We have featured and reviewed a lot of monitors in our website, and one of the most common things that keeps popping up are the type of panels the monitors have. We have discussed this topic comprehensively in our post 'Choosing the Perfect Monitor…page 3’, but because we’ve been hearing a lot about IPS panel, and seeing more and more manufacturers releasing new products using this panel, it pays to look at this technology even closer. This entry of Dual Monitors Guide will walk you through IPS monitor, its perks and drawbacks, and why you will need it.
Asus PB278Q (image from Amazon)
The world of technology is filled with jargons. PC hardware is the common recipient of these technical names, which too often, cause people to make quick assumptions of what is good and what is bad. Assumptions of what most people understand, or what some care to really understand. With that in mind, we figured to simplify things. And since IPS panel has been taking huge waves in computer monitor market right now, it’s good to start with this technology. If you have been looking around, checking reviews, and thinking about buying a new computer display, or upgrade your setup for dual monitor or even triple monitor setup, then you definitely need to know more about IPS technology.
For the past couple of years, we have
read and heard a lot of reviewers saying “the
monitors has great set of specs, sadly the panel is not IPS” or
something like “at last it’s IPS panel”. Either
way, IPS has become a reference point by which computer
monitors are judged, with the assumption that this new technology is
better everything we have ever seen in the past.
IPS stands for In-Plane Switching, and it’s made up of a type of thin-film transistor LCD panel. For years, different kinds of LCD technology have dominated the market. Apple on the other hand, pushed the awareness and wider use of IPS in both their handheld devices and computer displays. IPS became a huge hit when they used the panel for their iPhone 4.
(image from Amazon)
IPS is the most expensive type of panel we have today. Apple convinced the world to pay extra for a premium display.
IPS however, is not too different from other LCD technologies. It uses the same basic principle; grid of liquid crystal pixels sit in front of the backlight and works as shutters, which works by allowing light to pass through or blocking the light from coming out. What makes this technology distinguishable from others is that, it does the job better. It is NOT OLED, as the latter works on different principle, and has effectively infinite contrast.
Because it works the same as other LCD technologies, it also has the pros and cons of the LCD. But there are certainly a couple of things that makes IPS better than other LCD technologies. One is that, in IPS, liquid crystal rotate freely, which means better control and over broader range of light transmission. It’s important to note that LCD works by managing light transmission; the better control over transmission means the better range of color and viewing angle.
IPS and its Rivals
TN Panel Technology. Why TN Panel is Commonly Used for Gaming Monitors.
ViewSonic VX2452mh (image from Amazon)
The TN or Twisted Nematic panel is the cheapest among the LCD technologies. The crystals in TN move in a restricted pattern. The terminology comes from its movement pattern; the crystal is fixed in one end and then twisted or bent, rather than rotated, as the display is turned on. It has lesser range of articulation, which results to limited light control transmission. They are however, have faster-switching pixels and quicker response time than the IPS. Which is why you see most gaming monitors use TN panels.
The ViewSonic VX2452mh is one good example of quality TN-based monitor. It’s a reasonably priced monitor that meets almost all your gaming needs. It runs games with blazing fast response time, like most TN panels and offers spectacular resolution for better clarity. It also has mega dynamic contrast ratio of 50M:1 for crisp and sharp images. It looks great aesthetic wise and a quite a decent-performing monitor for its price.
VA Panel Technology
Acer B326HUL (image from Amazon)
VA stands for Vertical Alignment, is a little superior and a little more expensive than TN. It has the advantage of IPS, but it has inferior contrast, response time and viewing angle.
Acer B326HUL is one of the newly introduced large screen displays that uses VA panel. It’s a 32-inch professional-grade monitor that lets you open and see multiple windows and pages in one screen. Great for home desks, office spaces and even for entertainment such as watching TV shows, movies and playing games.
PLS Panel Technology
Samsung LS27D590PS (image from Amazon)
It’s also worth to note than there are a number of IPS-like LCDs out there that uses different name. Samsung for example, has PLS technology (Plane Line Switching), and it is said to be the substitute of IPS. However, both are almost similar, and almost impossible to distinguish from each other. PLS may have a slight upper hand on brightness and viewing angle.
The Samsung LS27D590PS is a well-equipped 27-inch monitor/LCD TV that comes with cool features to innovate your viewing experience. It offers Full HD 1080p resolution alongside with various picture-quality-improvement features for convenient and optimal viewing experience. It also comes equipped with a wonderful Game Mode preset feature that when activated (with one press of a button), automatically adjusts the settings of the monitor and deliver optimum gaming settings.
There’s also AHVA or Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle which takes pride in its higher transmittance of higher resolution and better off-axis viewing angle.
Other monitor use distinguishable prefixes to indicate different generation and level of IPS quality, namely S-IPS, H-IPS and AH-IPS panel upgrade, as well as the low-cost e-IPS alternatives. Some types are cheaper, while some perform slightly better when it comes to colour fidelity. But fundamentally, they have the same strengths – more accurate colors and better viewing angles.
Is IPS Truly Worthy?
Now that we have a good idea of what an IPS monitor is, and how it is compared to its competition. The question is, is its price? The biggest challenge of IPS is in gaming, where pixel response performance is the most important thing, together with colour accuracy, contrast and viewing angles. The short answer is YES. But to justify the answer, it does require qualifications.
Asus VS229H-P (image from Amazon)
Part of the issue in IPS displays is wide variation given to this particular technology. Looking into different reviews, you will realize that not all IPS computer monitors are made equal. Some suffer from distracting white glow that shifts from one side of the screen to the other as you move your head. However, it is safe to generalize that IPS displays look better. But how much better? It depends on your specific preferences and sensibilities.
What Makes IPS the Best
AOC i2473PWM (image from Amazon)
Color and viewing angle, these are the two things that sets IPS apart from other types of LCD panels. TN panels suffer from washed out appearance when viewing from a distance; colors look dull and off. There is clear shifting of colors from the bottom to the top, depending on what’s being played on its screen. Black tones on the other hand, look a little purply-blue.
A decent IPS display looks just right, with vibrant colors and good viewing angles. Black tones don’t look corrupted, even if some models from different manufacturers may not be able to show perfect black pixels. In some models, light will find ways to leak through the LCD. IPS also offers perfectly smooth colour gradients. TN-based screens on the other hand, will always suffer from visible banding, as they can’t render enough colors to make smooth transitions.
For pixel response however, opinions vary. Some brands offer IPS models with quick-enough pixel response, even good for gaming. If you’re a hardcore gamer however, and you a display for hair-trigger shooters, then you definitely need the monitor with the lowest latency and fastest response to keep you on your game. In this case, TN monitor works best for you. For the rest of the world however, especially those who put small importance on visual spectacle of games, IPS is definitely the best panel technology there is.
(image from Amazon)
If possible, stay away from VA panel monitors. Some products with this panel suffer greatly in colour accuracy performance, none of them really have great pixel response, and while input lag is a common issue among them as well, as well as inverse ghosting. Not all monitors with this panel are bad, but unless you know the product’s real capabilities, the risk of getting a poor display is just too high.
For creative professionals, especially those who are considering a long-term career in graphics design, photography, making films and editing videos, interior design, multimedia arts and animation, and UX (user experience) design there are no better LCD panel than a high quality wide gamut IPS LCD. As a matter of fact, when we look on production tutorials such as LR4 Workshop Collection and software programs like LR4 Preset System, we will always see high quality IPS LCDs, as they always reference quality display in order to achieve accurate final results.
As for TN panels, they shouldn’t be ruled
out of the conversation yet. High quality TN displays can also be used by
creative professionals after calibration. Plus, its cost is its biggest upside.
They surely offer great viewing angle and colours when used in 4K monitors. Its
gap with IPS has not been thoroughly determined, but there are definitely some
nice screens. The quality of TN however, is quite limited to 28-inch 4K models.
And as we all know, 4K may revolutionize viewing experience, but it is not a
practical resolution for every user, given that it needs a high performance
graphics card to perform at its best and thoroughly utilized.
It’s important to note that when it comes to different types of display technology, quality can vary from one brand and model to another. Some high quality TN-based displays perform better than low quality IPS displays. And as said earlier, there are many different IPS technologies within.
Before you shop for a new monitor, remember that even those popular brands like Asus, Dell, HP, etc. don’t actually own the TN/IPS LCDs they use. They simply purchase components OEM from large manufacturers and use these parts for their products. Comparing the LCD technology will greatly help you determine each monitor’s quality.
For more in-depth guides like this, check out Dual Monitors Guide today!
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