I try to report my experience.
1) In Italy (Europe) with have 2 possibilities: PA241W and SpectraView Reference 241. They are the same exact hardware but the SpectraView Reference comes with an hood and with the basICColor software (called “SpectraView Profile 4”) and additional quality certifications and warranties. Asking NEC Europe they told me that it the SpectraView monitor has this advantages:
a) Each single monitor is tested and they check the “quality” of the panel.
b) The software allows to hardware-calibrate the monitor creating a LUT-based profile, which is a better profile than the matrix-based profile created using other software.
Now I read many different opinion about this and my conclusion (I own a SpectraView monitor) are this:
a) It seems to me that almost all monitors would pass the “SpectraView certification” if tested. The certification is about AverageDeltaE*ab and PeakDE*ab that should be under 2.5 and 4.8 on the surface of the monitor. NEC does not tell how many monitor pass the test.
b) I read on this forum from experts like Andrew (thank you, correct me if I report something wrong here) that the LUT-based profiles are not better than Matrix-based profile in this particular situation (monitor calibration and profiling). So there is no reason to worry about SpectraView II. I also read from other users and in some review that they get an advantage using the SpectraView Profiler software (with SpectraView monitor, so full-hardware procedure) instead of the SpectraView II software.
I don’t know if the basICCsofware that Zila is using allows to have full-hardware calibration or hardware/software calibration only, I would personally recommend to use the software that allows to use a full-hardware calibration.
I have a SpectraView Reference 271 software and both software, but the many difference I notice between one calibration and the other is related to the hardware used (ColorMunki and EyeOne Pro in my case show a noticeable difference: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=50214.0
The only positive thing that I can say is that, generally speaking, I have the impression that the gradients reproduced with the profiler-calibrated monitor are a little bit more linear.
What you should know is that SpectraView II software is not sold (and should not be) in Europe. So if you don’t know that you can hardware-calibrate all the NEC PA241W with the SpectraView II or if you can’t get the SpectraView II software because you have no American friends, the only solution to have hardware calibration in Europe is to buy the SpectraView monitor. The SpectraView II solution is not offically supported here in Italy.
2) In my opinion the Spyder3 may be not a good solution to calibrate the PA271W. This for two main reasons:
a) The colorimeter could be not compatible with a wide-gamut display (read this: http://www.argyllcms.com/doc/WideGamutColmters.html
b) The Spyder3 is not a very consistent device (read this: http://lists.apple.com/archives/colorsync-users/2009/Nov/msg00175.html
I would never suggest a colorimeter like the Spyder3 to be used for calibrating this display.
I personally think that colorimeter are a little bit better than spectrophotometers for display calibration (better low L* readings) and that the Spyder3 could be a good device, but I would use it only if I had the opportunity to compare its results with the ones from a reliable device like the EyeOne Pro (i1Pro) spectrophotometer. I would not use a Spyder3 because I know that I can get an high DeltaE. As all of you know for sure, we should not trust to our eyes when we speak about "good colours". I recently had a speak with a person saying “I have 9 wide-gamut displays calibrated with Spyder3 and I am happy with them” but I had no response when I asked “ok, they could show the same colours between them because you used the same hardware to calibrate them, but are you sure that they are showing the same colour of the monitor of another studio where you have to send you files to be printed”? Now I know for sure that many Spyder3 user are happy with their hardware, but I would think many time if I have to buy one.