At an MSRP of $1999, the PA302W is not likely to appeal to the masses, but we still think it’s worth every penny. Our comments on NEC’s build quality may be starting to sound like a broken record, but in a sea of mass-produced products that often look like they’ll need replacement in just a few years, these monitors really stand out. Every NEC display we’ve reviewed, regardless of price or model line placement, has come wrapped in a rugged chassis with shielded internal components and an excellent stand. If you’re looking for something built to last, you need look no further.
Of course all that toughness would mean little if there weren’t performance to match. Our experience with every PA-series monitor has been overwhelmingly positive. These professional-grade displays are individually calibrated and ready to deliver accurate color, grayscale and gamma right out of the box. Even so, NEC provides multiple calibration options, in both the OSD menus and with SpectraView software, to ensure that the monitor stays tuned or can be set up for a custom preset that’s not part of typical standards.
One thing that really stands out about the PA302W is its uniformity compensation feature. Every other display we’ve reviewed with this option did little to improve uniformity and only served to reduce contrast by negatively affecting peak white and minimum black levels. Although we measured a contrast drop on this screen, it was a scant 16 percent in the sequential test and only 10 percent with the ANSI pattern. This is astounding by itself, but we also found it improved color uniformity to such a degree that it challenged our meter’s tolerance levels.
Our particular sample looked and measured well without compensation, but to see the effect on a white field was quite impressive. Visually, the difference is small, but when your work requires the precision only a color meter can provide, these are substantial gains in performance.
In other areas, the PA302W impressed us with perfect Adobe RGB and sRGB presets. They are ready to use without adjustment, but we managed small improvements anyway. The OSD and Advanced Setting menus provide more than enough flexibility for the user to achieve any desired colorspace, white point or gamma level.
So after a final mention of the PA302W’s superb build quality, we’ll say that because of its excellent performance in every conceivable test, truly usable uniformity compensation feature, and that it makes the most of an uncommon aspect ratio, we’re giving it the Tom’s Editor’s Choice Award.