We’ve been reviewing Ultra HD monitors from every major manufacturer for over a year. The first-gen models, all of which are still for sale, were based on IGZO technology (similar to IPS, but with a potentially more responsive pixel structure). Those screens from Dell, Sharp and Asus originally sold for $3000 and up. They've since dropped to saner prices, though. In fact, the Dell UP3214Q - still a great monitor by today’s standards - can be had for well under $2000.
Today we’re checking out the latest IGZO-based panel on the market, NEC’s PA322UHD. It gets us back up to that $3000 level. But compared to the others, the PA322UHD offers even better performance and build quality. It's a great addition to the pro-oriented PA line of precision monitors. With a self-adjusting mode that doesn’t require a computer and a wide-gamut option, professionals shopping for a jumbo Ultra HD screen may have a new top-end model to lust over.
The PA322UHD is indeed based on a Sharp IGZO panel - in this case the newest wide-gamut version sporting a white LED backlight. Its main feature is a native 10-bit color depth, to which NEC adds a 14-bit 3D look-up table. This means you can use it with a native 10-bit signal and add even more color choices by means of your graphics software to create a larger palette. The gamut doesn’t go beyond Adobe RGB; you simply have more shades of each color available. And if sRGB is all you need, that gamut is included too.
NEC’s PA line is all about creating professional tools. Given the results from our benchmark suite, we’d take that a step further and call this screen a precision instrument. Calibration isn’t necessary thanks to a factory-certified process that renders all color and white point errors below one DeltaE. That’s well below the visible threshold of three DeltaE. And yes, our measurements confirm the factory’s to within a very tight tolerance.
For those who like to tweak, NEC still provides a huge array of options in the OSD. There is a full color management system capable of adjusting hue, saturation and luminance for each color. Or, you can use the x and y coordinates to dial in color points precisely. Coupled with dead-perfect gamma presets and a high-resolution white balance adjustment, you only need a meter and the appropriate software to achieve fantastic results.
If you don’t have the means, NEC offers SpectraView software, which works with a variety of instruments to set the PA322UHD to whatever standard you desire. And for those looking for a quick occasional touch-up, again, the monitor can calibrate itself without the use of a computer.
NEC's price is high, but so is the comprehensiveness of this screen's feature set. Is it a worthy addition to the Ultra HD monitor ranks? Let’s take a look.