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

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.

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

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.

  • runswindows95
    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.
  • TBC1
    $750 for this! bahh!
  • patrick47018
    Triple Post! Triple Post! Triple Post! But yeah too much money
  • TBC1
    11821147 said:
    Triple Post! Triple Post! Triple Post! But yeah too much money

    Darn thing lagged on me!

  • Vorador2
    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.
  • wikiwikiwhat
    No and screw LG and others that model them.
  • burkhartmj
    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 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.
  • jasonpwns
    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.
  • InvalidError
    11822582 said:
    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.
  • mortsmi7
    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.