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

NEC EA294WMi: Ultra-Wide And More

With the 2012 introduction of LG’s 29EA93-P, desktop users were introduced to a new aspect ratio option: 21:9, or in cinematic terms, 2.39:1. This year, other manufacturers are following suit with their own versions of LG’s panel, which, to refresh your memory, employs AH-IPS technology. A couple of months ago, we published AOC Q2963PM Monitor Review: 2560x1080 Is A New Way To Play, and found the AOC to be a great performer. Its utility is situational. In some tasks, the display configuration comes in very useful. In others, it gets a little awkward.

Dell, Asus, and NEC now have their own 21:9 offerings; NEC's EA294WMi is the subject of today's evaluation.

The company considers its EA294WMi a high-end offering and prices the display at almost $750. The next most-expensive model is none other than LG’s 29EB93-P at $629. While it is based on the same panel, the similarities end there. NEC not only offers excellent build quality, but also a host of features not found in most screens. For the IT professional, there are tools to manage all of the monitors on a network (not just this one, but anything made by NEC). ControlSync makes it possible to connect up to six EA3- and 4-series screens so they can share settings automatically. And if you're really concerned about power consumption, every energy-related setting on the EA294WMi quantifies your savings. The OSD can even translate that information into currency and carbon footprint data.

Aside from its obvious utility in entertainment applications, we remain curious about this aspect ratio's most viable use cases. To that end, we spoke to Art Marshall of NEC Display about the company's goals for the EA294WMi, and learned that many financial workstations consist of two 19-inch screens set up to display news and stock info. With the extra desktop real estate from a 21:9 display, it's possible to replicate that view with just one panel. There are similar applications in the science and medical fields, where systems might need to display content from multiple sources (like a PC and a scanning machine, for example). By enabling the picture-by-picture capability, you can connect two inputs for bezel-free viewing of both.

In looking over the EA294WMi's specs, maximum flexibility comes to mind. After all, the monitor boasts six video inputs plus audio, headphone output, and four USB ports. It’s hard to contrive a configuration that couldn't be handled. Unlike AOC's version, this panel includes a portrait mode. Though it's an expensive idea, the idea of having three or four of these side by side in portrait mode is undeniably cool. Also, browsing through the OSD, we can’t help but notice things like the four user-configurable color temp memories, and the DICOM Simulation mode that mimics the color and gamma settings of medical imaging equipment. There is no question that this is professional-grade gear. While enthusiasts are well-served by this display, there are many other applications that benefit, too.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Panel TypeAH-IPS
Screen Size29"
Max Resolution2560x1080
Max Refresh Rate60 Hz
Aspect Ratio21:9
Response Time (GTG)6 ms
Brightness (cd/m2)300
Speakers2 x 1 W
USBv2.0, 1 up, 4 down
Dimensions w/baseWxHxD27.8 x 16.2-21.3 x 9.1 in706 x 410-540 x 230 mm
Panel Thickness2.7 in, 69 mm
WarrantyThree years

We realize that most people will choose this monitor for its aspect ratio, and not necessarily its video performance. We still hold it to the same standards as other displays, though. Given the excellent performance we saw from AOC's Q2963PM, there is no reason to expect anything less from NEC's EA294WMi.

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.