It's pretty hard to exclude NEC from the list. They have a dedicated line of monitors with hardware calibration and software. They were the first to introduce a wide gamut LED backlit display, and I have received excellent responses to technical questions from their reps both on this board and by phone. Plus, by all spec, accounts and appearances, the NEC and Lacie 26" monitors are identical.
Yes, and by no means did I imply they should be excluded. I just saw LaCie as a very worthy choice that wasn't mentioned.
If you go back to the late 1990's/early to mid 2000's, most studios had either a Barco monitor or a 19"/22" LaCie Electron Blue CRT.
The Barco was $4,000 - $5,000, the LaCie $400 - $800. LaCie sold a ton of these monitors. They weren't quite as good as a Barco, but they were pretty close and certainly better than the average CRT. They were a great value and the Blue Eye for the money was an excellent monitor. Since then LaCie has produced quality displays, but somehow they've lost their market focus. I think it is partly due to many good choices out there, and this includes Eizo, NEC, even HP. But they make very good displays at good prices and with the 724 have a unique product with the 123% Adobe RGB gamut.
I'm glad you've had good experience with NEC support. I had a customer who had purchased a Sony Artisan and after the warranty was over and Sony discontinued the Artisan (and all high-end color accurate displays) this customer had a bad experience with Sony where she was hung out to dry. So I say this more as cautionary tale than anything else and as a justification for focusing on manufacturers who have a continued legacy of producing monitors aimed at this part of the market. We intend to sell premium, accurate displays for a long time and we value manufacturers who are committed to the same. Doesn't mean NEC or HP or whoever is not committed. But they are large companies for whom the high end accurate display market is a very small piece of their overall company strategy. I could be over cautious with this issue and, as you mentioned, you have had a good experience so far.
As far as the NEC and LaCie versions of the 26" monitor being identical, I do not believe they are identical, but it is difficult to determine how they are different. I am also under the impression the IPS panel is the same, although the last time I spoke with LaCie they denied this. Hard to say, even if it is, there are other components that may not be identical that can make a difference. They are likely very similar in any event.