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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  • AssBall - Sunday, September 29, 2013 - link

    Wrong. It is perfectly acceptable. Reply
  • foxalopex - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Input lag? The monitor is rated for 27 ms which works out to 37 fps. Video is typically only shot at 25 or 29.97 fps. While a gamer might need more than this, video certainly isn't this fast. Reply
  • marqs - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Input lag consists of signal processing latency and pixel response time, of which only the latter limits the practical fps. By enabling overdrive the response time should improve by a couple of ms. Btw, I think the latency charts wrongly claim to be against an CRT, if the results are taken from averaging the results from Leo Bodnar lag tester (which results to ~7.5ms for a lagless CRT). The real input lag for PA242W should be around 20ms with default settings. Reply
  • cbelle - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    720/60 is a standard used by many including ABC, ESPN and FOX in the US. So this is still could be an issue to video and music editors (video sync playback).

    Not horrendous but not great either. But if it can be lowered to 20ms that would be nice.

    For video editing I think it still lacks 10 bit, SDI and video production specific needs. It is nice alternative for home editing but not sure in a suite or in the field.
    Reply
  • Bitmambo - Saturday, September 28, 2013 - link

    When will Anandtech test Eizo displays and see whether the significant price gap is justified ? One area that is hardly if ever addressed in display reviews is the bit depth of the DAC circuits, and the resultant impact on signal aliasing (Mach banding) and the quality of gradients, the signal-to-noise ratio. Uniformity, linearity, brightness, contrast ratio, response time and gamut are not all there is to display technology. Speaking of contrast ratio, we need numbers, that are not biased by the absolute blackness of the display, since anything below 1% brightness will multiply the factor enormously for not huge perceptual gain. A linearity plot showing the length of the straight portion of the gamma-corrected display should help compare display performance. Look at what the folks at Digital Photography Review do to compare cameras. Reply
  • TheRealAnalogkid - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    ...and people look at me weird because I have a second Sony GDM-FW900 Monitor in the closet for after the one I'm using dies. I'll miss them when they're gone; maybe tech will make something comparable by then. Reply
  • Kathrine647 - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    like Gregory said I am alarmed that a stay at home mom able to earn $5886 in 1 month on the internet. visit their website............B u z z 5 5 . com open the link without spaces Reply
  • CSMR - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    1920x1200 on a 24" is low resolution. 24" tend to be this resolution and you can see all the very large pixels. I would not recommend 24" screens for profesisonal use until manufacturers start increasing the resolution. 1440p would be perfect on this screen size. Reply
  • mrstonecold - Friday, October 4, 2013 - link

    Does anybody now if this screen uses an active cooling element (fan) like the new eizo screens cx240 and the cg246. I'm in the market to replace my primary screen (dell u2410) and I prefer a quiet work environment. Thx. Reply
  • foxalopex - Friday, October 4, 2013 - link

    The NEC-PA242W is absolutely silent, there is no fan. It doesn't even have a high pitched whine which is nice. The monitor is pretty thick partially for passive cooling I suspect as looking into the cooling vents at the top, you can see a massive airspace behind the actual panel hardware itself. Reply

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