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NEC PA272W 27-Inch Monitor Review: Accuracy And Flexibility

Results: Color Gamut And Performance

Color gamut is measured using a saturation sweep that samples the six main colors (red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow) at five saturation levels (20, 40, 60, 80, and 100%), yielding a more realistic view of color accuracy.

To properly tell the story of the PA272W’s color gamut performance, we need to show you all three gamuts (Adobe RGB, sRGB, and DCI). We also encountered a little surprise when we took our initial readings.

When a monitor is calibrated at the factory, we expect near-perfect color performance. For red, green, cyan, and yellow, that is indeed the case. Blue and magenta, however, are not where they should be. Blue is especially under-saturated and off-hue; magenta is a little less so. Blue luminance is set higher to compensate, but the chart still wasn't what we thought we thought we’d see.

To save space, we’re not showing the pre-calibration sRGB and DCI charts. They look pretty much the same. Again, blue and magenta are under-saturated and blue shows definite hue errors.

We tried the traditional hue, saturation, and lightness (NEC calls this one offset) controls to fix the color problems, but encountered difficulties. The biggest one was that the saturation sliders start at zero and can only be increased. Traditional CMS design posits that you should only be able to lower saturation. Basically, the color management in the main menu doesn’t work. Fortunately, there's an excellent fix!

In the Advanced menu, you can set the primary colors positions via x and y values. There is no luminance control, but as it turns out, it’s unnecessary. After spending some time with this unusual (but highly effective) adjustment routine, we recorded three stellar results.

The PA272W’s native gamut is Adobe RGB and you can see it matches perfectly after calibration. Even though there’s no luminance control in the Advanced menu, it isn’t needed. It really doesn’t get better than this.

The sRGB result is equally impressive. You have to adjust each gamut separately, but the process is well worth the effort to achieve such precise accuracy.

You can see how large the DCI gamut is on the green, yellow, and red side where those colors are especially close to the limit of the visible color spectrum. The PA272W comes up a little short rendering them, though only by a tiny bit. To display such a large gamut explores the limits of modern LCD technology. For a $1300 computer monitor to get this close is pretty amazing.

Now we return to the comparison group.

The results for all three color gamuts are quite excellent. The efforts we made to calibrate the PA272W are obviously worthwhile. Using NEC’s unique CMS made it fairly easy. None of the controls interacted, so we didn’t have to go back and re-adjust grayscale or gamma at all.

Gamut Volume: Adobe RGB 1998 And sRGB

There are basically two categories of displays in use today: those that conform to the sRGB/Rec. 709 standard like HDTVs, and wide-gamut panels that show as much as 100 percent of the Adobe RGB 1998 spec. We use Gamutvision to calculate the gamut volume, based on an ICC profile created from our actual measurements.

The PA272W covers pretty close to 100 percent of the Adobe RGB and sRGB gamuts. Ninety-five is a respectable number, though lower than some of the other wide-gamut screens we’ve tested. But given superb Delta E performance, we don’t think a slightly reduced volume is a big deal. The added bonus of an almost-perfect DCI gamut places this display well above other professional monitors available today.

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.