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Brightness & Contrast
To read about our monitor tests in depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs. Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.
Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level
There are many business-class 27" QHD monitors available to choose from in today’s market, but we haven’t reviewed one in quite a while. To have more recent subjects in the group, we included two Ultra HD models: NEC’s EA275UHD and ViewSonic’s VP2780-4K. Also present is the venerable Asus PB278Q. Although it’s two years old, you can still buy one. Completing the roundup is our review subject’s predecessor, the EA274WMi; and AOC’s C2783FQ, an FHD monitor with a VA panel.
Light output from NEC displays is always prodigious and always exceeds the published rating. We measured nearly 400cd/m2 from our sample, which makes it bright enough for outdoor use without shade if necessary.
The black level is a little lower than average among the IPS panels here, but it can’t come close to the VA-based C2783FQ. If it’s contrast you crave, that screen has more than double the amount of even the best IPS and TN displays.
Resulting contrast at the backlight’s maximum level is a respectable 1127.7:1. It edges out the other IPS monitors in the group and most of the examples we’ve tested to date. The EA275WMi’s image is rich and detailed with plenty of depth, brightness, and reasonably vivid color.
Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level
NEC’s tradition is to offer extremely low backlight output when the brightness slider is bottomed out. We wouldn’t use the monitor this way even in the dark; the picture is just too dim. Another downside to this approach is every click of the slider represents nearly 4cd/m2. That’s a little coarse and hinders precise control of light output. The ideal range would be 50-350cd/m2 with at least 150 adjustment steps and 2cd/m2 resolution.
The minimum black level is quite low, which is no surprise but contrast remains near the 1100:1 mark. As expected, the EA275WMi has a consistent backlight control with the same contrast available throughout its range.
After Calibration to 200cd/m2
The EA275WMi has a uniformity compensation feature that mainly works at the high end of the brightness scale. Black levels are barely affected but output is cut by around 33%. That means contrast is also reduced, 29% in the case of our sample. You’ll see in our tests on page six that the compensation has a positive impact, but the monitor has excellent uniformity already and doesn’t need further help.
ANSI Contrast Ratio
The EA275WMi’s ANSI contrast result is only a bit lower than the sequential one. That demonstrates the build quality we expect and always see from NEC products. The grid polarizer and other screen layers are fitted precisely and properly, which prevents any visible light bleed between dark and bright areas of the checkerboard pattern. High intra-image contrast like this further enhances the perception of resolution and detail. It doesn’t get much better than this, even when you up the pixel count to Ultra HD levels.
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Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.
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That's a sweet little monitor you got there. I run four 23 in Lenovo LCD monitors here on my trading station. Looking to do a server upgrade next spring and go with 32 or 36 in monitors. Getting old. Sometimes, the pips are hard to see...lo!Reply
NEC monitors are always a beauty. Nice matte black, not the shiny piano black we see everywhere. These always go toe to toe against the Dells that cost more.Reply
"NEC’s much vaunted build quality"Reply
Both of my EA231wmi monitors died just after the 3 year warranty expired.
Love my NEC PA27W - its still going strong after several years of use. NOT cheap, but it should last through several system upgrades.Reply
and despite what the gaming sites say, its great for games and movies, general use..and the occasional photo
what is uc on uc off in the contrast page?Reply
I'm so fed up with these 27" monitors. Why can't they make something a little larger. 32-40. My 30" 2560x1600 monitor is almost a decade old but I'm yet to see anything that tempts me to upgrade. I'm probably going to have to hold out until 8k becomes mainstream and we get 8k 40" panels.Reply
18845567 said:I'm so fed up with these 27" monitors. Why can't they make something a little larger. 32-40. My 30" 2560x1600 monitor is almost a decade old but I'm yet to see anything that tempts me to upgrade. I'm probably going to have to hold out until 8k becomes mainstream and we get 8k 40" panels.
It may not be the best monitor, but its a 40 inch 4k monitor.
Honestly Im toying with the idea of a 2 monitor setup myself, something massive for every day use, 40-50 inch 4k, especially if i can get 10 bit and a fantastic contrast ratio, and then something for more demanding things like gaming
also, 8k is never going to be a thing, at least till its so trivial to make the panels it just out right replaces 4k for the same price. 4k looks amazing in a store, when you are up close, you see the crispness, but then put the 50-60 inch tv 7-10 feet away from you and that 1080p tv right next to it looks the same for far less money., the same will be true for 8k, on a computer, there is a practical benefit for photographers, artists, people who work with video, but for the normal person they ui scale their crap up the monitor looks the same as the old one maybe a bit crisper in areas, but it takes 4 times the hardware to run it even idle.
the next thing that will push monitors forward is oled, possibly quantum dot if they emit their own light, don't know enough to make a call there. Not sure if you know this, but contrast is the number 1 thing that determines how good a monitor looks ot normal people, nothing else matters so long as its at least tn quality, but contrast is king. its funny to me how much manufactures lie on boxes for this too, had an argument with someone who claimed his 3000:1 monitor was worse then his apple 5k, and i had to dig up a review for his monitor where they did the contrast test and not just put out a press release, turns out that his monitor was actually about 800:1 and apple is around 1250:1
contrast ratio is what will push sales of tvs and monitors next, and it will be oled or qd that do it. and you want the normal people to adopt things enmass, just because that drives the price down faster.
Yeah, I know about the 40" 4K one. I've thought about it numberous times but it doesn't really feel like enough of an upgrade - it's about the same DPI as my 30". I'd like a bigger size with more pixels and a higher resolution too. 5k at 40 would be perfect. I'm using two 20" 1600x1200 monitors in portrait mode either side of my 30" and I'd ideally like a larger monitor that I feel can replace the whole lot. If they'd made 32" 5k monitors instead of 27", I would have bought one years ago.Reply