Late last year we had a chance to review NEC’s first 4K display, the EA244UHD. An impressive display, but the display we have really been waiting for is the updated version of their flagship graphics display. Only just released this year, the MultiSync PA322UHD is an amazing piece of hardware boasting a 32" 4K resolution screen. Those who have been following our display reviews know that I have long been a fan of NEC displays and their color management capabilities and color accuracy. I have owed a previous generation 30” professional series display for a number of years, but the PA322UHD is definitely a step up. Our previous review of the 30” PA301W can be seen here.
In many ways the new PA322UHD is similar to the previous generations, but very different in all the ways that count. The display is bigger, higher resolution and does an even better job at reproducing colors accurately than previous models. That is not to say there were not a few minor issues we ran into during our review, but we’ll cover all of that in this review.
The PA322UHD is NEC graphics flagship designed specifically for color critical work. The resolution is 3840 x 2160 IGZO IPS-type panel with a wide gamut white LED backlight. This display also boasts a 14-bit onboard internal lookup table (LUT) that results in better performance than if you use a display that uses software based LUTs.
New to the PA322UHD are built in speakers, thought I am honestly surprised this sort of feature is included in a display of this calibre. The USB hub has also been upgraded to UBB 3 and now includes the capability to attach an optional SDI/3G module for those who want to use this display on set as a preview monitor (see removable module below).
Uniformity correction has been improved on this display over previous generations, resulting is more consistent color and luminance across the entire display. Lower end displays tend to have large color and luminance shifts as you move away from the centre of the screen. That is definetly not the case with this display and in the process of profiling this display I noticed marked improvement over the PA301W I currently have. At least by the numbers. Visually both are very good.
The graphic below show a comparison between the previously reviewed PA301W. As you can see I've plotted the color gamut of the new PA322UHD compared to the older PA301W as well as the AdobeRGB colorspace. Due to the different backlight technologies the older PA301W had more coverage in the saturated reds, but the PA322UHS has a bit more saturation in the greens and purples. It is also a lot closer to the actual size of the AdobeRGB colorspace.
Another feature of this display I really love is the ability to display a 4 up Picture in Picture. Using NEC’s MultiProfiler software you can trigger your screen to be tiled four times on the display and then set each version to a different color space. By doing so you can simultaneously edit for multiple color spaces.
Overall I really like this display, and like the PA301W, will be adding this one to my desktop to run along side, however during testing we did run into a few issues. The first minor issue is a design problem with the release tab on the back of the display that releases the screen from the stand. Due to a slight change in the way this release was positioned, we found the metal clip would rattled against the plastic housing when we typed. The vibration from typing was enough to rattle this clip. I stuffed a business card in between and the problem was solved. R&D was made aware of this issue and I've been told they will be correcting the issue later this year.
The next issue was a bit of an annoyance. Because the PA301W and PA322UHD use different backlight technologies, getting the two displays to match side by side proved to be pretty tricky. We got them closer than out of the box with some custom calibration and adjustments, but matching the contrast ratio and luminance was a loosing battle. We worked with NEC for quite a few weeks on this, but the differences between the two displays was too great to get an exact match unfortunately. So for now, my PA301W will be used only for non-critical color work.
The final issue was the optional color sensor that NEC provides with its displays. While I use a higher end XRITE i1Pro spectrophotometer to calibrate and profile my displays, there are a few more advanced functions that only work when you use their custom tuned XRITE branded spectrophotometers. Sadly they don’t seem to be backwards compatible between major versions, so it would appear you need to purchase a new one when that happens. Again this really only affects a few more advanced functions that most would not likely use, so not critical, but still an annoyance.
The colors and crispness of this display is really beautiful at 4K, though it’s difficult to try to run Windows or Mac (in my case) at this resolution as many things simply get too small to see easily, even at 32”. Some applications are better at UI scaling than others. I ended up stepping down the resolution to 3008 x 1692 for day to day work and move back up to 4K when I’m editing or viewing 4K video. Despite the scaled resolution, the same color accuracy and overall crispness remains intact and is noticeably better than my P301W, which is why I’ve opted to purchase one. I find it considerably easier on my eyes. Working on this display for the last several months has been really nice. The downside however is that a 4K display of this calibre does come with a pretty hefty price tag at $2,999 USD. However if you are looking for one of the best displays for color accurate work and want the ability to edit 4K content, look no further.
For full details and to find a local retailer for this display head over to the NEC website here: http://www.necdisplay.com/p/desktop-monitors/pa322uhd-bk-sv
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