Monitors with the 16:10 aspect ratio are somewhat rare these days but just recently we got the chance to check out a new model from NEC, the 30-inch EA305WMi IPS display. Sporting fantastic build quality and solid performance, this monitor is a great fit for business users seeking a little extra height in a jumbo screen. Our only beef concerned its fixed Adobe RGB color gamut; no sRGB option is provided. I asked NEC about this and the company responded with another review offer from its professional-grade PA series, the PA302W.
It uses the same AH-IPS panel part from LG Display but adds a 14-bit color lookup table along with a factory calibration, accurate sRGB and Adobe RGB presets and an even more rugged chassis. It looks built to withstand years of daily use not just as a large display but as a professional’s tool.
30" Wide Gamut
We’ve reviewed other 30-inch 16:10 screens in the past, starting three years ago when we tested the DoubleSight DS-309W. Amazingly, this old-school monitor with its CCFL backlight is still available, although it's pretty basic by modern standards, offering only a wide gamut and few features or amenities.
When NEC decides to move into a new form factor, it’s only after careful consideration of market demands and availability of quality panels. While the same part is used in both the EA and PA versions of this monitor, the similarity ends there. The PA302W is built for professional use with top-notch accuracy, courtesy of a factory-certified calibration, a huge OSD loaded with every conceivable adjustment and a chassis built to last through years of daily use.
The backlight is GB-r-LED which ensures greater color accuracy when expanding beyond sRGB/Rec.709. While the previous CCFL versions of this panel also offered a wide gamut, it wasn’t quite in line with the Adobe RGB standard. Make no mistake, the PA302W hits every color target with military precision. The backlight uses pulse-width modulation at a frequency of 49kHz. Although it isn't categorized as flicker free, it’s hard to imagine anyone perceiving an issue at that rate.
While our tests will confirm its out-of-box accuracy, NEC has not skimped on calibration options. In the Advanced Settings menu, which contains 12 sub-menus apart from the main OSD, you’ll find two different methods of adjusting color with fine resolution controls. There are also gamma presets covering a wide range, plus several features designed to compensate for human vision deficiencies. It’s an almost daunting package, but NEC has left no stone unturned. Is the PA302W’s measured performance the equal of its impressive spec sheet? Let’s take a look.