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.

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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  • Hulk - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    I trust Anandtech reviews but that contrast ratio would be a huge concern of mine if I were dropping $1000 on a monitor.
  • noeldillabough - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    I'm using an older 26" version of this at work and its great...so much so that when I work on a different machine I'm grumbling about the difference!
  • coolhardware - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    I could not find a 26" (older) version of this monitor, anybody have a model #???
  • asakharov - Sunday, October 6, 2013 - link

    NEC 2690WUXI
  • Death666Angel - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    If you drop 1k on this you need it for the uniformity and color/calibration results, not for high contrast for your movies and games. :)
  • Hulk - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    Actually when I do post work for video/photo, lattitude (dynamic range), which is ability to see detail in the darkest and brightest areas is a big deal, as important if not more so than color space and uniformity. A low contrast ratio means that highlights turn into bright blotches and dark areas simply appear crushed.

    I look for contrast ratio first, then color space, and finally uniformity in a monitor for doing work in post. Uniformity and color space are useless if I can't see any detail in the bright and dark areas.
  • Senti - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    You are absolutely wrong about contrast. Contrast is the ratio of pure white to pure black and nothing else. This has nothing to do with ability to display dark and bright shades. Actually, the reverse is true: VA panels have great contrast and awful dark tones reproduction. I can see the difference between all the shades with my NEC PA241W even though its contrast is quite modest.

    In general, I have to say that displays are definitely not Anandtech's specialization. Not just mine opinion, as I heard several times how disappointed people I know were at the usefulness of such reviews here. Some important points that AT completely missed: 10-bit mode of operation, overdrive errors, refresh rates, impact of different Uniformity setting values.
  • Hulk - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    No. You are wrong.
    Contrast ratio should be high for a good display.

    Furthermore, dynamic range and contrast are closely related and a good display should have a contrast ratio of at least 1000:1.

    Finally, you might want to read up on this subjest.
  • Gothmoth - Friday, September 27, 2013 - link

    sorry hulk. but you are clueless.

    look at eizo coloredge or quato monitors.
    and don´t argue about something you obviously know not much about.
    enjoy the faked contrast ratio numbers of your gaming monitors and google a few more articles that say nothing about actual display quality .
  • Samus - Saturday, September 28, 2013 - link

    Ohh Hulk, throwing wiki links to general topics with no direct data about this monitor (or any other comparison) is fail.

    No where in Contrast Ratio does it say anything along the lines of quality monitors have high contrast ratio or low-end monitors have weak contrast ratio, etc.

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