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NEC PA272W 27-Inch Monitor Review: Accuracy And Flexibility

Calibration With SpectraView

For our benchmark tests, we calibrated the PA272W solely through its OSD, though the monitor can also be adjusted via NEC’s SpectraView software. It sells separately for $99, or $299 with an i1Display Pro colorimeter. A license key was included with our press pack, so we downloaded the latest version to give it a try.

Setup could not be easier. After installing the application, connect a supported meter to your computer (we used our i1 Pro) and start it up. Other compatible meters include X-Rite’s ColorMunki and Datacolor’s Spyder 2, 3, and 4 models. If you want to connect the meter directly to the PA272W, you'll have to run a USB cable between it and the computer.

This is the main screen. You can use one of the preset targets or create your own. All of the parameters are listed so you know what the targets are. SpectraView also tells you the last calibration date and when it’s due next. NEC recommends re-calibrating every two weeks. If you have multiple displays, you can select and configure them separately.

All calibration parameters can be edited to your preference. Our sample screen is set for a D65 white point with 200 cd/m2 max intensity, a 2.2 gamma curve, and an sRGB color gamut. You’ll notice in the gamma choices there is a new standard, BT.1886, which has been recently adopted by the television and film industry. Here’s a graphic that compares the two curves.

BT.1886 bumps up light output at the lower brightness levels and flattens it out until around the 80-percent mark, where the two curves become identical. The end result is better shadow detail and a little more pop in the mid-tones.

Now that content providers are migrating to this new gamma standard, displays will have to include the BT.1886 gamma option in their calibration toolkit. The PA272W is the first computer monitor we’ve seen that supports it, though you’ll have to use SpectraView to access the preset. It isn’t in the OSD.

To select a color gamut, you can choose a preset from the drop-down list or enter the CIE coordinates manually. The yellow triangle shows the PA272W’s native gamut, which matches Adobe RGB 1998. Any gamut inside can be specified.

To create a custom white point, enter a color temperature value in Kelvins or type in the CIE xy values. If you’d rather use a visual comparison, operate the intensity slider and RGB controls to set the white point, then measure it for inclusion in your custom calibration.

Once you’ve set your options, click Calibrate on the main screen and follow the meter placement instructions. Our rig took about 10 minutes to do its thing. Depending on how much adjustment is required, it could take longer.

When it’s finished, the results are summarized in the above window. You can store multiple calibrations on your PC and recall them at any time. The values are written to the PA272W’s internal LUT, so no drivers or running apps are required. You’ll notice that a picture mode called SpectraView is added to the OSD. Because it doesn't replace any of the others, you can still access the monitor's previously-discussed presets. And an ICC profile is automatically generated and installed, so you can go right to your graphics apps and access the new calibration.

We’ve seen applications like this from Samsung and Dell, but NEC’s SpectraView is the easiest and fastest one yet. Our only beef is that it’s not included with the monitor. Many users already own the necessary meter; all they would need is the application.

Christian Eberle
Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.