NEC EA294WMi: More Than Just a Wide Screen
Once again, LG’s unique panel size proves to be a competent performer, this time in NEC's EA294WMi. Its contrast, gamma, and color performance are superb. And the grayscale results we measured are quite good as well. Thanks to excellent color accuracy, photo enthusiasts and pros alike would be well-equipped with one of these on their desks. Aside from some black field uniformity and input lag issues, there really aren’t any significant flaws to note. The pricing is definitely high-end, but so are the hard-to-quantify build quality, engineering, and flexibility factors.
A myriad of connectivity and customization features will undoubtedly appeal to a wide variety of users. For those of you most interested in entertainment value, you won’t be disappointed, particularly if you primarily plan to watch movies. Gamers may be put off by relatively poor input lag performance, but only if you're playing fast-paced shooters. There are many RPGs and strategy titles that would benefit from the extra width afforded by a 21:9 aspect ratio.
IT managers will certainly appreciate the networking and connectivity features of NEC's EA294WMi. With so many video inputs, there is no source left out. And if resolution is an issue, NEC includes the ability to tweak screen size, so pretty much any device will output a usable image. No matter what environment you deploy it in, the EA294WMi's power consumption monitoring options are bound to satisfy efficiency-minded users. Now you won’t have to crawl under your desk to plug in a Kill-A-Watt!
Truth be told, though, we’re still not completely sold on this format, and we don’t believe it’s really catching on with desktop users, either. Based on the comments we’ve read, there are those who love it and others who just aren’t sure how to make it useful. I will say that it's really cool for watching movies. Of course, size does matter. But when you don’t have those pesky letterboxing artifacts to deal with, the immersion factor goes up significantly.
For gaming, the reports are mixed, depending on what you're playing. Some titles, like Skyrim for instance, don’t natively support 2560x1080. But we're received feedback that the format's extra-wide field of view is a distinct advantage in a great many situations. Input lag is going to be an issue for elite players using NEC's EA294WMi, but for most of us, the monitor works just fine. If you count yourself in that group of competitive gamers, it might be worth hunting down a 21:9 screen other than NEC's, if only to try.
Beyond the excellent performance observed in our benchmark tests, we love this display's side-mounted headphone jack and four USB ports. We’d like them better if they were USB 3.0-capable, but at least two of them are easy to reach. We're also big fans of the super-solid build quality. NEC's EA294WMi is not slim or sleek by any standard. However, for fans of industrial design, it exudes function above all. While you can find similar products based on the same glass for less money, NEC tries to set its EA294WMi apart with great construction, reliable operation, plenty of inputs, a flexible OSD, and laudable display performance.