NEC MultiSync PA242W-BK review

The NEC MultiSync PA242W-BK 24-inch professional grade monitor is a top performer that's loaded with features and settings options.
Photo of NEC MultiSync PA242W-BK

NEC’s PA series of MultiSync monitors have garnered quite a few Editors’ Choice awards over the years, and for good reason; these pricey displays typically deliver the color accuracy and grayscale performance that artists, photographers, and other graphics pros crave. The new NEC MultiSync PA242W-BK continues that trend; its 24-inch AH-IPS panel uses GB-R LED backlighting technology to deliver very accurate colors and outstanding grayscale performance, and it holds nearly every feature you will ever need. At $1,049 it’s not cheap, but if you require a high-end, extremely accurate monitor to ply your trade, the PA242W-BK delivers.

Design and Features
To look at the PA242W’s bulky (3.3-inch) black cabinet you would think that it uses CCFL backlighting, but that’s not the case. Instead, it is equipped with GB-r LED backlighting technology, which uses green and blue LEDs coated with a red phosphor to deliver vibrant, wide gamut colors that are highly accurate. It covers 99.3 % of the Adobe RGB color space, 94.8 % of the NTSC color space, and 100 % of the sRGB color space. The 24-inch AH-IPS (Advanced High-performance In Plane Switching) panel has a matte anti glare coating that is anti-reflective and has a native resolution of 1920 x 1200 with a 16:10 aspect ratio.

As with its larger brother, the NEC MultiSync PA271W, the PA242W features a programmable 14-bit LUT (lookup table), which allows for precise calibration. If you order the PA242W-BK-SV it comes with a SpectraView II calibration bundle consisting of a colorimeter and calibration software. The 16.3 pound cabinet has four buttons and a light sensor on the right side of the lower bezel and two additional menu navigation buttons on the right hand bezel. The 16.3 cabinet is supported by an ergonomic stand that offers height, swivel, tilt, and pivot adjustments. The PA242W will automatically change image orientation when the screen is rotated but you’ll have to dig into the settings menu to enable this feature. A cable cover on the mounting arm helps keep cables neat and well organized, and the stand can be removed if you decide to use the VESA mounting holes to hang the monitor on a wall.

The PA242W offers a plethora of I/O ports, including VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort video inputs. The DislayPort and the HDMI inputs support 10-bit color depth. You also get two USB upstream ports and three downstream ports, although none of them support the faster USB 3.0 protocol. The two upstream ports allow you to use the PA242W as a KVM switch to control two PCs with one keyboard and mouse. Oddly, only one of the downstream ports is mounted on the side of the cabinet where it is easy to reach.

As with previous PA Series monitors, picture settings are extensive and the on-screen menus are easy to navigate. The brightness menu lets you adjust brightness, contrast, and black levels and enable Eco mode, which has two settings. The RGB menu offers five picture modes including Adobe RGB, sRGB, High Bright, Full, and DCI (color setting for digital cinema). Here you can also the white temperature and adjust hue, saturation, and offset levels for the six colors (red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta). The Eco menu shows carbon usage and carbon savings and converts the savings to a dollar amount. You can also view total running hours.

In the advanced settings menu you can make all the aforementioned adjustments and access a few extra picture modes (eciRGB_v2, REC-Bt709, DICOM, and five user calibrated settings). The advanced menu also offers red, green, and blue gamut adjustments, nine analog RGB adjustments, picture in picture settings, image rotation settings, and a Tile Matrix option that allows you to display one image over multiple screens.

The PA242W comes with two DisplayPort cables (regular and mini), a DVI cable, and an upstream USB cable. Also included in the box are a setup guide and a resource CD containing a user manual, drivers, several patterns for making adjustments, and NEC’s MultiProfiler software. MultiProfiler lets you make adjustments using your keyboard and mouse and automatically generates an ICC profile when you save your changes. This handy utility also lets you manage the KVM switch and create a print preview using your printer’s ICC profile. As always, NEC covers the PA242W with a generous four year warranty which includes a 48-hour exchange service.

Performance
When it comes to performance the PA242W is as good as it gets. Its IPS panel aced the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test, displaying every shade of gray correctly and uniformly. Highlight and shadow detail on my test photos was well defined and showed excellent contrast.

Out of the box color accuracy was outstanding, which isn’t surprising given that the monitor is calibrated at the factory before shipping. The boxes on the CIE chromaticity chart below represent the ideal coordinates (as defined by the International Committee on Illumination) for each color and the dots represent our lab measurements (taken with a colorimeter and SpectraCal software). As shown, red, green, and blue measurements are spot-on.

Off-angle viewing was also superb. There was no loss of luminance from any angle nor was there any sign of color shifting. Users who work with multi-page documents will appreciate the monitor’s small text prowess; it cleanly displayed the smallest fonts on the DisplayMate Scaled Fonts test.

Power usage was typical for a 24-inch IPS display. The PA242W used 38 watts during testing with the Eco feature disabled. Eco mode 1 showed no change but Eco Mode 2 reduced power consumption to 30 watts without becoming too dim. By way of comparison the IPS-based Asus PA249Q used 37 watts of power and the TN-based BenQ RL2450HT averaged 25 watts.

The NEC MultiSync PA242W-BK may be more expensive than most 24-inch monitors, but if superior performance is a must it’s worth every penny. Its AH-IPS panel and GB-r LED backlighting combine to deliver accurate colors and precise grayscale reproduction that remain true from every angle. Factor in an ergonomic stand with multiple adjustments, four video inputs, a USB hub with KVM switching capabilities, and a wealth of image settings, and it’s easy to see why the PA242W-BK is our Editors’ Choice for mid-sized high-end monitors.

Specifications
Native Resolution 1920 x 1200
Supported Video Formats 1080p
PC Interfaces Analog VGA, Digital (DVI-D), HDMI
Video Inputs DVI, HDMI
Diagonal Screen Size 24 inches
Widescreen Yes
Aspect Ratio 16

Verdict
The NEC MultiSync PA242W-BK 24-inch professional grade monitor is a top performer that's loaded with features and settings options.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
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