Review: NEC MultiSync EA274 Shines On The Power User

Forget about global warming. Companies these days should be filling offices with equipment that will help reduce their electric bills. Filling that bill is the MultiSync EA274WMi, which NEC Display Solutions claims to use as much as 56 percent less power than its traditional counterpart. For $799, this quad-HD display dims its LED backlight when there's no one there to see it, and could pay for itself in no time."

The EA-series is NEC's high-end line for business professionals that need lots of room to spread out. The 27-inch provides a native resolution of 2,560-x-1,440, and its panel delivers the widest possible viewing angles. "This resolution gives you a lot of screen real estate to put applications on," said Art Marshall, product manager of professional and medical desktop monitors at NEC. "Financial analysts and stock brokers would be a good fit for this," as would digital content editors and others working on high-resolution images that weren't too particular about accurate color matching.

We tested color, and white and black levels, using the Test Center's standard test images. After a few adjustments to brightness and contrast, we found only a few flaws. All white levels were easily discernable with contrast set to 49 percent. To view all shades of black, we had to boost the black level to 55 percent, five points above its default. Color and monochromatic gradients exhibited no banding; sharpness tests were all within acceptable parameters.

It provides inputs for DisplayPort, DVI-D, HDMI and VGA with auto-select and a dedicated input selector button on the front panel. There's also an audio input and a built-in USB 3.0 hub with two USB 3.0 ports. Also included are a host port on the underside and two USB 2.0 port and a headphone jack on the left edge with easy access from the front. The unit comes with a power cord and cables for DVI, VGA, audio and USB 3.0 (host), plus a sync cable. It's mounted on a pedestal base that allows its top edge to rise from 17 inches to more than 22 inches above the desktop. It also tilts and swivels, and can pivot to portrait or landscape orientations.

Wrapping around the lower right corner of the bezel are a series of touch-sensitive controls for the on-screen display. When the OSD is active, on-screen labels appear near the touch-points, which also are labeled, all but eliminating the frustrations of hidden or multipurpose controls. Best of all, for minimizing fiddling, a new sync feature enables as many as five more similarly equipped monitors daisy-chained together and controlled by a single monitor designated as the master. "Many high-end workers use one PC with more than one monitor," said Marshall. "This lets them set brightness, volume and other settings on all the monitors by just setting one. And when you turn one monitor on, they all turn on." If a station is used by multiple employees, a memory setting can store individual user preferences. Access to this feature is a few levels deep and a bit convenient, but it's there.

NEC has been honing its energy-saving, human-sensing monitors for several years now, and appears to have gotten it just right with the EA series. Settings for proximity, sensitivity and time of inactivity are easily accessible and adjustable using the OSD and its visual cues. The monitor even keeps a running total of energy savings and can convert the figures into six different currencies. Available since November, the  MultiSync EA274WMi lists for $799. CRN recommends this product.