NEC EA261WM: A Display With Green Ambitions

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Including a carbon meter and a lower power eco-mode  could help raise awareness of power usage in the office

The 26 inch NEC EA261WM is a big, bright business display, at the top of a range which the company says can measure its own carbon footprint, so organisations can determine their environmental impact.

The black-bezelled unit looks like it means business, with a solid circular desk-stand, adjustable up to 110mm tall, a good degree of tilt (-5 to 30 degrees) and an excellent smooth swivel, of 340 degrees. It can also rotate to be used in portrait mode, of you prefer. This kind of ergonomics is very important for users at the screen for long periods.

The bezel is 16mm wide, and houses five buttons at the bottom right. As well as the on/off button, the others include a four-way navigator, and can adjust the monitor’s settings including a power saving “eco mode”.

The monitor has VGA and DVI-D inputs, and an audio socket to deliver sound through two speakers built into the bezel pointing down. For 1W built-in speakers, these actually produce a decent noise. There are also two USB sockets and a headphone socket.

We found the screen itself to have very good viewing characteristics, and easily adjusted itself so it needed no manual intervention. It’s got a native resolution of 1920×1200, and the specs say it has a 5ms response time and 1,000:1 contrast ratio.

All those attributes make this a fine screen compared with others on the market. But NEC’s green claims for the screen set it apart somewhat. The screen is one of comparatively few to get an EPEAT gold rating and it includes the power-saving eco mode we mentioned. NEC claims it has an annual carbon footprint of 75.3kg of CO2 – based on its own calculations, and an 8-hour day, five days a week, for 45 weeks a year. By contrast, carbon calculator sites estimate that a CRT monitor would use about 200kg a year, if used for 6.5 hours a day.

The unit ships with the eco mode on, and the brightness at 49 percent. We measured the power drain (using a plug in power monitor) and found it measured 59 VA, but with a correction for the power factor (the lag between current and voltage in a reactive electronic system, the real power drawn and paid for was 49 Watts.

As you would expect, adjusting the brightness down further took the power down pretty much in step, so 32 percent brightness cut the power to 36W. The brightness won’t go higher than 50 percent with eco mode on. Bypassing the eco mode, the monitor can go up to 100 percent brightness, which is way too uncomfortably bright for desktop use and uses 88W.

The monitor keeps a running total of how much CO2 you have saved by using it, again based on NEC’s own algorithm. After two weeks’ use, this stood at 100.822kg , which seemed quite high to us. Companies that are serious about reducing their overall environmental impact, will want to make the full calculation based on the cost of junking any older monitors before the end of their lifespan, and buying new ones. One factor in that calculation: NEC says it only emits 35.6kg of CO2 in making this monitor.

Conclusion

The calculation of the carbon footprint of this monitor is not rigorous, of course, but it’s very good to see manufacturers taking their responsibilities seriously enough to make a monitor with green credentials.

It helps that the NEC EA261WM is also a very nicely made and ergonomic monitor. It’s got a somewhat premium price, but companies with an eye on the company’s green balance sheet should give it a look.

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