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NEC PA302W Wide Gamut Color Display

Announced September 5 2013, the NEC 30-inch PA302W wide-gamut display is an update with LED backlighting of the excellent NEC PA301W, which has been a mainstay of my photographic work for several years.

I am pleased to report that the NEC PA302W is a pleasant visual improvement over the PA301W—the clarity and smoothness of the image are improved; it seems more crisp yet more smooth at the same time. The color gamut is even wider also, particularly in the red/magenta/blue range.

Update October 2013: There is a new 27-inch model PA272W (PA272W-BK-SV with calibrator), which according to NEC has the same quality as the PA302W. Ditto for the PA241W BK-SV 24-inch model.

NOTE: for all sizes, the BK-SV models with included matched calibrator and SpectraView II software is strongly recommended with the new backlit LCD models (not just any calibrator will work optimally with the new backlighting).

Buy at B&H Photo: NEC BK-SV | NEC PA302W | NEC PA272W | NEC PA241W
Buy at B&H Photo:NEC PA301W | NEC PA271W |NEC PA231W (older models, still excellent)

Or, get the PA302W with color calibration or PA302W display only at OWC.

NEC PA302W 30-inch wide-gamut calibrated display


As per NEC. Description for the BK-SV model (strongly recommended), which includes the calibrator and Spectra View II software:

Reliable, calibrated color accuracy.The 30” MultiSync PA302W-BK with the SpectraViewII color calibration solution is the ultimate desktop display for color critical applications.

The innovative GB-R LED backlight provides 99.3% coverage of the Adobe RGB color space while consuming up to 44% less power than comparable CCFL backlights.

Utilizing a high performance AH-IPS LCD panel and combined with the MDSVSENSOR3 calibrator, the MultiSync PA302W-BK-SV delivers high quality, perfect color.
GB-R LED backlight consumes 44% less power than a comparable CCFL backlight

  • 99.3% coverage of AdobeRGB color space
  • Superior screen performance (1000:1 contrast ratio, 2560x1600 native resolution, 340cd/m2 brightness)
  • SpectraViewII calibrates the 14-bit 3D internal programmable lookup tables (LUTs) for precise color
  • Five completely customizeable picture modes
  • 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 two computers with only one keyboard and mouse
  • Wide connectivity includes both regular and Mini DisplayPort with 10-bit support, 10-bit HDMI, a DVI-D input as well as a USB hub
  • DisplayPort cable compatibility notice
  • Includes the NEC custom MDSVSENSOR3 color calibrator
  • NaViSet Administrator 2: Free software solution that greatly eases administration and management of larger display device installations
  • Available in white (PA302W-SV)
Specifications for NEC PA302W BK-SV

Luxurious web page viewing

Want to kick back and read the web luxuriously? Rotate the PA302W vertically, and enjoy a 2560 high by 1600 wide view for the best web browsing experience ever. I find that I like the 30" display vertically even better than the 27" PA271W, because of the extra width that allows more zooming-in for some web pages.

To size up web pages in Safari, hit cmd-+ once or twice to magnify the web page, resulting in ultra-smooth and comfortable-to-read text. Read that way, there no pixels, just ultra-smooth text. I find this a huge productivity tool when I review my web pages, especially around midnight, when my eyes are tired, and it’s easy to miss typos and the like.

If you’re 25 years old with 20/20 vision, you might not care. But if you are 40+ and/or you want to kick back a few feet away and read with no eyestrain, it’s better 'n sourdough bread with potato chips and chocolate.

Screen shots from NEC 30" display in vertical mode — the 30" display allows zooming up for ease of viewing


30-inch versus 27-inch display

There is a size and resolution difference between a 30" and 27" display:

  • The 30" display offers 2560 X 1600 resolution (aspect ratio 16:10).
  • The 27" PA271W is 2" less wide, and offers a resolution of 2560 X 1440 with an aspect ratio of 16:9, corresponding to HD video dimensions.

The difference is immediately noticeable when viewing standard DSLR images, which have an aspect ratio of 3:2: the screen feels a bit truncated vertically when using a 27" display if you are used to a full 30" display (but most users will find a 27" display quite large and pleasant).

Adjustability and orientation

The display can be raised or lowered, tilted or swiveled and/or oriented for landscape or portrait viewing.

NEC PA302W ergonomic adjustments

Portrait mode is terrific for web page viewing; with two displays one can enjoy a highly productive work environment (one 30-inch display in landscape orientation for the main screen, and one 30-inch display in portrait orientation, or vice versa).

NEC PA302W ergonomic adjustments

Calibration and profiling

I calibrated the displays as shown. Calibration is so straightforward with the SpectraView II software that anyone can do it— no eyeball guesswork.

The bundled calibrator (BK-SV models) takes care of everything, with outstanding results, generating the resulting display profile and setting it for the display automatically (on OS X at least).

SpectraView II calibration settings

Overall evaluation

I used my eyes on a variety of images filling the screen, with high key (such as snow scenes with subtle color), and images dominated by dark tones, and images with a wide variety of colors.

To my eyes, the PA302W is a nice step up from the PA301W: put simply it offering a more pleasing view, appearing both sharper and smoother at the same time. The significantly wider color gamut and lower power consumption from the LED backlighting is a nice plus.

Color gamut and accuracy

A wide color gamut (range of colors) is a major reason to use a wide color gamut display; so many photographers throw away superb color from their digital cameras because they are unable to see it! See for example The Color Gamut of Fruit.

The edge-to-edge uniformity and gray scale accuracy is another reason. Just darn good looking in general— this is your primary computer interaction, so it’s worth optimizing.

When you first see a monitor like the PA302W, you’ll be shocked at just how much you’ve been missing with a conventional display..

Gamut you can’t see kills your work and your prints

If you can’t see the color gamut, your chances of making a print that matches your artistic vision diminish greatly; it’s a severe handicap. Reds and blues are the worst impacted by poor quality displays.

Today’s DSLRs, especially Nikon and Canon high-end DSLRS, have a very wide color gamut which often exceeds the popular AdobeRGB color space. I recommend working in 16-bit mode using ProPhotoRGB, or LAB color.

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.

Wider than AdobeRGB

Although NEC only claims something like 98% of AdobeRGB, the reality is that the gamut if much wider in total than AdobeRGB

The faint internal line (side of triangle) inscribed below is the red/blue edge of the AdobeRGB color gamut. Observe that the NEC PA302W as I calibrated it goes far beyond AdobeRGB color space in the red/magenta/blue directions.

NEC PA302W color gamut extends far beyond Adobe RGB for reds and blues

When to restrict the gamut

There are some reasons to force a display to use a more limited gamut, such as sRGB. When that occurs, one concern is the accuracy of the displayed gamut. But it is not a concern. Here is what NEC has to say about using sRGB color space:

The degree of precision for the steps between colors is just as precise, there is just a smaller set of colors overall to choose from.

This is because the 14-bit internal LUTs and our custom color processing technology (marketing speak: SpectraView Engine) allows the display to maintain the maximum possible number of color levels. This all occurs without introducing artifacts such as banding, so even sRGB looks good.

10-bit color for OS X

The NEC PA302W and its siblings support 10-bit color (30 bit color), as do the video cards found in the Apple Mac Pro, but as of September 2013, Apple still does not supply 10-bit drivers. Shame on Apple for focusing on eye candy improvements with no meat and potatoes solid engineering— the photographic community has been waiting with four 3-4 years now.

When 10-bit color does arrive, the smoothness of tonal transitions and other subtle improvements should make the NEC displays even more lovely.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Ideal for any Mac with Thunderbolt 3

Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports
Gigabit Ethernet
5K and 4K display support plus Mini Display Port
Analog sound in/out and Optical sound out

Works on any Mac with Thunderbolt 3

What’s included

For the USA version, the BK-SV version ships with:

  • Power cable, USB cable. Mounting Screws
  • DisplayPort cable, Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable. DVI cable.
  • SpectraView II USB drive (SVIISOFT)
  • Color calibration sensor (MDSVSENSOR3)


The NEC PA302W BK-SV is an outstanding display. I have already put it into use as my primary color calibrated display for all my photographic work.

See my computer wish list for recommended monitors. The PA302W should be available by September 2013.

BK-SV bundle

Be sure to order the NEC “BK-SV” model, which includes the calibrator that talks directly to the display for 14-bit accuracy, not just any calibrator will suffice. NEC had this to say about the calibrator supplied with the PA301W:

It is the individual color sensors which are custom calibrated by X-Rite to match our Wide Color Gamut displays, rather than the software trying to make some compensation for a generic device in software.

* Note: the SpectraSensor Pro is being renamed to the MDSVSensor3. According to NEC, the new MDSVSENSOR3 is the only sensor that can be used for standalone calibration (e.g. without using SpectraView) on the PA302W. But this is a minor point; it is much better to use the software anyway.

NEC PA302W 30-inch wide-gamut calibrated display

Press release

As per


CHICAGO - September 6, 2013

Outstanding Color with Reduced Power Consumption

NEC Display Solutions of America, a leading provider of commercial LCD display and projector solutions, announced today the 30-inch MultiSync® PA302W color accurate display and color critical PA302W display solution with SpectraViewII™ calibration software and sensor. The models come in both white and black cabinets, which have been redesigned and are now 34 percent slimmer than previous models.

Built using a cutting edge GB-R LED backlight, the PA302W provides a wider color gamut and more color control than a conventional white LED backlight and consumes 44 percent less power than comparable CCFL backlights. The display can be seen in Booth No. 4238 at Print 13, a graphics communications industry event running September 8-12 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

The MultiSync PA302W monitor is designed with a fully ergonomic stand for added comfort during use. It also features a 2560 x 1600 resolution and 10-bit wide color gamut AH-IPS LCD panel that provides the accurate, vibrant colors professionals require.

In addition, the MultiSync PA302W display showcases the time-saving features common to the MultiSync PA Series displays, including the ability to load ICC profiles to emulate custom color spaces and easily match image prints.

“The PA302W gives graphic designers, pre-press operators, photographers, video editors and other professionals a greater color gamut and even better color control,” said Art Marshall, Product Manager of Professional and Medical Desktop Monitors at NEC Display Solutions. “In addition, users can now update the factory calibration using an external sensor when they have SpectraViewII.”

Meanwhile, the free MultiProfiler software, exclusive to the MultiSync P & PA Series, provides easy-to-use control over most display settings, including print matching with Picture Mode presets as well as Picture in Picture (PIP) and Picture by Picture (PBP) window configuration. MultiProfiler also allows users to manage the monitor’s USB hub and enables keyboard shortcuts for changing inputs and Picture Modes. MultiProfiler can also use ICC profiles to offer MultiSync PA302W users an easy way to match prints.

The MultiSync PA302W and PA302W-SV include the following features:

  • 10-bit active matrix AH-IPS panel with GB-R backlight and no-sparkle, antiglare coating
  • 2560 x 1600 resolution
  • 340 cd/m² brightness and 1000:1 contrast ratio at 44 percent less power than CCFL
  • Near perfect (99.3 percent) coverage of Adobe RGB and 100 percent of sRGB color space
  • Internal 14-bit programmable 3D lookup table (LUT)
  • Comprehensive input panel, including DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI-D
  • Built-in USB hub (2 up, 3 down) with DisplaySync Pro to control two computers with only one keyboard and mouse
  • 4-way ergonomic stand (150mm height-adjust with locking base, tilt, swivel and pivot) with quick-release capability
  • AmbiBright™ ambient light sensor, which automatically adjusts the displays’ brightness based on external lighting conditions
  • SpectraViewII Color Calibration Solution, which includes software and colorimeter to provide automated monitor matching and calibration for accurate, consistent and repeatable color performance (included with PA302W-BK-SV and PA302W-SV)
  • Optional accessories, which include a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable (PA-MDP-CABL) for connecting devices using Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt technology, display hood (HDPA30-2), SpectraViewII software (SVIISOFT), NEC custom colorimeter (MDSVSENSOR3), complete SpectraViewII Color Calibration Solution (SVII-PRO-KIT) and 2W USB sound bar (SOUNDBARPRO)
  • The MultiSync PA302W-BK and PA302W-BK-SV (in black), and MultiSync PA302W and PA302W-SV (in white) ship with a 4-year limited parts and labor warranty, and will be available in September 2013 at an estimated street price of $2,399, $2,649, $2,399 and $2,649, respectively.

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