Review: NEC's EA275WMI 27-Inch Display Offers a Reasonable Entry Into Professional, Color-Accurate Monitors

Review: NEC's EA275WMI 27-Inch Display Offers a Reasonable Entry Into Professional, Color-Accurate Monitors

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.

These aren't markings for buttons behind the bezel. Instead, these are the actual "buttons." Tap-sensitive controls work really well on this monitor. They're a huge improvement that are nice to see on all the NEC monitors I've tried lately.

Size

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.

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21 Comments

Robert Slowley's picture

I'm curious - how much of a difference is it using a display like this compared to a non-professional display (like say a MBPr screen) which has been calibrated?

Kang Lee's picture

If I am not mistaken, mostly more details within darks but also better AdobeRGB coverage so better color representation.

Robert Slowley's picture

If I work in the sRGB colour space would I see any difference?

Kyle Medina's picture

AdobeRGB is wider color space. So sRGB would be shown accurately still.

These monitors don't support wide-gamut (AdobeRGB), for that you'll have to shell out for the higher end monitors and a workstation graphics card that supports deep color output.

Where these monitors excel is color accuracy. This monitor (with calibration) will more accurately display colors in the sRGB color space than your run-of-the-mill monitors.

Robert Slowley's picture

Surely a calibrated monitor is accurately displaying the colours it is displaying?

Calibrated monitor yes, but you want be able to calibrate this Nec, same with MBPr retina screen, in both cases it's "just" profiling...

Bill Peppas's picture

You can see some sample photos ( you still won't see the real colors, but you can see the difference between the calibrated and non-calibrated monitor in the photos, the "distance" between them remains ) in my article here on Fstoppers regarding Monitor Calibration.

See here => https://fstoppers.com/diy/calibration-what-it-why-you-should-do-it-and-h...

Robert Slowley's picture

What I don't understand is what difference would I see between this monitor and say my MBPr display (which I have calibrated with a X-Rite i1Display Pro)?

Bill Peppas's picture

I don't have access to this specific monitor, so I can't tell you.
It most likely be more accurate, how much ? I can't tell you exactly.
At minimum I believe the average dE2000 will be 0.5 better than the calibrated MBP monitor.

The NEC monitors that are wide-gamut are the PA272W (27") and the PA322UHD (32"). I don't believe the monitors you reviewed go beyond the sRGB color space, so they aren't really "wide-gamut".

You are right, got older ea244wmi and it's 100% sRGB but only about 80% Adobe RGB:/ IMHO good for web/graphic design and maybe entry level photography but not for professional (colour sensitive) work. BTW spyder and it's software can do as much as profiling the display which is not exactly same as calibration;)

I was looking at this and realised that many people has misconceptions about what calibration and profiling is.
First the reason why we use hardware for measuring the colours and contrast of a monitor is that the eye is not consistent enough to make a judgement call for the strength of a certain color or density hence the reason we are using Colorimeters or Spectrophotometers.
A colorimeter is the simpler (cheaper) type that can not profile a reflective surface accurately (yes I know there are exceptions) One of the chief reasons being that they can not measure metamerism (the reaction of color under different lights).
For monitors such as CRT or LCD/LED they are usually very sufficient and the ones we can see in these forums discussed such as Spyder, Colormunki or the Xrite i1DisplayPro that is currently my favourite are very capable machines and the best thing is that they are a lot cheaper then a spectrophotometer.
There are not that many hardware options other the Xrite and Datacolor today and the ones that comes with different manufacturers are usually same hardware and the with a limited software that will allow it to measure that monitor of that system.
For anyone that is interested I very strongly recommend trying out the other software though because for example the applications from Coloreyes and Basiccolor are way superior to "canned" applications from the manufacturers.
And now when that is covered we get down to basics.
First the act of Calibration is to ensure that your monitor is set to a standard that is the most common in your business and many people will disagree about what is the correct settings but a big majority who works for printed material will try to have the setting of 120 Candela i.e. the strength (amount) of the light will shine in your face when working (personally I have slowly moved to a standard of 100-110 candela but that is my preference).
The gamma setting is usually 2.2 unless your software will allow for a L gamma that is a linear curve that in practical terms allow for a touch of more shadow detail.
And the white point of the monitor is usually native i.e. the color of the whitest light that the monitor can display.
The danger of not using native and using a budget monitor is usually present in magenta in the highlights (in my experience very common on iMacs and cinema displays and of course MPB)
Now that is Calibration and this can be edited after personal preferences and business standards but this general settings above is basic and will put you in a safe middle of the road.
All these settings are usually being checked by your hardware prior to creating the profile.
Next then is Profiling.
To profile a monitor is to measure the quality and strength of the colours that is being displayed and this is being done by the software flashing different lights and colours to the attached hardware and it will the create a profile for your unique monitor according to the chosen calibration.
It will then create an ICC profile and save it to your system and usually ask system preferences to use this as the default profile for all color managed software being used by the computer.
This ICC profile should never be mixed up with sRGB, AdobeRGB or ProPhotoRGB that are basically work profiles that will allow you to use a certain amount of colours when you are editing your images and the amount and placement of colours the contain is being called the gamut of the ICC profile.
sRGB being the smallest and what is usually being referred to as the web profiles because if it looks ok in SRGB it will look ok in most other monitors as well, it is also safe because it will by the shape and of the limits to the colours it can display it sort adds a bit of color contrast to the image that many people find pleasing.
AdobeRGB is the one being pushed by Adobe (sic) as a profile to use for professional use and it has a larger gamut then sRGB and allows for more editing ProPhotoRGB is arguably the biggest gamut of work profiles and will allow for a whole lot more colours.
What is most important though is that the work profiles are NEVER used as display profile since it will never allow for an accurate display of your monitor.
And I can say to the first comment in this post is that what is always most important is that your monitor is correctly calibrated and the profiled and that is always much more important then the quality of the monitor.
Buying a high end monitor and then not profiling it is like buying a supercar and not putting any tires on it, even if I buy a moped with crap tires I will still be faster then the supercar because it will stand still.

I guess at begging you are refering to me wrongly naming things;) really had software/hardware calibration differences in my mind rather than actual calibration and profiling which you perfectly explained above, point taken;) I'm assuming you must have used either colordisplay or basiccolor soft before, can you say some more? Any favs?

Sorry I was not trying to critizise anyone just clearing up some definitions. I have used Coloreyes from Integrated Color and Basiccolor Display as stand alone apps with a range of different hardwares both datacolor and Xrite and before that Gretag McBeth and others as well. I am currently playing around with DisplayCal and trying to get my head around it and it is defiantly worth the price since it is for free ;-).
I have also used the apps from Datacolor and Xrite as well and my personal experience is that Xrite is way superior to Datacolor¨s Spyder products although it seems to be that Datacolor has a heavier sponsor arrangement with different blogs since they seem to the the only mentioned on for example this site.
The apps is not that different but my problems has always been that the "canned" apps have tried to not promote the use of L-Gamma or saved it for the "pro" versions and it is a way superior setting to utilise and is in no way more "complicated" for newbie users.
They have also not promoted an understanding of what they do but have to different extent tried to keep the client in their customer group rather then promoting an understanding om color management, but hey that is capitalism for you.
My current favourite is Basiccolor with either Colormunki or Eye1DisplayPro but I am not a fan of either Xrite or Datacolor apps. I used to love using Coloreyes for its ease of use and simple interface but they had so much problems with Apple OS updates for a while so I kind of got tired to wait for 6 months to upgrade OS just because of them.
Basiccolor is brilliant and has so many features under the hood that is fantastic but might be intimidating for the newbie.
We will see how DisplayCal performs when I get around spending some time with it but it sure looks promising.

Jorge Canelas's picture

Hello, sorry to go to one older post, but, I need some help, I like photography (Landscape ) and started vlogging , I use one old monitor HP w2007v (20") and now I have a chance to buy one used NEC P221 (22" ) for 100€ , is it one good monitor yet for editing? For this price I can´t get better ? Being one old monitor ( NEC ) still one good Monitor? Sorry, and thank you for your help.

Adam Ottke's picture

Unfortunately, I really can't comment much on the price in Europe vs. here vs. anywhere else on a used piece of gear like this. I know some used gear pricing locally, but more for cameras and lenses here in the U.S.

All I can say is that this monitor (looking online) seems to have excellent reviews for the color reproduction, as many of these high-end NEC displays do. Whether or not it will last or is in good shape or is as good as something you could get that's new today is another question I just don't have the answer to.

Good luck!

Jorge Canelas's picture

Hello Adam,

Thank you for your answer, much appreciated, that is my point, for that price I can buy one 22" Monitor here in Portugal new, but that is the deal, NEC is one great brand for photographers and for the reviews that I read they are fantastic, so, that is my point ... by one new monitor ( but another "brand" low quality? ) or buy this used NEC ( The monitor is in good shape ) ?

Adam Ottke's picture

Personally, I buy a lot of these types of things used, as you do get more for your money. Assuming it was cared for and you trust the person, why not? ;-)

Jorge Canelas's picture

Sorry for the late response Adam and thank you for your answer, I bought it!!!! And I´m very happy whit it , it is in amazing condition and I love it, great colours, I think is the right size for my working space, well, it is old but for the price is great!!!! Better than my HP 20" :)

Adam Ottke's picture

Nice! I'm glad it worked out!