Updated 10/2/2013: Review has been updated to correct an issue with the non-SpectraView data. Please review the sRGB and AdobeRGB pages again if you have read this article before as they have been updated. The conclusions have been updated to match these test results as well.

What separates a professional grade monitor, like the NEC PA242W, from a similarly designed consumer display? You can easily go to Dell and find a 24”, 1920x1200 resolution display with GB-LED backlighting for a few hundred dollars; why are displays like the NEC PA242W worth almost twice the price? Are they just coasting off the reputation they had from their CRT days, or do they engineer their LCD displays in a way that set them apart from everyone else? I set out to examine the PA242W and find what it offers that sets it apart from the competition.

The NEC PA242W is a 24”, GB-LED backlit display with 1920x1200 resolution. I recently saw GB-LED backlighting in the Dell U3014 monitor and it performed well. GB-LED backlighting allows for the full AdobeRGB color gamut while still using LED lighting. Also on the NEC are a full complement of inputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, and VGA, as well as a 3-port USB hub. I would like to see USB 3.0 on the hub for the price of the NEC but we only get USB 2.0. What you do get are dual USB upstream ports, letting you connect the NEC to two computers. Video inputs can be assigned to a USB upstream connection, so when you switch the display from one PC to another, your connected peripherals switch to that PC as well.

You realize the NEC PA242W is different as soon as you open the box. There is no attaching a stand with screws or clicking it in. The whole monitor is fully assembled, ready to be lifted out of the box and put to use. The construction is unlike other displays: solid and thick, with a handle at the top to lift it out. The stand is a nice ergonomic model that allows for a wide range of adjustments and is already set up. The bottom of the display houses all of the inputs and USB outputs.

As soon as you use the OSD you’ll realize the NEC PA242W is unlike conventional monitors as well. Brightness is measured in cd/m^2 instead of a random slider. It is fully adjustable in 1 cd/m^2 increments up to 240 cd/m^2. You can adjust it beyond this but the control turns red indicating that the display uniformity will suffer. There are five monitor presets that you can control with a variety of settings: Colorspace, Brightness, Contrast, Gamma curve, White Point, and more. Moving between sRGB and AdobeRGB can be done at the touch of a button.

The selections for white point and color space go well beyond the usual options. White Point can be set from 3000K up to 15000K in 100K increments. Colorspace offers AdobeRGB, DCI, sRGB, Native (Full), SMPTE, and more. Any photo or video editing you need to do with the NEC PA242W should be covered by these options. The menu system is also very easy to use, with Up/Down and Left/Right arrows, on-screen labels, and a simple design.

All of these options provide supreme control over the NEC PA242W. There's even a standard 4-year warranty with 48-hour replacement. The real question is if the on-screen performance matches up with the controls.

NEC PA242W
Video Inputs DVI-DL, DisplayPort, HDMI, Dsub
Panel Type AH-IPS
Pixel Pitch 0.27mm
Colors 1.07 Billion
Brightness 340 mc/m^2
Contrast Ratio 1000:1
Response Time 8ms
Viewable Size 24.1"
Resolution 1920x1200
Viewing Angle (H/V) 178/178
Backlight GB-R LED (20 kHz PWM)
Power Consumption (operation) 56W
Power Consumption (standby) 0.2W
Screen Treatment Anti-Glare
Height-Adjustable Yes (6")
Tilt Yes
Pivot Yes
Swivel Yes
VESA Wall Mounting Yes, 100mm x 100mm
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 21.9" x 14.9" x 9"
Weight 23.4 lbs.
Additional Features USB hubs with KVM switch, 3D LUT,
Limited Warranty 4 years with 48-hour replacement
Accessories Power Cord, DP Cable, MiniDP Cable, DVI-D Cable, USB Cable
Price $1,049

 

Brightness and Contrast
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  • DanNeely - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    Defect rates on an 8k panel would probably be prohibitive. Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    I'm curious on how high they are...

    If it remains withing tolerable limits, I'd happily take upto 200 dead pixels or something similar...
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Saturday, September 28, 2013 - link

    Let's talk again once you have a few dozen permanently white, red green or blue dots right in your primary viewing area! Reply
  • ddriver - Saturday, September 28, 2013 - link

    As long as the pixels aren't clustered in a small region dead (dark) pixels will probably not be distinguishable. Stuck bright pixels are a different matter, but at that pixel pitch shouldn't be that much annoying too. Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Saturday, September 28, 2013 - link

    As ddriver said,, as long as it isn't in a cluster, its fine. 200-400 dead pixels spread out over a 440+ppi 24" panel at 30-60cm (my view distances for a desktop) will be pretty hard to spot.. Reply
  • SodaAnt - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    I know that I've seen an 8K prototype at 30" before at least, and it was pretty damn beautiful, but as far as I know, the (well known) company that made it hasn't brought it to market yet. Reply
  • speconomist - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    You mean 32K, as the 20''monitor is 16 times larger than a 5'' inches monitor. Reply
  • garadante - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    No, it'd be 8k. Yes, it would be 32 megapixels (roughly) but 4k doesn't mean 4 megapixels. It means 4k pixel width. So 8k pixel width is the same as a 1080p panel stacked 4 wide, 4 high. Reply
  • BlakKW - Saturday, September 28, 2013 - link

    I would really like to understand your analogy of 4 wide, 4 high...it would help me remember the reason 4k is better and how this scales when you add a "k". Also, I've seen it argued that even 4k exceeds the human eye's ability to differentiate, so at what point does "everyone" agree you can't tell the difference? Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Saturday, September 28, 2013 - link

    4 wide, 4 high he means in terms of "stitching" 1920x1080 (2Kx1K resolution, abbreviated to 2K in some circles, 1080p elsewhere) panels, leading to an effective resolution of 7680x4320 (8Kx4K naming).

    When I was referring to a panel sizes, I was referring to the diagonal measurement, as most things are quoted/marketed/sold using that measure. Thus 20" = 16 5" panels.

    "4k is better and how this scales when you add a "k". " It doesn't. K stands for "kilo", the x1000 prefix.
    Reply

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