio of 16:9, corresponding to HD video dimensions. It is much more manageable to transport and fits on most desks with much less weight.
The vertical difference is immediately noticeable when viewing standard DSLR images, which have an aspect ratio of 3:2. The screen on a 27-inch 2560 X 1440 display (e.g., iMac 5K or NEC PA271Q) feels a bit truncated vertically versus the NEC PA302W, but most users will find a 27" display quite large and pleasant.
Acoustics and power consumption
My evaluation unit was silent. I detected no noise, even in a quiet office.
My WattsUp power meter showed that the NEC PA271Q consumes only 39 watts with a pure white screen when calibrated at 140 cd/m^2. That’s a relatively low power consumption, with the NEC PA302W coming in at about 88 watts.
Unlike the glitzy and ergonomically-challenged Apple displays and iMac 5K, the NEC models can be rotated vertically or horizontally, raised or lowered, or angled forward or back.
When working long hours at the computer, such features are mandatory for the health of body parts, especially head and neck, which must be positioned properly relative to the display. As I (Lloyd) once spent a few thousand dollars in medical costs recovering from damage to my neck from poor ergonomics, I applaud NEC’s design, and I find Apple’s approach unacceptable—I should not have to spend another $500 + labor for a VESA swing-arm to bolt to a wall, just so I can adjust the monitor height and tilt. Kudsos to NEC for a solid ergonomica design.
Connectivity and cables — dual inputs
The NEC PA271Q has a large number of ports, including even an ethernet port for remote management.
Key features include:
- Video input: DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI (2), USB-C (must use USB-C cable, not Thunderbolt 3 cable)
- Built-in USB hub: 3 USB-A ports (output) with connectivity via 2 USB input ports
- USB Type-C input port with 30W of power delivery.
Of particular note is that the USB-C input port can be plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 Mac like the 2018 MacBook Pro. It provides the video signal and can supply up to 30 watts of power and charges the MacBook Pro (tested). In additional it effectively bridges USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 to USB-A e.g., by plugging the PA271Q into a Thunderbolt 3 Mac, the USB-A ports become “live” and available for use with the Mac.
The three input ports are useful for switching between computers. DisplaySync Pro controls three computers with only one keyboard and mouse and display—just press the Input button on the display. It is also possible to view images from two different computers with Picture by Picture, two pictures from the same computer in different color spaces.
The ethernet port is useful for managing many monitors via optional NEC NaViSet Administrator 2.
The MultiProfiler software allows excellent customization of the behavior of the display.
Also, the display OSD controls can be accessed via a built-in http serverwhen an ethernet cable is connected.
Toggle to see the various preference panels.
Color gamut and calibration
The NEC PA271Q supports 10-bit color (30 bit color) on Macs with video cards that offer it.
A wide color gamut (range of colors) along with professional-grade color management is are the key reasons to get the NEC PA271Q or NEC PA302W. The edge-to-edge uniformity and gray scale accuracy is another reason.
The iMac 5K or the LG Ultrafine 5K are both Retina-grade displays (5120 X 2888) and are both a better viewing experience for enjoying images, but the iMac 5K cannot be calibrated (speaking in terms of real (not faux) calibration) . Color accuracy tracking is also sometimes required for professional work where color accuracy is required.
Gamut matters for adjusting images
Digital cameras when shot using raw a very wide color gamut which far exceeds the popular AdobeRGB color space. I recommend working in 16-bit mode using ProPhotoRGB, or LAB color.
If color cannot be seen, then the chances diminish of making a print with accurate color greatly. When a display cannot actually display a range of color, both color and detail are lost.
For prints, the latest Epson and some other brand printers have a wider gamut in some colors than even the best monitors. The wider the gamut, the better, both for display and printer.
Printer gamuts are wide today already, but don’t proof and edit for today, do so for tomorrow, where printer gamuts will expand even more. A wide gamut monitor, calibrated and profiled, keeps your work accurate.
Supplied with the display. Note that the grayscale consistency is outstanding, varying to fractions of Delta-E for most values of white (gray).
Connected using the supplied Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable, plugging the DisplayPort end into the NEC PA271Q at rear/bottom.
The plots below are as actually calibrated.
The gamut of the NEC PA302W is shown below the plot for the PA 271Q. The PA302W offers a wider gamut into the reds and blues, but a bit less wide versus the NEC PA271Q into the yellows and greens. NEC seems to have offered a nicely balanced gamut reaching beyond AdobeRGB on all “sides” of the spectrum.
Below, the gamut plot for the NEC PA302W 30" display.
Delta-E is the standard by which color accuracy is measured, with one Delta-E being extremely accurate and below the threshold of average human vision. The NEC PA271Q offers outstanding accuracy of around one Delta-E—about as good as one can hope for.
The Curves plot provided by the NEC SpectraView II software shows a perfect gamma-curve match. This is real (not faux) calibration with an internal 14-bit LUT (look up table).
SpectraView II calibration target
My standard calibration has been 6200°K at 120 cd/m^2 at gamma 2.2, full display gamut. I am moving to a brighter 160 cd/m^2 as I find that conditions are sometimes bit too bright. However, it is easy enough to calibrate in many different ways and switch between—just be sure to choose the right display profile in System.
SpectraView II preferences
Settings used for calibration.
The NEC PA271Q an outstanding display with all the modern professional trimmings—highly recommended.
Be sure to order the NEC “BK-SV” model, which includes the calibrator that talks directly to the display for 14-bit accuracy. Other calibrator pucks might work with full quality, and some might not.
* NEC displays as of late 2018 require hardware that provides a Mini DisplayPort or DisplayPort or HDMI output. Thunderbolt 3 Macs lack such ports. Accordingly, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is recommended.