Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Results: Brightness And Contrast

NEC EA294WMi 29" Monitor Review: 21:9 At Twice The Price
By

Uncalibrated

Before calibrating any panel, we measure zero-and 100-percent signals at both ends of the brightness control range. This shows us how contrast is affected at the extremes of a monitor's luminance capability. We do not push the contrast control past the clipping point. While doing this would increase a monitor’s light output, the brightest signal levels would not be visible, resulting in crushed highlight detail. Our numbers show the maximum light level possible with no clipping of the signal.

Our comparison group for this review is the last six displays reviewed here at Tom’s Hardware.

The EA294WMi is a very bright monitor when all of its sensors are deactivated. You’ll need to turn off Eco Mode and Auto Brightness if you want to crank up the light output this high. While 343.4901 cd/m2 is quite bright, there are situations where it’s appropriate. For most environments, however, 200 cd/m2 is our recommended setting. This is the second-highest figure we’ve recorded this year. Only the HP ZR2740w is brighter.

At these settings, black level can often be high as well.

The NEC maintains a fairly low black level at maximum brightness. This is a well-engineered and well-built product; this is the sort of performance we expected at such a lofty price point. Overall, NEC's EA294WMi yields the third-best result among the monitors we’ve tested in 2013.

This bodes well for overall contrast in its stock configuration.

The EA294WMi takes second place in today's comparison and third for 2013. When you can turn up a monitor’s brightness control all the way and still get this kind of contrast, you have a very versatile screen able to deliver a nice punchy image in any lighting environment.

For the next group of measurements, we turn down the brightness control to its minimum setting and leave the contrast unchanged. The EA294WMi measures 6.7205 cd/m2, which is well below our minimum standard of 50 cd/m2. We recommend staying above that level to avoid eyestrain. The monitor is pretty much unusable at this setting. To hit our standard, we turn up the Brightness control to 11.

At a very low brightness setting, we often see amazing black level numbers.

Our measured result looks impressive on the chart. But remember, at just over 6 cd/m2, the image is far too dim, even in a completely dark room. Fortunately, the black level only rises to .041 cd/m2 when you set the monitor for 50 cd/m2 of maximum brightness.

Because of the low white level, the EA294WMi’s minimum contrast ratio is quite poor. Of course, you would never use the monitor configured as we're testing it. When you turn Brightness up to 11, the contrast ratio rises to a very respectable 1253.1 to 1. At that setting, the monitor looks fantastic with the lights out!

After Calibration

Since we consider 200 cd/m2 to be an ideal average for peak output, we calibrate all of our test monitors to that value. In a room with some ambient light (like an office), this brightness level provides a sharp, punchy image with maximum detail and minimum eye fatigue. It's also the sweet spot for gamma and grayscale tracking, which we'll look at on the next page.

We start with the calibrated black level. This can sometimes rise a bit from the monitor’s default state. We consider the tradeoff in contrast well worth the gain in color accuracy.

The EA294WMi runs with some good company. All of our best screens measure below .2 cd/m2 for calibrated black level. The NEC is in fourth place today, and seventh overall for the year.

Of course, NEC’s calibrated contrast ratio is quite good.

The EA294WMi finishes fourth in today's range of contenders and seventh overall in this metric as well. Any screen with a calibrated contrast ratio above 1000 to 1 is running in the top tier of performance. LG continues to improve the contrast of its AH-IPS panels. We saw even better numbers from AOC's Q2963PM, which uses the same glass as this NEC.

ANSI Contrast Ratio

Another important measure of contrast is ANSI. To perform this test, a checkerboard pattern of sixteen zero and 100 percent squares is measured. Our benchmark is somewhat more real-world than on/off measurements because it tests a display’s ability to simultaneously maintain both low black and full white levels, and factors in screen uniformity. The average of the eight full-white measurements is divided by the average of the eight full-black measurements to arrive at the ANSI result.

The EA294WMi stumbles a bit, and it’s not the fault of the grid polarizer. As you’ll see later, there are some screen uniformity issues that pull this number down, especially in the black areas of the checkerboard pattern. Because uniformity varies from sample to sample, another EA294WMi might very well measure better.

Display all 29 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 8 Hide
    runswindows95 , October 29, 2013 10:45 PM
    Considering this screen is $805 for this monitor on Newegg, I rather get a nice 2560X1440, like the Dell U2713, for the money, or dual 1920X1200 screens. 2560X1080 really isn't an ideal resolution for any practical application.
  • 3 Hide
    TBC1 , October 29, 2013 10:49 PM
    $750 for this! bahh!
  • 2 Hide
    patrick47018 , October 29, 2013 11:09 PM
    Triple Post! Triple Post! Triple Post! But yeah too much money
  • 1 Hide
    TBC1 , October 29, 2013 11:20 PM
    Quote:
    Triple Post! Triple Post! Triple Post! But yeah too much money


    Darn thing lagged on me!

  • 0 Hide
    Vorador2 , October 30, 2013 1:42 AM
    Well this is a professional monitor so the high price is not that surprising. Still if i were on the hunt for a monitor this wouldn't be my choice.
  • 2 Hide
    wikiwikiwhat , October 30, 2013 1:51 AM
    No and screw LG and others that model them.
  • 2 Hide
    burkhartmj , October 30, 2013 6:11 AM
    You could get 2 Dell Ultrasharp U2412M's plus a dual monitor mount for the price of this, it just doesn't make sense at this price point.

    There's also the issue of ultra wide screen. This seems to have a niche market that doesn't exist, a professional grade monitor that's only particularly good at watching movies. People who just watch TV and movies all day aren't going to be willing to spend more than 250 on a monitor [and even this is probably outside what most people would spend], and those who want/need professional features will want as much screen real estate as possible, opting for large 16:9 or 16:10 monitors.

    This is exacerbated by the fact that this aspect ratio is literally ONLY helpful for movies, not even TV. having big black bars on each side during a TV show or older movie that doesn't have the cinematic aspect ratio is way more distracting than the thin bars at the top and bottom created by cinematic movies on normal 16:9/10 monitors.
  • 5 Hide
    jasonpwns , October 30, 2013 6:19 AM
    I dislike this new trend. I'd rather have a 27 inch with 2560x1440. Why are we constantly trying to lower our screen resolutions. This 1080p trend needs to stop.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , October 30, 2013 8:04 AM
    Quote:
    This 1080p trend needs to stop.

    I would prefer 2560x1600 on a 24" screen myself.

    The problem is the bulk of offer and demand gravitates around 1920x1080 since that is what most common forms of entertainment are optimized for. With 1080p screens starting as low as $90, anything higher than that for 3-5X the price becomes a tough sale so these higher-resolution monitors get pitched and priced as "professional" displays instead of trying to compete for people's desktops.

    I paid $270 for my 24" 1200p display four years ago. Equivalent models today are usually listed around $400. To me, this seems to indicate that mainstream interest in higher resolution desktop displays has regressed, hence the switch to pitching those nearly exclusively at professionals and enthusiasts.
  • 0 Hide
    mortsmi7 , October 30, 2013 10:13 AM
    Seems to me that if your a fan of the 4:3 ratio, and want a seamless dual monitor experience, this might be the way to go. For once, a person might have reasonable room to put two windows side by side. And it sure as hell takes up less desk space than two separate monitors.
  • 0 Hide
    Nintendo Maniac 64 , October 30, 2013 12:17 PM
    Other than possibly using this with an emulator as a DS XXXL, I'm not sure what advantage this has over a 2560x1440 panel and just setting a 2560x1080 custom resolution...

    The only issue I can see would be black bars, but in my experience with a Trinitron CRT if the black bars are actually black and not grey then their presence isn't a problem at all. So being annoyed with "black" (grey) bars usually means you're actually annoyed with your display's poor black level.
  • 0 Hide
    bochica , October 30, 2013 12:46 PM
    Like a few others, I'd rather have a 27" with the same resolution (already have an ASUS IPS). Now that G-sync is starting to come out, I'd like to see IPS (or other panels better than TN) come out with G-sync.
  • 3 Hide
    lancero , October 30, 2013 12:48 PM
    Some say ultra-wide...I say ultra-SHORT.
  • 2 Hide
    blueangel , October 30, 2013 2:09 PM
    Why are we calling this 21:9 monitor... I thought the idea was to use the more reduced fraction... Can't we say 7:3 and not insult everyone's intelligence.
  • 0 Hide
    hucklongfin , October 30, 2013 3:03 PM
    I have twin 19" 1280x1024 monitors here on my desk and would much prefer one 27" 2560x1440 over my current setup or a 2560x1080. I like more vertical screen real estate.
  • 0 Hide
    burkhartmj , October 30, 2013 3:26 PM
    Oh the days when 16:10 was the high end standard. Does no one here remember the glorious days of 2560x1600?

    And BlueAngel, 21:9 is to signify a relationship with 16:9 since everyone knows that. Kind of how 16:10 should be 8:5 but no one says that because 16:10 can be more easily related to 16:9.
  • 0 Hide
    Tanquen , October 30, 2013 7:25 PM
    The Dell 3014 with 2560x1600 LED back light was on sale for like $900 just the other day.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , October 31, 2013 6:10 AM
    If they made a TN version panel with little input lag at this resolution and higher than 60Hz refresh with good contrast, it would be cheaper and sell like hotcakes to gamers. It would also sell to non-gamers because the price would be lower for twice the screen real estate. Most people have little need for precise color accuracy since most aren't photographers or videographers. Most people don't need extreme viewing angles on a computer monitor since they sit right in front of the thing (actually need only around 90 degrees of viewing angle or less if your head is only 12" away from a 29" screen and even less further away). Why haven't they manufactured TN panels in a greater variation of higher resolutions since 1080p and 1920x1200 hit the market, I do not know?

    We've been through days of 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1080, 1366x768, 1600x1900, 1650x1080, 1920x1080, 1920x1200 - I'm sure I probably left a few out - and then it stops and you have to get an IPS if you want more pixels. Does anyone know the business and why they won't give us more pixels on a TN monitor?

    I keep hoping the next review will show us an IPS monitor that will be the one that convinces me to get a higher res screen, but even the OC'd IPS monitors still have the inherent input lag.
  • 0 Hide
    burkhartmj , October 31, 2013 6:47 AM
    Quote:
    If they made a TN version panel with little input lag at this resolution and higher than 60Hz refresh with good contrast, it would be cheaper and sell like hotcakes to gamers. It would also sell to non-gamers because the price would be lower for twice the screen real estate. Most people have little need for precise color accuracy since most aren't photographers or videographers. Most people don't need extreme viewing angles on a computer monitor since they sit right in front of the thing (actually need only around 90 degrees of viewing angle or less if your head is only 12" away from a 29" screen and even less further away). Why haven't they manufactured TN panels in a greater variation of higher resolutions since 1080p and 1920x1200 hit the market, I do not know?

    We've been through days of 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1080, 1366x768, 1600x1900, 1650x1080, 1920x1080, 1920x1200 - I'm sure I probably left a few out - and then it stops and you have to get an IPS if you want more pixels. Does anyone know the business and why they won't give us more pixels on a TN monitor?

    I keep hoping the next review will show us an IPS monitor that will be the one that convinces me to get a higher res screen, but even the OC'd IPS monitors still have the inherent input lag.


    I have only limited knowledge of this, but firstly, TN is a known 'bad' technology. Even if people don't know how or why it's bad, a lot still have heard it is. Not that I necessarily agree, but I also own 2 Dell Ultrasharp monitors because I care for myself. Secondly, I would imagine with most smartphones using IPS that there is an economies of scale in manufacturing that makes TN less cost effective. Don't that for certain, but it wouldn't surprise me.

    I'd say another major reason that pixel increase only goes past 1200p in IPS forms is because people who wouldn't notice the difference between TN and IPS would GENERALLY not notice the difference between a 24-27 inch monitor being 1080p or 1440p, because they mostly watch content that maxes at 1080p and aren't as concerned with insane detail in games. There are always exceptions to this [as you very well might be], but it wouldn't be a large market.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , October 31, 2013 9:13 AM
    Quote:


    ...

    I have only limited knowledge of this, but firstly, TN is a known 'bad' technology. Even if people don't know how or why it's bad, a lot still have heard it is. Not that I necessarily agree, but I also own 2 Dell Ultrasharp monitors because I care for myself. Secondly, I would imagine with most smartphones using IPS that there is an economies of scale in manufacturing that makes TN less cost effective. Don't that for certain, but it wouldn't surprise me.

    I'd say another major reason that pixel increase only goes past 1200p in IPS forms is because people who wouldn't notice the difference between TN and IPS would GENERALLY not notice the difference between a 24-27 inch monitor being 1080p or 1440p, because they mostly watch content that maxes at 1080p and aren't as concerned with insane detail in games. There are always exceptions to this [as you very well might be], but it wouldn't be a large market.


    I think most people can tell the difference between an IPS and TN monitor, but since responsiveness (through reduced input lag and reduced response times and increased refresh rates) hasn't historically been an aim of IPS monitor manufacturers, to me, TN monitors and IPS monitors are clearly built for different purposes.

    Also, for me, it's not about insane detail but rather the ability to see more of what's going on on a single panel when it comes to gaming. As a matter of fact, I'd like the same level of detail, but the ability to see more on a single panel.

    Another question I've often pondered is I know most people's HDTVs (whether LCD, LED, or LCD/LED) don't use IPS technology, so why can I view them from just about any angle without much color or image distortion at all, but go at a PC from an angle and the TN monitor lets you know?
Display more comments