It’s hard to pick a component of gear that’s most important for editing your color-dependent photo and video work. But it’s easy to say that a great, accurate, wide-gamut monitor is near the top of that list. NEC recently gave us a chance to review a monitor of theirs that's popular for its balance of features, size, and mid-range price for its tier: the EA275WMI-BK.
While some might argue that calibrating any monitor gets them “close enough,” there’s no doubt that true color accuracy is really only possible when you elevate yourself a step or two in the quality of the monitor you get because of increased coverage across the gamut of every color space. But aside from sheer stats, there’s more reason to invest in a great monitor than “just” that extra bit of color fidelity.
While you can get wide-gamut displays for less, monitors south of this price range lack professional tools such as the color look-up tables (LUTs) that monitors such as the EA275WMI-BK when using SpectraView. Moreover, while IPS panels are common today, the 178-degree viewing angle isn’t a marketing gimmick. It’s rather impressive on this 27-inch model, which especially benefits from the feature in virtually any scenario, especially when showing clients work on the monitor.
Helpful Little Surprise
Meanwhile, the EA275WMI features a few extra conveniences that I didn’t expect, such as its “human sensing” feature. What might sound quite fancily complicated but could be a lame trick is in fact neither. NEC’s human sensing feature is rather simple in implementation, but remains a great source of convenience and a silent advocate for your display’s longevity. Thanks to built-in infrared sensors, the monitor can tell when you’re in front of it and when you’ve walked away to make lunch, grab a beer, or are pacing back and forth endlessly on a phone call.
The sensitivity of the human sensing feature is adjustable so you can tune the sensor according to how close the monitor is to your sitting position. I put the sensor almost all the way to the far end with the monitor placed all the way at the back of my rather gigantic, concrete desk. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to sit any farther from the monitor than I do, no less having a desk as large as this. So the fact that this was just one bar short of the monitor’s longest setting is great.
While human sensing might not seem like much, when you get a phone call or step out for lunch, it automatically takes over in either dimming or altogether turning the display off to save time on the unit, which can add up to quite a bit of time over the years. Even if you don’t care much for saving energy — let’s face it, monitors just aren’t the biggest energy problem the world’s seen — you can’t deny that it’s nice to have features built into your equipment to keep it working longer.
Controls and Ports
Thankfully, changing the settings for human sensing, and for all the settings on the monitor, is a breeze. Again, this is something that may seem silly at first. But when you pay a little more for your monitor up front than you otherwise might have, it’s fantastic to not have to fiddle with those stupid buttons on the edge of the display that always seem to want to break, don’t respond quickly to subsequent clicks, and never have a comfortable feel to them. Instead, capacitive contact points that are clearly marked on the front of the bezel (on the forward-facing part of the monitor frame) are just another added nicety that make this monitor a touch above the rest.
The EA275WMI also acts as a three-port USB 3.0 hub while offering original DisplayPort, HDMI, and even DVI-I connections for video inputs. While I find the DisplayPort a bit of an odd choice, I am assured that plenty of people still use this connection over the standard Mini DisplayPort connector that Apple/Intel have adopted in the form of the popularized Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 connectors. I would have rather seen this latter connection for my own purposes, but adapters are cheap and easy to find, and HDMI is undoubtedly even more widely used. So whatever your connection type, you should have a solution here. The availability of three completely different is in fact impressive on its own considering the price point. On another note, if you use multiple NEC MultiSync displays in your setup, you'll appreciate NEC's ControlSync feature, which lets you adjust the brightness and other similar settings across all of your monitors any time you change the settings on just one. This keeps you from the hassle of changing settings on a handful of monitors to keep them consistent whenever you want to make a change.
In concert with its color reproduction, the size of the display really makes this the perfect workhorse for any editor. I had the 30-inch Apple Cinema Display for years, and as impressive and quite fun as it really was, I had to admit one day that it was just a hair too big. If I sat too far away, I couldn’t quite read content with ease. But moving the display within reading distance forced me to actually have to move my eyes a little more than made sense just to look from one side of the screen to the other. As I recall, I actually constantly found myself even turning my neck slightly. As the 24-inch size is a bit small for me (although I could see it for a multi-monitor video-editing rig), 27 inches seems to be quite ideal.
With a more useful 16:9 aspect ratio, the 2560x1440 EA275WMI also benefits from a higher pixel density than my old 30-inch (which features a similar pixel count, but spread over greater screen size) without going overkill into 4K-like resolutions that often force a compromise between seeing tiny objects and increasing the virtual size of your workspace.
Overall, the monitor is quite impressive. It isn’t as thin as some of these ultra-modern, ultra-cheap displays have become, but it combats this by being lighter than your eyes expect along with effortless adjustments made easy by a great base. You can rotate the display 90 degrees, lift it up or down to put it more at eye-level, and turn or tilt the display for a better viewing angle with a very light touch that translates to a sure movement. At a price that’s modest for a well-appointed, color-accurate monitor from a trusted manufacturer, the EA275WMI-BK makes sense for anyone doing a fair amount of editing, but not wanting to break the bank with frivolous features.
What I Liked
- Reasonable price point
- No frills, no nonsense
- Excellent input controls
- Great out-of-the-box performance that gets better with calibration
- Well thought out ergonomics when considering the stand and weight of the monitor
- Human sensing feature is actually useful
What I Didn't Like
- If it's not going to come with Mini DisplayPort, it should come with an adapter since they're so cheap anyway.
- If I'm being really nit-picky, the power cable could have been a bit longer for my particular needs. But it worked out just fine in the end, and it's a very standard connector that could be very affordably replaced with a longer one or extended via extension cord.
The EA275WMI-BK is available as a standalone display for $664 or with the hardware and software necessary to run and maintain the SpectraView calibration software for more accurate and advanced features (EA275WMI-BK-SV) for $829. For those that do prefer a 30-inch model, that variation is available for $1,399 alone or $1,549 with the calibration bundle.