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NEC EA274WMi Monitor Review: Eco-Friendly At 2560x1440

OSD Setup And Calibration Of The NEC EA274WMi

OSD Tour

If you recall our review of the EA294WMi wide-screen monitor, than this menu tour will look familiar. The EA274WMi’s OSD is identical to it in every way. There is a myriad of features to not only calibrate the display, but also to control and track energy usage, manage multiple NEC monitors, and display multiple sources with PBP. Let’s take a look.

When you touch the menu control, the OSD appears along with little tags telling you what the other bezel keys do. This is super-handy in dark environments when you would not be able to read labels silk-screened onto plastic. In addition to traditional Brightness and Contrast sliders, the first sub-menu has controls for Eco Mode (limits brightness to a max of 30 or 60 percent), and the front-mounted sensors. They can detect when a user is present and modulate brightness accordingly, or even turn off the power when you leave your desk. Auto Brightness adjusts brightness along with changes in ambient room light. When we tried this feature, we found it dimmed the picture a little too aggressively for our taste.

You may have noticed a Black Level control. NEC is the only company we know of that includes this adjustment in its monitors, and it works like the brightness control on an HDTV. Rather than adjusting the backlight, it changes the black level threshold. The default setting is as low as you can go without clipping a PC signal, but if you use a video signal, such as one from a Blu-ray player, you can improve contrast by turning it down a few notches.

When you select an option, a little fly-out pops up.

All of the adjustments on the EA274WMi work this way. Once the fly-out appears, move the slider left or right to make your choice.

There are six picture modes.

We measured all of the modes and found Standard to offer the most accurate basis for calibration. The other modes make subtle changes to gamma and color that fall outside our accepted standards. Text for instance, adds a little edge enhancement to make fonts more crisp. And Movie bumps up only the lower brightness levels. In Dynamic mode, the contrast shifts depending on image content. Take care with this setting; it can sometimes crush highlight and shadow detail.

Since the EA274WMi includes a VGA input, the next menu can help you adjust the resolution, size, and position of analog signals.

Newer monitors are doing without old-school VGA inputs. But NEC still includes them. If the image needs to be centered or expanded to fill the screen, you can do that here.

Here are the color temp controls.

Presets 1, 2, 3, and 5 are adjustable, and they start at color temps of 9300, 8200, 7500, and 5000 Kelvins, respectively. Number 3 is closest to the preferred 6500 K setting. sRGB, N (Native), and D (DICOM) (used in medical imaging) cannot be changed. P is for Programmable and works with a PC app to control the EA274WMi, but it only addresses gamma, which is fine as-is.

The RGB sliders start at or near the top of their range, depending on which preset you choose. We prefer sliders that default to a center point so we can move them in both directions. With NEC’s system, you can only adjust downwards.

If you choose the Movie, Gaming, or Photo picture mode, the color temp is locked to Native and cannot be changed.

The next menu has more ergonomic features.

Volume controls both the internal speakers and the headphone output. Since audio signals can come in via a 3.5mm jack, HDMI, or DisplayPort, Sound Input lets you select the source.

The PBP feature will display two sources simultaneously side-by-side on the screen. You can adjust each image independently if you wish.

Response Improve can reduce image blur, though, depending on the content, you might see color fringing artifacts. We saw them in vertically scrolling text, but not in any fast-paced games or video.

Off Timer powers down the monitor after a user-specified period. LED Brightness controls the front-panel power indicator. DDC/CI should be left on to allow your computer to control the EA294WMi, and USB Power lets you leave the ports active even when the monitor is in power saver mode. Factory Preset returns all settings to their defaults.

This is the Menu Tools screen. Besides the nine available languages, you can lock out the OSD to prevent adjustment. To re-enable it, press Select and Left simultaneously. Hot Key turns on PBP, Brightness, and Volume hot keys on the front panel, saving you a trip into the OSD. Signal Information, Sensor Information, and Key Guide toggle various info pop-ups. Data Copy will copy settings to other monitors connected via the ControlSync feature. And Customize Settings stores all options so you can restore them after an accidental reset.

NEC takes energy usage very seriously. As an incentive to users, the EA274WMi can show the savings in financial and carbon usage terms. This is pretty cool, especially for large organizations running hundreds of displays at a time.

If you need to know the serial number of your particular monitor, it’s shown here. That saves you the challenge of peeking around back at the tiny info decal below the input panel.

NEC EA274WMi Calibration

We set up our press sample using the Standard picture mode, which provides the most accurate gamma and color, along with all possible color temp options. Since we do all our testing with full-range PC signals, we left the Black Level control at its default setting of 50. Contrast starts to clip information above 50, but we lowered it to 43 to improve the grayscale accuracy. The tradeoff is worth it if you're critical about color, even if it reduces image contrast somewhat.

The adjustable color temp presets all start at a different Kelvin value. Number 3 is labeled 7500 K, so we used that one. Only small adjustments are required to achieve excellent grayscale tracking and a high degree of gamut accuracy. Be sure to check out page seven where we show the effect of grayscale calibration on the gamut results.

NEC EA274WMi Calibration Settings
DV ModeStandard
Black Level50
Color Temp3
RGBRed 92.7, Green 90.6, Blue 100
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.